If only Harvey Weinstein had taken a course in intersectional feminism, perhaps blacks would win more Oscars.
That appears to be the claim coming from a BuzzFeed writer who argues the lack of diversity among Weinstein’s victims betrays a larger problem with Hollywood and how it perceives black women.
In the wake of the initial sexual assault and rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein that blew up on the New York Times, numerous models and actresses have come forward to speak about their experiences with the Hollywood mogul—all of which paint a monstrous picture of the man who helped finance and produce the some of the biggest films over the last few decades.
While the media investigates their experiences with Weinstein, one BuzzFeed writer has other concerns: the lack of diversity among his alleged victims, who—apart from Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o—are mainly Caucasian.
Writing on Buzzfeed, black feminist Bim Adewunmi laments the lack of intersectionality among his victims. He laments that Weinstein was not an equal-opportunity sex predator—a trait that’s reflective of Hollywood standards of sexual desirablity. She says that the reason black women don’t get leading roles in movies is because they are seen as “not fuckable” by producers like Weinstein, whose sexual preferences only extends toward white women.
Rather than focusing on the predatory aspects of his alleged behavior, Adewunmi says his behavior highlights the issue of race. She calls it the “elephant in Harvey Weinstein’s hotel room,” and speaks as though being targeted by a sexual predator is somehow positive.
The elephant in the room in discussions about the alleged crimes and misdemeanors of Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein looks eerily similar to an elephant of the past. It is the Race elephant. And among the allegations, the question of race is one that we are not really looking to engage with, because it is knotty and gnarly. But it bears talking about, because there are black women in Hollywood, and not talking about it does us all a disservice.
In Hollywood, where both racism and sexism are rampant, what can look like a sort of mitigated blessing ends up highlighting another insidious problem in (the societal microcosm that is) Hollywood: Black women do not often come up for the kind of prestigious high-profile and award-winning roles that a producer with Weinstein’s power could offer.
If we are to discern a general message about black women (and other women of color) from the product churned out by Hollywood, it is that they are not seen as leading role material, and that is intertwined with the idea that they are not desirable “trophies.”
She adds that the only women allowed into his hotel room were white—a line of alleged victims that included even those from the “lowest levels of the industry.”
In an industry as white as Hollywood, the racially problematic “attraction question” is part of what reduces the shelf life of black actresses as a matter of course, causing many of them to get half as far in twice the time it takes their white counterparts. To be deemed “fuckable” is not the honor a certain kind of man (and woman) believes it to be, but the ideas of fuckability are entrenched, and they serve to exclude black women very early on in the conversation — while dooming the women who do go on to get the roles to gross sexual harassment or assault
She concludes her article by stating that of all the movies produced by Weinstein’s company, very few of them have featured black women in leading roles. It’s a bad thing, she says, for black women to have avoided victimization by Harvey Weinstein because of his lack of interest in them.
A cursory glance of both companies’ slates suggests fewer than 10 films starring black women or other women of color, Jackie Brown (1997), Frida (2002), Bride and Prejudice (2004), and Southside With You (2016) being the most recognizable. Black women weren’t even making it into Weinstein’s predatory thought process except, probably, to be expressly excluded.
Who would’ve thought that someone could argue for intersectionality among sex predators’ sexual preferences?
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