In June, television host and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain died by suicide. Following Bourdain's unexpected death, his partner Asia Argento, a loud voice in the #MeToo movement, has become the target of vicious cyberbullying. Now, a group of Argento's Hollywood peers — many of whom have shared their own #MeToo stories — have signed an open letter in The Los Angeles Times on Argento's behalf.
According to the open letter, online trolls have reportedly blamed Argento — who spoke out against her alleged abuser Harvey Weinstein — for Bourdain's death, and for using her own story of sexual misconduct to allegedly advance her Hollywood career. The vitriolic hate is disturbing, especially considering the massive loss Argento has just faced, and her peers are taking a stand against it.
In the letter, the group stands up for the "courageous" Argento, and calls out a toxic culture of blaming women.
"There has long been a traditional narrative of blaming, vilifying and martyring courageous women. We reject that narrative. If there is one thing we know with unwavering confidence, 'sexual violence victim' is not a title anyone wants attached to themselves. Being known as a sexual assault victim isn’t a badge of honor or career booster; it’s a highly difficult, sometimes traumatizing and humiliating experience."
The letter continues by acknowledging Argento's pain.
"We are here to ask those who are angry and grieving the loss of Anthony to find a healthy outlet for their pain. Asia is a survivor, just as we are, and her fame and outward show of strength does not make her any less vulnerable. Asia is not a headline — she is a human being, and she is in horrific pain."
Though the letter is in honor of Argento, the group wants all bullying of sexual assault survivors to cease. The letter concludes:
"We understand sexual harassment and assault are global epidemics. Our request for Asia is a request for any and all survivors. Our standing up for her is standing up to any and all bullies. We implore you to be kind to each other, to believe survivors, to stand up for survivors, to encourage, support and sympathize with them."
Bourdain himself criticized the treatment of Argento when she was initially bullied following her #MeToo reveal.
"Look, I've seen the way Asia has been treated in her home country by the press, and it is disgusting and dismaying and discouraging. You understand why people don't report these things. When you see what even now, today, what people say... what [the press is] saying all these years later when women find the strength to be honest. I've seen that, and I've really fucking seen it, and of course it makes me angry," Bourdain told Slate in 2017.
Sorvino, who shared her own story about alleged harassment at the hands of Weinstein (which also included Weinstein allegedly "blacklisting" her in Hollywood), tweeted out the letter along with a message about Bourdain's own reputation of compassion:
"It’s time for love and compassion for survivors, not bullying and trolling! Anthony Bourdain’s legacy teaches this, and we send [love] to @AsiaArgento."
Early Friday morning, Argento responded to the letter on Twitter, writing:
"To all my sisters and brothers and fellow #silencebreakers who stood up against the cyber bullies that have been tormenting me for weeks now: I love you, I am grateful to each and every one of you."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).