Junot Díaz accused of sexual harassment and sexist behavior
Junot Díaz, the award-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, has been accused of sexual harassment and misogyny in the literary world by fellow woman authors Zinzi Clemmons, Monica Byrne, Carmen Maria Machado, and others.
Clemmons shared that, as a grad student, she invited Díaz to speak on representation. He then “used it as an opportunity to corner and forcibly kiss” her.
As a grad student, I invited Junot Diaz to speak to a workshop on issues of representation in literature. I was an unknown wide-eyed 26 yo, and he used it as an opportunity to corner and forcibly kiss me. I'm far from the only one he's done this 2, I refuse to be silent anymore.
— zinziclemmons (@zinziclemmons) May 4, 2018
Monica Byrne states she disagreed with Díaz on a small point at a dinner, and he shouted the word “rape” in her face to prove a point. Bryne describes the encounter as “completely bizarre, disproportionate, and violent.”
I was 32 and my first novel hadn’t come out yet. I was invited to a dinner and sat next to him. I disagreed with him on a minor point. He shouted the word “rape” in my face to prove his. It was completely bizarre, disproportionate, and violent. https://t.co/WQr0hLW8Z5
— Monica Byrne (@monicabyrne13) May 4, 2018
Carmen Maria Machado details how Díaz “went off” on her for twenty minutes simply for questioning the “unhealthy, pathological relationship” the protagonist of his work, THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER, had with women.
During his tour for THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER, Junot Díaz did a Q&A at the grad program I'd just graduated from. When I made the mistake of asking him a question about his protagonist's unhealthy, pathological relationship with women, he went off for me for twenty minutes. https://t.co/7wuQOarBIJ
— Carmen Maria Machado (@carmenmmachado) May 4, 2018
Alisa Valdes, an award-winning TV reporter and best selling author, also published a lengthy post on her site about her encounters with Díaz. She states she was “was starstruck and excited to meet him” as they were “two bright rising star Latino writers.” Valdes later details that Díaz became “misogynistic, demeaning and cruel” during their relationship.
Junot Díaz is the most recent popular figure to be accused of sexual harassment in the #MeToo movement. Díaz gave a statement in response to these accusations via his literary agent, stating, “I take responsibility for my past. That is the reason I made the decision to tell the truth of my rape and its damaging aftermath. This conversation is important and must continue. I am listening to and learning from women’s stories in this essential and overdue cultural movement. We must continue to teach all men about consent and boundaries.”
Boston Children’s Museum has canceled Díaz’s book reading this Thursday. Jo-Anne Baxter, the museum’s spokeswoman, said they were concerned visitors would be put in an “uncomfortable or confusing situation.” Díaz also withdrew from Sydney Writers’ Festival in Australia this past weekend.