As promised, Rose McGowan took to the stage at the Women's Convention in Detroit Friday morning and delivered a stirring speech. It was the first public appearance for the actress and activist since she named Harvey Weinstein as her rapist earlier this month, and she told the crowd that it was time for everyone to speak out and "amplify each other's voices."
"I have been silenced for 20 years," McGowan said, alluding to the fact that Weinstein allegedly raped her in 1997, though she still did not say the producer's name in her entire speech. "I have been slut-shamed. I have been harassed. I have been maligned, and you know what? I’m just like you, because what happened to me behind the scenes happens to all of us in this society, and it cannot stand, and it will not stand."
McGowan has said that her complaints about Weinstein fell on deaf ears when she was trying to develop a show with Amazon. As she was speaking out about this on Twitter, she was temporarily banned for the platform (supposedly for releasing someone's phone number). That's when her hashtag #RoseArmy took hold. In her speech on Friday, she expanded the meaning of the phrase.
"We are free," she said. "We are strong. We are one massive collective voice. That is what Rose Army is all about. It is about all of us being roses in our own life — not me, the actual flower, because we have thorns and our thorns carry justice and our thorns carry consequence. No more will we be shunted to the side."
She also explained why it is relevant to everyone that this kind of sexual misconduct occurred in Hollywood. "It's the messaging system for your mind. It is the mirror that you're given to look into [and see], 'This is what you are as a woman. This is what you are as a man.' "
If the people behind that messaging system are almost all men, and some of those men are either perpetrators of harassment and assault or complicit in it, that's a problem for everyone.
"It's time to clean house," she said.
McGowan also offered solidarity with victims like the small-town girl raped by members of the football team.
"It’s the same situation, and that situation must end, because it is not our shame," she said. "The scarlet letter is theirs, it is not ours. We are pure, we are strong, we are brave and we will fight."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, visit the Women's Aid website or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.