The Update – Asia Argento’s “Me Too”
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The Telegraph reports that Asia Argento, the Hollywood actress and “MeToo” activist accused of sexual assault on an underage boy, has privately admitted having sex with the fellow actor despite issuing a public denial.

Argento, 42, became a figurehead for the campaign against sexual harassment after she was one of the first women to accuse Harvey Weinstein, the movie mogul, of abuse last October.

She herself has been accused by former child actor Jimmy Bennett of sexual assault by having sex with him in 2013, when he was under the age of consent in California, which is 18.  Those allegations, which have sent shock waves through the “MeToo” movement, were first reported by the New York Times at the weekend. It led to an initial furious denial from the Italian actress, who claimed she “never had any sexual relationship” with Bennett.

TMZ, the celebrity website, revealed text messages between Argento and a friend in which she admitted a sexual encounter, though she said the teenager “jumped me”. Argento also claimed in the text messages that she did not know Bennett was a minor until she received a “shakedown” letter from his lawyer demanding money.

She reportedly wrote: “I had sex with him, it felt weird. I didn’t know he was a minor until the shakedown letter. The public know nothing, only what the NYT wrote. The shakedown letter. The horny kid jumped me.”

The actress added: ” It (sic) wasn’t raped. but I was frozen. He was on top of me. After, he told me I had been his sexual fantasy since he was 12.”

Argento said in the text messages that she didn’t report the incident at the time because she “felt bad” for “this Hollywood failed child actor”.

 

The consequences

Corriere Della Sera reports that the first, inevitable, is the consequence of what was announced by Sky immediately after the revelations of the New York Times on what until then was the real novelty of this edition of the Sky Uno show. 

Asia Argento, the new judge, had already turned the first selections of the talent – whose departure is imminent, the next September 6 – but after the first news of harassment to a minor, the pay TV position had been clear: if confirmed, the only possible choice would have been the removal of the actress from the program. 

After the American newspaper reiterated the authenticity of its sources and that Bennett spoke, it is almost certain that Argento is out of the game. 

The Relation between Bourdain and Argento gets new meanings, and perhaps so does his suicide

This was not the posthumous revelation about Anthony Bourdain that anyone was expecting. Known to have been dating Asia Argento since late 2016, a picture of an unconventional relationship with the Italian actress and filmmaker started to take shape after his suicide in June.

E! Online reports that “Anthony and Asia had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on,” wrote the couple’s friend Rose McGowan, who had gotten to know both of them as fellow champions of the #MeToo movement.

McGowan and Argento were among the first of the famous women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment last fall, and Bourdain spoke up as a fierce advocate for his girlfriend and the entire cause.

Now, almost a year after the New York Times ;and The New Yorker paved the way for an avalanche of accusations against Weinstein and countless other men in varied positions of power—including celebrity chef Mario Batali, whom Bourdain had previously expressed endless admiration for—McGowan is understandably disappointed in Argento.

And the Italian actress and filmmaker’s description of Bourdain as her “rock” and “protector” has taken on new meaning.

What’s next for the #MeToo campaign?

 

The LA Times has already asked, “Do the claims against Asia Argento invalidate the #MeToo movement?” And while the verdict is that “It does not invalidate Argento’s claims against Harvey Weinstein; a person can suffer one abuse and perpetrate another,” Melissa Batchelor Warnke writes, “It does make the #MeToo movement more vulnerable to bad-faith attacks by those who’d see it fail regardless.” A Breitbart pundit has unsurprisingly declared this as evidence that “They are the very thing they say they hate, in every instance.” And of course, the phrase “war on men” has come up as well.

#MeToo has never been just about women or about one form of harassment or abuse. It’s about having real and often difficult conversations about the dynamics of power and the repeating cycles of exploitation so that we can work to improve things. It’s about giving men’s claims the same weight and respect we give women’s. It means acknowledging there is no one typical abuser and no typical victim. Because, seriously, don’t we all know enough about how rape culture operates not to make presumptions about who does and doesn’t fit in a particular role? The Bennett story isn’t an undermining of #MeToo. It’s an example of why it’s so necessary.

If Argento was simultaneously working out a payment to a young man she abused when he was underage while she was speaking in public solely as a survivor, that is wildly horrifying, and she should face exactly the same professional and personal consequences as any other predator. If that’s not what transpired, let’s talk about what did, between a teenager and a person twenty years his senior. And whatever the full facts of the Argento matter, Harvey Weinstein’s sex trafficking suit is moving forward, and 87 women have accused him of harassment and assault. Whatever else happens, men who say they have been harassed and assaulted deserve to be taken as seriously as women making similar claims have fought for decades to be. This isn’t hard to figure out.

Many things can be true at the same time. They don’t cancel each other out. Instead, if we’re willing to do the work, they strengthen the cause of justice. Real honesty and responsibility, for all, is the only way forward, for all. “There are those who still have to be held accountable,” Argento said in May. “You know who you are. But most importantly, we know who you are. And we’re not going to allow you to get away with it any longer.

 

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