Asia Argento, one of the most prominent activists of the #MeToo movement, has threatened her previous best friend, Rose McGowan -her “soul sister”as she used to call her – with “immediate legal action” unless Rose retracts from a statement she made on 27 August when Argento herself was accused of sexual assault by actor Jimmy Bennett.
Asia was one of the first women in accusing producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. She told the New Yorker magazine , that Weinstein raped her at the Cannes film festival in 1997 when she was 21. She also told the magazine that she continued to have a relationship with the producer because she was afraid of him.That New Yorker Magazine article pretty much kickstarted the inspiring #MeToo movement. Many actresses and celebrities came forward with their own stories of sexual harassment and abuse. These women also inspired other women at all levels of society to come forward and tell their stories.
However at the end of August, when The New York Times reported that Asia Argento had reached a deal to pay $380.000 to Jimmy Bennett, who accused her of sexually assaulting him when he was a minor, Rose McGowan was quick to distance herself from her soul sister.
McGowan said that Argento had told her and her partner, that she was being extorted for a large sum of money every month.
“No one in the room knew who the extortionist was. Now we know it to be a reference to this case [of Jimmy Bennett],”McGowan said in her statement.
“Asia you were my friend,” McGowan said. “I loved you. You’ve spent and risked a lot to stand with the MeToo movement. I really hope you find your way through this process to rehabilitation and betterment. Anyone can be be better- I hope you can be, too. Do the right thing. Be honest. Be fair. Let justice stay its course. Be the person you wish Harvey could have been.”
In a matter of days, they went from friends to frenemies. Rose McGowan has revealed that she no longer speaks to her fellow #MeToo activist and Argento is now suing her former friend as well as her partner Rain Dove.Argento claims it was Rain Dove the one who leaked a private conversation between the two to the press.
The Argento-McGowan friendship, has been intense and pretty short-lived . Rose used to refer to Asia as “My Ride or Die’, they even got matching tattoos, when French filmmaker Catherine Breillat accused Argento of hypocrisy , it was Rose the one acting as Asia defence lawyer, and after Argento’s partner Anthony Bourdain died by suicide in June, McGowan was the first to share her pain publicly and support the Italian actress.
The very public falling out has been damaging for them both and the movement itself with prominent figures questioning whether they are the best spokespeople for such a diverse movement .
The issue with having someone famous as the voice of social change, is that it seems they are mainly motivated by their own agenda rather than by the chance they are given to actually go for it and bring about social change. In order to do this, they must start to lead by example. Something that is obviously not happening in this case.
Admittedly, the A-list celebrities who came out against Weinstein kickstarted the #MeToo movement. Soon, it grew into a worldwide movement for women to come together and make their voices heard . For the health and long life of the #MeToo movement, it should be less about celebrities and more about social change.
It is not about advancing career opportunities for those who already enjoy fame, neither for them to have a platform to be seen, heard and increase their media cache. It is about a worldwide sisterhood that aims to end abuse.
Indeed, it must be sad for all involved that a friendship which looked pretty solid and full of values ends so abruptly and so publicly. Just like those social media relationships where new lovers post daily photos of their newly found love, sometimes there are things in life that are better kept private. Ultimately, Asia felt betrayed by a friend and her partner. Those texts that were part of a private conversation and were leaked to the press, should be kept private. Particularly as they were already reported to the police. As for The #Metoo movement, it should move forward and move on from this now toxic relationship between two of its most prominent activists.