Most of us might know Constance Wu from her roles in Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians, but the American actress has recently gained more attention for her life behind the scenes, especially with her upcoming memoir, Making a Scene.
Previously, she revealed that a senior member of the Fresh Off the Boat production team sexually harassed her when she was working on the show in 2015.
Apart from trying to “control and intimidate her”, she also claimed that she initially did not dare to confront the issue until her career was successful as she did not wish to “stain the reputation of the show”.
However, that’s not all.
Just this Monday (26 September), Vanity Fair published an excerpt of Wu’s memoir that revealed how the 40-year-old was raped when she was “in her 20s”.
Here’s what happened.
Happened on 2nd Date With Aspiring Writer
According to Wu, she was raped on her second date with a man called “Ty”, who was 36 years old at that point in time.
She recalled how he was a “real New Yorker”, and that she felt “cool” when the man had asked her out on a date.
In addition to that, their first date was “wonderful”, and Wu said that Ty was extremely gentlemanly throughout the entire date.
However, that changed soon on their second date, which both of them agreed to have after a few days of texting.
After having dinner with Ty at a restaurant near his house, he asked Wu if she could accompany him upstairs so that he could pass her a gift.
“I felt a twinge of warning in my gut, but I ignored it — he didn’t look threatening or shady in any way, and if you had been there, you would have agreed. Plus, I didn’t want to insult his friendly invitation by making him think I perceived a threat,” she explained.
After going up to Ty’s house, he passed Wu a box and told her to not open it until she reached home, and she obliged with a kiss.
“The kissing escalated to some fooling around. I let him take some of my clothes off and I let myself be touched. He felt me between my legs, and I shyly pushed him away, but he could feel my arousal,” Wu described.
Thereafter, Ty “smiled and got a condom from his nightstand” before taking his pants off and wearing the condom, which caused Wu to realise that Ty was looking to have sex with her.
Alarmed and unwilling to take their relationship to the next stage, Wu told him, “Oh gosh, I’m sorry, I’m not ready to have sex with you.”
However, Ty refused to listen to Wu even after she repeated her intention “as seriously as [she] could” afterwards and that he “did it anyway”.
“I didn’t fight back. I just… gave up,” she added.
Why Wu Didn’t Fight Back
As for why Wu didn’t resist Ty’s actions back then, she wrote that she had “idealistic and romantic notions of sex”, and that she was trying to be the “cool girl” back then in New York.
“It was also embarrassing to have big feelings or reactions,” she described.
Additionally, she said that sexual relationships had to be “meaningful, special, with someone [she] loved” as well.
She then recalled how Ty was not violent towards her, and that the only thing that he did “wrong” was that he did not listen to her. However, she was still afraid that he might turn angry or violent.
“Could I really fight someone twice my size and a decade older than me? In his apartment? Or what if he got mad at me? Called me crazy?” she questioned.
Wu also wrote that she didn’t fight back because she “didn’t want to make a scene”, and added that it did not seem “that bad” since Ty wore a condom.
According to her, there were also other reasons why Wu did not fight back against Ty at that time, and she tried to leave his house quickly afterwards.
What the Gift Actually Was
And if you’re wondering what the gift from Ty actually was, it was a medival fantasy short story that had Wu as its main character, along with pearl earrings and rose petals.
Yup, that kind of present.
Thereafter, Wu stopped replying to his texts and started to keep the story to herself, and even “forgot it even happened” over time.
Only Recalled Incident More Than 10 Years Later
Wu then mentioned how her career took off after that, which gave her a “front-row seat to Hollywood’s latent sexism and misogyny” and allowed her to understand these issues much more.
In contrast to her past behaviour of being the “cool girl” amongst men when she “felt outnumbered”, Wu admitted that she started to change after gaining deeper insights regarding sexism and misogyny.
“When my work in television gave me a public platform, I used it to advocate for equality, pointing out systemic gender biases, and calling for public acknowledgement of and ending to rape culture.
“Hearing rape survivors’ stories didn’t seem to trigger me. It pissed me off in a way that I thought was activism. I’d hold their hands and listen,” she added.
“All the while thinking how fortunate it was that I had never been raped.”
However, everything hit her over a decade after the incident when she was flying from Singapore back to the United States after filming Crazy Rich Asians.
“I’d just woken up from a nap when the realization hit me like a flood. Ty raped me. He raped me, and I hadn’t done anything about it,” she wrote.
Wu then began to panic, but managed to calm herself down and convinced herself that she wasn’t traumatised.
“I couldn’t call it “rape.” Like, I couldn’t even say the word. It felt way too dramatic and out of control for something that had been so… quiet,” she recounted.
Healing in Therapy
Thereafter, Wu also included snippets of how she discussed this issue in therapy, and how her therapist affirmed her by telling her that Ty had indeed raped her even if he wasn’t violent.
“She called it a trauma, a designation that felt wrong at times, convenient at others, and sometimes made me cry surprise tears,” she said.
However, Wu still questioned herself, especially since she only recalled the incident after more than ten years. This led to a spiral of questions, such as what she could have done if she had “remembered it sooner” as well as the fear of not being believed even if she had reported the rape.
“If the memory had resurfaced right when my activism was finding its voice, I could have utilized it as a courageous confession to reinforce my political stance.
“But then I likely would have lied about the orgasm to simplify the story and protect myself from criticism,” she added before acknowledging that she only recalled the incident after she was “financially and professionally secure”.
“I’d reached a place in my life where people actually listened to me,” she explained.
Despite that, she still felt that the rape was not real since she did not have any physical proof of it, but soon remembered the short story manuscript that Ty had gifted to her at his house which made her feel “a helpless anger” when she found it.
Ty Called Her After the Rape
Wu then recounted how Ty called Wu using an anonymous number several months after the rape.
According to her, Ty said that he missed her and that he was cheery during the call.
Wu panicked and asked if she could call him back afterwards due to an audition taking place, but decided not to do so as she “didn’t want to hear from him again”.
Instead, she emailed him by apologising for not contacting him and expressing how she did not want to date him.
“I think he must have felt hurt and rejected, but instead of being sad that a girl didn’t like him, he turned to anger. He made a scene, calling me a heartless bitch, an ugly whore who would never get anywhere in life. That was the last I ever heard from him,” Wu mentioned.
How People See Sexual Harassment Allegations
Wu went on to write, “Ty would probably be shocked too. Genuinely baffled.” if he was confronted with Wu’s account, and that high-profile men often seem “baffled” when they have a sexual harassment claim filed against them.
She added that these men may often think that they are the “good guy” and see no mistakes in their actions, leading these men to deny them.
Wu then pointed out the difference between how men and women are treated when sexual harassment allegations surface.
She wrote, “I wonder if our culture tends to sympathize with accused men because their bafflement is often so genuine. When men don’t listen well, they might mistake the ways a woman covers her fear (giggles, silence) for consent.
“Whereas the woman? Her claim is filled with shame and guilt and regret over things she didn’t say or do in the moment, for fear of making a scene. It’s easier to side with the guy, whose feelings around it are less… complicated. To see him as a regular guy who made a mistake. To forgive him.”
Towards the end of the excerpt, Wu explained that these perpetrators should just be given the truth regarding their actions “instead of forgiving those who know not what they do”.
“I did not consent to sex. Maybe it wasn’t violent, but it was rape. Period.” she confirmed.
She then addressed how some may think that she should have “fought back against Ty” back then, but acknowledged how she would still react in the same way if she had a chance to go back in time.
“Because when I think about the girl I was back then, I understand what she was going through.
“She wasn’t yet ready to bear the insults and derision that follow when women make scenes. And I wouldn’t make her do something before she was ready,” she concluded.
To read more about Wu’s experience in the entertainment industry, Wu’s new memoir, Making a Scene, is due to be released next Tuesday (4 October).
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