When Glamour first announced U2 frontman Bono won one of its Women of the Year awards, the internet was not happy. But the end of his speech still saw a standing ovation, and turned the internet’s anger into praise.
Bono was recognized for his support of women’s issues, including an initiative called Poverty is Sexist. Other award winners included Simone Biles, the record-breaking Olympic gymnast; Nadia Murad, the young Iraqi woman who escaped enslavement by ISIS; Alicia Garza, Patrice Cullors and Opal Tometi, the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement; and Emily Doe, the anonymous survivor of sexual assault who read a powerful statement at the sentencing of her assaulter, Brock Turner.
Bono was introduced by Amy Poehler, a comedian who is most well-known for her character Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec, who ironically was passed up for a woman’s award in favor of a man on the show.
“What an exciting time for men. Can you feel it? Finally! There’s something in the air tonight,” Poehler said. “I think it’s gonna be hard to give another one of these awards next year, because, frankly, there is no one better deserving than Bono. And also we are gonna spend the next four years watching white men congratulate themselves.”
But Poehler was quick to get serious, saying, “People like Bono give me faith in men,” before handing over the award.
Bono, for his part, was quick to acknowledge criticism of him getting the award, calling Glamour’s decision “a bit ridiculous.”
“But if I didn’t know how ridiculous it was, I did have the blessed Internet to remind me. I kept some of the best ones,” Bono said, before reading off some tweets, including his “favorite” that said his transition lenses “make him look like a 75-year-old lady from Miami.”
But Bono said this was one of the few awards that caused genuine excitement in his home, especially for his daughters.
“There is nowhere on Earth where women have the same opportunities as men, and that unless we address this problem, both women and men together — our world will continue down this misogynistic, violent, and impoverished path,” Bono said.
He said he asked his wife, Ali Stewart, what he should say during his speech, and quoted what she told him 40 years ago, when they started dating.
“Don’t look down at me. But don’t look up at me either,” Bono quoted. “Look across to me. I’m here.”
He also had a sad message, saying the outcome of the election made him stop believing that progress towards equality was inevitable. But he ended his speech with some fighting words specifically addressed to President-elect Donald Trump.
“Look across to women. Make equality a priority. It is the only way forward,” Bono said. “The train is leaving the station. Be on it or be under it.”
And Bono wasn’t the only one with words for Trump. Emily Doe, the pseudonym for the woman sexually assaulted by Brock Turner, had Stanford Law School professor Michelle Dauber accept the award on her behalf and read a statement.
“I’m devastated that we have elected a president who bragged about committing sexual assault,” Dauber said before reading Doe’s letter. “However, now it’s time to get to work.”
“With every set back, the world should know every survivor has a story. Every story is our power,” Dauber read. “Together, we are louder than any system or person who threatens to silence us. Together we are countless and unstoppable. Now, we are indignantly rising. Be excited. Keep going. I’ll be fighting alongside you.”