Most of us already read or heard about the most recent story in the news around the #MeToo movement: Asia Argento being accused of sexual assault by actor Jimmy Bennett. These allegations are especially disturbing since Argento has become one of the most prominent figures of the #MeToo movement. However, this report does not invalidate the movement or Argento’s own experience, but instead, it highlights the fact that sexual violence narratives exist in a wide spectrum no matter gender, race, age, class, sexual orientation, ability, belief or ethnicity.
As more and more important conversations are happening around the #MeToo movement, it is helping everyone to dismantle false beliefs and understand uncomfortable truths about power and abuse, and among them is the fact that those who have been harmed sometimes go on to inflict that harm on others. It also sheds light on the fact that men can be victims and that women can be perpetrators.
Bennett’s accusation is terrible to hear, just like every other story that has come to light in the past few months. This is not to blame the #MeToo movement for it. If anything, this is an indicator of just how harmful rape culture is for our society and how toxic masculinity makes it hard for society to understand that men can also be victims. It is until now that a lot of survivors feel safe and valid to come forward to share their experiences. The movement has never been only about women, it is about the reality that sexual violence can affect everyone and anyone.
To end this thought we would like to share what #MeToo founder Tarana Burke shared on Twitter:
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 [+]
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 and begin to talk about power. Sexual violence is about power and privilege. That doesn’t change if the perpetrator is your favorite actress, activist or professor of any gender.
And we won’t shift the culture unless we get serious about shifting these false narratives.
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.
A shift can happen. This movement is making space for possibility. But, it can only happen after we crack open the whole can of worms and get really comfortable with the uncomfortable reality that there is no one way to be a perpetrator.
and there is no model survivor. We are imperfectly human and we all have to be accountable for our individual behavior.
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!”
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