Why The #MeToo and #TimesUp Movements Are Officially The Anthem of White Feminism

Ezinne Ukoha
Aug 9, 2018 · 8 min read

Disgraced Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein was arrested on May 25, 2018, as a result of criminal charges of sexually assault, levied on him from women within the industry, who were encouraged to share their horror stories after actress Rose McGowan’s decade-long efforts to use her own hellish testimony, as the weapon of mass destruction.

The ripple effect was the antidote for victims who had buried their harrowing experiences for fear that they would be shamed, or even worse, defeated by a system that had been set up to protect the high-powered harassers from any threats of damning exposure, since such public revelations could prove costly in more ways than one.

But after the initiation of organizations like Me Too and Time’s Up that comprised of mainly A-list White actresses with enough clout to intimidatingly exact justice on behalf of the fallen, both past and present, all bets were off. The heightened climate demanded a level of adherence that demanded the swift demise of illustrious careers, that had succumbed to the audacity of life-altering actions.

Suddenly a slew of heavy-hitters, who weren’t able to fall back on the privilege of Whiteness or the gold-plated resumes, that once made them virtually invincible were being cast out with immediacy.

The domino effect created the stunning realization of how media giants and the industry-at-large — perfected the art of glazing over suffocating symptoms of a viral disease — that went unchecked long enough to cause permanent damage.

In the midst of the ongoing quest for justice, that takes various forms of implementation that breeds incoherency when premature judgment is delivered with furiousness, even when it may not apply, and coherency when the perpetrator is caught in the net that meets the size requirement.

There’s also the hovering challenge of how the messaging has been hijacked by notable White women.

When #MeToo started trending, the assignment of relevance was handed to actress Alyssa Milano, who used Twitter as her portal of social consciousness, by tasking users to share their personal stories of abuse. It was initially assumed that Milano had been the creator when in fact it was an African-American activist, Tarana Burke, who founded Me Too over a decade ago.

Milano’s pledge to popularize a movement that was created by a Black woman is a clear indication of how White women were already poised to center themselves in a narrative that affects young girls and women from all walks of life — all over the globe.

Before long, we were privy to the roster of actresses that had allegedly been blacklisted by Harvey Weinstein for the crime of rejecting his inappropriate advances. The good news is that their years of mandated inactivity has come to an end, as industry trades spread the news of castings in upcoming projects — as the necessary payback.

But as White actresses are receiving their due, actresses of color are feeling rejected and dejected as they struggle to match the public validation of their apparently more esteemed counterparts.

Earlier this year, Emmy-nominated actress Thandie Newton, best known for her stellar work on HBO’s Westworld, expressed her pain and frustration at being excluded from the formation of the #TimesUp movement, that was shepherded by a collection of big names, including Jessica Chastain, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Tracee Ellis Ross, Rashida Jones, and Tessa Thompson — to name a few.

Newton, who has been quite transparent about the treatment she endured at the hands of Aussie director John Duigan, while filming the coming-of-age classic Flirting, which also stars Kidman — was compelled to admit how she felt slighted and even betrayed by the notion that her voice wasn’t relevant enough to be added to the conversation.

Her reasoning for the blatant exclusion borders on the belief that her modest status in the industry disqualifies her from making the cut. Plus, the award-season of 2017–2018 was all about red carpet activism, and the badges of all-black ensembles mixed with floral accompaniments. If you weren’t attending those events — that automatically deactivated your testimony.

Another Black actress who didn’t wait for the trend of “activism” to propel her pursuits, is Gabrielle Union, who has also been ceremoniously regulated to the back of the bus, despite the bravery behind her admission about being raped, and how that violent episode shaped her adult life.

Ironically enough, actress and White feminist, Lena Dunham who spends part of her time, using her privilege to discredit women of color who heroically share their tales of abuse, was famously called out by Tessa Thompson for attempting to insert herself in the Times Up movement, despite not contributing anything meaningful during the early stages of development.

Once shit hit the fan, as media outlets highlighted Thompson’s summation of Dunham’s inactivity and thirstiness for attention, the Sorry to Bother You actress was forced to promptly issue a retraction, that was supposed to be in the spirit of diplomacy.

But the damage to Dunham’s waning credibility was already done.

For those of us who had suspected her insincere tactics, it served as the long-awaited validation, while also solidifying the value of Whiteness, that consistently undermines the worth of women of color, who have to ultimately eat the shit, even when they’ve been vindicated.

It’s debilitatingly exhausting to consistently play second fiddle to the societal coddling of White women, who possess the fragility that elevates their status at the expense of those who have also earned the right to be protected, and supported with similar attentiveness.

The genesis of the movements that have been instituted to provide the portal of justice for all victims of abuse seems to be constructed on the viability of famous White victims, who suffered the worst from titans of the industry, and therefore have the leverage to make their tales of survival take centerstage, in ways that birth an homage to the epicenter of their trials.

Aside from White actresses regaining control over their previously stalled careers, there’s the casting call for top White actresses in Hollywood to embody the roles of real life survivors, in projects that have been commissioned in honor of a narrative that has now become something very different from what we all envisioned.

An untitled movie about former Fox News CEO, Roger Ailes who was forced out of his long-held position after he was pummeled with allegations of sexual assault by former and current employees, including Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly — is presently in the works.

The announcement is significant because of the timing, which has everything to do with capitalizing on the “trend of the moment,” as well as the list of characters and the ultra-popular actresses vying for the coveted roles.

So far, A-listers like Charlize Theron who has been cast as Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman, who recently nabbed the role of Gretchen Carlson, have officially joined the party. There’s still more than a handful that need to be assigned, but that’s the least of the problems plaguing this ill-devised project.

It’s interesting that Kelly, who is now helping to woefully scorch the environment at NBC, is now front and center in this conversation, when you factor in the venomous stance she habitually projects when it comes to Black women who’ve been tragically wronged by the same system she benefits from.

She spent her tenure at Fox, berating Black children for believing that Jesus Christ and Santa Clause resembled their template, while also condemning the spirit of Sandra Bland, by blaming her for inciting the ire of an irrational thug, who physically assaulted an unarmed Black woman before tossing her in the cell that killed her.

It’s off-putting that Megyn Kelly is able to benefit from the savviness of the movements that are in place to validate her as a survivor, as well as placing her plight in a category that certifies her testimony as “worthy enough” for the Hollywood treatment. And while I won’t attempt to downplay her unfortunate encounter with the villain, who has since passed away, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the poignant differences in reception.

White feminists typically ignore the plight of Black women like Sandra Bland, who are targets of extreme brutality at the hands of White cops. They may not echoKelly’s callousness by publicly vilifying the vulnerable, but their traditional method of remaining silent — speaks volumes and endorses the disingenuousness behind their all-too convenient mantra that claims to include ALL victims of abuse.

If that’s truly the case, then why are young Black women still not garnering any kind of support or avid recognition for the very public way in which they are violently assaulted by those who are supposed to protect them?

White women are allowed to express anger and toss out insults when they’re asked to pull over — without the threat of being dangerously manhandled and carted off to jail. But Black women can’t even dare question a state trooper, as a law-abiding citizen with rights, because her inquiry easily translates into the “an angry Black woman” syndrome.

This assumption of Black women having bad enough attitudes to cost them their lives, or at the very least brutal beatdown, is the reason why Chikesia Clemons is yet to be embraced by the prominent folds of the Me Too and Time’s Up movements. It also explains why despite the viral video that graphically proves the abuse she suffered at the hands of rogue cops, she was still found guilt of “disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.”

This grossly unfair outcome would never afflict a White woman in America. White feminists are aware of the power they wield, and how their tears are always purified enough to cleanse way their sins.

Melania Trump echoed her husband’s bullish ways back when Obama’s nationality was the pending item, and yet there are more than a handful of essays that propel the sanctity of her station. Ivanka Trump has provided ample proof that she isn’t interested in championing any causes that don’t align with her dad’s toxic administration, but she and her equally diabolical hubby are still able to enjoy a soothing spread in The New York Times — that aims to humanize dispositions.

White feminism has an annoying way of being scathingly elitist — not to mention downright pompous. That’s evident in the upcoming film that will undoubtedly be an Oscar contender, as well as the game-changer for an industry that already services the needs of White movie stars.

If that weren’t the case — Chikesia Clemons would’ve been registered by at least one of the movements that are secured for that very mission. But the members are too busy propping their careers and lending voices to issues that satisfy their specific palettes.

Oscar-nominated actress and Time’s Up soldier — Jessica Chastain may not be joining her fellow comrades in the movie of the century, but she is co-producing another film that’s currently embroiled in controversy due to the attached director, who has a history of “assault and domestic violence.”

Perhaps, the failure of these initiatives to maintain some level of cohesiveness can be attributed to the biased system that only works for some, while canceling out others. And there won’t be revisions to this script, unless White feminists stop thriving from gross negligence.

If victims of abuse have to be color coded for validation, then both these movements have dishonored their mission statements. At this point, we can conclude that the Hollywood treatment being applied to real life scenarios has already permanently defined the future.

And that’s just the Whiteness of the matter.

Ezinne Ukoha

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say, so bear with me. https://medium.com/membership

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