For ordinary women, the #metoo movement feels revolutionary. It feels like the beginning of real change. Maybe our workplaces will be different now. Maybe we don’t have to reflexively warn and shield female colleagues from “that” creepy boss. Maybe men finally get it.
But for a handful of much higher-profile women – in particular part-time actresses and full-time Twitter activists Rose McGowan, Amber Tamblyn, Asia Argento, Alyssa Milano and others, #metoo has morphed into a series of debasing catfights, as each woman attempts to police the others in 280 characters over their views, interpretations and even word choices around the movement.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
Rose McGowan is a woman deserving of admiration. She was one of the first who dared to speak out about Harvey Weinstein, after he allegedly raped her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997 – and her bravery was instrumental in starting the #metoo tidal wave. But in recent days her relentless Twitter commentary has descended into furious invective, spitting venom about Meryl Streep’s choice to wear black to the Oscars to protest sexual violence in Hollywood, and even taking a bitter and unwarranted dig at Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, Harvey Weinstein’s estranged wife who appears entirely blameless.
After that, it was pile-on time. The details are too exhausting to repeat in detail – as anyone who’s ever tried to get to the bottom of a schoolyard spat between a bunch of seven-year-olds will understand. But in short, Asia, Amber, Alyssa and others each seemed to pull consecutive all-nighters, furiously typing their every thought into 280 characters for hours on end, berating everyone else’s 280-character thoughts. “This is beneath you, Rose!” thundered Amber at one point. “You just did to Rose what you claim you don’t support in others!” piped up Alyssa’s ex-Charmed colleague Holly Marie Combs. “Twitter wants us to have a girl fight and it ain’t going to happen,” retorted Amber untruthfully. At no point did anyone seem to come up for air and get on with their actual lives.
On and on it went. Meryl Streep stepped in to defend herself. Tweets were deleted and retracted and clarified. No one seemed to sleep for days.
The whole squawking hysteria was and is embarrassing, debasing and counterproductive. It completely undermines the entire #metoo movement.
What power do we have to stop men treating us badly if we’re too busy destroying each other?
I’m tired of the hair-splitting around the #metoo discussion. I’m tired of the scramble to find new and more inflammatory angles. I’m tired of the tug-of-war over whose views are or aren’t valid. There is really only one angle: men need to stop sexually harassing women. That’s it. We can’t keep wringing the cloth of righteousness until it’s just a limp, wrinkled rag and we certainly can’t turn on each other.
Men like Harvey Weinstein break women’s spirits. Let’s stop doing their work for them.