Last week news broke that actress Rose McGowan would be getting her own docuseries on E! News. The docuseries is titled “Citizen Rose” and will air in five parts with the first premiering on January 30th and the others this spring. According to E!, the limited series “reflects a dramatically changing world.”
Now we have to give our props to McGowan among other women as they have played leading roles in speaking out against sexual harassment. In fact, McGowan was the fourth woman to come forward with a rape allegation against ex-mega producer Harvey Weinstein which had a humongous domino effect. Her and actress Alyssa Milano’s statements led to countless women across the world speaking up about their own experiences with sexual harassment, both in and out of Hollywood, so it would be idiotic to sweep them of any credit for the success of the large-scale #MeToo movement.
However, a problem does lie in people giving them all of the credit.
Countless news outlets have praised McGowan for a movement that isn’t even hers. The Washington Post published an article from the effect of #MeToo on Harvey Weinstein and sexual harassment in general. It features McGowan and Milano’s impact on the amount of women tweeting #MeToo. In addition, USA Today called McGowan the “loudest and angriest leader” of the movement applauding her. Both articles fail to mention Tarana Burke.
Milano received similar amounts of praise after tweeting #MeToo back in October and asking other women to tweet the phrase in hopes to prove how common sexual harassment sadly is. The hashtag blew up immediately. Yahoo News posted a video describing the campaign including Milano amongst other celebrity women who joined while providing statistics proving how often women were sexually harassed. However, they also somehow failed to mention Tarana Burke?
And that’s the problem.
Ever heard of Tarana Burke? Well, she is the creator of #MeToo. Burke created the campaign nearly ten years ago (yes, ten years ago) when in 2007 she founded a nonprofit organization aiming to help victims of sexual assault and harassment called Just Be Inc. She wanted to give victims a sense of unity and strength which led to the Me Too campaign. “On one side, it’s a bold declarative statement that ‘I’m not ashamed’ and ‘I’m not alone.’ On the other side, it’s a statement from survivor to survivor that says ‘I see you, I hear you, I understand you and I’m here for you or I get it,” she told CNN describing the campaign.
There is nothing wrong with praising women such as McGowan and Milano. After all, they have influenced the conversation regarding sexual harassment, so they deserve it, but it is frustrating to see them receive so much of it while Burke is less noted. Some have argued the cause to be people being unaware of Burke, but even after McGowan, Milano and other celebrity women credited Burke and her movement, the attention still never shifted. For example, actress Michelle Williams brought Burke to the Golden Globes this past Sunday, as her date, in efforts to bring more awareness to the cause. However, once Williams shifted the attention to Burke during her interview, the camera quickly left them and focused on actress Dakota Johnson because her dress is obviously more important. Coincidence? Of course not.
And we have to ask ourselves why? Why are women like McGowan, Milano and Williams so vastly put to the forefront while Burke is in the back? Why is McGowan receiving her own show to promote a cause that Burke has been working on for nearly ten years? Where has McGowan and Milano’s level of praise been for Burke? She’s been working on this cause for a decade while McGowan advocates it for a few months and gets a docuseries from it?
Executive producer at E! News, Amy Introcaso-Davis praised McGowan and said, “Rose McGowan’s courage in addressing sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood ignited a conversation and inspired other women to speak out against their abusers.” So we’re just going to ignore the fact that Burke has been doing this and act like it’s something new? Okay.
Truthfully, the movement has been here, but people didn’t care about it until they saw a face they liked attached with it. And it isn’t fair. All we are asking for is commendation and respect. Time and time again, as society, we marginalize things always leaving a certain group of people out whether it be based on religion, race, sexuality or gender, someone is always wronged. But this ritual is so tiring. Why can’t we for once give credit where it is actually due and award the ones who deserve it most?
Written by Nia Quinn