Awo­ken by a howl

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At the week­end I read Rose McGowan’s Brave from cover to cover. It was like lis­ten­ing to an id­iot sa­vant rant­ing on a street cor­ner. The book is one long im­pas­sioned howl – some parts are non­sen­si­cal, oth­ers bor­ing, but buried in their are some golden nuggets of truth.

McGowan likens Hol­ly­wood to a misog­y­nis­tic cult – and she should know be­cause she was born into one. The Chil­dren of God were a bunch of fun­da­men­tal­ist nut­ters who set up camp in ru­ral Italy where, ac­cord­ing to McGowan, they could ex­ploit women and mo­lest chil­dren in peace. Over and over, the theme of her life is en­trap­ment, ex­ploita­tion and es­cape. She preaches equal­ity and freedom, at times sound­ing a lot like a cult leader her­self. She calls her fem­i­nist move­ment #RoseArmy. Her ego is, you know, healthy.

Call me brain­washed, but af­ter I fin­ished Brave and was drift­ing off to sleep a kind of news­reel started up in my head. It was of mo­ments in my life that had both­ered me at the time but that I never re­acted to in any way. Ev­ery woman has a news­reel like this. Some of these things I’d com­pletely for­got­ten about and as I fell asleep my last thought was: “Weird. I’ve been awak­ened by Rose McGowan...”

This was sig­nif­i­cant be­cause when #Me­Too ex­ploded last year, I sup­ported the move­ment in gen­eral, but some of it made me feel like: “Meh, save your out­rage for the chil­dren without blan­kets in Syria.” I was wary of mass hys­te­ria. But then again mass hys­te­ria gets things done. #Me­Too is a kind of rag­ing in­ferno and it’s no stretch to say that McGowan lit the match. She was the first to ex­pose We­in­stein. Other vic­tims waited un­til he was los­ing his power be­fore they came for­ward. Af­ter he top­pled a whole bunch of oth­ers came down in an en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try scan­dal. Then came creeps in pol­i­tics, me­dia, fash­ion, restau­rants, law firms... The whole tex­ture of our so­ci­ety has changed in a few short months.

There have been col­lat­eral vic­tims. One is Jill Mes­sick, McGowan’s for­mer man­ager who took her life last month. Her fam­ily said she was bro­ken by see­ing her name re­peat­edly come up in the me­dia (and in

Brave) in as­so­ci­a­tion with We­in­stein. Rose McGowan is not without her rough edges. But her core mes­sage is true: men and women don’t get an equal deal. And that can change.

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