Sandra Fluke Urges Hollywood Women to 'Change the Landscape of Media'
The activist Rush Limbaugh called "a prostitute" tells THR's annual Women in Entertainment breakfast, "Julia Roberts did it very well."
Social justice advocate Sandra Fluke, who infamously was attacked as a "slut" and "prostitute" by Rush Limbaugh this year, opened her keynote speech at The Hollywood Reporter’s 21st annual Women in Entertainment breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hotel by saying that 2012 was ending up better for her than it started off.
“I wasn’t planning on having a major career moment based on me being called a prostitute, but in reflection, Julia Roberts did it very well,” she joked with the crowd, which comprised many of the top women in the entertainment industry.
PHOTOS: The Scene at THR's 2012 Women in Entertainment Breakfast
Fluke was introduced for her keynote address celebrating THR's Women in Entertainment special issue -- which ranks the 100 most powerful women in the industry -- by The Hunger Games star Elizabeth Banks, who met Fluke during an Obama campaign event this year.
Among the honorees in attendance at the annual event were A+E president of entertainment and media Nancy Dubuc, No. 7 on the list; Disney Media Networks co-chair and Disney/ABC TV president Anne Sweeney, ranked No. 1 for the fourth straight year; A+E chief Abbe Raven; NBCUniversal Cable chair Bonnie Hammer; and Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal, among plenty of others. Kathy Griffin attended the event once again as well as Dexter actress Jennifer Carpenter, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 star Dreama Walker, model Molly Sims, The Office’s Ellie Kemper and Revenge’s Ashley Madekwe.
While Fluke’s speech was peppered with lighthearted jokes, she told the crowd that she had a bigger purpose for speaking to this group of people.
PHOTOS: THR's Women in Entertainment Breakfast Arrivals
“I know many of you have been working for years to improve representations of women in media and have been cracking glass ceilings behind the scenes as you’ve been doing it,” she said. “And I’m truly grateful to those of you who brought me childhood heroes like Punky Brewster and She-ra, Princess of Power, but I think we can still do better.”
Fluke shared statistics from Geena Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media, including the fact that girls see themselves or female role models reflected onscreen in only about one-third of the characters in family films, primetime programming and children’s shows.
Additionally, a study of 129 family films found not one powerful female American politician but more than 45 such positions held by men.
“How can we expect young girls to become the leaders of the next generation and of the future if we don’t even show them how to imagine that?” she said.
Fluke added that it’s not just young women that need to be inspired by what they see in the media but also young men.
THR's Women in Entertainment 2012: Power 100
“They must grow up seeing equal representations of girls and boys in media so that they don’t regard those as girly shows, but more importantly, so that they too can imagine women being the leaders of the future and the next generation,” she said. “Because if boys can’t imagine that, then men won’t turn over those reins of power in male-dominated industries.”
Fluke gave credit to the many powerful women in the room for the strides that already have been made in representations of women in media. She specifically mentioned Mindy Kaling – who was the first speaker at Wednesday's event – for bringing The Mindy Project to life, and Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.
“And I’m sure many of you in this audience than I realize are changing the landscape of media,” she said. “So I’m talking about this not to lecture you but to ask you to renew your commitment.”
Fluke’s call-to-arms was followed by Scandal star Kerry Washington’s speech introducing THR’s Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program, and later in the morning, American Horror Story star Sarah Paulson introduced Diane Keaton, who received the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, which has gone to such stars as Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Jodie Foster, Halle Berry, Glenn Close and Barbara Walters.
Watch THR's red carpet interview with Fluke below.