Sometimes victims decide to denounce their abusers. Unfortunately, this still happens too rarely, even and especially among famous people. Fear of being judged or doubted is probably the most common reason not to speak against harassment. Nonetheless, when this happens and someone finds the courage to name names, it somehow shocks the consciences and forces everyone to soul-searching. Lately, the Italian actress, director and singer Asia Argento decided to do so, by reporting she was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein when she was twenty-one.
Asia Argento’s Cannes speech
Her speech, which became the symbol of women’s reaction to abuses at the hands of powerful men, was made during the last Cannes Film Festival closing ceremony. “In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here in Cannes,” she said. “I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground. I want to make a prediction. Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again. He will live in disgrace, shunned by the same film community that embraced him and covered up his crimes. And even tonight, sitting among you, there are those who still have to be held accountable for their conduct against women, a behaviour that does not belong in this industry, does not belong in any industry or any workplace”.
A domino effect
Her courage provoked a knock-on effect, encouraging many other Weinstein’s or other famous men’s victims to speak out loud. In particular, the Me Too movement (also known with the hashtag #MeToo) spreaded virally as a result of Asia Argento’s action, who became one of its leaders. Kevin Spacey, one of the most affected figuers by this wave of denounces, was excluded from House of Cards and form the Ridley Scott’s film All the money in the world, after being accused for the harrassment of a 14-years-old boy. Sylvester Stallone as well was then accused of sexual assault by a teenage girl.
Therefore, those brave acts represented a great achievement for the Hollywood industry and not only. However, what happens when one of the victims herself is stigmatized for the same type of accusation? This is exactly the case of Asia Argento, who has recently been blamed by the young actor Jimmy Bennet for a non-consensual relation when he was 17. As reported by The New York Times, the woman apparently payed the boy 380 thousand dollars together with her boyfriend Anthony Bourdain, who helped buy Bennet’s silence. Asia Argento confirmed the payment was made, but according to her it was for pure compassion and not with the aim of covering the sexual intercourse, the truthfulness of which is actually alleged by the publication of a selfie in the bedroom.
Albeit a confirmed true version of the deed involving Argento and Bennet is still unclear, the actress has been strongly criticised by public figures, in addition to being excluded as one of the four X Factor Italy judges, a decision taken by the Sky production. In this regard, after the scandal, the actress Rose McGowen tweeted: “I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere”.
The tide is turning
If there is one bright spot in all this, is that both men and women seem to be treated in the same way, at least as regards public figures. On social media indeed, being a woman affected Asia Argento who, at the end, has been probably attacked harder than Weinsten himself. What is certain, is that public consciousness woke up from a long numbness so, ironically, Asia Argento’s activism backfired on herself. This bittersweet situation is the proof that we are going towards a new, right direction: justice, equality and courage to denounce, no matter what.