#MeToo Founder Tarana Burke Responds To Asia Argento Report


You’ve probably heard by now about the New York Times report regarding Italian actress Asia Argento that has gone viral. According to the report, Argento who has become one of the leading voices in the #MeToo movement, had arranged to pay Jimmy Bennet, a now 22-year-old actor and musician, $380,000 after he outed her for sexually assaulting him when he had just turned 18. Now#MeToo founder Tarana Burke is responding to it along with other celebrities.

Burke took to Twitter to express her thoughts on the recent report, letting people know that there is “no way to be a perpetrator and there is no model survivor.”

“I’ve said repeatedly before 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,” she tweeted. “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.”

But she didn’t end there. Burke went on. “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 and punishment and more about harm and harm reduction,” she wrote. 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 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.”

She also urged folks to not let incidents like this discredit the #MeToo movement. “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!”

Burke’s statements are valid. For starters, perpetrators don’t look one way and there is no model survivor. Victims are humans. That’s not to excuse what Argento did but to show that that this happens and her being a perpetrator is in no way taking away from the movement as a whole. NBC reports that it “highlights how systemic sexual misconduct is.

Celebrities like Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette also weighed in on Twitter. Arquette pointed out that despite Argento being a perpetrator herself, it doesn’t take away from the fact that she was still raped by Harvey Weinstein.

 

#MeToo has always been bigger than one case or one story. It is about the widespread impact of sexual harassment, assault and abuse in our culture,” Laura Palumbo, a certified sexual assault counselor and communications director for that National Sexual Violence Resource Center told NBC. “The fact that this report is not only coming forward against someone who also reported their own abuses, but who is also speaking from the point of view of a male, is really important, because those voices are so often silenced too.”

Argento’s allegation, brings to light two things we don’t talk about often enough when it comes to the #MeToo movement. One that perpetrators are often victims of sexual assault themselves. We hardly ever talk about that. But, according to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, 35% of perpetrators reported being victims of child sexual abuse themselves, as opposed to 11% of non-perpetrators. If anything, this just confirms how important this movement is and how important it is to continue pushing dialogue around sexual assault and violence if we want to shift our culture. It also brings to the forefront that men are also victims of sexual assault—often times young men and boys. In fact, RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, reports that one out of every 10 rape victims is male. That’s more common than a lot of us realize and yet we still haven’t created a safe enough space for men to come out and voice these experiences. How can we talk about ending sexual violence when we’re not getting to the root of the problem or understanding how it starts?

Let’s not allow Argento’s allegations to discredit the #MeToo movement or to stop taking victims’ claims seriously. Instead, let’s use it to take this movement more seriously and to understand that sexual violence is a very complex issue that needs to still be discussed and understood if we’re going to keep fighting to do away with it. 

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