Italian actress Asia Argento, who has been a prominent activist in the #MeToo movement, recently agreed to pay off actor Jimmy Bennett, who said she sexually assualted him at age 17. Argento, who is 42, paid $380,000 to Bennett, who is now 22. Argento and Bennett starred in a 2004 film called The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, which featured Argento as a prostitute and Bennett as her son. The sexual assualt occurred in 2013, when the pair allegedly had sex in a California hotel 2 months after Bennett turned 17. The age of consent in California is 18.
Argento was one of the first women to come forward and accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, saying that he raped her in 1997 when she was 21. Weinstein has been indicted on sex crime charges involving three women; Argento is not one of the three. After the story surfaced, Rose McGowan, another prominent #MeToo activist, tweeted that "I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere."
I think that it is important to hold Argento accountable for her actions. We as a society tend to overlook sexual assault of men, and I think we need to treat this case in the same way that we would treat a 40 year old man having sex with a 17 year old girl: as an assault. Even if the encounter was "consensual," Bennett was both underage and in an influencable position, as Argento was already a famous actress. However, I also think it's important not to let this derail the #MeToo movement. It's horrible that Argento was representing the movement even though she is an assaulter herself, but that doesn't mean we should ignore the sexual assault and misconduct of Weinstein and others. If anything, hopefully this can encourage more male victims of abuse to come forth under #MeToo.
What are your thoughts on this?