Bari Weiss

Women are hypocrites. Women are opportunists. Women are liars.
They are abusers and bullies and manipulators. They are capable of cruelty, callousness and evil.
Just like men.

1 thought on “Bari Weiss

  1. shinichi Post author

    Asia Argento Proves, Once Again, That Women Are Human Beings

    No gender has a monopoly on hypocrisy or harm.

    by Bari Weiss

    Women are hypocrites. Women are opportunists. Women are liars.

    They are abusers and bullies and manipulators. They are capable of cruelty, callousness and evil.

    Just like men.

    This obvious fact — that women are fully human — bears repeating in light of the stunning news that a figurehead of the #MeToo movement has herself been accused of abuse.

    Asia Argento, the Italian actress and director, was a key figure in Ronan Farrow’s explosive New Yorker story in October 2017 about Harvey Weinstein’s predations. She was the victim who called the Cannes Film Festival his “hunting ground.” She was the one who gave that unforgettable quote about Mr. Weinstein forcibly performing oral sex on her at a hotel there when she was 21 years old: “A big fat man wanting to eat you. It’s a scary fairy tale.”

    In the months that followed, Ms. Argento was rightly hailed for her bravery in speaking out publicly against a serial assaulter. But in private, according to The Times, she was paying off her own accuser $380,000 to keep quiet.

    Ms. Argento met Jimmy Bennett on the set of the movie “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.” He was 7. She played his mother.

    Ten years later, in May 2013, the two met at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Ray, Calif. Mr. Bennett was 17; Ms. Argento was 37. The age of consent in California is 18.

    According to The Times, which based its report on documents between lawyers for Ms. Argento and Mr. Bennett, the actress asked Mr. Bennett’s family member to leave so that she could be alone with him. She gave him alcohol, “kissed him, pushed him back on the bed, removed his pants and performed oral sex. She climbed on top of him and the two had intercourse, the document says. She then asked him to take a number of photos.”

    On Tuesday, Ms. Argento issued a statement categorically denying that any sexual encounter ever took place. She says that her boyfriend Anthony Bourdain arranged the payment to Mr. Bennett “because he was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us.”

    Perhaps she’s telling the truth. But switch the genders in this story — he gave her booze, he pushed her back on the bed, he removed her pants, he climbed on top of her — and you can instantly conjure the collective outrage.

    Some powerful voices haven’t hesitated to condemn Ms. Argento and offer support to her accuser. In a Twitter thread, the #MeToo founder Tarana Burke wrote that “Sexual violence is about power and privilege. That doesn’t change if the perpetrator is your favorite actress, activist or professor of any gender.”

    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 [+]
    1:08 PM – Aug 20, 2018

    But others in Hollywood offered sober calls for caution and context. These are particularly striking when they come from those who typically deliver public statements with muzzle velocity, like the #MeToo leader Rose McGowan:

    Ms. McGowan, herself a victim of Mr. Weinstein, has a point. We ought to reserve judgment. We ought to take seriously the ruining of a person’s reputation and career until we have all the facts. We ought to consider the context of the accusation.

    But the advice is a bit rich coming from a person who has insisted that anything less than immediately believing accusers is moral cowardice:

    rose mcgowan
    It’s quite simple, all who have worked with known predators should do 3 simple things. 1) Believe survivors 2) Apologize for putting your careers and wallets before what was right. 3) Grab a spine and denounce. If you do not do these things you are still moral cowards. #ROSEARMY
    3:48 AM – Nov 17, 2017

    It is a bit confusing coming from someone who has advocated mercilessness toward alleged sexual harassers:

    rose mcgowan
    If I seem merciless, it’s because I am. Mercy is reserved for the deserving, not the perpetrator. #ROSEARMY
    4:37 PM – Nov 29, 2017

    Given that Mr. Bennett seems to have been financially strapped when he made the accusation against Ms. Argento, there are reasons to wonder whether he had an ulterior motive. But this willingness to weigh the complicated context of such an allegation is one the movement has seldom applied when the accuser has been a woman. Perhaps that will change.

    The larger question is whether the Argento story might undermine the #MeToo movement. Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer certainly hopes it will. So do various anti-feminists, right-wing bloggers and conspiracy theorists, who are already fashioning the Argento plot twist into Pizzagate 2.0.

    Most people aren’t going to fall for this nonsense. They’re not going to stop taking sexual abuse seriously because of one high-profile hypocrite.

    But I do think the stakes at this moment are high for the #MeToo movement. Outspoken feminists will lose credibility if they ignore this story or try to explain it away with clichés, however true, about how hurt people hurt people.

    For an object lesson in what not to do, they need only look at the bizarre spectacle currently playing out at New York University. There, Avital Ronell, a feminist star professor, has been accused by her former graduate student, a man named Nimrod Reitman, of sexually harassing him over the course of three years. After an 11-month Title IX investigation, the university decided to suspend Professor Ronell for the coming academic year.

    Believe survivors, right? Not so fast. In a letter signed by some of academia’s biggest feminist luminaries, including Judith Butler and Gayatri Spivak, Mr. Reitman is accused of waging a “malicious campaign” against the professor. The signatories “testify to the grace, the keen wit, and the intellectual commitment of Professor Ronell and ask that she be accorded the dignity rightly deserved by someone of her international standing and reputation.” Apparently, dignity is a privilege reserved for the tenured.

    “We hold that the allegations against her do not constitute actual evidence, but rather support the view that malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare,” they wrote.

    The tone-deafness here is almost comical. A young up-and-comer blows the whistle on a powerful mentor who wielded control over his career. Entrenched interests rush to the defense of the accused, venerating the powerful and actively smearing the character and motivations of the accuser. It’s a repeat of the sexual harassment stories we’ve spent the past year reading about, only with the genders flipped.

    This isn’t a good look. And it will become increasingly untenable as young men come forward with similar stories of harassment and abuse, as they surely will in this new stage of #MeToo. “Believe women” only works as a rule of thumb when all women are good. That myth falls flat outside Victorian England.

    We need a feminist movement that is robust enough to survive women who have preyed on others without trying to justify their behavior or maligning their victims. We need a feminist movement in which the facts of the case trump the identities of the parties involved. The patriarchy has bent over backward to protect its predators for centuries; the last thing the feminist movement should do is start making the same mistake.

    If you’re inclined to give Avital Ronell the benefit of the doubt, ask yourself: Would you do the same for a man in the same situation? If you’re inclined to feel sympathetic toward Asia Argento because of her own horrifying history with Mr. Weinstein, ask yourself: Did you feel similarly toward Junot Díaz, a victim of childhood rape, when he was accused of misogyny and abuse before his reputation was largely cleared?

    Every woman I know wants #MeToo to succeed, not just by punishing the perpetrators but also by raising our expectations of what constitutes acceptable sexual conduct. Every decent man must feel the same way. Any attempt to make excuses for women that would never fly for men undermines that goal.


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