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Shonda Rhimes speaks up for feminism at Global Women's Rights Awards

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Angela Weiss/Getty Images

Two of Hollywood’s most prolific female showrunners—Shonda Rhimes and Jenji Kohancame together at the 10th annual Global Women’s Rights Awards on Monday, where they were honored for “changing the face of media” by the Feminist Majority Foundation. Joined by some of their cast members, Rhimes and Kohan spent the event celebrating not only each other, but women as a whole.

“I absolutely love being a woman,” Rhimes declared, saying with a wink, “I mean, I think I’m fabulous.”

But being fabulous comes with its own challenges. Rhimes said that her assistant once expressed the desire to be a man for a day, just to know how it feels “to have all of that.” It was a phrase Rhimes came back to throughout her speech. 

“My assistant wants to walk through the world just for a day without some guy hitting on her when she runs to Starbucks to get me coffee,” Rhimes said. “She wants to not be called ‘cute’ by the security guard. She wants to not be told that she should be a model. She wants to not see the look of surprise on someone’s face when she tells them where she went to college. She wants her boobs to no longer be a topic of conversation. She wants to no longer make 70 cents on the dollar. She wants to not have old men legislate her vagina’s rights. She wants to not know that a glass ceiling ever existed. She wants to not believe that having a baby would end her career. She wants everything in the world to be made for her, be about her and speak mostly to her. Because that’s how it is for men.”

Rhimes called the implications of her asisstant’s wish terrifying, saying, “We don’t have time to be terrified.” She explained, “I don’t even want men wishing they could be women. I just want those words ‘all of that,’ to apply to all of us.”

Taking the stage after Rhimes’ impassioned speech was no easy task, as Kohan acknowledged. “Sucks following Shonda,” she laughed. “She’s so good at this stuff. But I love her and I love her work.”

There was plenty of love for Kohan, too, as her Orange is the New Black cast came out to show their support. Star Taylor Schilling said, “Jenji’s strength and individuality and her sense of freedom and gutsiness powerfully impacted me professionally, obviously, but personally as well. I want to be like her when I grow up.”

Laverne Cox also expressed her gratitude. “She’s just done so much for so many of us,” she said of the showrunner. “Three years ago, I was thinking about going back to grad school. I could barely pay my rent. She’s changed my life and all of the people’s lives who have been touched by this show.”

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