I just received an email notification from Change.org regarding (now) notorious Django Unchained actress, Danielle Watts and her recent activism on the cause of slut shaming.
It’s hard looking at a beautiful black woman whose star was once rising now crash like a comet. To refresh your memory, Danielle Watts was embroiled in a kerfuffle with the Los Angeles Police Department after she was reported for, uh…heavy petting with her white boyfriend in a public parking lot. She had a full on tantrum and accused the LAPD of racial profiling that was quickly debunked with the police officer in question released a recording of the incident that exonerated him, and implicated her. She face subsequent charges for her behavior, and the judge forced her to write an apology letter to the police department.
Now Watts has attached herself to the “slut shaming” movement in the feminism sector, and trying to attach her encounter to be related to the theme. Her statement on the website, Silence Helps No One:
Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share my story and
Stand in #Solidarity4Survivors. Together we can encourage women to share their stories, release shame, and experience healing.
I recently had an experience with the Los Angeles Police Department and a public backlash that was very dramatic for me. Although this was not a rape, I do feel that I experienced the effects of a culture that has shamed and repressed our women into believing in a state of insecurity induced silence that perhaps only trauma can disrupt.
It was a sunny afternoon and I had been enjoying making-out with my partner, seated on his lap, while fully clothed, in our own car. It was not our intention to hurt or bother anyone. Someone came down from the third story of a nearby building asking us to stop “putting on a show” which felt demeaning to me at the time because we didn’t feel like we were being inappropriate or trying to flaunt our sexuality, we were simply enjoying the pleasurable fun of each others company. It was disconcerting to realize that people were watching us because it was a reflective glass window, the kind where people can see you but you cannot see them.
A few minutes later a police officer arrived. I was standing next to our car venting to my dad on the phone about how I felt it was frustrating for someone expect that we conform to what seemed like biased ideas of “socially appropriate behavior,” when I overheard the officer ask my partner questions that felt racially charged, “who is she to you?” he asked, even though my partner had already explained who I was and why we were there. He kept asking to see my ID which continued to trigger me because we obviously weren’t doing anything inappropriate.
The police officer and I shared a passive aggressive back and forth, which triggered a panic attack. I walked away, and by and by the time the whole ordeal was over, my wrist was cut by forceful uncompromising police officers, and I was aggravated beyond anything I had ever before experienced in public.
Afterwards I went straight to a coffeeshop to write about my experience. Writing it all down was the best way I could think of to deal with all the emotions I was feeling. I posted about my experience on Facebook and within a few days the story was international news thanks to the media’s catchy spin on my statement, “Django Unchained Actress Mistaken For a Prostitute”
The sergeant defended himself against the racial implications of his actions by going to TMZ, a notorious Hollywood gossip site, and delivering a taped portion of our encounter where you can hear that I am quite upset. He also gave interviews to The Hollywood Reporter (and various other “entertainment industry” publications) saying that I was “lying” and that I was “f–king” in the car. After that, the story turned against me and I was subjected to slew of sexist and racist insults all over the internet. “Race-card pulling entitled lying actress slut” was the recurring idea.
It felt very unfair to me at the time, and I was angry that none of the mainstream media would share the fact that the audio tape released on TMZ was not the full audio of the encounter. It left out the first key elements that triggered me, and also the part where you can hear me telling police officers that they’re hurting me with the handcuffs. The fact that that those parts weren’t included in the mainstream media gave off the effect that I was just a “crazy,” dumb girl who was upset for no reason.
After several months of very public scrutiny, I decided that instead of continuing to fight, or blame the media for not telling the full story, or harbor any more “mean” feelings towards the police officers for how they treated me, I would plead “no contest” to “disturbing the peace” and make my peace with the whole situation. I was tired of being angry and feeling misunderstood for telling my story. I wanted to just own up to the part I played in creating the conflict, and let it go.
I dug deep and wrote a heartfelt, much labored over apology letter, where I owned up to my racial and gender related baggage, and insecurities that essentially caused me to use my emotions in a way that disturbed the peace of the surrounding community (aka the people who were watching the show from the 3rd floor of the building). I apologized to the police officers for my lack of emotional control and asked for forgiveness. The judge denied my letter twice, saying that she did not believe I was sincere, and sentenced us to 15 days of community labor.
At the time I was heartbroken that our female judge refused to understand where I was coming from. Though her harshness was intense at the time, it was ultimately empowering because I realized that it took bravery for me to be authentic and tell the truth about how I actually felt, even if it meant risking that I might be misunderstood.
Read the full letter here.
Honestly I heartbroken for this woman, who once had the world at her feet continue to double down and commit career suicide on a hill she chose to die on.