What #SheKnew Gets So Wrong About #MeToo

Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images.
On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter documented posters that have appeared all over Los Angeles that accuse Meryl Streep of being complicit with Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 80 women. Weinstein has denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex.
The posters, which are influenced heavily by the style of artist Barbara Kruger, depict the words "she knew" over a photo of Streep and Weinstein, and appear near the SAG-AFTRA building as well as across from the 20th Century Fox studio lot.
It is still unknown who is behind the art, but the display may have been inspired by a now-deleted tweet by actress Rose McGowan, an alleged victim of Weinstein, who wrote "Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @goldenglobes in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You'll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa."
However, overnight, men have co-opted the so-called "She Knew" movement, particularly noted Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich. What perhaps started as an effort to dismantle the culture of secrecy in Hollywood that allowed this growing number of assaults to occur has now turned into another way for men to take the burden off of themselves and blame women for the very harassment they are victims of.
Twitter users went on to point fingers at other women they believe facilitated the harassment, misplacing their ire onto peripheral targets rather than the men who actually allegedly committed the assaults.
While Streep did not respond to comment about the posters in particular, she did issue a statement following McGowan's tweet.
"It hurt to be attacked by Rose McGowan in banner headlines this weekend, but I want to let her know I did not know about Weinstein's crimes, not in the 90s when he attacked her, or through subsequent decades when he proceeded to attack others," the statement reads. "I wasn't deliberately silent. I didn't know."
Even if women were aware of Weinstein's behaviour, extensive reporting has shown that they had good reason to fear coming forward. The New Yorker published an article detailing the ways Weinstein would hire private investigators to find unflattering information about accusers and journalists looking to expose his alleged misconduct. The New York Times later referred to it as "Weinstein's Complicity Machine," — the way in which he pulled strings and used powerful relationships to keep women quiet by threatening their careers.
Immediately hopping aboard "She Knew" overlooks the fact that any woman wanting to speak out, even if she wasn't a victim herself, could still be subject to Weinstein's manipulation. It also shows that society is conditioned to distrust women, and that we'd rather point fingers anywhere else than ever hold men accountable for their own actions. If men really want to be allies, then don't call out women for being silent, but instead work to dismantle the structure that often forces them to be — and that all starts with believing women in the first place.
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.
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