Rose McGowan wants you to know that sexual assault and harassment is not isolated to Hollywood, and it is not something we can ignore any longer.
The actress gave a rousing speech on Friday at The Women’s Convention in Detroit, Michigan, where thousands of attendees gathered for workshops, keynote speeches and music. The event is an offshoot of the Women’s March protests that swept the nation in January.
“I have been silenced for 20 years,” McGowan said. “I have been slut shamed, I’ve been harassed, I’ve been maligned. And you know what, I’m just like you.”
It was McGowan’s first public appearance since charges of sexual harassment came to light three weeks ago against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
McGowan is one of dozens of women who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment.
Earlier this month, she took to Twitter to accuse the now disgraced Hollywood mogul of raping her.
Weinstein, through his spokesperson, has denied “any allegations of non-consensual sex.”
The fallout from the scandal has been swift. The mega-producer lost both his job and his wife within days of two exposés that detailed decades of alleged sexual misconduct.
The stories have also sparked a #MeToo movement among women who used the hashtag to share their stories of assault and harassment at the hands of men.
On Friday, the founder of #MeToo, Tarana Burke, introduced McGowan who said, “We are all ‘Me toos.'”
The actress said that what happened to her behind the scenes has happened to others, and it “cannot stand. It will not stand.”
“I came to be a voice for all of us who’ve been told we are nothing,” McGowan said. “For all of us who have been looked down on. For all of us who have been grabbed by the motherf***ing p***y.”
McGowan cautioned against accepting that alleged bad behavior in Hollywood is “an isolated thing.”
“It’s not,” she said. “It is the messaging system for your mind. It is the mirror you are given to look into. This what you are as a woman, this is what you are as a man, this is what you are as a boy, girl, gay, straight, transgender but it’s all told through 96% males in the Directors Guild of America.”
She continued with her speech saying,”That statistic has not changed since 1946.”
“So we are given one view and I know the men that are behind that view and they should not be in your mind and they should not be in mine. It’s time to clean house,” she said.
(According to the DGA, 84.9% of its director members are men. When including production managers and other associate directing team members, the Guild’s makeup is 76.6% male.)
McGowan said the past few weeks have been difficult and “triggering” for her because of news coverage around the Weinstein scandal. When asked by the local media after her speech why she didn’t say Weinstein’s name, McGowan said, “It’s a horrible name to say and a horrible name to hear and it is a name that has haunted me.”
She’s said she is no different than any other rape victim. It is not the shame of women, she said.
“The scarlet letter is theirs, it is not ours” McGowan said. “We are pure, we are strong, we are brave and we will fight. ”
Later, McGowan appeared on a panel with fellow actress and friend Amber Tamblyn.
McGowan spoke of issues in their industry that continue to permeate including “when writers in Hollywood use rape as a plot device because they can’t imagine that women can’t get strong otherwise.”
“I’ve asked numerous times to the writers of the Guild of America to speak to their member body about just reframing things,” she said. “Because they are also a product of culture, but they are regurgitating culture and making culture. So, it’s this vicious circle.”
Tamblyn said it’s something she and McGowan have discussed.
“For us, there’s always just been a sort of quiet conversation happening in our business, certainly with friends, family and co-workers, about the things that we know about, but also the things that we know are secretive—and what’s at stake when you come forward and speak about those things,” Tamblyn said. “And usually what’s at stake is a complete destruction of your character, especially in our business.”
According to its site, the Women’s Convention will bring together all genders “for a weekend of workshops, strategy sessions, inspiring forums and intersectional movement building to continue the preparation going into the 2018 midterm elections.”
By Lisa Respers France, CNN