Actor and activist Amandla Stenberg chose to open up about her sexual assault in an op-ed for Teen Vogue published Saturday. In the powerfully penned piece, the Hate U Give star wrote about her own experiences with sexual assault and explains she felt compelled to go public with her own story after watching the Kavanaugh hearings and listening to Dr. Ford’s testimony.
“As I live-streamed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony in a hotel room and a humid drizzle painted the windows an opaque gray, I found myself relying heavily on the tool of my breath… My breath was the tool I relied on when I ended up in a foreign country on a three-hour train ride to find an emergency contraceptive,” she wrote. “The night before, what started as a consensual experience had turned forceful. Painful things had been done to my body that made me feel broken and disposable. I was unable to consent to them, and was silenced verbally and physically when I protested.”
The actress goes on to describe the emotional weight she carried after this traumatic experience, feeling at times guilty, as though what happened to her had somehow been her fault. “I was sitting in that soup of guilt and shame that often follows an unwarranted sexual experience,” she said. “My body hurt and my mind was on a one-track loop, dissecting all the things that I was culpable for, that must have led me to my predicament.”
Stenberg explains that her assaulter was someone who was “respected” by her peers, stating: “It seemed to me that often the trade-off of being invited into spaces by these sorts of cis straight men and getting their approval was the acceptance that what I had to contribute was the value of my body as a woman. Implicit within that was the notion that, because my body served such a transactional purpose, it was no longer just my property. That was a form of social currency I was familiar with and, honestly, at times accepted.”
An often-debated topic throughout the Kavanaugh hearings revolved around the question of whether or not Dr. Ford should have come forward with the sexual assault allegation sooner. But as Stenberg points out in her essay, doing so immediately throws assault survivors into “a battle where you’ve been appointed defender of your own legitimacy.” She goes on: “You are given the responsibility of, after having just been subjected to devastating trauma, navigating impossible protocols, lest you be charged as the culprit in your own attack. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Damned to subject yourself to physical and public scrutiny, more vulnerability and social repercussions, or damned to allow the residual feelings to fester inside. Either way, you sacrifice comfort and safety within your own body, and sometimes it’s easier to just keep that pain to yourself and hope it goes away. And that is understandable and OK. We should not be condemned for being unsure of how to move through pain.”
Ultimately, it was watching Dr. Ford’s testimony that pushed the actress to “move through discomfort that [she’d] buried” and speak out: “Although these tipping points are chaotic, disorienting, infuriating, and often heartbreaking, I like to believe that real change begins with the eruption of truth.”
Throughout the past two weeks, much of the country’s headlines have surrounded Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation hearings have proceeded onward toward his final confirmation vote scheduled for this afternoon. A major Thursday, September 27, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor from Palo Alto University, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee with an emotional, detailed account of a sexual assault, allegedly by Kavanaugh, in 1982. It’s an allegation that Kavanaugh has continuously, vehemently denied. Thus far, President Donald Trump has stood by his initial endorsement of Kavanaugh, taking to Twitter on the day of the Committee hearing to double down on his nomination.
Meanwhile, across the globe, First Lady Melania Trump has spent much of the past week on a solo international tour of Africa—her first since her husband took office—traveling to Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The White House has positioned this trip as an opportunity for the First Lady to learn more about “how the U.S. can play a role in providing assistance to help countries become self-sufficient” with a particular focus on “maternal and newborn care in hospitals [and] education for children.” While in Egypt on the tail end of her travels, Trump was asked by reporters if she agrees with her husband’s continued support of Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh.
“What I will say, if we’re talking about the Supreme Court and Judge Kavanaugh, I think he’s highly qualified for the Supreme Court,” she said. “I’m glad that Dr. Ford was heard; I’m glad that Judge Kavanaugh was heard. The FBI investigation was done, it’s completed, and [the] Senate voted.”
When pressed by the reporter as to whether she herself believed Dr. Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh, the First Lady initially declined to answer but returned to the question with a general statement: “I think all the victims—we need to help all the victims, no matter what kind of abuse they had, but I am against any kind of abuse or violence.”
Until now, that is: Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex are moving—across the yard.
According to MailOnline, Meghan and Harry are packing up their belongings and moving into their permanent home: an apartment in Kensington Palace. The outlet reports that the couple’s new home has been undergoing a year-long, £1.4 million (approximately $1.8 million) renovation, with a specific focus on repairs to the roof and windows, which explains why the Duke and Duchess have waited until now to finally move in.
The spectacular 21-room Apartment 1, located on the west side of the Palace, also neighbors the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who live in Apartment 1A. Take a look at the newlyweds’ new home below, when it was still under renovation:
The two sets of couples apparently even have adjoining doors! Yeah—we’re officially jealous.
October is the greatest month for your skin to really thrive. With summer’s humidity and profuse sweat in the rearview mirror, this month kicks off the perfect time to cozy up at home and add 10 new steps to your skin care routine. Dermstore is here to make self-care during sweater weather easier with a Friends & Family sale that lasts until Friday, October 12. A ton of great products from skin care brands like Sunday Riley, Herbivore Botanicals, Peter Thomas Roth and Nurse Jamie are on sale for 20 percent off. All you have to do is use the promo code, “FRIEND”. And since there are literally hundreds of options to choose from, we’ve narrowed it down to the absolute 18 best below.
Last night I was sitting on my couch, fondly thinking about Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again, as one does. It’s the perfect movie, about a woman living happily—instead of horror befalling her at every turn. Donna (played brilliantly by Lily James) is a sovereign nation unto herself. She’s independent. She does what she wants.
And that moment when Hugh Skinner (a.k.a. young Pierce Brosnan), looks at the floaty turquoise dress and said it’d look good on her, only for her to pop out with her thumbs stuck into her overall pockets, to laughingly say wow, he really didn’t know her at all? One, it makes my heart swell. She knows herself so well, and byeee to anyone who’s not here for it. Two, it’s a ready-made Halloween look.
I’m probably going to order overalls next week, and so is everyone else—according to Pinterest, saves for costumes inspired by Mamma Mia have gone up 1,636 percent this past year.
The shades are happy, but with dimension. They’re the kind of bubbly, fun, fearless colors that Donna’s style vibed with, while channeling the ’70s love for sparkle and color. The foil-finish spearmint, the seafoam (s/o to the dress), the forest greens, the yellowy grass tones, the blue-green jewel options: they’d make Donna proud. Cher, too—the icon shows up in the movie with a deep green shade on her lid, and freaking pulls it off.
Do her proud with the palette’s middle-left shade, add a boa on Halloween, and you’re set. The summery green at top-middle would pair easily with overalls for a day-of event, while the gold-tinged shade would match with any Dynamos-inspired costume. And for the seafoam dress that Donna passed over, the middle square’s emerald shade (or Dose of Colors’ option, below) would add a splash of distinction. Bold, loud, and unashamed—I know what I’ll be wearing come October 31. You?
Shop the perfect Mamma Mia shadows and costumes below:
The royal wedding happened all the way back in May, which means it’s been almost five whole months since Meghan Markle put on a tiara. As you’ll recall, she wore the [Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau Tiara](/story/meghan-markle-royal-wedding-tiara, a gorgeous headpiece made in 1932 that featured a stunning center brooch, a flexible platinum band, and more diamonds than we can count. Having been given the chance to rock such a sparkler like that, you’d think that Markle would be wearing tiaras left and right. Unfortunately, there are rules that govern when the Duchess of Sussex and other women in the royal family can and can’t wear a tiara. But her tiara-wearing dry spell might be coming to an end: According to Marie Claire, she just may be wearing her second tiara as a royal in just two weeks.
As Marie Claire reported, royal women can only wear tiaras after 6 p.m. (with the exception of very special occasions like royal weddings) and after they’re married. In fact, as we reported, Kate Middleton has only worn a tiara five times besides her own royal wedding, thrice for state banquets, once for an annual winter party at Buckingham Palace, and once for Chinese president Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan’s visit to the U.K.
Luckily, Marie Claire pointed out that there’s a state dinner hosted by Fijian president Jioji Konrote during Markle and Prince Harry’s first international royal tour. With this being almost guaranteed to be an event that requires formal evening wear, there’s definitely a possibility that the Duchess of Sussex will be able to show off another royal tiara. If so, will she pick the Spencer Tiara, famously worn by Princess Diana on her wedding day, the Queen Elizabeth II–approved Russian Fringe Tiara, the Strathmore Rose Tiara, or another diamond-encrusted heirloom?
If you’re anything like me, the totality of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination and all that has come with it has wreaked havoc on your brain, your soul, and your spirit. I’m furious. I’m sad. I’m somehow both emotionally spent and energized at the same time. And I’ve given myself whiplash vacillating between hopeful and utterly distraught about America’s future—especially for women.
On Friday, the GOP-led Senate plowed ahead, as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised, with a final vote presumed to happen on Saturday. And at the conclusion of her speech on the Senate floor this afternoon, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced that she would vote to confirm the nominee. She delivered what felt like an endless defense of Kavanaugh that seemed to prove she had never been quite on the fence about him after all.
Democrat Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) released a statement soon after Collins’ speech that he is also a “yes” on Kavanaugh. As it stands now, someone who’s been accused of sexual assault by a woman whom President Trump himself deemed a “credible” witness will be confirmed to sit on the United States Supreme Court for the rest of his life.
Far be it from me to tell you how you should process this entire mess. (I’ve wept, screamed aloud in my apartment, self-soothed with sugar, and tried to write my way through it.) But I’ve also learned that when I can channel my rage, passion, and, yes, pain into something more tangible, I feel a hell of a lot better. So, a proposal: join me?
This weekend, three of my favorite progressive organizations—Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPFA), Swing Left, and Organizing for Action—have banded together to create a Women’s Health Day of Action. And it’s tomorrow, October 6—as in Saturday, the day that Kavanaugh might just win his nomination battle.
Their goal is simple: to help elect pro-women’s health candidates and regain a progressive majority in the House of Representatives. To that end, they have identified 16 House districts in seven states to support on October 6. Hundreds of volunteers will be working with the campaigns directly to knock on tens of thousands of doors to get out the vote in November. (In some districts, the candidates themselves will be participating.)
It’s time to activate our anger (again), ladies—and I’m all the way in.
“Everything is on the line in 2018. Women are fed up with politicians dismissing survivors of sexual assault, undermining access to Planned Parenthood health centers, and reshaping the Supreme Court to gut the constitutional right to safe, legal abortion,” says PPAF President Dawn Laguens. “Women are poised to serve a reckoning this November that is decades in the making, and this partnership is a signal that we’re all right there with them. We know that, together, our voices are too powerful to ignore.”
Literally—they are. One in five people have participated in protests since 2016, according to a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation survey. And the number one issue that’s gotten them on their feet? The rights of women.
“The level of engagement and enthusiasm OFA has seen this cycle, among seasoned organizers and brand new volunteers alike, has been overwhelming – and women have been leading the charge,” says Katie Hogan, Executive Director of Organizing for Action. “It’s a phenomenon we’ve seen dating all the way back to the Women’s March, and that passion has only intensified as it’s become increasingly clear how much is at stake in November. We’re thrilled to be working in lock-step with both new leaders in the progressive space, like Swing Left, and long-time powerhouses of activism, like Planned Parenthood Action Fund, to elect representatives who will echo these voices in Washington.”
Here are the 16 districts that volunteers will target this weekend—and through the midterms on November 6. You can sign up to volunteer here.
AZ-02: Ann Kirkpatrick-CA-10: Josh Harder
CA-45: Katie Porter
CA-48: Harley Rouda
IA-01: Abby Finkenauer
IA-03: Cindy Axne
NJ-11: Mikie Sherrill
NJ-07: Tom Malinowski
NJ-03: Andy Kim
TX-32: Colin Allred
TX-07 : Lizzie Fletcher
TX-23: Gina Ortiz Jones
VA-10: Jennifer Wexton
VA-02: Elaine Luria-VA-05: Leslie Cockburn
VA-07: Abigail Spanberger
And if you don’t happen to live near one of those districts, don’t despair. Getting involved wherever you are couldn’t be easier. Contact the field office of a local candidate you support and volunteer to canvass or phone bank. Reach out to friends and relatives who aren’t routine voters to make sure they are registered (many state deadlines are fast approaching). Ask them to pledge to show up at the polls on November 6 at a site like Vote Save America.
“If we want to protect women’s health from the constant Republican attacks, it’s not enough to just vote this year. We need each and every person to knock on doors and make calls so that we can break out of our silos and bring about electoral change,” says Swing Left Political Director Katie Hogan.
LETS END WITH SENDING AUDIENCE TO SEXUAL ASSAULT RESOURCE POST IF THEY ARE FEELING TRIGGERED./story/national-sexual-assault-hotline-calls-jump-kavanaugh-news
One of the most surprising moments in A Star Is Born has nothing to do with the core storyline. It’s a small moment in which Bradley Cooper’s character, alcoholic rock star Jackson Maine, autographs the fake breasts of a drag queen named Emerald, played by RuPaul’s Drag Race vet Willam.
For context: Jackson had stumbled into the gay bar looking for his next drink, but doesn’t leave when he realizes a drag show is taking place. Instead, he sticks around and sees—and hears—Ally (Lady Gaga) for the first time. What follows is an electric conversation, made even more dynamic by Emerald and the other fabulous drag queens who surround them.
What stuck out to me was how Jackson is unfazed by the queens. He chats and bonds with them in a seemingly authentic way, which brings me back to his exchange with Emerald. It’s witty and bombastic, but also important. Rarely in pop culture do we see straight men—let alone weathered country singers—be so comfortable with queerness. Think about how the football players on Glee treated Kurt (Chris Colfer) when he showed up to school in women’s clothes, or the mocking comments Chandler (Matthew Perry) made about his drag queen father on Friends for just two examples.
But his “wokeness” goes far beyond just tolerance. Jackson also isn’t afraid to indulge in a little flamboyancy himself. At the beginning of the film, for example, he’s enamored with the Edith Piaf-inspired eyebrows Ally wears to perform “La Vie En Rose.” So enamored, in fact, that Ally later tapes them onto him while they canoodle in the bathtub. (She also paints his nails, and then they have sex.) This may seem minuscule, but it’s still novel to see such a guy’s-guy be at ease wearing makeup. These scenes are incredibly liberating and say something significant about Jackson: Yes, he’s masculine, but he’s certainly not toxic.
That’s a critical distinction to make because up until this point, all the male leads in the A Star Is Born films have been. “Jackson Maine” has essentially been played three times in the past: by Kris Kristofferson in 1976, by James Mason in 1954, and by Fredric March in 1937. It’s difficult to say how these characters would have behaved in queer settings because there aren’t openly LGBTQ+ characters in the older movies. However, their toxic masculinity flares up in a completely different capacity.
In all three earlier versions of A Star Is Born, the rock-star character grows to resent the success of the woman he helps break into showbiz. That resentment is only fueled by his addictions, leading to devastating and destructive outbursts. This happens in the latest iteration of A Star Is Born too, but the source of Jackson’s resentment isn’t that Ally is eclipsing him: It’s that she’s losing her identity—or so he thinks.
As Ally’s music stardom rises, a record executive swoops in and revamps her entire image, dyeing her hair and swapping her soulful ballads for generic dance-pop. It’s a nuanced transition, though: Ally does put her foot down in some instances, proving she has some degree of autonomy over the changes in her career. But there are definitely compromises she makes, and that’s what pushes Jackson over the edge. He genuinely believes in Ally and what she has to say.
“The difference between Jack and the other guys [from the A Star Is Born movies] is he doesn’t resent her success whatsoever,” Bill Gerber, one of the producers of the new A Star Is Born, tells Vanity Fair. “He’s upset that she’s not being true to her voice, and what he fell in love with, and the kind of music she wanted to create. It’s her pop turn that starts the rift between them, not her success.”
The other A Star Is Born men want their female partners to be successful, sure, but not at the expense of their own egos. Cooper’s Jackson Maine doesn’t have one, though. He’s comfortable, even encouraging, of Ally having the spotlight, which is a refreshing update to this age-old story. Also refreshing—albeit heartbreaking—is how Jackson only begins his downfall when he feels like Ally is selling out. All he wants to do is amplify her voice; that’s a very poignant thing to show on screen, especially now.
Too often in our current climate we see women shamed for having a voice—or worse, pressured into silence. The music industry, in its own subversive way, tries to do this to Ally, and it infuriates Jackson. She’s completely capable of standing on her own, as evidenced by the final scene, but it still feels satisfying to watch a man fight this hard for a woman to use (and keep) her voice.
Is Jackson a flawed character? Absolutely. He breaks Ally’s heart and trust multiple times in the movie, but he’s never anything but supportive of her dreams. That’s crucial. Ultimately, Jackson’s alcoholism is his downfall—not the fact that he can’t deal with Ally’s supersonic success. It’s sad, but it’s not misogynistic.
That lack of ego is why A Star Is Born is so exciting to watch, and a welcome reprieve from the adaptations that came before it. The movie is a triumph, full stop. Cooper and Gaga give powerful, skilled performances; the music is thrilling; and there’s a central narrative that captivates you from beginning to end. But interwoven between the thrills is a sharp commentary on masculinity. We can certainly learn something from Cooper’s Jackson Maine: a tragic hero with horrible vices but a warm, open heart. “Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die,” he sings at one point in the movie—and everyone, men in particular, should heed that advice.
Christopher Rosa is the staff entertainment writer for Glamour.
These days, there isn’t much Ariana Grande can do without her fans taking notice. The singer posted a photo to Instagram on Friday (October 5) to promote her new perfume, Cloud, but it wasn’t the fragrance box that had fans freaking out: It was the baby crib in the back corner of the photo, which appeared to be bathed in some sort of red warming light. Commenters—including Katy Perry—started demanding answers from the Sweetener singer.
“Ariana? Why is there a crib in the background?” questioned one fan. “WHAT IS COOKING IN THE CRIB,” asked Perry. When one commenter asked, “Why is there crib in the back tho?” Grande gave fans a momentary heart attack by responding, “my secret child duh.”
A few minutes later, she followed up with a more realistic explanation, and letting fans know that there isn’t any sort of Grande-Davidson bun in the oven. “That’s piggy smalls’ play pen in the background the red light is to keep ha [sic] warm,” she wrote.
Earlier this month, Grande and fiancé Pete Davidson adopted a micro-pig together (the aforementioned “Piggy Smalls”), who is now living with them in their $16 million apartment. In addition to being decorated in dorm-room chic decor, complete with beanbag chairs and an IMAX (but no forks), the space now also comes complete with a pig pen.
“She’s a top b*tch—she’s a bougie pig,” Davidson recently told Seth Meyers of the new four-legged addition to the couple’s household, which he jokes that his fiancé basically “summoned from the universe.” Considering Piggy Smalls has its own baby bed in a Zaha Hadid–designed New York City high rise (and her own tattoo homage on Davidson’s ribcage), we’d say “bougie pig” is an accurate description.
Sandra Diaz wasn’t expecting to find the courage to come forward with her story of sexual assault. But, over the years, as she watched security officers, janitors and airport workers coming together to protest against the sexual misconduct they often face on the job, everything seemed to change. These women were members of the labor union which she co-leads, and in them, she found an unexpected strength to stand firm in her own power.
“I saw the sacred wounds that, like me, they had held inside of them with shame” she says. “But I also saw the relief in their eyes to finally let it out.” In union meetings, as they fought back against gender violence at work, their stories rang out: Yes, I was raped while I was working. I didn’t say anything to the union. I kept silent for one year … 10 years.
“As a survivor, I understood the burden of silence and the relief and uncertainty when silence is broken,” Diaz, the Vice President and Political Director for SEIU United Service Workers West, says.
Feeling safe within a sisterhood of women reclaiming their power, she was finally able to feel what many have taken to social media to say in the past year: Me too.
Like so many others, Diaz and the women she serves have kept their stories of abuse and misogyny to private conversations, group chats, and whisper networks. In late 2017 however, it seemed as though a critical turning point was reached; a turning point that cued up all women to stop whispering in order to let their stories be heard. And yet, it hasn’t exactly played out that way.
It’s been a year since the #MeToo Movement became part of the national discourse online, having been kicked off by reports from the New York Times and the New Yorker, which featured multiple women alleging that Harvey Weinstein—the burly, bullish Hollywood executive—had sexually harassed or assaulted them. (This summer, Weinstein pleaded not guilty to six felony sex crimes, including two counts of rape and two counts of predatory sexual assault.) Following the accusations, actress Alyssa Milano retweeted something she found online that encouraged women to share their own stories of abuse. The hashtag was #MeToo, and it went viral shortly after, but the criticism about who started it—and who it served—would dot headlines for the next 12 months.
What Milano didn’t know at the time was that #MeToo had been created in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke to advocate for women and girls of color who had been sexually abused. The 2017 iteration, by default, was intended to belong to the everywoman, thousands of whom responded to Milano in a deluge of tweets and status updates. And yet, it still felt as though the movement was most talked-about when familiar Hollywood stars joined in. And why not? Their stories were salacious, empowering, and captivating—a lurid peek into the darker side of the industry.
But that was only part of the story—of course, there were other women who had been trying to get their voices heard for years. And as the star power behind #MeToo grew, so did the opinion that it was owned by liberal women. Republican and conservative women who have #MeToo stories have reportedly felt left behind, like their experiences were being ignored by their party, and the movement.
One woman’s narrative crushes the criticism that #MeToo is strictly left-leaning. When Gretchen Carlson, formerly a face at Fox News, sued the conservative network’s chief in 2016, she was one of few women associated with that world to publicly come forward. Carlson’s lawsuit alleges that the late Roger Ailessabotaged her career when she rejected his sexual advances. Like Weinstein, Ailes was a larger-than-life executive whose misogynistic tycoon persona seemed to emanate from an old Hollywood playbook. According to reports, Ailes told her they should have had a “sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better.”
Eventually, she decided enough was enough.
“It was the most excruciating decision of my life,” Carlson tells Glamour of coming forward. “Before there was a [Hollywood] #MeToo movement, before there was Time’s Up, before there was anything, it was me taking on one of the most powerful men in the world by myself.” Stepping forward a year before the hashtag’s meteoric rise gave her a new purpose and birthed her best-selling book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back, which was released just days after the Weinstein allegations were made public.
A year later, other women who identify as conservatives have come forward, but the movement on the right is slow to pick up, Vox points out. But it’s not about party lines for Carlson. More importantly, it’s about “every socioeconomic line” having access.
“It’s important to me that the every woman story is also heard,” the author, who recently defended herself against accusations of bullying, says. “Because this … pervasive epidemic, as I call it, it’s not just famous, rich people.”
The struggle to gain access to the movement goes beyond class lines, cash or politics. There’s also the elephant in the room when it comes to #MeToo: The racial disparity and how underreported the narratives of black, brown and gender nonconforming women are.
“White women have always had dominion over the narrative concerning sexual violence and gender-based empowerment.”
This was on the minds of Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye, who together created the #MuteRKelly movement, which seeks to put the alleged victims of the accused predator, musician R. Kelly, at the forefront. According to several accounts, Kelly has spent decades hunting for teenage “pets,” who, according to a recent documentary, he groomed to be sex slaves. (Kelly has denied the accusations.) Barnes and Odeleye, who began the organization to stand up for these young black women, both credit Burke and #MeToo as being extremely integral in their quest to bring Kelly to justice. And yet, their push is often overshadowed by high-profile alleged predators like Weinstein, Ailes or Bill Cosby, men whose alleged victims are often white.
“White women have always had dominion over the narrative concerning sexual violence and gender-based empowerment,” Barnes tells Glamour. “There’s a tendency to marginalize the unique experiences of black and brown women. This is no different in the attempted appropriation of #MeToo.”
It’s not like everyone in Hollywood completely ignored Burke’s original standard for #MeToo. Celebrity women who have engaged with the hashtag seem well-intentioned enough. But lip service is different from inclusion, and over the last year, actresses like Rose McGowan—whose outspoken participation seems to exclude black, brown and gender nonconforming victims, at least to some accounts—has been called out for her lack of it. She’s been criticized for dismissing the experiences of women of color and trans women, and yet, is hailed as one of the movement’s strongest heroines. She’s even earned an E! reality show—which aired in May—while most of the activists at the center of the movement, who organize marches and protests or offer support for victims, continue to move in the margins.
To be clear, McGowan is hardly an outlier. Often praised for her feminist ideals, actress and writer Lena Dunham drew criticism for dismissing a woman of color, actress Aurora Perrineau, who came forward with accusations against Dunham’s friend, writer Murray Miller, last year. And in the midst of Weinstein’s wave of accusers coming forward last year, the mogul was radio silent until actress Lupita Nyong’o shared her own account of his alleged misconduct towards her. Only then, after a black woman accused him, did he feel the need to publicly defend himself.
“There is no one coming to rescue black women,” Odeleye says of the struggle. “We have to save ourselves.”
One of the biggest culprits in pushing the false idea that the fight to end sexual abuse is the same for all women and men has been the media, Odeleye and Barnes note, which often fails to center varied identities in their coverage. Even Burke herself, who was unavailable for comment on the story as she organized and prepared protests against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, addressed this in a recent op-ed for Variety.
“I launched the #MeToo movement because I wanted to find ways to bring healing into the lives of black women and girls,” she wrote. “But those same women and girls, along with other people of color, queer people and disabled people, have not felt seen this year.”
This is especially evident in the coverage of the sexual degradation of female victims over the last few years like Chikesia Clemons, whose breasts were exposed in her violent arrest at a Waffle House in Alabama earlier this year or Daniel Holtzclaw, the police officer convicted in 2015 of assaulting 13 women and raping eight in Oklahoma City. His victims, all of whom are black and many of whom had criminal records, remain ghosts lost in the coverage. We do not know many of their names. We do not speak of their immeasurable trauma.
It’s a similar story for the staggering number of trans women who have been murdered in the past two years alone. The National Center for Transgender Equality estimates that 2018 could be ‘the deadliest year on record’ for violence against trans women. (As of September 2018, 27 trans women have been reportedly murdered). And yet, a year later, as dozens of cisgendered women are given magazine covers and major platforms to discuss their trauma, there has been little to no coverage of the clear and present dangers our trans sisters face.
These challenges for women of color or varied identities can be, in part, attributed to the unique set of consequences that they face, both from society and their own cultural norms.
“We have to challenge our biases and ask ourselves, ‘Why don’t we see the power in women of color and in immigrant women?'”
“Often black women and girls are shamed into pushing aside their need for gender justice,” Barnes explained. Instead, it is often seen as “of little importance [when] viewed within the larger system of White Supremacy.”
This is also prominent in the Latinx community, according to Lilia Garcia-Brower, executive director of the watchdog group, Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, who advocates for janitorial workers in California. For these women, many of whom are undocumented, work is synonymous with sexual violence, intimidation and wage theft.
“If [these women] don’t believe that they are more valuable than the violence that they’re confronting every day, they’re not going to denounce what’s happening to them,” Garcia-Brower says. “ We’ve spent a lot of time unpeeling the gender socialization that tells [women] that we are less than a man … that we cannot defend ourselves.”
For both the unions and the watchdog groups, it was clear that the women would have to be the ones in charge of empowering themselves since they could not trust the industry to do it. As Diaz adds: “How do you hold an industry accountable for training their workers on sexual violence when we can’t even hold them accountable for paying them?”
These workers, whose struggles were chronicled in the Frontline documentary aired on PBS, “Rape on the Night Shift,” teamed up with the SEIU-USWW labor union and Garcia-Brower’s group to form the YA BASTA! COALITION. Through hunger fasts, protests and community training of “promotoras, (who educate their peers on self defense), the women of Ya Basta, which means ‘Enough Is Enough,’ are taking back their lives.
At the end of a recent march, a group of the janitors took off their shirts to call attention to the power dynamics at play in sexual violence—an action that was meant to reject the shame that survivors feel and to denounce that idea that sexual misconduct is about sex.
There, standing in their bras with their resolve at an all time high, they shouted: “Quien es dueña de tu cuerpo. Yo soy dueña de mi cuerpo.” Translated, it means, “tell me who owns your body. I own my body!” It was a simple declaration, but an immensely profound one in a society that, as Odeleye notes, “does not value a women’s ownership of her body.”
Still, the question remains: what does protection look like? And who has access to the new #MeToo as it reaches its first birthday?
“As a society, we have to challenge our biases and ask ourselves, why don’t we see the power in women of color and in immigrant women,” Diaz says. Shifting that power back to them, she says, “is at the center of eradicating sexual violence.
“But first we have to recognize the humanity in them.”
Allison McGevna is an editor and writer based in New York City. You can follow her @AllieMcGev on Twitter.