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Model Cameron Russell, attorney and professor Anita Hill, gymnast Aly Raisman and police officer Anna Cardenas took the stage together at King’s Theater in Brooklyn during Glamour’s annual Women of the Year award ceremony on Monday night to speak out against sexual harassment.
“For too long, sexual harassment has been a norm in our profession. If we complain, the response is: ‘Well, that’s part of the job.’ But our jobs should not be to be abused,” Russell said.
“This is not a fashion or Hollywood problem. This is a power problem that exists in every profession,” she continued. “After hearing all these stories, it would be easy to believe the only type of power is a boss in the backroom. But his power isn’t the kind that can heal or love or make the world more just or free. Power looks like the thousands of individuals who, inspired by one another’s bravery, are coming forward with their stories.”
“Most people know me as a gymnast, but I am also a survivor,” said Raisman, who came out last week to share her story of abuse at the hands of former USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. “Even if you are not a survivor of any kind of abuse, it is still important to show concern and compassion. We are all in this together. Sharing our stories can make it easier to talk about such an uncomfortable subject, which makes it harder for monsters to take advantage.”
The audience, upon Raisman’s urging, rose in a show of solidarity.
The women, who were introduced by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, were part of the ceremony that celebrated a year that began with the Women’s March and seems poised to end with women continuing to speak out against abuses at the hands of powerful men.
“When we stood with our bosses in the investigative unit at the Times and pushed the ‘publish’ button, we had no idea what would happen. The women who spoke to us feared retaliation,” Twohey told the audience. “Instead, every day of the last six weeks has brought new stories as women have come forward with accusations against abusers in every field.”
Reflecting the current mood of the country, and of publisher Condé Nast, the tone of the event was frequently political. California congresswoman Maxine Waters, accepting her Women of the Year award, led a chant of “Impeach 45,” which the organizers of the Women’s March, also Women of the Year, eagerly echoed.
“Every day, I get more optimistic, because every day, new things are being revealed,” Waters told WWD.
“This has been an extraordinary and exhilarating evening. I think what happened tonight was a lot of inspiration,” Waters continued. “The growing willingness of women to come forward and really talk in a credible way is happening for us now. It has evolved to this point. It is happening now in such a way that I think men won’t be able to get away with it any more, because now women understand their power.”
Other recipients of the award were comedian and TV host Samantha Bee, “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, Solange Knowles, actress Nicole Kidman, astronaut Peggy Whitson, Model Gigi Hadid, and Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri.
The evening was also notable because it was editor in chief Cindi Leive’s last in the role. Leive, who announced in September that she would step down after 16 years atop Glamour’s masthead, became a surprise Woman of the Year herself as chief executive officer Bob Sauerberg and Condé Nast artistic director and Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour gave a tribute to the long-serving editor in chief.
“This is a brave moment for women in America. But Cindi has always been brave about speaking out for women,” Wintour said. “Glamour’s increasingly powerful voice is Cindi’s own. And her departure is a bittersweet moment for all of us, although I have deep respect for Cindi’s decision to stand up for women in other ways. Whatever organization she ends up joining or creating will be as lucky as we readers of Glamour have been these past 16 years. Cindi is proof that as much as we delight in what we wear, real power comes from the way you move through the world. “
Video tributes from Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama — both former Glamour Women of the Year — followed.
“It’s no coincidence that women’s magazines are home to some of the boldest, bravest journalism these days,” Clinton said. “It’s thanks to the vision of leaders like Cindi who are proving every day that style and substance are not mutually exclusive. Now more than ever, I am especially grateful to Cindi for her commitment to truth, facts and rational opinion.”
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards came on stage to give an in person tribute to Leive, who she said “operates under the radical notion that yes, you can care about finding the right pair of boots for fall — and finding the right pair of boots and the march to wear them to.”
“I am a little overwhelmed,” Leive said, accepting her award. “Control freaks hate surprises.”
Although the evening began late due to the mass migration of bold-faced names from Manhattan to Brooklyn’s Flatbush, the ceremony was decidedly unabridged. By the time Hadid, whose enthusiastic hug of presenter Serena Williams meant that she accepted her award with patches of dark foundation on her right cheek, took the stage, the crowd had started to thin.
But despite the late hour, many of the award winners and presenters stuck around to hobnob over a dinner of charcuterie and artisanal pizza from Bushwick hotspot Roberta’s.