Oprah Winfrey calls for women to 'redefine' American norms: 'We live in a country that has somehow confused cruel with funny'


Oprah Winfrey delivered the keynote address Wednesday at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit in New York City, where she urged women to "redefine" problematic cultural norms plaguing the United States.

"We live in a country that has somehow confused cruel with funny," she said, continuing, "serious with intelligent, attitude with belief, personal freedom with stockpiling assault weapons, and what is moral with what is legal."

In turn, "it is time for women in the world to set the agenda," she said. "It's time for women to redefine the message. We need to make that message a positive one. Let's make it ambitious, and inclusive, and brimming with hope."

During an earlier panel discussion that touched on online propaganda and harassment, Maria Ressa, CEO and Executive Editor of Rappler, emphasized how social media can amplify negative messaging.

"We're living in a war zone. It's information warfare and hate being used to stifle us," she said. "Beyond the threats against women, this is death by a thousand cuts of democracy."

Also taking the stage was "Captain Marvel" star Brie Larson, who spoke on equal pay and opportunity in the film industry, and human rights activists Safa Al-Ahmad and Manal Al-Sharif, who discussed the complexities of Saudi Arabia's human rights violations under the direction of the government.

"It's a dictatorship. It's a theocracy. There are no rights for anyone. They do not believe in the rights of their citizens," Al-Ahmad said. "We have to push for more complex understanding of the endemic suffering of the people themselves."

The sister of imprisoned Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul, who was beaten and tortured after rebelling against the government by driving a car, also delivered a powerful speech.

"Speak up, and fight for my sister," she said. "For all the Saudi activists who have been unjustly imprisoned and brutally tortured ... Our silence will not keep them safe."


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