The Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal and its resulting fallout has had a huge effect on Hollywood. To protest against the culture of sexism that lay behind the scandal, almost all of the actresses who arrived at the 2018 Golden Globes wore black. They did so to show their backing for the Time’s Up campaign, which supports the women who have spoken out about the sexual harassment that they’ve suffered. But not everyone agreed with their way of making a statement. And actress Rose McGowan was one of the most vocal detractors.
Ever since the Weinstein story broke, McGowan has been one of his loudest accusers. In an interview with The Observer published in October 2017, she accused the Hollywood mogul of raping her. McGowan never reported it at the time, she said, because a lawyer had told her that she probably wouldn’t win any case that was brought against Weinstein.
Harvey Weinstein has denied all the allegations against him – and there have been a lot of them. They’ve ranged from incidents of sexual harassment to rape. Moreover, Rose McGowan wasn’t the only person who accused him of the latter. Italian actress Asia Argento, one-time actor Lucia Evans and another woman who wished to remain anonymous have all made the same claim.
“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr Weinstein,” a spokesperson told The New Yorker at the time. “Mr Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.”
The Weinstein case caused a domino effect that resulted in the aforementioned global #MeToo campaign. Many women, especially those who work in the acting industry, have been inspired to come forward to talk about their own experiences at the hands of alleged predators. Men who had reportedly been abused also came forward. After being accused of misconduct towards the then 14-year-old Anthony Rapp, actor Kevin Spacey was fired from his TV show House of Cards.
And it was distressing to see how many people, especially women, had a #MeToo story. Twitter and Facebook both subsequently reported that the hashtag had been used hundreds of thousands of times. Many A-list celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Viola Davis, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lawrence, opened up about their own experiences of sexual misconduct.
So for the Golden Globes ceremony in January 2018, many actresses decided to wear black as a form of protest. A group called Time’s Up formed just before the event, with their mission statement being to further the quest for gender equality and an end to harassment. Many famous Hollywood names are part of the group, including director Ava DuVernay, actress Emma Stone and Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy.
Both before and during the event, women who had decided to wear black were asked about their choice of attire. Some of them cited personal reasons – they also had #MeToo stories, but wished to keep them private. “I am one of those women … I don’t want to go into detail about that and I haven’t. But I am, and I stand with those women,” singer and actress Mary J. Blige told Billboard at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in early January 2018.
When the Golden Globes ceremony took place on January 7, 2018, many women used the opportunity to not only wear black, but also to speak about feminist issues. When Oprah Winfrey accepted her lifetime achievement award, she gave a speech about rape victim Recy Taylor, whose case was taken up by famous Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men,” Winfrey said. “But their time is up.”
The day after the ceremony, however, Rose McGowan expressed her displeasure on Twitter. It started when Asia Argento tweeted to her. “No one should forget that you were the first one who broke the silence,” Argento wrote. “Anyone who tries to diminish your work is a troll and an enemy of the movement. You gave me the courage to speak out. I am on your side until I die.”
McGowan’s response was harsh – not towards Argento, but to the Golden Globes attendees. “And not one of those fancy people wearing black to honor our rapes would have lifted a finger had it not been so. I have no time for Hollywood fakery, but you I love, @AsiaArgento,” McGowan replied. She tagged the post with #RoseArmy, the name that she given her supporters.
In the comments left beneath the post McGowan made, there were many messages of support. “You are a brave and amazing woman for paving the way. Let’s use this movement and platform to bring women together!” one read. But there were others who weren’t very happy with McGowan’s words – and not for the first time, either.
McGowan had also tweeted when the idea of wearing black had been floated for the first time back in December 2017. “Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster [Weinstein], are wearing black @GoldenGlobes in a silent protest,” she wrote. Streep has vehemently denied McGowan’s accusations about Streep’s supposed complicity in Weinstein’s alleged crimes.
“YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly and affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa,” McGowan continued, referring to the fashion brand founded by Weinstein’s estranged wife. And for that latter comment, actress Amber Tamblyn subsequently called her out.
“I do not support any woman (or man) shaming or taunting the movements of other woman who are trying to create change,” Tamblyn wrote. She herself has penned an essay accusing actor James Woods of hitting on Tamblyn when he allegedly knew that she was underage. “Telling us to wear Marchesa? This is beneath you, Rose,” Tamblyn added. McGowan later apologized, writing, “The Marchesa line was beneath me and I’m sorry for that.”
Critics of McGowan have also pointed out that although she has been very vocal about women such as Streep working with Weinstein, she herself has worked with a sex offender. Furthermore, her detractors claim that she was aware of this at the time. Back in 2011 she starred in a film called Rosewood Lane. The movie was directed by Victor Salva, who had been convicted in 1988 for sexual abusing a child.
When promoting the movie, McGowan did an interview with Advocate magazine. And when questioned about Salva being a registered sex offender, McGowan answered, “I still don’t really understand the whole story or history there, and I’d rather not, because it’s not really my business. But he’s an incredibly sweet and gentle man, lovely to his crew, and a very hard worker.”
Despite all the criticism, though, McGowan has drawn a lot of attention to the fight against sexual harassment. In October 2017 she spoke at the Women’s Convention event in Detroit. And although it has yet to be confirmed whether she was publicly present at the Women’s March gatherings that took place in January 2018, she did tweet her support, writing, “The unity and strength in all the participants of the 2018 #womensmarch is a reminder that we will not be silenced.”
Another march of sorts was taking place on the internet at roughly the same time. By January 18, 2018, the official GoFundMe for the Time’s Up campaign had brought in an incredible $16.7 million. The fund, which received large donations from both female and male celebrities, will ultimately go towards paying the legal fees of sexual misconduct victims.
The effects of #MeToo are still being felt. Many powerful men have been either accused of committing sexual assault or of being complicit in it, and many more still might be. And there may yet be more events where women turn up wearing black – it draws attention to the cause, after all. But it’s clear that though the movement has come far, it still has a long way to go.