This week, Glamour held its Women of the Year awards, and, as expected, the evening was filled with numerous moments of recognition for the women who have made significant achievements. Peggy Whitson was recognized for, among many other accomplishments, being the first female chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office and the first woman to command the International Space Station; Patty Jenkins was recognized for her work directing the blockbuster hit Wonder Woman; and gymnast Ali Raisman and others were recognized on behalf of the #MeToo movement. But there was also a moment when a woman chose to recognize an unexpected person during an evening focused on female empowerment—when one awardee all but devoted her speech to recognizing a man.
Glamour recognized actress Nicole Kidman as a Woman of the Year, perhaps for her producing and acting in the female-led HBO show Big Little Lies this year; or perhaps for her acting in the award-winning Sofia Coppola-directed film Beguiled; it could also have been for her work as a UN ambassador to end violence against women. Accepting her award in front of the audience in Brooklyn this week, Kidman decided to focus her remarks on how men and women working together made her who she is.
The actress began her speech by noting how it had been “an extraordinary year” for women, but shortly after she added that she preferred to celebrate “all of us, and what makes us, us.” To that end, she profusely thanked her parents. Kidman’s mother may not have had all the opportunities women are afforded today, but she wanted to make sure her children had every opportunity. She applauded her mother for choosing “a man who was supportive, and caring, and loving” as her husband. “I am a product of that union,” Kidman said in an emotional tone, “and I’ve been so fortunate in my life to have those parents. It’s because of their love and their union that I am who I am today…. And that is something I want to pass along.”
How Kidman passes that on, she said, is with the support of her husband, country singer Keith Urban. “I also have an extraordinary husband,” she exclaimed, with tears in her eyes, “and he gives me so much strength… and he gives me so much love.” Kidman admitted, “I’m very, very fortunate, and I know so many people in this room do not have that, but I do have that and I want to acknowledge it. Because as much as I’m a strong woman, I need help and I need support.”
Kidman’s words are a refreshing reminder that women’s success doesn’t have to be viewed in the absence of, or in competition with, men’s contributions but rather, that they can complement each other.
Following her remarks of gratitude to her husband and parents, Kidman added something that at first may have seemed like a separate issue, but which in fact was a challenge to those in the room to resist efforts to go to war with men on every issue.
“I also want to say, at this time it’s so easy for us to gravitate towards the places in the world that are safe—the people that are most like us, the people whose gender, whose sexuality, whose race or politics we share, but I’m convinced the galvanization of all of us together is what’s essential.” In isolation, this statement might sound like a dime-a-dozen remark about tolerance and progressivism; but because it came immediately after her remarks about valuing her husband’s support, I can’t help but think Kidman was calling upon the room of women to resist the temptation to villainize those whose gender is different than theirs—in this case, men.
In this context, “the galvanization of all of us together is what’s essential,” sounds very much like it’s harking back to her earlier call in her speech to celebrate “all of us, and what makes us, us.” In other words, it seems like Kidman is championing the concept of a husband and wife team as one that has been essential to her success and to the success of girls and boys everywhere. It’s not a crazy thought, considering each of us came from the union of a woman and a man. And if there were only more authentic love, care, and support behind each of those unions, imagine what kind of world we’d be living in. A better one, I’d bet.
“I truly believe that we must share the good love that we receive,” Kidman said, which requires building bridges instead of creating divides. “Bridges bring understanding, they bring empathy, and they bring change, and that’s what we need.”
It’s refreshing to hear a powerful woman like Kidman step beyond the women-against-the-world thinking and instead encourage men and women to work together—loving, caring, and supporting each other. I’m all for events that bring women together to lift each other up, but I couldn’t help but love Kidman’s honest sharing of how men such as her father and her husband were pivotal to her lifting up as well. Cheers to building bridges.
Image: Glamour video capture
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