The conversation around #MeToo continues, now with Uma Thurman detailing her harassment and attempted assault at the hands of disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein. In coming forward, she also brings to light troubling issues with director Quentin Tarantino, whose direction of the "Kill Bill" movies left her feeling unsafe and disregarded. It's a maddening read; the blatant disregard for Thurman's vulnerability and lack of safety both on set and behind closed doors is a stark contrast to the avenging Beatrix Kiddo.
After the uproar over whether or not Aziz Ansari belonged in the #MeToo conversation, it's good to see the discourse raised up again by Thurman as she graces the New York Times. She appears as our lady of angry defiance; beautiful, proud, firm. She reminds us all that, even though the website Babemay have muddied the discourse, the problem is still present and as much in need of tending to as it was the day The New York Times first took on Weinstein. The question then becomes: how do we, as women, police our movement? How do we keep the discourse on track? How do we uphold these new standards, wherein women are heard, are safer, are important?
It's a hard question. One of the founding principles of this movement is that all women should be heard. It's important -- vitally important -- that women who are assaulted, abused, and harassed be able to speak up and be taken seriously. But equally important should be the ability to discuss the merit of said issues. It's not a time to rubber-stamp all accusations as certified truth -- the conversation needs to be wider, more varied. We need to be able to see the accusations against Ansari and say, well, not sexual assault but still gross. We need to say this isn't a #MeToo moment, this is about women feeling unable to stand up for themselves, to say no. This is empowerment, which is a different important issue.
Take, for example, Margaret Atwood. After a year of celebrating her as a grand dame of the feminist movement, of bringing her unarguably important works of feminist fiction to TV through the harrowing and thought-provoking series "The Handmaid's Tale," she was branded a traitorfor encouraging more thought, transparency and better processes for investigating and handling sexual-assault complaints. The focus of her downfall comes from her stance of supporting the accused instead of the accuser (whose complaint was found to be without merit). By all rights, everyone involved in the complaint suffered unnecessarily at the handling of it, and many careers were destroyed. Because Atwood framed her disgust with the process as support of the accused, she is now a fallen idol.
How is that right? A celebrated leader in the feminist debate becomes an outcast over voicing a need at a better process because one man, found innocent, had his career annihilated and his life completely derailed (at one point he was involuntarily committed to prevent his committing suicide, an epidemic in its own right)? She's no longer one of us because she asked the question?
Again: how is that right?
How can we continue to have the conversation if we punish those who ask the questions?
If this is a women's movement, where all women are believed, it is up to women to care for it. We need to be able to ask questions. We need to be able to decide, in an open forum, what we need. We need to be able to take on the legal system where it fails us, and we need to be able to say that, like men, there are women out there who will exploit the system for their own benefit -- for fame, for custody disputes, or for money -- at the expense of others. We need to be able to suss out those interlopers, and let them know that their abuses are every bit as inappropriate as the abusers targeted by the movement, and it hurts all of us.
We need to protect each other. We need to protect men like Terry Crews, who is being pressured to drop his lawsuit against his assaulter or face being let go from the "Expendables" franchise. We need to protect Thurman from being put behind the wheel of an unsafe vehicle for "authenticity" in a shot that didn't even show her face. And we can only protect each other by keeping discourse open, encouraged, and healthy.