The View From Here: When the accused becomes the accuser

The recent news of Asia Argento’s alleged sexual abuse and settlement has all of us on our toes; especially those following the #MeToo movement. According to reports from The New York Times, Argento agreed to a settlement of $380,000 for her very own accuser, actor Jimmy Bennett.

Initially, Argento denied the claims and stated that Bennett was attempting to extort her and TV chef and late ex-boyfriend Anthony Bourdain. A TMZ report followed, containing alleged text messages from Argento that indicate that the sexual encounters between her and Bennett did occur.

At the time of the alleged abuse, Argento was 37 and Bennett was 17. The age of consent in California is 18, meaning that if the allegations are indeed true, the encounter would be classified as statutory rape.

Argento was one of the first women to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. Since then, she has become a prominent figure of the #MeToo movement.

Still, as I continually process the Asia Argento situation, I keep going back to the same points.

Firstly, the #MeToo movement was never the Asia Argento movement, and we need to be able to separate the movement from an individual. She shouldn’t represent the movement, just as Rose McGowan should not represent the movement.

Movements are about the ideas and we should remember that it’s important to follow the principle, not the people. The allegations against Ms. Argento should be treated the same way we treat all allegations. To denounce the #MeToo movement entirely is dangerous. The Argento allegations shouldn’t discredit #MeToo.

The millions of men and women who have come forward telling their abuse stories should not be erased because of one hypocritical story.

“People will use these recent news stories to try and discredit the movement,” #MeToo founder Tarana Burke tweeted. “Don’t let that happen.”

These hot takes about the #MeToo movement are laughable because they keep asking if the movement, which was started by a black woman, is now dead due to Bennett’s allegations against Argento. No one proclaimed that Argento was the leader.

Likewise, the double standards we hold for women and men are ridiculous.

On August 20, McGowan tweeted, “None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle.” Since then, McGowan has deleted her tweet.

The #MeToo movement will fall if its leaders begin to engage in hypocrisy and double standards. Why shouldn’t we believe the allegations against Argento in the same way we believe other women’s allegations towards their abusers? In the same way, we cannot deny the abuse that happened to Argento that has propelled the movement forward.

An immense part of feminism is holding people accountable, men or women, and there is no reason we shouldn’t be holding Argento to account.

It is very unfortunate to hear about Bennett’s abuse and it is even more unfortunate to see how many people want to discredit #MeToo.

Let’s not forget why the movement was started in the first place.

The fact that Argento’s accuser came forward with his story is proof that #MeToo is working, not proof that it is not.