Awoken by a howl
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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