Janet Mock Talks Jane Fonda, Harvey Weinstein, and the Spirit of the 'Resist' Movement (Exclusive)
By Latifah Muhammad
Janet Mock has no qualms about calling out double standards.
As men and women in Hollywood continue to go public with experiences of sexual harassment and abuse, the LGBTQ activist and author shared her perspective on the role that race plays in how said stories are reported, and praised Jane Fonda for speaking to the hypocrisy.
“I think about the discrepancies between the amount of attention that the [Harvey] Weinstein story got vs. say, the R. Kelly story,” Mock told ET during the PEN Center USA 27th Annual Literature Awards Festival in Beverly Hills, California, on Friday, where she received the Freedom to Write Award. “I think, even within our media, we tend to only report on the ‘perfect’ kind of victim.”
In Kelly's case, multiple women have come forward (before and after allegations against Weinstein began to dominate the news cycle) to accuse the R&B singer of sexual and physical abuse. While Weinstein seemingly opened the floodgates for more victims to share stories against other powerful names in Hollywood, Kelly's accusers have been mostly ignored.
Last month, Fonda shared a similar sentiment in an interview with MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes. According to the 79-year-old Grace & Frankie star, accusations against Weinstein made headlines because the majority of the movie mogul’s accusers are “famous and white.”
“What I respect so much about Jane Fonda, who has always been a truth teller, is that she uses her mantle as a famous white cisgender straight woman to say, 'This is messed up. These abuses are going on everywhere,'” Mock said.
Ultimately, Mock hopes that the influx of those sharing sexual harassment and abuse stories will have a ripple effect outside of Hollywood. “There’s so many abuses in so many different frameworks in so many different industries,” she pointed out. “And so I hope what happens in this moment is that all of the people who step forward encourage others, or at least at the basic level [make them feel] that ‘I’m not alone.’”
And with the current political climate, the 34-year-old author of a new memoir, Surpassing Certainty, believes writers and artists are more vital than ever.
“For artists and creatives and writers, it’s a time for us to imagine a world that’s not like this one,” Mock said. “To figure out ways to fill the gaps that we’re not seeing, to challenge each other to be like, ‘Who’s not in the room?’ and ‘Who can we bring in and support their work and give them the resources that they need to tell their stories?’”
“The resistance looks so many different ways,” she continued. “It’s not just being on the front line marching, it’s also being at home quiet, waiting. We need that just as much as we need the folks who are out front.”