Laverne Cox Talks Intersectionality of #MeToo Movement
"I notice when some trans women have come forward and say that they have been sexually assaulted there has been a different tenor in terms of the ways they’ve been believed as opposed to other women who are not trans," the 'Orange Is the New Black' actress said on Couric's podcast.
As a guest on Katie Couric's eponymous podcast, Laverne Cox opened up about her own #MeToo experience and whether she feels that that movement is inclusive enough.
"I think we can always be more intersectional. We can always include more people. I don't just experience the world as a trans woman. I experience the world as a black person. I have multiple identities," Cox said of the movement. Cox also explained how, while the movement is empowering for women, there has always been a different tenor for African-Americans and the trans community.
"I think what we have to look at, with [Harvey] Weinstein for example, I remember all the actresses came out and said that he had assaulted them and done the things he's accused of doing. First person he challenged was Lupita Nyong'o. A black woman," Cox said. "All of these other women, he didn't say anything. He didn't say I didn't do it. But the first person he challenged was Lupita Nyong'o. And I think, this can't be a coincidence. Her blackness can't be a coincidence. I notice when some trans women have come forward and say that they have been sexually assaulted there has been a different tenor in terms of the ways they've been believed as opposed to other women who are not trans."
The activist also argued that the civil liberties of transgender individuals are at stake because of the Trump administration. "If there's anything positive that has come out of this administration, it's that folks have woken up," she said. "And I think a lot of folks got complacent under my beloved President Obama. We miss you, Obamas. I think a lot of folks got complacent and didn't realize that a lot of basic civil liberties were at stake. And I think that's very clear now."
Cox hopes that despite perceptions of communities and races, the #MeToo movement can become expansive. "It's not just about including trans women, including women of color, including folks with disabilities or folks who are incarcerated, including all of these folks. But it's, what does it mean to have these folks in leadership positions and decision-making roles? I'm very blessed to be in the position I'm in, but I'm trying to be critical of it," she said. "I'm trying to really think about all of the folks out there who don't have the platform I have, and what do they need? And what would they want me to say when I'm in these positions?"
The actress also revealed to Couric that she confronted a man with whom she shared an encounter that wasn't consensual. Cox said the experience was eye-opening. "What was interesting to me … is that he had no idea that his behavior was predatory, that he didn't have consent. And I think so often the idea of consent is something that men aren't really clear about," she said. "And I'm very clear that what happened was not consensual and was not okay and I was able to assure that to him. But that's a different kind of conversation, 'What does consent look like?'"
While Cox said there's a clear altered perception that men may have, their voices shouldn't be silenced either. "I think we have to be careful not to foreground men's voices … in a movement that needs to be about women coming to voice and women having a space. So we can't foreground those voices," she said. "But men, we can't really topple the patriarchy without men being engaged in that. I think men need to be having conversations with each other. And I know some incredible guys who are doing that work."
Continuing, "For far too often we've listened to men and not listened to women. We're at a point now where women are finally being believed and heard and we have to continue that. That doesn't mean — because I love men — that doesn't mean we hate men. That doesn't mean to sort of demonize men. But we have to foreground the voices and experiences of women. And then I think, too, it's not just women who are experiencing sexual assault, either."