Asia Argento is not the #MeToo movement.
The actress and director may have been among the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, but the new scandal implicating her will not be the end of #MeToo and sexual assault survivors coming forward.
Argento has said Weinstein raped her in a hotel room when she was 21; Weinstein claimed his relationship with Argento was consensual. She was one of his many victims. Sixteen years later, she may have been a predator, too.
The New York Times reported Sunday that Argento allegedly sexually assaulted Jimmy Bennett, an actor and musician, in a Los Angeles hotel room. She was 37. He was barely 17 at the time. She’d known him since he was 7, when she played his mom in “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.”
On Tuesday, Argento released a statement denying the assault and claiming her relationship with Bennett was platonic. She also said a $380,000 settlement with Bennett was an effort by late boyfriend and culinary culture legend Anthony Bourdain “to help Bennett economically” and “protect” the couple.
We’re allowed to be outraged. We’re allowed to have questions. Bennett is allowed to never address it if he so chooses. And none of it hurts #MeToo.
We need to have these conversations. Because rape culture is anything but simple.
“People have this one-dimensional view of survivors, that they’re anointed and never do anything wrong,” says Gina Scaramella, executive director of Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. “But people are complex. Survivors are complex. There certainly is no causality between being a victim and being an offender. But being a survivor doesn’t preclude someone from being an offender. And Argento having offended against someone doesn’t mean her victimization is not victimization. One is not proof against the other.”
#MeToo founder Tarana Burke took to Twitter on Monday to remind people that #MeToo is a movement and it’s up to everyone to take charge of the fight.
People will use these recent news stories to try and discredit this movement - don’t let that happen. This is what Movement is about. It’s not a spectator sport. It is people generated. We get to say “this is/isn’t what this movement is about!”— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) August 20, 2018
Headline after headline pegs Argento as a #MeToo leader. She should be held accountable, but Argento is not the sole voice of sexual assault. She is one of many, many voices.
Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. This could never be one woman’s movement.
I’ve said repeatedly that the #metooMVMT is for all of us, including these brave young men who are now coming forward. It will continue to be jarring when we hear the names of some of our faves connected to sexual violence unless we shift from talking about individuals [+]— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) August 20, 2018
#MeToo was initially started to help victims of sexual violence, particularly women of color from low-income communities. But Burke has always said it’s a movement for everyone.
It didn’t go mainstream until rich, famous white women embraced it last year.
But the hashtag didn’t just go viral — survivors took action. Over the past year, strides have been made. Harvey Weinstein faces multiple sexual assault charges, including first-degree rape. Bill Cosby was found guilty. R. Kelly is finally losing his audience and airplay. #TimesUp, a call to action for workplace safety and equity, was born out of #MeToo.
Still, the voices that continue to rise to the forefront are often those of the white and wealthy women. Survivors of color, queer survivors, working-class survivors, and male survivors deserve the same respect and advocacy.
“Male survivors are extremely silenced,” Scaramella says. “Their victimization is often seen as some sexual victory, and it makes healing hard. That’s a narrative we have to get over as a culture. That’s part of the work in expanding the #MeToo movement, listening to different narratives that have not been the predominant one.”
My hope is that as more folks come forward, particularly men, that we prepare ourselves for some hard conversations about power and humanity and privilege and harm. This issue is less about crime & punishment and more about harm and harm reduction.— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) August 20, 2018
Yes, 90 percent of rape victims are women. It doesn’t mean women can’t be rapists and perpetrators of sexual violence. Patriarchal power dynamics doesn’t mean men aren’t raped and sexually assaulted. According to the RAINN, 1 in 10 men are victims of rape.
We have to listen to them, too. It’s taken hundreds of years for victims of sexual assault to speak out. We can’t pick and choose who gets a platform.
This isn’t an unraveling of #MeToo. It’s a deepening of the movement.
...and there is no model survivor.— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) August 20, 2018
We are imperfectly human and we all have to be accountable for our individual behavior.