Christiana Ajai

White Feminism Has Helped Men Like Harvey Weinstein And Neglected Black Women

Over the past few weeks numerous allegations of sexual abuse have been made against  American film producer Harvey Weinstein. Women have bravely stepped out of hiding to make everyone aware of the gross misconduct of a man with great power in Hollywood. This included the experiences of celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevigne, Rose McGowan and Gwyneth Paltrow – to name a few.

The result of this was Weinstein being ousted from his production company as well as having his membership of the Academy revoked.

As more and more stories are told and the truth continues to be uncovered, one can’t help but notice how this has become the focus of white feminists everywhere. Rose McGowan has spent much of her time tweeting about her experience of men in Hollywood, often calling out some by name, but with this she’s brought a very closed minded approach to tackling misogyny.  Recently, she tried to compare use of the word ‘woman’ to the N-word in attempt to show why jokes made by James  Corden about the Weinstein situation were bad.

Her comment highlighted a lack of intersectionality in many white women’s feminism as she ignored the misogyny and racism black women often experience together.

White feminism has latched onto the current issue of sexual abuse in Hollywood whether it be through the hypocrisy of actresses like Blake Lively who labelled Weinstein’s actions as something that “cannot happen, this should not happen.” but worked with a known abuser, Woody Allen, and even defended him in 2016; or through ‘which was an oxymoronic attempt to fight against the silencing of women by…being silent. It’s evident that the white women of Hollywood are, yet again, doing the bare minimum by releasing statements of shock and horror at the sexism that has existed for years in the industry, and are being praised for it.

Most recently Lupita Nyong’O gave her experience of sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein. As the first black woman to give her story, her courage was important to a situation that seemed to only be affecting white Hollywood. In fact, her account of being a student harassed by a grown man was representative of the more hidden women in the industry who can experience the same harassment as big name celebrities. However, her story was undercut by a grab for attention by Weinstein himself. In his first and only response to a specific allegation, he claimed to have a different recollection of the events.

Weinstein feeling the need to respond to Lupita’s, and only Lupita’s, allegation was a clear display of misogynoir. The message he essentially put out was ‘I don’t want people to think I would have sex with a black women.’

Misogynoir is rampant in Hollywood as seen in tendency to cast light skin women for dark skin female roles but cast dark skin men for dark skin male roles, as well as, the overall lack of roles for black women that don’t involve being a caricature of a stereotype. Black women have gone long enough being silenced and will not stand for men like Harvey Weinstein trying to invalidate out experiences.

It’s time for sexual abuse of black women in Hollywood to stop being overshadowed by white feminism and white male misogyny. Both of these work by ignoring the experiences of black women in favor of white women. Whilst white men continue to sexually harass women in Hollywood, white feminists continue to do nothing but waste their time on meaningless campaigns. Until white feminists become aware of the fact that being a women in Hollywood, and in general, becomes harder when you’re black – nothing they do will help anyone other than  privileged white women. Until white men realize they are not entitled to women’s bodies and stop fetishizing the black female – sexual abuse will continue.

Dear White Hollywood, stop sensationalizing sexual abuse and start doing things that will actually lead to progress. Stop tweeting your thoughts and prayers to the victims and start listening to them in the first place – maybe then they won’t end up victims.

Stop allowing abusers to continue being successful, stop working with them. Let them know their behaviour won’t be tolerated and let victims know that you’ll still care when allegations don’t appear on such a large scale as they have in the case of Harvey Weinstein.

Help us to stop abuse of all women, not just the privileged and white.