From Shia LeBeouf To Marilyn Manson, Is This The New Wave Of MeToo?

Women from Evan Rachel Wood to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are speaking out - and their courage sets a standard for others, writes Sophie Wilkinson.

Me Too Marilyn Manson

by Sophie Wilkinson |
Updated on

One's a Hollywood actor, the other is a politician, but last week both Evan Rachel Wood and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told the world of their shared experiences. Like 35% of women, according to the UN, they have experienced male violence.

AOC was discussing the far-right’s attempted coup in Washington when she tearfully explained, ‘These folks who tell us to “move on”, that it’s “not a big deal”... these are the same tactics of abusers. And I’m a survivor of sexual assault.’ Meanwhile Evan, who has previously claimed that an ex subjected her to sexual assault and domestic violence, named her alleged abuser for the first time. Brian Warner, better known as Marilyn Manson, ‘groomed’ Wood into dating him when she was 19 and he 38, she alleged in an Instagram post. From 2007 to 2010, ‘I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission,’ she said.

Manson denied the allegations on social media, saying ‘my art and my life have long been magnets for controversy, but these recent claims about me are horrible distortions of reality’ and that ‘my intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners. Regardless of how – and why – others are now choosing to misrepresent the past, that is the truth.’

Four other women came forward to allege abuse by Manson, while his vile and public attitudes towards women resurfaced. In 2009, he told a reporter, ‘I have fantasies every day about smashing [Evan’s] skull in with a sledgehammer.’ Manson’s ex-wife Dita Von Teese last week said in a statement that the allegations about Manson ‘do not match my personal experience’, but added that ‘abuse of any kind has no place in any relationship’. Last week, Manson’s record label, Loma Vista Recordings, dropped him.

Over three years since #MeToo went viral, in another wave, women are refusing to ‘move on’, as AOC put it, exposing those they accuse of abuse. In December, musician FKA twigs announced her lawsuit against actor Shia LaBeouf, her ex- boyfriend, alleging sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress. Netflix removed LaBeouf from its awards season entries. (LaBeouf has said, ‘Many of these allegations are not true,’ but also added, ‘I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years.’)

Fellow actor Armie Hammer has also been accused by several women of having, they claim, an interest in sexual violence. He has since dropped out of two film and TV projects, calling the ‘bullshit claims’ part of ‘spurious online attacks against me’.

So, what triggered this new wave of #MeToo? It could be that lockdown has given women the time to take stock of other obstacles they’ve faced. Perhaps we’ve been daydreaming of a brave new post- pandemic society that doesn’t protect abusers. What’s clear is there’s an ever- growing network of women who have not that much in common beyond a shared courage to speak their truth.

When I’m investigating allegations of violence against women, survivors tell me who’s inspired them to open up. There are those drawn to Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s persistence in taking on Jeffrey Epstein and his cronies. Others appreciate Rose McGowan’s boldness when she calls rapist Harvey Weinstein a ‘monster’. Some find their vulnerability reflected in the crack of FKA twigs’ voice when she said that LaBeouf ’s night-time rages left her so damaged that it’s now an effort to ‘not wake up between 3 and 7 in a panic attack’. Most – take note, Golden Globes – commend Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You for recognising how trauma shapes us.

Most recently, there’s Charisma Carpenter, who has alleged that the showrunner of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon “abused his power on numerous occasions”, bullying her, calling her “fat” when she was four months pregnant and “unceremoniously” firing her after she had the baby that he’d encouraged her to abort, she alleges. The claims have been so freshly made that Whedon has not yet responded to them. What’s for sure though, is that what she has described will sadly resonate with women who’ve been harassed and bullied at work, especially those subject to pregnancy discrimination from those evidentially jealous and threatened by a woman’s unique ability to create life.

These women’s courage sets a standard for others: fans can weigh up what grim behaviour they’re willing to condone. Journalists can seek truth behind that behaviour rather than uncritically amplify it. But, crucially, justice systems must recognise and punish that behaviour. In the UK, just 1.5% of rape cases result in a prosecution and three women a week are killed at the hands of a male partner or ex. Both police and prosecutors have promised to treat violence against women seriously – and the Home Office is currently holding a public consultation into violence against women and girls, asking us to share our experiences*.

The women speaking out teach us that, although violent, pathetic men follow similar patterns of brutal behaviour, there is no one way to be a victim, no one way to speak up, and no one way to define yourself outside of the worst thing that happened to you. It’s a reminder, too, that male violence needs to be taken more seriously – and there is still much more work to be done.

*To be heard, anonymously, the government call for evidence on violence against women and girls can be found here.

We have reached out to Josh Whedon for comment.

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