Bari Weiss returns with a column on Asia Argento, Avital Ronell, #MeToo, and the Shoe on the Other Foot

I don’t know how anyone can find this new New York Times column by Bari Weiss objectionable, but I know they’ll try. (Click on screenshot to read it.)

The column is about two women who have been accused of sexual abuse. The first, Asia Argento, is an actor who was revealed to have paid $380,000 to buy the silence of a 17 year old boy (below the age of consent) with whom she apparently had sex. The ironic thing is that Argento was one of the main accusers of Harvey Weinstein in the #MeToo scandal.  Argento was important in helping bring down Weinstein, and in calling attention to men’s use of power to leverage sexual mistreatment of women, but it turned out she herself had apparently committed sexual malfeasance.

Weiss’s column is balanced, pointing out that women, too, can be abusive, manipulative, and cruel. Yet at the same time she’s fully on the side of the movement that is going after men for sexual abuse, and noting that sometimes women who abuse get treated more lightly than men.

Sadly, Argento, like Rose McGowen, seems a bit unbalanced to me. I can’t get over the rumors that Argento’s infidelities contributed to the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, but, more important, for her and McGowan, I feel they’ve used the #MeToo movement to draw attention to themselves. That doesn’t for a minute denigrate (for either me or Weiss) the salubrious outing of sexually harassing and mistreating males. All it does is put the shoe on the other foot, promoting the principle that no matter who abuses their power to get sex, they should be treated the same regardless of gender.

So, for example, Weiss notes this vis-à-vis McGowan:

But others in Hollywood offered sober calls for caution and context. These are particularly striking when they come from those who typically deliver public statements with muzzle velocity, like the #MeToo leader Rose McGowan:

Ms. McGowan, herself a victim of Mr. Weinstein, has a point. We ought to reserve judgment. We ought to take seriously the ruining of a person’s reputation and career until we have all the facts. We ought to consider the context of the accusation.

But the advice is a bit rich coming from a person who has insisted that anything less than immediately believing accusers is moral cowardice:

It is a bit confusing coming from someone who has advocated mercilessness toward alleged sexual harassers:

Given that Mr. Bennett [the boy paid off by Argento] seems to have been financially strapped when he made the accusation against Ms. Argento, there are reasons to wonder whether he had an ulterior motive. But this willingness to weigh the complicated context of such an allegation is one the movement has seldom applied when the accuser has been a woman. Perhaps that will change.

The larger question is whether the Argento story might undermine the #MeToo movement. Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer certainly hopes it will. So do various anti-feminists, right-wing bloggers and conspiracy theorists, who are already fashioning the Argento plot twist into Pizzagate 2.0.

Most people aren’t going to fall for this nonsense. They’re not going to stop taking sexual abuse seriously because of one high-profile hypocrite.

But I do think the stakes at this moment are high for the #MeToo movement. Outspoken feminists will lose credibility if they ignore this story or try to explain it away with clichés, however true, about how hurt people hurt people.

Indeed. But I’m heartened that feminists are not ignoring the Argento story. Nor are they ignoring the other subject of Weiss’s column, the suspension of Avital Ronell, a “feminist star professor” at NYU who was found guilty of sexually harassing her graduate student Nimrod Reitman. Ronell was let go for a year, but I suspect won’t be coming back to NYU. The irony here is the number of feminists (including the odious Judith Butler) who wrote a letter defending Ronell by touting her intellectual superstardom and asking for either lenient treatment or for complete exculpation. That would never fly with a male accused of the same things, and is a big fat case of hypocrisy. As Weiss says,

Believe survivors, right? Not so fast. In a letter signed by some of academia’s biggest feminist luminaries, including Judith Butler and Gayatri Spivak, Mr. Reitman is accused of waging a “malicious campaign” against the professor. The signatories “testify to the grace, the keen wit, and the intellectual commitment of Professor Ronell and ask that she be accorded the dignity rightly deserved by someone of her international standing and reputation.” Apparently, dignity is a privilege reserved for the tenured.

“We hold that the allegations against her do not constitute actual evidence, but rather support the view that malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare,” they wrote.

The tone-deafness here is almost comical. A young up-and-comer blows the whistle on a powerful mentor who wielded control over his career. Entrenched interests rush to the defense of the accused, venerating the powerful and actively smearing the character and motivations of the accuser. It’s a repeat of the sexual harassment stories we’ve spent the past year reading about, only with the genders flipped.

This isn’t a good look. And it will become increasingly untenable as young men come forward with similar stories of harassment and abuse, as they surely will in this new stage of #MeToo. “Believe women” only works as a rule of thumb when all women are good. That myth falls flat outside Victorian England.

But Weiss isn’t evincing Schadenfreude here, merely calling for equal treatment for equal malfeasance. There’s no doubt that Weiss stands on the side of the victimized women, and I can’t imagine, as I said, anyone taking umbrage at her column. But Weiss is now among the Control-Left Untouchables, and I expect pushback. After all, she’s not entitled to criticize those still on the side of Moral Purity.

h/t; cesar

80 Comments

  1. mikeyc
    Posted August 22, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    “But Weiss isn’t evincing Schadenfreude here, merely calling for equal treatment for equal malfeasance.”

    A witch! May we burn her?

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 22, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Certainly this one – Asia Argento is suspect and her accusations will be very difficult to pass. However, we have more than 80 women who have stories to tell about Harvey Weinstein and whatever Argento did has little bearing on the whole. The idea of the ME TOO movement is to finally give some confidence to those in places where reporting sexual assaults and rape gets something besides a laugh and a shrug or the end of your career.

    • yazikus
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Certainly this one – Asia Argento is suspect and her accusations will be very difficult to pass.

      I don’t know. I suppose I don’t have a hard time believing, after all the women he harassed, that one of them might be an abuser themselves as well.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted August 22, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        True, I was just thinking more on the legal part..

  3. GBJames
    Posted August 22, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    sub

  4. Posted August 22, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    OK, so the age of consent in California at the time was 18, but isn’t that pretty unusual? Nowhere in Europe would that relationship have been a crime.

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, this is kind of a technicality. I agree with Weiss’ opinion on the whole situation, but really, the fact that Bennett was legally a minor is, well a minor issue. It’s the power differential that matters more.

      • Posted August 22, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        But was there much of a power differential (anything other than the age difference)? As I understand it, she wasn’t in any authority role regarding him.

        • mikeyc
          Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          She was an older, more accomplished actor. He was kid trying to break into the field and she was in the same production. Besides the mentorship aspects of a relationship like that, he is certain to have thought of her as someone who could further his career in some way. That is a power differential. It differs in magnitude but not in type in the kind between Weinstein and his victims.

          • Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

            But are those things really enough — absent any actual force or coercion — to make the relationship immoral?

            By that standard, if you tried hard, you could find ways in which most relationships were “problematic”.

            • mikeyc
              Posted August 22, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

              I do not think whatever transpired between Argento and Bennett was immoral, in the sex-with-minors-is-bad way. He was nearly 18 and, as far as I’m concerned an adult, so can make up his own damn mind (determinism acknowledged) about who to screw.

              If there is any questionable morality to this it lies with Argento taking advantage of professional or age power differentials so she could get into some guy’s pants. Then, of course lying about it and trying to disown her role in a small version of what Weinstein is accused of. The hypocrisy ought to be obvious.

      • Posted August 22, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        18 is ridiculous. There has to be a cut-off point but if it is immoral to have sex with an 17 year old in California merely because it is illegal there does it mean it’s okay to have sex with a 14 year old in Italy because that’s their age of consent?

        • yazikus
          Posted August 22, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

          I personally (as an adult person) cannot fathom the appeal of someone so young. I’m not keen on manipulating or controlling people, though.

          • Filippo
            Posted August 22, 2018 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

            I’m reminded of Bobby Goldsboro’s song, “Summer (The First Time),” a monster hit in the summer of 1973: “She was thirty-one, and I was seventeen.”

        • Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:36 am | Permalink

          The problem is that she could influence his career. I knew a man – fully adult – who was a PhD student in Germany; he complained that his advisor was a female who wanted sex with him. He didn’t consent, and he feared that his PhD would come to nothing. I thought that he’d better return to his homeland immediately.

      • Posted August 22, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        I’m not going to judge the morality of this relationship, but just want to point out that California is investigating it as a case of statutory rape (presumably).

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          Statutory rape statutes vary widely from state to state. Here in the Sunshine State, different standards apply depending upon whether the victim is under 18, under 16, or under 12.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          Also, the Argento-Bennett assignation is alleged to have occurred five years ago, in 2013, so the statute of limitation has likely run, meaning the mater is probably not under active criminal investigation in California.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            I just recalled that California repealed its statute of limitations in rape cases a couple years ago, though application of that repeal to Sargento might pose constitutional ex post facto problems.

    • Carey
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      I think many young men could handle a sexual relationship with an older woman. If reports are true, it’s her taking advantage of alcohol and the mother son aspect of the relationship that are the problem.

    • Adam M.
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s 18 almost everywhere in the US, so it’s not unusual in that sense. But unusual compared to the rest of the world, I agree.

      • mikeyc
        Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        No it’s not. AOC in the US ranges from 16-18, depending on state, federal or territorial laws that apply. The most common AOC in the US is 16.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          State statutes regarding sex between an adult and someone below the age of consent also vary widely, depending upon the age of the minor and (in states with so-called “Romeo & Juliet” laws) the age of the adult, and the underlying circumstances of the incident.

        • Posted August 22, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          But there are also states with no minimum age for marriage, aren’t thete?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 22, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

            The states that allow marriages involving persons below the age of consent (which generally require parental consent and/or judicial approval) exempt married couples from the laws proscribing statutory rape.

        • Adam M.
          Posted August 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

          Well, I take your word and stand corrected!

      • Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        The US was founded by Puritans! (with an age of consent of 18 and alcohol age of 21)

        (Though wiki says many states have consent at 16.)

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      Unless the youth was dependent on the adult, in which case the age is 18 years in Sweden and Finland. [ https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuell_myndighets%C3%A5lder#Sverige ]

      I see from the map [ibid] that a lot of Africa has a high age of consent as well.

    • Posted August 22, 2018 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      OK, so the age of consent in California at the time was 18….

      He says it wasn’t consensual.

    • eric
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Consider that many teachers (and others) have had their careers ended, gotten jail time, and gotten the lifelong legal label of sexual predator for consensual yet statutory rape of a student…most in the 16-17 year old range. Argento was 36 IIRC. Their ages were not even close.

      So, if we are to be consistent, what should we do? Go easy on all the other statutory rapists? Or apply their treatment to Argento?

      I’m actually okay with ramping down the criminal punishments in such cases. The lifelong label, in particular, seems to me to be overkill. But starting the mercy with Argento seems to me to be an unwise move, given that her position in the #metoo movement makes it looks *so* biased and exception-carving.

  5. Patrick Clark
    Posted August 22, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    This way be off topic….but my daughters and I had a discussion several years ago about a Carrie Underwood song: Before He Cheats. It is one of country music’s most popular songs ever, detailing how the aggrieved woman trashes her cheating boyfriend’s pickup truck. What if the person that sang this song was a man vandalizing his girlfriend’s car? Can you imagine the outrage? I don’t think a man or a woman should sing a song with this substance. I understand that women are about 1000 times more likely to be victimized in domestic abuse situations and I applaud efforts to deal with that horrific problem, but, like the Argento situation (allegedly), abuse is abuse. What is good for the goose…..

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      There’s a Trump version called Before He Tweets. Morals to one side – the lyrics are dreadful. I might hate this song more than Alanis Morissette’s Ironic

      Right now, he’s probably slow dancing
      With a bleached-blond tramp
      And she’s probably getting frisky
      Right now, he’s probably buying
      Her some fruity little drink
      ‘Cause she can’t shoot whiskey

      Right now, he’s probably up behind her
      With a pool-stick
      Showing her how to shoot a combo
      And he don’t know

      I dug my key into the side
      Of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive
      Carved my name into his leather seats
      I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights
      I slashed a hole in all four tires
      Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats

      Right now, she’s probably up singing some
      White-trash version of Shania karaoke
      Right now, she’s probably saying “I’m drunk”
      And he’s a-thinking that he’s gonna get lucky

      Right now, he’s probably
      Dabbing on three dollars
      Worth of that bathroom Polo
      Oh, and he don’t know

      That I dug my key into the side
      Of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive
      Carved my name into his leather seats
      I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights
      I slashed a hole in all four tires
      Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats

      I might have saved a little trouble for the next girl
      ‘Cause the next time that he cheats
      Oh, you know it won’t be on me!
      No, not on me

      ‘Cause I dug my key into the side
      Of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive
      Carved my name into his leather seats
      I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights
      I slashed a hole in all four tires
      Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats

      Oh, maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats
      Oh, before he cheats
      Oh

    • Posted August 22, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      “I understand that women are about 1000 times more likely to be victimized in domestic abuse situations….”

      False. It’s essentially even.

      • mikeyc
        Posted August 22, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        I am skeptical of this, Matt. I am certain that most people assume that men are rarely victimized, which isn’t true, but I am skeptical that the rates are even. You have some data on it?

        One thing I am more sure of – when men are the perps in domestic violence cases they are usually more violent than women. Usually.

        • Posted August 22, 2018 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

          Men are more violent – and it’s more likely to cause serious harm because of their additional strength – but women are just as likely to be the perpetrators.

          And it’s more socially acceptable for a woman to hit a man. Barely a week will go by without a woman slapping her husband in a UK soap. It’s usually portrayed as some kind of justified payback for misbehaviour and a ‘bit of a laugh’.

          The only time a man will hit a woman in a soap is when the whole storyline is about domestic abuse and there’ll be a telephone number after the show for ‘anyone who has been effected by the issues raised in this show.’

          • mikeyc
            Posted August 22, 2018 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

            Ok, fair enough. But do you have any data to back this up? Soaps are entertainment.

            I’m not opposed to the idea that men are equal in being victims of DV (in rate, if not in severity), but this is a claim about a measurable thing. Something quantifiable. So….got any data?

          • Adam M.
            Posted August 22, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

            As Speaker says, it’s relatively acceptable for a woman to hit a man. I’m reminded of an episode of the show “What would you do?” where they explored the different reactions of people to a woman beating a man in public and a man merely threatening to hurt a woman. (Normally they have parity in the script; I think the disparity there says something in itself.) Something like 160 people walked by the without helping the man, but people jumped to help the woman right away.

            I’ve seen and experienced violence from women, though in my case only rarely in true anger. But I’ve never been afraid, which I think makes a big difference. It’s amusing to be slapped a bit by an unhappy wife or girlfriend, but I can imagine that a man slapping a woman in exactly the same way might make her feel afraid and abused.

            I’ve read about and seen women who got quite violent when angry, but I suspect cases where men are actually terrorized by their wives are relatively rare compared to reverse, and in that sense I believe domestic violence against women is the more serious problem. From what I can see it’s only because women are less able to hurt men, not because they don’t try.

            • mikeyc
              Posted August 22, 2018 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

              The fear. That’s a good point. That’s probably why we think of DV more as man on woman because although women hit men just as often as vice versa, (as I surmise above) men are more violent when they commit acts of DV.

              You guys(?) are correct; it would be very difficult to assess rates of the kind of violence you and Speaker are referring to.

            • Jenny Haniver
              Posted August 22, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

              “It’s amusing to be slapped a bit by an unhappy wife or girlfriend, but I can imagine that a man slapping a woman in exactly the same way might make her feel afraid and abused.” This boggles my mind.

              One draws examples for his thesis from soaps; the other from, heaven knows what, flicks from the Forties, where Ida Lupino slaps a guys mug and says, “Oh, you big galoot!”? I used to know people who derived biblical verite from films like the Ten Commandments and such. I really don’t know what to say about such chauvinistic cluelessness. And I ain’t no SJW.

              • Jenny Haniver
                Posted August 22, 2018 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

                On second thought, that was not Ida Lupino’s style. She didn’t suffer galoots.

            • Posted August 23, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

              But I’ve never been afraid, which I think makes a big difference.

              So this is the goalpost shift on whether IPV is acceptable or not?

              It’s amusing to be slapped a bit by an unhappy wife or girlfriend….

              You find intimate partner violence ‘amusing’? Way to perpetuate the double standard that in large part fuels the DV problem! For women are more likely to initiate an exchange of IPV which, if it continues to escalate, often results in the woman seriously injured.

              I suspect cases where men are actually terrorized by their wives are relatively rare compared to reverse ….

              Anyone trapped in a unilateral abusive relationship is to a certain, real extent ‘terrorized’. And women are the majority of perpetrators in unilateral abusive relationships.

              When trying to determine which sex is more prone to DV, the findings that are almost always ignored are: male heterosexual relationships are the least prone to DV; lesbian ones the most.

              • GBJames
                Posted August 23, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

                Male heterosexual relationships?

              • Posted August 24, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

                Thanks, GB. Read ‘male homosexual’.

            • Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:43 am | Permalink

              Good resume of the problem!

        • James
          Posted August 22, 2018 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

          “You have some data on it?”

          This is notoriously hard to provide, because the definitions aren’t the same. If my wife punched me, society would laugh about it–and if I complained, I’d be told to “man up”. If I did the same to her, it’d be considered abuse. This isn’t just external, either. Many men I know genuinely expect to be hit by their spouses on occasion, and consider it part of being married. Where I grew up it’s a joke to give a woman something to hit her husband with.

          This complicates analysis to the point where it’s nearly impossible to quantify. We’re not comparing apples to apples.

          • mikeyc
            Posted August 22, 2018 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

            In every jurisdiction in my state (WA) any call for domestic violence MUST end in an arrest. This is because often the victim is unwilling to press charges, so one could just look at arrest records. Unfortunately, in Washington State arrests are not recorded by gender* so it’s hard to slurp the data out of the databases.

            However the Feds already did it using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey
            (NCVS) and, according to them;

            “The majority of domestic violence was committed against females (76%) compared to males (24%).”

            https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ndv0312.pdf

            Now I’m not saying this is the final word on the issue – there could well be problems with that survey that I am unaware of and there could be other evidence that counters it, but it’s evidence that the rates of DV are not equal between men and women.

            *Really. I just found this out. How odd.

            • Posted August 23, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

              Three issues with the NCVS survey stand out:
              1) It conflates all sorts of violent crime perpetrated against family violence (treated as Domestic Violence, “DV”), whereas the common usage for ‘DV’ is what the BJS confines to Intimate Partner Violence (“IPV”);

              2) it is self-reported. Reluctance by males to report IPV has been widely recognized by researchers;

              3) It counts every reported incidence of violence as a data point. These cumulative data are worthless for answering the question,’what percentage of men vs. women commit DV/IPV?’

              Further, you cite but one bullet point from the top-line summary, and these summaries can and often are tendentious & highly biased in their selectivity. The authors could also have noted that mixed-race individuals are 4x more likely to commit DV than whites.

              Finally, when studies produce conflicting results (at lest prima facie), it is not proper to simply cherry-pick the result that conforms to one’s a priori assumption and declare Q.E.D. Yet that is exactly what is usually done nowadays by polemicists.

              • Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:46 am | Permalink

                The reluctance of males to report may well extend to male homosexual relationships.

            • James
              Posted August 23, 2018 at 8:29 am | Permalink

              “In every jurisdiction in my state (WA) any call for domestic violence MUST end in an arrest.”

              What I’m saying is that getting to the point where you call the police is going to be different for men vs women. The de facto definition of “domestic abuse” is different based on gender, and therefore I’m highly dubious of ANY statistics on the subject.

              To put it another way: The threshold for men calling in a domestic violence complaint is much, much higher than the threshold for women doing so. Ergo any statistics using police records are necessarily inherently biased.

          • Adam M.
            Posted August 22, 2018 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

            Although not quite scientific, episodes of the show “What would you do?” (at least back when I watched it about a decade ago) provide an interesting survey of public behavior when confronted with various ethical quandaries. (In it, actors portray various scenarios, and they record and analyze the public reaction.)

            Some examples I remember:
            * 160+ people walked by a women beating a man without helping, but people jumped to help a woman who was merely threatened.

            * People stepped over the body of a poorly dressed man lying on the sidewalk in apparent distress for over four hours without helping. (Eventually they stopped recording; nobody helped.) A poorly dressed women got help within minutes. Among ‘nicely dressed’ men and women it was 20-30 minutes for the man and instant for the woman.

            * Nobody warned men whose dates obviously drugged their drinks in a bar while they went to the bathroom; women always got warned.

            * People threatened to ‘kick the ass’ of a man who stole money from a homeless guy, but a woman who did the same was not confronted.

            Anyway, not all of those are related to violence or abuse, but it does show some differential treatment.

        • Posted August 22, 2018 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

          I am skeptical that the rates are even.

          The evidence is overwhelming:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_against_men

          when men are the perps in domestic violence cases they are usually more violent than women.

          Men are generally stronger than women, so what did you expect? But in reciprocally violent relationships, women are much more likely to initiate a violent exchange. And in c. 2/3 of unilateral abusive relationships, the abuser is the women.

          NB: these refer to heterosexual couples. Lesbian relationships are by far the most prone to DV, at > 40% victimization.

  6. Carey
    Posted August 22, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I have the impression that both Argento and Ronell have a certain disdain for ordinary bourgeois values.

    Argento has victim and creative artist status.

    Ronell is exalted in some circles where Derrida is admired. Her admirers consider her to be beyond reproach.

    Weiss is correct that women are often flawed and should be accountable to the same standards as men.

  7. Jenny Haniver
    Posted August 22, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I think that this https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Unsexy-Truth-About-the/244314 is an excellent article on Avital Ronell. It doesn’t focus on the claims re sex but broadens the discussion, given that she apparently treated him like her puppet or “little woman,” to an abuse of power in academia.

    However, I’m still sort of stuck on the alleged sexual harassment (which I tend to believe), and surely I’m just old and naive and not au fait, but it’s my understanding that both parties are gay. I know that gays do sometimes engage in heterosexual sex (and do not consider themselves to be bisexual), but, wow! talk about role reversal and imitating the oppressor. I’m still scratching my head.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I ain’t all that au fait with the case myself, but from what I’ve read of it, both parties are gay, and his complaints had more to do with workplace harassment than with sexual misconduct.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted August 22, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        That’s what the Chronicle article addresses, workplace harassment and her abuse of power as his graduate advisor; and irrespective of any sexual component, the examples given in the article are appalling. Talk about a dom sub relationship. Don’t need no sex for that – but there was a sexual component.

        • mikeyc
          Posted August 22, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

          That is a very good article. thanks for the tip.

  8. Posted August 22, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I too suspect this Argento story had a lot to do with Bourdain’s suicide. Since Bourdain seems like a very moral fellow, I’m imagining a sequence of events where Argento tells Bourdain she’s being unfairly targeted by a 17-year old she didn’t have sex with, he offers to pony up the $$$ to make it go away, then he finds out she lied about it. I know that would make me feel pretty lousy!

    • Posted August 22, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      I’d venture that Bourdain was a decent fellow, but after reading his memoir, I wouldn’t use the term “moral”.

      Further, per McGowan, Bourdain & Argento were in an open relationship. Still doesn’t take the sting out of Argento flaunting it in public.

      NB: Bourdain was said to have clinical depression, Argento too. But her behavior is more indicative of NPD. And McGowan has been very open about her panoply of mental health issues.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 22, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        “I wouldn’t use the term ‘moral’”

        I’d venture that Bourdain lived honestly according to his own code. And I’d classify that as “moral,” irrespective of conventional notions of morality.

    • Posted August 22, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s a massive leap to accuse someone of causing a suicide based on zero evidence.

      • Posted August 22, 2018 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps you missed the word “suspect” in what I wrote. Sorry if I triggered the thought police.

        • Marta
          Posted August 23, 2018 at 5:55 am | Permalink

          Speaker’s criticism of your comment is fair. Take your lumps like a grownup.

          • Posted August 23, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

            No lumps here. Sure, it’s just my theory. Not even that really. Let’s call it a hunch. I read Speaker’s comment as not just disagreeing with my hunch but outrage at me even suggesting it. If so, I am not sure what line I crossed in Speaker’s mind.

            Let’s look at the evidence for my theory. It is not “zero”, as Speaker claims. Bourdain was in love with Asia Argento, claiming her publicly to be the love of his life. It seems unlikely that he would use a substantial amount of his own money to protect her if he was not totally committed to her or if he knew that she was not innocent in the incident with the young man. Finally, while many things can drive a person to commit suicide, his life seemed to be great for all we could see. This, and his age, makes me think failure in love has a good chance at being the cause.

            Certainly this is not evidence from a legal point of view but I’m just a person commenting on two public people.

  9. Ann German
    Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your comments on this article by Weiss. I speculate that she actually enjoys getting called out by the regressive left (not that that is her motivation but seems inevitable) and it won’t deter her.

  10. Adam M.
    Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I thought the Vox article about this was pretty good. It’s been proved (with photographs of them in bed together) that Argento’s claims to have never had sexual contact with Bennett were a lie, and her rather damning text messages put show her to be someone who can’t be a credible face of the #metoo movement, but I think the article is also right that this doesn’t discredit the movement itself.

    • Posted August 22, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      The treatment of Keith Ellison might though.

  11. Dave
    Posted August 22, 2018 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    “Ms. McGowan, herself a victim of Mr. Weinstein, has a point. We ought to reserve judgment. We ought to take seriously the ruining of a person’s reputation and career until we have all the facts. ”

    Indeed, and for that reason, Ms. McGowan should more properly be described as an “alleged” victim of Mr. Weinstein. Until Weinstein has been tried and convicted by a court, he is entitled to a presumption of innocence like any other accused person.

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Legally, yes, but I’m gonna go out a limb here and say Al Capone was a gangster and OJ Simpson is a murderer.

      Weinstein is a rat and rat fricassee is, I’m told, a delicacy.

  12. john Coelho
    Posted August 23, 2018 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    So Argento had sex with a 17 year old boy. So what! A female can not rape a male. She didn’t rape him. Such rendevouss between older and younger members of the opposite sex could theoretically be recognized as as valuable addition to our cultural edifice. Would Europeans even think twice about this unremarkable dalliance? No. America has a weird combo of licentiousness and puritanism. You never known which is going to show its head.

    • Rasmo Carenna
      Posted August 23, 2018 at 3:45 am | Permalink

      A female cannot rape a male? Were you being sarcastic?

      • Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        I suppose John meant that the physiology of erection requires a degree of consent by the male. But of course males can be pressed to have sex, and there is statutory rape of underage males.

    • Posted August 23, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      I Know. Americans are such prudes. Sophisticated countries like France consider it sweetly romantic when a middle-aged, married mother of three has sex with her 16 year-old student.

    • Posted October 13, 2018 at 1:53 am | Permalink

      I am a European and I would, because I find it unacceptable for females wanting sex with young men to abuse their position of power (I know other such cases, I even described one above).

  13. PeteT
    Posted August 23, 2018 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    The formula for determining if an age gap is weird is universallly acknowledged to be:
    A2 > ( A1 / 2 ) + 7
    In other words, if the younger person’s age (A2) is less than half the older’s (A1) plus seven then that is weird. As Argento was 36 at the time of the alleged events, sex with anyone under the age of 25 counts as being weird.
    This formula can be applied across national and cultural divides, applies regardless of sexuality or gender, means long term relationships become demonstrably less weird with time, and is simple and quick to check. A handy pocket sliderule could be produced. Why this formula is not used in the justice system is beyond me.

    • Posted August 23, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      That’s a good formula!

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted August 23, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      I think it is a silly formula, it would mean my late beloved wife was in a weird relationship. Thanks, but yes, I guess it was a bit weird, but not because of that formula.
      In South Africa the age of consent is eighteen too. However, between the ages of 12 and 16, consensual sexual relations are not considered statutory rape if the age difference is 2 years or less. I do not exactly know all the details about what the status is between the ages of 16 and 18, but it has to do with having say over the younger party, a parent or teacher would be in trouble.

      • PeteT
        Posted August 23, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        My deepest sympathies for your loss and my apologies for the offense given. The formula described is indeed silly (and my intent was for it to be taken as such) and of course cannot be used to cast judgement on any real world relationship. Oftentimes what is unusual and dismissed as weird from the outside is beautiful and good when experienced from the inside.

  14. Posted August 23, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I don’t know anything about the Argento (who I hadn’t even heard of) case, but the one which threatens to make the MLA (etc.) like a bunch of idiots is being covered by Brian Leiter.

    Leiter has (sarcastically, but I think correctly) recommended that the parties, including Butler, get lawyers …


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