UPDATE: Since, Lupita Nyong’o’s op-ed of her alleged sexual harassment encounter(s) involving Harvey Weinstein in the New York Times, Weinstein has now responded with a statement refuting her account via his spokesmen to E! Entertainment News.
“Mr. Weinstein has a different recollection of the events, but believes Lupita is a brilliant actress and a major force for the industry,” says a representative for Weinstein to E! News. “Last year, she sent a personal invitation to Mr. Weinstein to see her in her Broadway show Eclipsed.”
It’s quite interesting that Weinstein decided to provide a rebuttal statement (not to mention, within just 48-hours) to Nyong’o’s recount since, he hasn’t provided any personal statements denying any of the other 40+ women including top Hollywood actresses that have come out with their own claims. Begging the question, is his statement only happening now because Lupita Nyong’o is black?
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It’s only been a little over two weeks since the bombshell news of the now disgraced Executive Film Producer Harvey Weinstein made headlines; since then, numerous sexual harassment lawsuits have and continue to be filed. While the overall telling stories and accounts from countless A-List actresses including Rose Mcgowan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie to Cara Delevingne flood every news outlet and social media timeline. The allegations currently span back to 1990. What’s even more strikingly prominent to me is a point that completely stood out without vocal attention until now. From the many women that continue to pour out their frightfully, alleged detailed sexual harassment stories involving Weinstein, there were absolutely no accounts from women of color.
This question initially came to mind when the list of women were revealed and were all white. Leaving me to wonder about Weinstein’s preferences in women personally that seemed to have overlapped into his professional life (who he cast and works with) and the overall thought of the Hollywood elite’s mindset and, the racial hierarchy that is so prevalent when it comes to women of color; being cast in A-List roles and/or on the “casting couch.” Though, my initial questions were put to rest yesterday when Oscar award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o revealed her allegations of not one but two encounters with Harvey Weinstein, in an open letter to the New York Times; where she expressed meeting Weinstein while finishing undergrad at Yale.
The details of the incidents are in tandem with the many other actresses corresponding accounts we’ve heard recently. Nyong’o tells of her being invited to watch a film with Weinstein’s family, including his children, in which he lured her into another room, where he requested a massage and proceeded to undress.
Harvey led me into a bedroom — his bedroom — and announced that he wanted to give me a massage. I thought he was joking at first. He was not. For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe. I panicked a little and thought quickly to offer to give him one instead: It would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times.
Part of our drama school curriculum at Yale included body work, using massage techniques on one another to understand the connection between body, mind and emotion, and so I felt I could rationalize giving him one and keep a semblance of professionalism in spite of the bizarre circumstance. He agreed to this and lay on the bed. I began to massage his back to buy myself time to figure out how to extricate myself from this undesirable situation. Before long he said he wanted to take off his pants. I told him not to do that and informed him that it would make me extremely uncomfortable. He got up anyway to do so and I headed for the door, saying that I was not at all comfortable with that. “If we’re not going to watch the film, I really should head back to school,” I said.
Lupita Nyong’o’s stories are prettifying at the thought of her not only being a young college student during her these encounters but, also being forced to engage in unwanted physical interaction with Weinstein, a powerful force in Hollywood. Rather then feeling empowered enough to say no because the sexually harassed are made to feel like the culprits, leaving the disturbing event feeling voiceless, powerless and victimized. Not to mention, him being a powerful man in Hollywood. On top off Nyong’o’s story, there are sure to be countless more women of color that have also been sexually harassed and have been made to feel voiceless or powerless; and, it’s because of her riveting personal account, many more will come to light, soon enough.
Lest we forget, all women are not created equal in America and Hollywood is not excluded. The racial hierarchy is alive and well however, thank God for Lupita Nyong’o telling her story because there are countless women of color that have been sexually harassed and face racial misogynistic transgressions everyday, within Hollywood and in numerous other industries like white women. Yet, their voices are not often heard because of race, social status and yes, gender.
Reminder, the hashtag #MeToo that was originated and created by a black woman named, Tarana Burke however, it took for a white woman and actress Alyssa Milano, to make it become a now socially relevant movement on Twitter, Instagram and beyond. Though, Burke’s work has been pushing this movement forward for over a decade. With the organization MeToo described as a place that’s “supporting and amplifying the voices of survivors of sexual abuse, assault and exploitation,” through the help of workshops, community organization and of course, social media. The #MeToo’s hashtag timeline and its originating history was brought to light by others, who decided to address this continuing trend in social media, one that stood out was a tweet posted by writer Britini Danielle, who kept it short, factual and to the point.
— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) October 16, 2017
Lupita Nyong’o’s is the first woman of color to express her own Harvey Weinstein story however, she won’t be the last and just today another account of misogyny was brought to the forefront when Grammy award winning singer and actress Jill Scott, spoke out about her own recount with Harvey Weinstein via Twitter. Not about physical sexual harassment but, about her story of sexism with heavy misogynistic undertones, during a meeting with Weinstein, read it below:
1) When I met Harvey Weinstein, he was RUDE. In the NASTIEST tone he said “Who told you to get pregnant?!” And rolled his eyes in disgust.
— ⭐Jill Scott⭐ (@missjillscott) October 20, 2017
2) I stayed away from him after. Who acts that way towards a pregnant woman?? Power to all the women bullied by assholes. Power in general.
— ⭐Jill Scott⭐ (@missjillscott)
October 20, 2017
Sexual harassment is a violation no doubt about it but harassment also comes in many other forms, which include the physical, mental and emotional abuse. Scott’s account reveals how a woman can be disrespected for having the freedom to be pregnant without the likelihood of being scolded at work or in a professional situation for it. Sexism is alive and well. While her short, telling account did not involve physical interaction no man, not Harvey Weinstein or anyone else deserves to berate woman for being a woman.