The sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein only caught on because the accusers “are famous and White and everybody knows them,” Jane Fonda said in a recent interview.
The actress was a guest on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes, alongside feminist icon Gloria Steinem, to discuss the Weinstein scandal, and how it has become a watershed moment on how the nation views sexual harassment and assault. But the incident also highlighted how cases involving women of color are received very differently by the public.
“It feels like something has shifted,” Fonda said. “It’s too bad that it’s probably because so many of the women that were assaulted by Harvey Weinstein are famous and white and everybody knows them.”
She added: “This has been going on a long time to black women and other women of color and it doesn’t get out quite the same.”
Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by a number of Hollywood actress including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Ashley Judd among others. Allegations of his sexual misconduct— one of Hollywood’s worst kept secrets—was first published in the New York Times.
Weinstein only chose to directly respond to accusations by Lupita Nyong’o’s, the only Black woman to step forward.
In recent months, harassment stories about former Fox executive Roger Ailes, former Fox anchor Bill O’Reilly, veteran journalist Mark Halperin, director James Toback and even former president George H.W. Bush have been covered to varied degrees. All their victims, it appears, are White women
In comparison, another jaw-dropping article about the sexual misdeeds of R Kelly was published last week by Rolling Stone. His former girlfriend, a Black woman, accused the R&B singer of sexual assault and abuse against her and others.
But the response, like many times before, was lackluster because his victims are all Black women, says Jim DeRogatis, the veteran Chicago journalist that has doggedly covered the decades-long sexual misconduct of R. Kelly.
“I’ve said it often, and I’m paraphrasing Malcolm X by way of Mark Anthony Neal, a great African-American scholar. “Nobody matters less in society than young Black women,” he said in an interview with VOX.