It took Salma Hayek years to tell her Harvey Weinstein story, but now that she has, she's no longer backing down. While at the Cannes Film Festival, Hayek spoke about how Weinstein discredited women of colour. Specifically, how Weinstein only chose to refute her and Lupita Nyong'o's allegations of attempted sexual abuse and harassment against him with pointed statements, despite there being over 80 women and counting who have accused him of sexual misconduct. Weinstein responded to those allegations with a blanket statement denying all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
After Hayek revealed in a New York Times essay last year that Weinstein had allegedly bullied her during production of her film Frida, propositioned her sexually, and threatened her with physical violence when she denied his requests, Weinstein responded with his own statement denying her version of events. "All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate," he stated via his lawyer. "And others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired." Hayek says he did this on purpose, because he knew he could help himself by belittling her.
"We are the easiest to get discredited,” Hayek told Variety at the Women In Motion panel over the weekend. “It is a well-known fact. So he went back, attacking the two women of colour, in hopes that if he could discredit us.”
Weinstein also denied Nyong'o's account after she shared her story about the producer bullying her into drinking alcohol and his attempts at giving her a massage. Weinstein's statement through a representative was meant to undermine Nyong'o. "Mr. Weinstein has a different recollection of the events," it stated, "but believes Lupita is a brilliant actress and a major force for the industry. Last year, she sent a personal invitation to Mr. Weinstein to see her in her Broadway show Eclipsed."
It's not the first time someone has brought up the fact that Weinstein seems more apt to refute the allegations from women of colour than white women. But, it's something that should be said over and over so that it's not forgotten how much differently women of colour are treated in Hollywood and everywhere else. As Refinery29's Sesali Bowen noted after Weinstein's statements on Hayek and Nyong'o, this "has been the trend for women of colour who dare to add their names to the list of people willing to say '#MeToo.' The conversation about sexual assault that has transpired over the past few months has been very white."
Gabrielle Union agreed, stating that the #MeToo movement needed to pass the microphone to women of colour. “The floodgates have opened for white women,” Union, who has been open about her own sexual assault, told the New York Times in December. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence whose pain has been taken seriously. Whose pain we have showed historically and continued to show. Whose pain is tolerable and whose pain is intolerable. And whose pain needs to be addressed now.” Jane Fonda also insisted that Weinstein’s victims were heard because they’re “famous and white.”
At Cannes, Hayek also spoke out about the need for equal pay in Hollywood, even suggesting a solution that men should be paid less. “It is not just the producers” who have to change if the huge pay gap is to be closed, she said, “It is actors too." She noted that if actors "ask [for] such inflated fees it will leave nothing for actresses" and it's going to become hard to reach equality. “Time’s up," she said. "You had a good run, but it is time now to be generous with the actresses."
Hayek even joked that she hoped in the future, once the pay gap was closed, men wouldn't have to take to the red carpet to fight for 50/50. Of course, that's a discussion we will have if we get there.
“The men are terrified. The predators are hiding. You feel this very palpable atmosphere," she said, adding, “We should have been angrier sooner. We should have come together sooner – that is what did it."
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.