Sunday's Grammy Awards have already been filled with plenty of powerful performances from Annie Lennox to Pharrell Williams. However, the most moving and important message of the ceremony came from the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Before Katy Perry's performance of "By the Grace of God," Obama appeared on screen to speak to artists and their fans about the overwhelming number of women who have been victims of rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence here in America. His message was direct, harrowing, and incredibly important. Violence against women has to stop, it simply has to stop — and we are all responsible, men and women. It's on us.
What's most pointed about this PSA is that the President did not use the tired, "Mother, daughter, sister" rhetoric that often surrounds the conversation about domestic abuse. Just last year the White House released a PSA urging men to join the movement, but only placed value on women as, "mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters" — or in their direct relation to men rather than human beings, independent of men. Tonight the President reminded all of us that all of us that this is about demanding the rights of women to live freely and safely.
Following Obama was Domestic Violence activist Brooke Axtell who spoke frankly and powerfully about her own experience as a domestic abuse survivor. Her words landed especially hard, as she was speaking to an organization who gave Chris Brown three nominations this year. The hypocrisy of his recognition could not be any louder than it is right now. However, Axtell's words were not just meant to condemn abusers, but to empower sufferers to reclaim their status as whole, important human beings deserving of love.
In her own words, "Authentic love does not devalue another human. Authentic love does not silence, shame or abuse."
See the President's full statement here: