Why we should applaud Jodie's speech
Agree with her words or not, Jodie Foster's 'coming out' speech was delivered from her own script and nobody else's, and that's all that really matters. By Steph Sands.
I love a woman who says something! In fact I love them so much I created an event around this very theme – one that sells out in record time and attracts some highly accomplished women to participate and speak. Seems other women love women who say something too – straight or gay. And what we love more is a woman who can say something articulately, intelligently and address multiple issues while standing in her own power and rejoicing in her subtext.
In my opinion Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech/non-coming out speech delivered precisely what she intended it to. It was emotional, heartfelt, precise and deliberate. Her use of occultation – amazing and penetrating.
Which is why it is so disappointing that her message was essentially missed by many in our community. Forums are filled with comments chastising her for not officially coming out in a language that we expected, or coming out sooner, or not taking the responsibility of what being a public figure demands of you, and declaring her sexuality to the world.
Everyone knew Jodie was gay. She admits to telling all that she came in contact with. It wasn’t a secret in her industry, within her social circle or with her family. She never denied she was gay, and she never came out as straight. All that was lacking was an officially sanctioned press release at some point in her 47-year career.
At Women Say Something we offer our panellists and our audiences the opportunity to talk, debate, think and form opinions on issues that are important to them. We encourage women to find their own voice on things that matter. How can we not applaud a woman who told her own story, in her own way that reinforces her own beliefs surrounding privacy and respect?
In contrast with our own local country outing, Beccy Cole on Australian Story last year made the decision to come out with an open heart and with a clear and conscious decision to try and assist regional queer youth. From her statements at the last Women Say Something, she wanted to take personal responsibility and allow her profile to assist a community outside the ghetto. Her story was again emotional, heartfelt, precise and deliberate. And she did this in her own time, in her own way, for her own reasons.
Neither path is right or wrong. When it comes to coming out or not coming out, we are all on our own personal journeys and we must respect those who choose to do this differently to ourselves. In fact I question why we need to come out at all. Haven’t we all been fighting for the right to be accepted as we are?
I think one of the biggest issues in our community today is that we still do not accept each other in our difference. Jodie’s speech and the associated coverage, social media commentary and word on the street, has been mixed, and far from embracing of a member of our community who has not hidden her preferences from her own tribe. She just chose not to turn her version of reality into a press show.
One of the greatest moments of a woman’s journey is when she realises she is seen and heard. It’s a moment that all women strive for, where they feel that their voice has power and substance. And whilst it is important for women to have a voice and be heard, it is also important that women are able to choose when to use it to make the points that they wish to. Jodie’s coming out may not have been primarily for the benefit of our community, even though I believe ultimately it helps in acceptance, but it was for the benefit of herself, her family and the acknowledgement of her former partner. She did indeed send a clear message in her speech, and her message was loud and proud. It shouldn’t matter either way, and it hasn’t, in a career lasting 47 years.
Her closing remarks – “Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely” – speak volumes about a woman who just wants a normal private life away from any public or media perceived responsibility. And this is her choice and her right, regardless of her partner in love, the lifestyle she leads, or the number of toaster ovens she has received. I know this is the life I want to lead, where my sexuality is irrelevant to how people perceive me.
[Image] Jodie Foster delivers her speech at the Golden Globes ceremony on January 13 in Beverly Hills. Photo: Getty Images
Women Say Something celebrates its 8th edition on February 15 at Paddington Town Hall with a theme of ‘Generations of Women’. Special guests include Lip Services’ Heather Peace, Claudia Karvan, Christine Milne, Lord Mayor Clover Moore, C. Moore Hardy and more. Details: www.mardigras.org.au.