As a Black woman, I won’t say #Metoo in Rose McGowan’s* movement
Even with our bodies constantly being fetishized, there seems to be no way for Black women to be believed and protected.
by Tynesha McCullers
A few weeks back, TIME Magazine recognized the #SilenceBreakers as the 2017 “[People] of the Year.” While I am thankful that this honor was not given to the person who is currently in charge of our country, or given to other political leaders or affluent white men, I am more than a little irritated by this execution.
Truthfully, the #SilenceBreakers and the #MeToo movement, as curated by Rose McGowan, never appealed to me. To be honest, I thought that the spectacle at the Golden Globes would be the last of it, but I was wrong. E! just recently announced that McGowan, will be starring in her own #MeToo reality docu-series, entitled Citizen Rose. In it, she will discuss her experiences as a survivor of sexual assault, her* #MeToo movement, and how she is working to heal herself and others.
The #MeToo Campaign took social media by storm after women began coming forward to reveal that they had been sexually harassed and assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. What followed was an outpouring of even more allegations against other Hollywood heavy hitters committing sexual assaults on actresses. With #MeToo, people were sharing their experiences with sexually harassment or sexually assault, in the workplace and beyond, in support of other women with similar experiences.
I did not say #MeToo in Rose McGowan’s* movement. As a Black woman, my humanity is denied time and time again and any type of sexual assault or harassment I endure would never be considered with the same urgency as it is for wealthy white actresses.
The lack of empathy for Black women who experience these same things was evident when Lupita Nyong’o spoke out about having similar experiences with Weinstein while she was studying at Yale University. Nyong’o recalls feeling uncomfortable about Weinstein’s inappropriate behavior during the incident at the time, and even afterwards, but ultimately downplayed it. She didn’t want to “overthink” the situation, nor did she want to deal with inevitable gaslighting responses from skeptics.
Even after all she bared so much of herself in solidarity with others who had experienced sexual harassment, the support for her was minimal and indifferent at best. Weinstein responded to Nyong’o and denied her claims, even though he had not publicly responded to any other accusers, all of whom had been non-Black. She was gaslighted and there was doubt cast on her lived experiences in a way that it had not been on others. This response to her testimony was disappointing and quite shameful, but also not surprising to me.
You should know the name of Tarana Burke by now. The Black woman who created the #MeToo campaign a decade before this new one appeared. But, as per usual, she is not receiving her due credit and shine for it. I was frustrated by TIME Magazine and their portrayal of the #SilenceBreakers because they barely acknowledged Burke’s efforts in founding this movement. She wasn’t even given space on the cover.
And now, McGowan is receiving a 5-part docu-series about a movement that she did not create. She has even been described by USA Today as “the loudest, most angriest leader of the #MeToo Movement.” White women get to be loud and angry; Black women do not.
This is yet another reminder of why I cannot, in good faith, say #Metoo in Rose McGowan’s* movement.
A decade ago, a dark-skinned Black woman acknowledged that she had been sexually violated, created a movement so that others could share their similar stories and work against it together, and stayed committed to doing the work of combating rape culture for all these years. Then, all of a sudden, Rose McGowan appropriates #MeToo while sharing her story, and gets immediate support and solidarity from other actresses. She’s received credit for a movement that she did not create, gotten a television deal and a book deal, and gained a huge following. And she did so by stealing a movement. This narrative is tired as hell.
USA Today said:
“By going up against the Hollywood machine, McGowan has shown true courage in the face of adversity, and this documentary will take you behind the scenes of her tumultuous and fascinating life,” E! gushed in its announcement. “She will process, in almost real time, the massive social change she has helped usher in, as well as fight back against those who have hurt so many, including her.”
McGowan is now being offered multiple platforms to speak about the work that Tarana Burke and so many other activists of color have been doing for the last decade.
Burke won’t receive the same platforms or the same kind of support for the movement that she founded, in part because because sexual violence against Black women is never taken seriously enough. We see this evident with the differing responses to McGowan and Nyong’o.
Even with our bodies constantly being fetishized, imitated, or exaggerated, there seems to be no way for Black women to be believed and protected, even by other women.
So congratulations to all those in the #RoseArmy who feel included and supported in her* movement that continues to receive international recognition. It must be nice to live in a world that not only values your humanity, but believes you and credits you as well. I can only hope that someday that will be the case for women who look like Tarana Burke.
Editor’s Note: *This shit ain’t hers
Tynesha is a strong-willed higher education professional in the DMV with a passion for social justice. Born and raised in North Carolina as Baptist, Tynesha is true to southern roots. Tynesha has a B.S. in Human Development and a Master of Education. Tynesha’s interests include watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, singing, painting, traveling.