Four years ago, on a grey January morning in London, I was walking down the street when a man shouted at me: “Cheer up love!”. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this phrase, or even the first time I’d been told that I would look “so much prettier if I smiled” – but it was the first time I’d questioned why this was happening.
Why was it OK for a random man to tell me to cheer up on the street, when the same demand would never be directed at a man? Why had I accepted this behaviour as normal for most of my adolescent and young adult life? I began to consider the possibility that this throwaway phrase – or even “compliment” as some men have reassured me – was actually a sexist command. More importantly, it made me think back to every other time I had experienced sexual harassment, mild or extreme, and brushed it off, because it was easier to ignore than challenge.
Street harassment could be made illegal in England and Wales, in a bid to help tackle violence against women and girls
These were the thoughts that led me to asking my close friends the same question that I had been asking myself ever since. A question which informed the beginning of my campaign Cheer Up Luv, a photo series and feminist platform focused on retelling experiences of sexual harassment through photography. I decided to photograph my friends in locations related to their experiences, and posted the stories on Instagram, to try to raise awareness about an issue that was barely being spoken about (this was pre-#MeToo, and despite the amazing initiatives and activists paving the way for this discussion to evolve, the conversation surrounding sexual harassment was basically non-existent).
By revisiting the place these women were harassed, the effect was using the surroundings as a stage to speak out on. In doing so, reclaiming the space by turning a negative memory into something positive.
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I’ve been sexually assaulted, harassed and followed home. No, it’s not all men, but yes they were all men
So it was with mixed feelings that I woke up this morning to read the headline that sexual harassment could be made a crime in England and Wales. While I – like many other activists in this field – welcome the long overdue look into an issue that has been plaguing women, girls and marginalised genders for a lifetime, I also feel like this is just a first step in recognising that we have a problem, but by no means the full solution to that problem.
This change is part of the government’s long-awaited new plan to tackle violence against women and girls, which looks at the possibility of criminalising street harassment, banning the use of non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases, outlawing virginity testing, funding the launch of a “StreetSafe” app, and other nightlife and street safety measures. One of these includes the controversial plan to place undercover police officers in bars.
I, like many others, think this is a terrible idea, not only because of the horrendous recent scandal of undercover police officers having secret relationships on the job, but more pressingly in connection to the main reason why there has recently been so much pressure on the VAWG strategy: the tragic murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens. This in itself leaves me feeling uneasy when reading into the new plan, which has a heavy focus on policing with a “new national policing lead” being part of the broader strategy. Are the police really going to keep us safe?
While it is imperative that all forms of sexual violence be taken seriously for once by the authorities – especially in light of the revelations that Wayne Couzens had a previous history of indecent exposure and the unconscionable fact that less than 1.6% of rape cases end in a conviction – I think we need a two-pronged approach. Violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The acronym VAWG itself, standing for “violence against women and girls”, is passive and erases the main perpetrators of the problem: men. I worry that a heavy focus on a punitive approach is a delayed response to an already deep-rooted issue, and that while it may discourage some perpetrators and bring wider awareness, it certainly won’t address the question of why these crimes are happening in the first place. The sooner we accept and address the fact that we need to educate schoolchildren about sexism, sexual harassment and male violence, the sooner we will be able to tackle this issue from the root.
Sarah Everard’s case has reminded women that we’re not only at risk of violence from men, but that we are blamed for it, too
I also take issue with the media’s frequently inflammatory framing of these events. As with the progression of any movement, sometimes it feels like you’re taking one step forward and three steps back when headlines like “wolf whistling and catcalling could be made illegal” appear. Backlash against the #MeToo movement, BLM and climate change protests has been fuelled by similar rhetoric in the press. The sensationalist use of terms like “catcalling” or “wolf whistling”, which make aggressive verbal sexual assault sound playful and mild, isn’t helpful or progressive to the cause. These things are just the tip of the iceberg within a multi-layered issue which all stems from the same place: a deeply entrenched misogyny in society.
I wholeheartedly welcome this step in the conversation around eradicating sexual violence, and praise the hard work of campaigners at Our Streets Now, Plan UK and the VAWG sector who have urgently campaigned to bring real change to the forefront. But in order to do this, we also need the media to stop trivialising the issue, and the government to focus just as much, if not more, on education and prevention, as well as addressing the “gaps in existing law.”
Academy Award winner Viola Davis has been happily married to Julius Tennon for 18 years. Here’s everything to know about the actress’ husband.
Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s marriage has a spiritual backstory — one that could, quite frankly, be the plot of a romance film. The Academy Award winner, 55, has been married to her fellow actor husband, 67, for 18 years now. The couple adopted their daughter Genesis, 11, back in 2011, completing their family of three. Viola and Julius have since become one of the most formidable A-list couples in Hollywood, supporting each other both on and off the red carpets.
Julius’ entry into Viola’s life occurred by cosmic fate. As the story goes, the actress found her life partner by way of prayer. “I was the loneliest woman in the world and someone said, ‘You should just pray for a husband,’” she told Page Six in 2013. “I said I wanted a big Black man from the South who looked like a football player, who already had children, who maybe had been married before.” Three and a half weeks later, Viola said, “I met my husband.”
Enter: Julius, a man who quite literally checked all of the boxes. Former college football player. Texas native. Previously married. Adult children. Below is everything you should know about the answer to Viola’s prayers.
Viola Davis And Julius Tennon
Viola wed Julius in June 2003. The two share daughter Genesis together. Oprah Daily reported that Julius had been previously married before, sharing two children Sheavonda, 44, and Duriel, 41, with his former partner. Julius is an actor and producer, appearing in films like Dazed and Confused and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He has a noteworthy TV career, too, appearing in Friday Night Lights, Moesha, Criminal Minds, and even his wife’s How to Get Away With Murder. His pre-Hollywood life is just as impressive: during his college years at the University of Tulsa, Julius became the first African American to graduate from the university’s theater department.
How Did Viola And Julius Meet?
No surprise here, but Viola and Julius met in Hollywood, on the set of the CBS series City of Angels in 1999. The actress told InStyle last November that she was immediately attracted to Julius. “I was like, ‘He’s sooo cute.’” During a joint interview on the OWN series Black Love in 2017, Julius recalled the day he asked Viola out. “I just overheard her talking to a girl in front of her saying, ‘I don’t like L.A. I don’t know anybody.’ She was kinda complaining,” he said. “I was dating a girl, who was a little bit of a monster, and I was kinda like, ‘She seems like a nice lady. She doesn’t know anybody. I’m kinda ready to meet somebody else.’ So at the end of the day, I gave her my card.”
Viola later added, “After my first date with Julius, my life got better. Anxiety went away, fear went away. He just made my life better.”
Viola Davis’ Past Relationships
Given that she and her husband have been married for decades, not much is known about the Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom star’s previous relationships. In her interview with InStyle, however, Viola joked about trying to pick up men at the bookstore pre-Julius. “The moment I met my husband, my life got better,” she said. “Before I met him, I was trying to date, but I didn’t know what I was doing. People told me to go to Barnes & Noble at Columbus Circle [in New York] because they said that was the way to pick up dudes.” She added, “I put on some makeup, but it didn’t work for me. Finally, I remember someone said, ‘Just find someone who loves you, Viola.’ And I met my husband. I found someone who loves me. That’s it.”
Viola Davis’ Top Moments With Her Husband
On Valentine’s Day weekend in 2016, Viola and Julius renewed their wedding vows in an elegant ceremony in front of loved ones. The actress’ How To Get Away With Murder costars Matt McGorry, Jack Falahee, and Karla Souza were also in attendance. Viola shared her speech in a Facebook video, in which she declared, “I really feel alive. This really makes a life. If I had to look back on my life, this is the moment that would play out and I would think, ‘Well done.’”
Last month, the happy couple celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary. “Happy 18th Anniversary to the love of my life!!” Viola captioned her Instagram tribute on June 23. “Love you Julius.” And the year before, Viola shared a rare glimpse into their wedding day for their 17th wedding anniversary (above) with snapshots from the big day and the vow renewal. “You have made my life sweeter and my heart bigger,” the actress captioned the post. “I prayed for you and God said, Yes! I have just the right person for you!!!!’ Happy Anniversary my love… The best is yet to be.”
With 18 years now under their belt, one could presume that there are only 18 more ahead for Viola and Julius. In an interview with Glamour in 2015, Viola reflected on marriage with a quote from mythologist Joseph Campbell. “It’s Joseph Campbell who said [something like], ‘When you get married, you die to yourself.’ I know that’s probably taboo in 2015, but truly, you die to yourself,” Viola mused. “Everything is for the good of the whole. My marriage enriches my life. It’s more important than my career, more important than anything. I have to prioritize it.”
As for what the next chapter of her marriage and life with Julius will be, the actress will pen a memoir, Finding Me, due out in April 2022, that will likely offer more insights on that. It will chronicle her life and illustrious career, from navigating poverty as a child in her home state of Rhode Island to becoming an award-winning actress. “I believe that our stories, and the courage to share them, is the most powerful empathetic tool we have,” Viola said in a statement. “This is my story… straight no chaser.”
Steven Spielberg‘s daughter is weighing in on a debate about nepotism that was spurred by her short film.
On Tuesday, July 27, Deadline reported that actor Hooper Penn, son of Sean Penn, had joined the cast of upcoming short film The Rightway. The project, which soon starts production in New York, is directed by Destry Spielberg, the 24-year-old daughter of the legendary Oscar-winning filmmaker, and written by Owen King, son of Stephen King.
Film producer and The Black List founder Franklin Leonard responded to a tweet announcing the film by quipping, “Hollywood’s a meritocracy, right?” Franklin was making a point about the numerous individuals involved in the film having familial connections in the industry, and he has previously been vocal about the ways in which the Hollywood system tends to keep underrepresented groups from getting work, particularly behind the camera.
His tweet led Ben Stiller, whose late parents Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara were both prominent performers, to chime in with, “Too easy @franklinleonard. People, working, creating. Everyone has their path. Wish them all the best.”
Lenny Kravitz is ready for his “Magic Mike” debut.
The rock star posted a photo of himself showing off his six pack while building a deck outside. The photo caught the attention of many fans, but also of his daughter, Zoe Kravitz, who couldn’t help but poke fun at her dad.
Tagging Channing Tatum, Zoe commented, “You auditioning for MM3?” seemingly referring to a potential third “Magic Mike” movie.
Lenny was all game as he replied, “I’ve been ready!”
It only got better when Channing also left a comment on Lenny’s post, commenting that the rocker is more than welcome to join the cast.
“Oh sh*t!! Doing the lords work i see!! Will be calling you shortly to get into your schedule my friend. Hehehe,” Channing wrote, to which Lenny replied, “Peace my man.”
Channing starred in 2012’s “Magic Mike” and its 2015 sequel, “Magic Mike XXL”. The actor is next set to star in romantic comedy “Lost City of D” alongside Sandra Bullock.
In the film, Bullock plays a reclusive romance novelist who was sure nothing could be worse than getting stuck on a book tour with her cover model (Tatum), until a kidnapping attempt sweeps them both into a cutthroat jungle adventure, proving life can be so much stranger, and more romantic, than any of her paperback fictions.
As for Lenny, he’s co-starring alongside Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel in “Shotgun Wedding”. In April, J.Lo celebrated the end of filming the rom-com, in which she stars in and produces.
“That’s 👏 A 👏 Wrap! 👏 #ShotgunWedding,” Lopez captioned a series of photos from the set in the Dominican Republic. In the pics, she’s posing with her co-stars. “Shotgun Wedding” follows a couple’s destination wedding that gets hijacked by criminals and features Lopez as bride Darcy.
Lenny also posted a photo of him and Lopez, captioning the shot, “Jennifer, after knowing each other for so many years we finally got to work and be creative together. It was an experience that I will always cherish. Love and respect. Xxx #ShotgunWedding.”
For more on Lenny, see below.
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