Celebrity

5 Pop Culture Moments That Took a Stand Against Sexual Assault

...and made us LOL at the same time

SNL Welcome to Hell: tracee ellis ross reading the handsy man

(Photo: Getty Images)

It’s no secret 2017 was truly the worst.

We started the year with an inauguration of an American president who had been caught on tape admitting he can grab women by the pussy—”I don’t even wait,” he told a giggly Billy Bush en route to record an episode of Access Hollywood. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” he continued—and it only went downhill from there.

But then something happened. Maybe the U.S. president won’t be held accountable for his actions in the year 2017, but other powerful men have experienced quite a reckoning. The first domino to fall was movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, after a visceral New York Times exposé revealed allegations that he had spent almost 30 years sexually harassing and assaulting women, and in many instances even bullying them into silence. The investigation opened the floodgates, prompting thousands of people to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault. It reinvigorated the #MeToo movement, and an ever-expanding list sexual aggressors grew, in the entertainment industry and beyond.

This year has been hard as hell for women, but a few things have helped us get through it all. Oddly enough, it’s often been a good laugh. 

We’re so dang grateful for the celebs who have used their platforms to speak out against sexual assault, often in ways that informed while giving us space to laugh through the pain. Here, five of the top pop culture moments that helped us to forget about the shit storm that was 2017—even if was just for a moment.

Saturday Night Live’s “Welcome to Hell” 

“We ain’t a girl group, we just travel in a pack for safety”—PREACH! Although it came late in the year on December 2, “Welcome to Hell” became the unofficial anthem of 2017 pretty much moments after it hit the airwaves. The ladies of SNL and host (and star of Lady BirdSaoirse Ronan absolutely nailed what it feels like to watch *all* the men freak out about the prevalence of sexual assault. Among some of the funniest lyrics, Kate McKinnon cheerfully singing, “This is how I walk home at night (meow)” with a key laced between each finger—something we definitely still do on the reg. The ladies go on to share all the stuff sexual assault has ruined for them, which obviously expands way beyond House of Cards: “Parking and walking and Uber and ponytails, bathrobes and nighttime and drinking and hotels and vans.” Re-freaking-tweet.

Samantha Bee’s “Penis PSA”

Comedian Samantha Bee opted for a more focused, pointed PSA to explain to men what is and what is not sexual assault—because, yes, we still have to explain it. In the wake of #MeToo, a lot of men totally missed the point and voiced their fear about being wrongly accused of assault or harassment—some going as far as saying they planned to avoid spending one-on-one time with women who are not their wives, mothers or daughters (*eye roll*). Bee not only says how stupid this is (“Next time you get the urge to masturbate, just ask yourself, “Am I in front of an employee or colleague?” If the answer is yes, just don’t!”), but she also talks about how gross dicks are in general (even to the “straightest, horniest woman who loves you the most”)… and she’s not wrong.

Portlandia’s skit, “I’m Not Bad, Right?” 

Woman is promoted, woman uses her position of power to speak out about gender inequality, woman is required to use her emotional labour to make all the men feel OK about their privilege. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is so relatable, it hurts. Sexual assault does NOT discriminate, and that’s what makes this Portlandia skit so damn funny. Kathleen Drake has just been promoted to partner—the first woman in 17 years at this fictional law firm, which may seem hyperbolic but actually stings a bit because #ItReal—and while she’s trying to make a thank-you speech, she’s constantly interrupted by men asking who the “bad ones” are, specifically.

Tracee Ellis Ross’s parody children’s book, The Handsy Man

From Tracee Ellis Ross’s killer style revolution to her amaze show Black-ish, the actor (and daughter of the iconic Diana Ross) has had a really dope year, but it doesn’t stop there. Ross guest-hosted for Jimmy Kimmel in early December and, in her opening monologue, read aloud a hilarious parody children’s book called The Handsy Man. This self-penned book explains the premise of consent and sexual assault in words so clear, a child could understand them. “Handsy Man, based on the news, you seem a bit confused. Listen, and I’ll explain to you, all the things you may not do.” ICONIC. Is any publisher gonna pick this up? Because we will 100 percent buy several copies.

Tiffany Haddish’s opening monologue on Saturday Night Live

Haddish—the first Black woman to host SNL, FYI (hells to the ya)—used part of her monologue to espouse what she calls “Tiffy’s Tips” to men everywhere. It’s pretty straightforward: “If you got your thang-thang out, and she got all her clothes on, YOU’RE WRONG.” Need anyone on this planet say more?

Related:

How to Craft the *Perfect* Sexual Assault Statement
Dear Louis C.K. & Sexual Predators Hiding in Feminist Communities: We See You
These Are the Worst Hollywood Reactions to the Harvey Weinstein Allegations