Asia Argento ’s current claim to fame may come from standing up to Harvey Weinstein, but she too must pay off her sexual assault victims in order to keep them quiet. For those who increased their fame and power through the #MeToo movement, the hashtag appears to have a double meaning.
Agence France Presse reports that Ms Argento has paid $380,000 in hush-money to an actor and rock musician named Jimmy Bennett, who accused the Italian actress of sexually assaulting him in a California hotel room in 2013, when he was only 17 years old. These allegations aren’t merely hot air; documents provided to the New York Times include a photo of the pair lying in bed together, as well as the payment schedule provided by Argento.
Asia Argento joins California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, New York University Professor Avital Ronell, Columbia University’s Emma Sulkowicz, and many others, in having the hypocrisy of their victimhood narratives brought beneath the powerful disinfectant of sunlight. There can be no doubt, at this point, that a woman’s domain of social and sexual power can be just as corruptly abused as a man’s domain of physical and economic power, and can result in equal levels of destruction for those affected by that abuse.
I must begrudgingly show my respect for the New York Times, for not choosing to ignore the information provided to them. With the hiring of Sarah Jeong to their editorial board, many had given up on the newspaper to provide a fair representation of news when it would go against the social justice narrative which has dominated discourse in the last four years. They cannot be given too much credit, though, as the story was buried by releasing it on a Sunday night, when the fewest eyes would be around to see it.
And this is the problem we face. Sensationalistic yellow journals masquerading as free-press servants of the people divide us into demographics, and discriminate between victims. Partisan networks divide us along ideological lines, because we instinctively seek a tribe. They favour women and children over men, because of the biological response we all have as humans to seeing or hearing a woman or child cry. The historically-oppressed are favoured over anyone else, because the narrative of continued oppression plays on the guilt so many wish to feel. And this leads to victimhood itself being abused by those just as guilty as those they accuse, if not moreso, because these self-reported victims know the media of their ideological tribe will always take their side.
When it is reported that a Mexican man is assaulted on the streets, scarcely a media outlet can be found that will wait for all the facts to be reported before announcing this is the result of some fictional racism empowered by the President. But when they discover that the attacker was, in fact, a black woman, they do not have the column inches or YouTube minutes to spare, to make apology when they correct the report.
Likewise, when it is reported that a Republican congressman is shot during congressional team practice, euphemisms such as “lone gunman” are used by partisan media outlets to conceal the partisanship of the shooter’s intent, to avoid offending viewers and readers within that same tribe. But if an attacker’s politics do not align with the partisanship of that media outlet, they have no qualms about ascribing ideology; in fact, they will be proud to blame half the country for the actions of one extremist.
And when a woman asserts that Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct and abuse of wealth constitute abuse, six months will be dedicated to daily partisan condemnation and the hunt for other victims. But when it is reported that that same woman not only engaged in precisely the same financial and sexual abuses, it will be lucky to last a day in the news cycle — if that.
This video essay is being written late Sunday night, but hours after Asia Argento’s hypocrisy was made public, and mark my words: an event will occur on Monday which will demand coverage. Not a reporter will be spared. And for most, Ms. Argento’s statutory rape will be forgotten by the mid-week, just as her actions which seem to have contributed to Anthony Bourdain’s suicide were.
But I will not forget, and I ask that you do not forget either.
This is not a condemnation of all women, just as identifying a male rapist should never be generalized into statements of all men. Nor is it a condemnation of Democrats, for sexual misconduct is found on both sides of the aisle.
This is a statement about corrupt and corrupting individuals in our society, who take advantage of our goodness entirely for their own benefit. I cannot speak as to whether Asia Argento really cares about the victims of rape or not, but I can assert the hypocrisy of her choice to silence her own underaged sexual assault victim even as she promotes a hashtag meant to encourage victims of sexual assault to speak out.
Such hypocrisy, such falsely virtuous grandstanding, we all allow it to manipulate us. We sacrifice our individuality to the group identities these individuals pretend to represent. Twenty years ago, it was said that you could easily guess which Republicans were gay based on how loudly they oppose gay marriage, and likewise today it would be painless to assert that one can easily guess which Democrats have committed sexual assault by how loudly they support #MeToo.
But if you give into this desire, you have missed the point of this message. These so-called leaders do not represent you. These so-called leaders have only led you to fight with one another. Left vs. Right. Women vs. Men. Poor vs. Rich. You are not one with them, no matter how good they might temporarily make you feel. You are your own person.
If you have been victimized, you must not let anyone trap you in that victimhood, only to relive it for the sake of promoting someone else’s message. If you have committed a crime, you must endure your punishment and put the selfishness of your past behind you. But if you have no victimhood for which to feel ashamed, nor crime for which to feel guilty, then be free. Be independent. Be defined by your actions, rather than someone else’s words. Be your own representative, and cease to let the political parties, celebrities, newspapers, and governments presume they can speak for you.