Culture News

Rose McGowan Is Right about Alyssa Milano and Joe Biden

The former co-stars find themselves on opposite sides of a controversial sexual assault allegation.

Rose McGowan has a history of calling other activists in the #MeToo movement frauds.

Her personal experience as a survivor of sexual assault makes her passionate about these issues, and sometimes that may lead her to make some rash judgments. That is not what happened in the case of Alyssa Milano.

On Monday, reacting to Milano's recent endorsement of Joe Biden, McGowan tweeted at her former Charmed co-star, "You are a fraud ... You go after Trump & Kavanaugh saying Believe Victims, you are a lie. You have always been a lie." What McGowan is referring to is the fact that Biden was recently accused of sexual assault by a former employee named Tara Reade. Reade has given a vivid description of her 1993 encounter with then-Senator Biden when she was working in his offices and has corroboration from multiple people whom she told of the incident at the time.

While this isn't the kind of evidence that could be expected to secure a conviction for the perpetrator, it is the same standard of evidence that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had against Brett Kavanaugh—which Milano and much of the country felt was enough to disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court.

At the time, Milano said of Blasey Ford's testimony, "It made me so proud ... especially remembering Anita Hill in 1991," referring to the sad state of affairs that took place when Anita Hill testified in the Senate to the sexually harassment she had experienced while working for then-Supreme-Court-Nominee Clarence Thomas. Hill was berated and attacked by Senators on both sides of the aisle while a young Senator Joe Biden oversaw the hearing and abdicated his responsibility to maintain order and decorum and provide Hill with a fair hearing.

While some have criticized the timing of Reade's accusation—just as people did with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's accusations against Brett Kavanaugh—it's worth noting that Reade made a sexual harassment complaint at the time and attempted to come forward with the story of her sexual assault last fall—long before Biden's surprise Super Tuesday resurgence. She was stymied in that attempt by the directors of the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, whom she approached at the time for help. Initially told to wait, Time's Up took months to tell her that they wouldn't represent her, citing a dubious claim that targeting a candidate for federal office would compromise their status as a non-profit organization.

While Alyssa Milano apparently thinks that Time's Up's refusal to represent Reade is a refutation of her claim, others have pointed out that Joe Biden has given generously to the organization and that Anita Dunn—the managing director of Time's Up, who also helped Harvey Weinstein prepare before the infamous New York Times exposé broke—was recently made one of Biden's top advisers. The organization never disclosed these ties to Reade while they held her accusation in limbo. In other words, while Time's Up was started as an offshoot of the #MeToo movement to support women standing up to powerful sexual predators, it seems increasingly likely that it has became compromised by established interests that seek to quash stories like Reade's with the same sort of "catch and kill" system that people like Weinstein and Trump have used to great effect.

If Alyssa Milano refuses to see that or to hold Joe Biden—the man responsible for the whole Anita Hill debacle—to the same standard she used for Brett Kavanaugh to, then Rose McGowan is right: Alyssa Milano is a fraud.

CULTURE

Natalie Portman Had the Perfect Response to Rose McGowan's Criticism

Rose McGowan had harsh words for Natalie Portman this week, but Portman channeled the drama into a message of solidarity

Rose McGowan came at Natalie Portman hard on Wednesday, saying that her Oscar's dress was "deeply offensive."

The dress in question featured a Dior cape that had been specially embroidered with the names of prominent female directors who didn't receive nominations that many people feel they deserve. The names included Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), and Lulu Wang (The Farewell).

Calling out the Academy for overlooking female talent has been a popular theme this year, from Issa Rae's "Congratulations to those men," while announcing the nominations, to Chris Rock and Steve Martin's onstage joke that there's something missing—va*inas. All of which could be seen as callbacks to Natalie Portman's 2018 comments at the Golden Globes, when she introduced the directing category by saying, "here are the all-male nominees."

Natalie Portman at the Golden Globes

But apparently this sort of "activism" does not exactly impress Rose McGowan—at least not on its own. It's understandable that McGowan—whose 2018 memoir Brave detailed her experiences of sexual assault at the hands of Harvey Weinstein and others—would have some strong opinions on how to fight back. She attributes the decline of her acting career to her efforts to resist Weinstein's attacks—after he (allegedly) raped her in a hotel room in 1997.

She also names several other women whom she claims were similarly punished and is working on a follow-up memoir, Trust, about learning to move forward. She has championed the #MeToo movement and made it her mission to change the toxic misogyny within Hollywood—that uses and abuses and discards talented young women. In that light, her problem with Portman's fashion choice was not so much with the cape itself, but with Portman failing to back up the sentiment in her professional life.

In a post on Facebook, McGowan made her point clear, accusing Portman of being "an actress acting the part of someone who cares." She decried the idea that members of the media would refer to such a superficial expression of solidarity as "bravery" and addressed Natalie directly, saying, "Natalie, you have worked with two female directors in your very long career-one of them was you. You have a production company that has hired exactly one female director- you… You are the problem. Lip service is the problem. Fake support of other women is the problem."

Rose McGowan Rankin

While McGowan's claim overlooked some shorts and anthology movies, others have noted that of the seven feature-length films that Portman's production company, Handsomecharlie, has been involved in, only Portman's own directorial debut, 2015's A Tale of Love and Darkness, was directed solely by a woman. That paints a pretty clear picture of a problem, and it would obviously be hard for Portman to deny it. Fortunately, she didn't. She didn't go on the attack or get defensive. She came out with a statement on Thursday striking a tone of hope and solidarity.

She started out by agreeing with much of McGowan's criticism, saying, "I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me 'brave' for wearing a garment with women's names on it. Brave is a term I more strongly associate with actions like those of the women who have been testifying against Harvey Weinstein the last few weeks, under incredible pressure." She then went on to acknowledge that she hasn't worked with as many female directors as she would like, while also calling out systemic issues that prevent female-helmed projects from getting made and taking the opportunity to name check a host of talented female directors who deserve more work:

"In my long career, I've only gotten the chance to work with female directors a few times—I've made shorts, commercials, music videos and features with Marya Cohen, Mira Nair, Rebecca Zlotowski, Anna Rose Holmer, Sofia Coppola, Shirin Neshat and myself. Unfortunately, the unmade films I have tried to make are a ghost history… I have had the experience a few times of helping get female directors hired on projects which they were then forced out of because of the conditions they faced at work… So I want to say, I have tried, and I will keep trying. While I have not yet been successful, I am hopeful that we are stepping into a new day."

Natalie Portman We Should All Be Feminists A pregnant Natalie Portman speaking at the Women's March 2017

While McGowan's anger is understandable, Portman handled the situation perfectly. She took the energy of that discontent and the criticism and channeled it toward opening the conversation to the larger issues that prevent female directors from getting work—issues that one small production company can only do so much to address. With luck maybe this conversation will begin to push Hollywood institutions to rethink the sexist calculus that robs so many talented women of work.

Culture Feature

Why We Shouldn’t Cancel Cancel Culture: We Need Transformative Justice

To cancel cancel culture—and to write off the impulses that motivate it—would be to miss a valuable chance to learn.

Kanye West is canceled.

James Charles is canceled. Doja Cat is canceled. Harvey Weinstein is canceled. J. K. Rowling is canceled. Dave Chappelle is canceled. Donald Trump and all his supporters are canceled. Camila Cabello is canceled. Boomers are canceled. And now, cancel culture itself has been canceled.

The term "cancel culture" has quickly become one of the most discussed trends of the digital age. America is canceled, murder is canceled, Earth is canceled. If one were to scrape through everything I have ever said and written with a fine-toothed comb, I would probably be canceled, and you likely would be, too. As Jonah Engel Bromwich reported in The New York Times, "Everyone is canceled." Maybe we should all just go back to sleep.

Though it would be simple enough to rehash the argument that we should just "cancel cancel culture," cancel culture isn't disappearing anytime soon. Neither are the systemic forces of oppression and the forces of human nature that created it.

Instead of arguing for a complete end of cancel culture, we should ask if there's a way to move past cancel culture's flaws without completely shutting down the deeper meanings and gems of potential buried within the term.

Well+Good

The Case for Canceling Cancel Culture: Twitter, Queer Infighting, and Capitalism

Humans have always been "canceling" each other; it's a way of shaping and solidifying societal values. But the term "canceled" (as we understand it today) actually appeared sometime around 2015, when the hashtag #cancelled appeared on Black Twitter. Initially, cancel culture was used as a way of leveraging the collectivity inherent on the Internet and the attention economy and using this power to critique people in positions of power. In theory, it is a way of giving voice to the marginalized and the voiceless.

Yet inevitably—perhaps because it originated from a place of brokenness and anger—cancel culture began to twist and bend out of shape. It started coming for the powerless, shutting down discussions that would've been beneficial, splintering communities and stymying learning opportunities.

Of cancel culture in the queer community, Ryan Li Dahlstrom writes, "I'm feeling really tired of the call out culture on social media especially within the queer/trans people of color communities. We need to center and build relationships with each other…By making these public attacks on each other, we are engaging in the same disposability politics of capitalism and the prison industrial complex that we purport to be against while feeding into state surveillance tactics that are monitoring how we are tearing each other down."

Cancel culture ultimately idealizes unattainable standards, a fact that led even Barack Obama to critique the trend. "This idea of purity and you're never compromised and you're always politically 'woke' and all that stuff," he said. "The world is messy; there are ambiguities… People who do really good stuff have flaws." He emphasized that cancel culture "is not activism," which it isn't. It can provide immediate gratification and can be cathartic—but while writing a poem about how angry you are (usually) doesn't hurt anyone, cancel culture can have visceral consequences, particularly for people without the resources to bounce back.

Glamour.com

It can also lead to burnout on all sides. "One way to heal this emotional drain is to consider what change you're hoping for. Do you actually want this person to learn and do better, or just to feel bad about what they did?" writes Maisha Z. Johnson.

This isn't to say we shouldn't be angry, or that we should all just "get along"; centrism, tolerance, and "politeness" have always been used to breed stagnancy and cover up true harm. But it's important to remember that cancel culture usually does very little to change the things it was trying to address, like systemic violence, racism, transphobia, and the like. If anything, it can perpetuate unproductive constructs. Critiquing Lana Del Rey for dating a cop might feel satisfactory in the short-term, but we can't delude ourselves into thinking it will do anything at all about police brutality.

As Jonah Engel Bromwich writes, "Only those whose power is, for the most part, predicated on the attention economy are susceptible to cancellation." This means that politicians, businessmen, and the people truly in charge of power structures often avoid being canceled while ordinary Internet users become targets, treated as if they single-handedly created massive social issues like racism or capitalism, treated as if they were not broken people with lives and the capacity to change.

Many have noted that cancel culture is a capitalist and carceral practice, one that breeds isolation, competition, and dehumanization. "[Cancel culture] speaks to a lifestyle of commodity, consumerism and capitalism, of transactions being canceled. It's a very transactional word," says Jason Richards, the writer of an episode of Joanne the Scammer that featured an early use of the term "canceled."

According to eminent scholar, preacher, and writer Michael Eric Dyson, cancel culture is literally "the internalization of an ethic of white supremacy, which is wanting to cancel black people from the beginning." Instead, he says, "We have to stand outside and protest and force people inside of the system to do the right thing."

In short, cancel culture takes our eyes off of the prize, which is—ideally—a better world.

The Case Against Canceling Cancel Culture: Learning from Aziz Ansari, Lana Del Rey, and Our Mistakes

All that said, it's tempting to say we should just cancel cancel culture itself. Realistically, though, this won't happen. Whether you think it's real or not, cancel culture generates massive amounts of attention and capital, meaning that it'll continue to be fueled by click-hungry websites and by the parts of us that long for likes, engagement, and revenge.

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Plus, the Internet is a natural breeding ground for call-outs. This may be thanks to something the writer Ginger Gorman has called the "online disinhibition effect," which is when people online say things they'd never dream of uttering in real life. And of course, this world offers no shortage of reasons to be angry.

Ultimately, to cancel cancel culture—and to write off the impulses and anger that motivate it—would be to miss a valuable chance to learn from it.

We can honor the fact that cancelations often stem from places of deep pain and insecurity, often rooted in larger issues, while also understanding that the point-blank nature of cancel culture may be unproductive. For example, many men now live in fear of being accused of sexual misconduct, but women have always lived in constant fear of sexual assault. Instead of shutting down the voices of men who fear sexual assault accusations, we need to invest time and energy into dialogue about how men might avoid assaulting women. We could dive deeper into the root causes of sexual assault, like toxic masculinity and trauma, and focus on healing the wounds that created them.

This doesn't mean we should excuse abusers, but one of the most positive results of the increased dialogue about sexual abuse is the widespread proliferation of information about what constitutes consent. We should be highlighting the lessons we might learn from people like Aziz Ansari, whose cancelation generated a great deal of vitriol—but also created an opportunity for rich, nuanced discussions.

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We should uplift all people who commit to healing and practicing radical love after (or ideally, before) being accused of something, just as we should honor women and people of all genders for their growth, not just their mistakes and traumas. It may be idealistic to think this is possible, but what would the alternative be? Total nihilism? People are always changing, and those who show a clear willingness to listen and learn from their mistakes deserve the space to do so. They should not be cast off into the wilderness or made into pariahs. We shouldn't rely on the methods of the power structures we're trying to replace.

Transformative Justice Approaches to Cancel Culture

In New York City, people have been writing the same message all over the subways: "We are not in the business of policing each other." We should, however, be in the business of remaining open to questions, to change, and to our own complexity.

The process of diving into the root causes of things, embracing complexity, and focusing on the outcomes we wish to see rather than the problems at hand are all part of a practice called transformative justice. This practice originated in the worlds of prison justice and gender-based violence organizing, but it's very applicable alternative to cancel culture. Transformative justice "seeks to provide people who experience violence with immediate safety and long-term healing and reparations while holding people who commit violence accountable within and by their communities," according to usprisonculture.com. It's about advocating for learning, conversation, and growth instead of silence and ostracization.

Transformative justice is not the same as unconditional forgiveness. It means creating opportunities for repentance, reparations, and ongoing healing for all parties involved. It means channeling our rage into action, organizing, and community-building, not using it to tear others down. In this broken world, maybe the best we can do is learn from our mistakes and help others do the same.

The activist and writer adrienne maree brown makes a passionate, beautiful argument for why we need to replace cancel culture with transformative justice approaches. "Is this what we're here for? To cultivate a fear-based adherence to reductive common values?" she asks. "What can this lead to in an imperfect world full of sloppy complex humans? Is it possible we will call each other out until there's no one left beside us?"

adriennemareebrown.net

If we continue to cancel each other instead of focusing on growth and systemic change, she implies, we'll merely perpetuate the philosophies that got us into all these messes in the first place. But "if we want to create a world in which conflict and trauma aren't the center of our collective existence, we have to practice something new, ask different questions, access again our curiosity about each other as a species," brown writes. "I believe transformative justice could yield deeper trust, resilience and interdependence."

This approach can be useful for those on every side of a potential cancelation. "What the majority dismisses as so-called hate is usually honest criticism that needs to be addressed," advises Erin Tatum. "In lieu of justifying your actions, try channeling your energy into understanding the other person's perspective." When we are the ones being called out, we can try to practice understanding the complexity of the other person's perspectives, and we can realize that we aren't personally being attacked. We might also acknowledge that we might have done something wrong, but this doesn't mean that we can't learn and grow. Acknowledging our mistakes and inherent biases is the first step to getting over things like white fragility, and it's a way to heal deeper wounds instead of trying to stitch them up by opening more.

As brown writes, "All these mass and intimate punishments keep us small and fragile. And right now our movements and the people within them need to be massive and complex and strong."

CULTURE

Rose McGowan Is Seriously Bugging Out on Twitter

Rose McGowan uses Trump's war on Iran to...come out as Republican?

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

The first real news cycle of 2020 has been more than a dumpster fire—it's been a straight-up garbage apocalypse.

Following the Trump administration's airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad Airport in Iraq––a blatant act of war against Iran, made without the approval of US Congress––#WWIII is the top trend on Twitter, alongside "Giant Bomb," China, Russia, and a whole slew of other world-ending sentiments.

But amongst all the fervor surrounding global destruction, one person's voice has risen above the rest to trend alongside the horrible hashtags. That person is former Charmed actress Rose McGowan, and even in light of everything else exploding on Twitter, her social presence today is an incoherent mess.

First, McGowan tweeted an Iranian flag gif, "humbly apologize[ing]" to #Iran for disrespecting their country.

As one of the 52% of people McGowan claims to speak for (presumably American voters who disagree with basically everything Trump does and stands for), I'm not particularly comfortable being represented on this issue by someone who seems to have so little understanding of the larger situation. Of course Trump shouldn't have committed an act of war like this, especially without running it past Congress first––but the problem isn't that it was an act of "disrespect."

Soleimani was a major backer of terrorist groups, and he was directly responsible for hundreds of American deaths––his death is not a tragedy. The problem is that it was an escalation of a conflict that did not need to be escalated, and now the US is on the brink of a war with Iran that the majority of American people do not want or support.

But that's different from humbly apologizing for killing a man who has killed many Americans.

McGowan continues, seemingly acknowledging this:

For whatever reason, she really does think that she's a representative voice for anti-Trump Americans. I have no idea if anyone in Iran watched Charmed, but I do hope that McGowan "taking one for the team" is meaningful to someone somewhere.

Then, McGowan feels the need to further clarify that she doesn't side with the US or Iran.

This one, I kind of get. Looking at the situation objectively, Americans aren't necessarily the good guys in the Middle East. Of course, neither is Iran, and for whatever it's worth, I'll take America, even in its current state of social disarray, over a genocidal religious regime any day. But okay, we're finding common ground.

And then McGowan snaps.

Apparently, all this stress has lead McGowan to go full white woman (considering most white women voted for Trump), announcing that she will be supporting the Republicans (who ordered the bombing she'd been Tweeting about for the entire day) because…democrats bad? I also love the additional hashtag, #RoseArmy, because seriously, WTF?

Then, in her next Tweet, McGowan took a complete 180, stating that actually, she will never vote Republican and does want the Democrats to win after all. McGowan labels herself a "conscientious objector to the USA," seemingly justifying her mental break in real time.

Don't worry, though. McGowan has apologized for "freak[ing] out because we may have an impending war." Which...yeah, but why would that lead her to announce her support for Republicans out of nowhere? She claims she was "freak[ing] out on those in power," but...how?

Through her Twitter tantrum, McGowan has only managed to stigmatize her own voice, showing an inability to thoroughly assess complex issues and flip-flopping political parties for no discernible reason.

But as unstable as McGowan's Twitter activity may have been, we can all feel safe knowing that at least she doesn't have access to any nukes. The same can't be said for the guy tweeting a low-res American flag picture after potentially initiating World War 3.

We had a good run, humanity, but the experiment has failed. Perhaps we should take solace in the fact that when we blow humanity to smithereens, we all kind of deserve it.

rose mcgowan caitlyn jenner male privilege

Pretty safe to say that Rose McGowan is not a fan of Caitlyn Jenner.

The actress is slamming Jenner for showing off her “male privilege” during an acceptance speech she made for her Glamour magazine “woman of the year” award on November 9.

Kris Jenner ‘Confused’ That Caitlyn Wants To Date Men Now

McGowan takes umbrage at Jenner’s comment during the speech, that, the "hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear”—accusing her of not understanding “what being a woman is all about” and urging the 66-year-old to take a look at the history books in order to get a clearer idea.

We Are Cait—The Caitlyn Jenner Effect™ Continues!

The actress let her feelings be known via a Facebook post today:

Caitlyn Jenner you do not understand what being a woman is about at all. You want to be a woman and stand with us—well learn us. We are more than deciding what to wear. We are more than the stereotypes foisted upon us by people like you.

You're a woman now? Well fucking learn that we have had a VERY different experience than your life of male privilege.

Woman of the year? No, not until you wake up and join the fight. Being a woman comes with a lot of baggage. The weight of unequal history. You'd do well to learn it. You'd do well to wake up. Woman of the year? Not by a long fucking shot.

Ellen Is Confused By Caitlyn Jenner’s Same Sex Marriage Judgement

Presumably, in a bid to fend off any ensuing accusations of trans-phobia, McGowan went on to couch her comments by concluding that she appreciates what Jenner’s decision to live “her truth” has done for the LGBT community:

Let me amend this by saying I'm happy for what she's doing visibility wise for the trans community, and I'm happy she's living her truth, but comments like hers have consequences for other women.

How we are perceived, what our values are, and leads to more stereotyping. If you know you are going to be speaking to media about being a woman, maybe come to understand our struggles.

McGowan isn’t the only person who’s slammed Jenner recently for being out-of-touch with reality—as Popdust previously reported, a protest group called “I Ain’t Cait” has attacked the former-Olympian for being “unrepresentative of the average transgendered person.”

Why The Fuss About A Caitlyn Jenner Halloween Costume?

Protesters took to the streets last week to protest Chicago House’s decision to invite Jenner to be a key speaker at their 2015 charity luncheon.

“You are an insult to trans people, you are an insult to women,” one protester was caught on camera screaming at Jenner as she left the event.

Caitlyn Jenner Pimps Out Her Plastic Surgeons As Backlash Simmers

Chicago House is a non-profit organization that works to provide housing for those impacted by HIV/AIDS, or find themselves subjected to homophobia and or LGBT marginalization—a subject, the group believes, has no resonance with Jenner—a multi-millionaire and outspoken Republican.

They aired their grievances on their Facebook page:

Caitlyn Jenner, who lives in a mansion and has a net worth of millions of dollars, while the average trans person has a 41 percent chance of experiencing homelessness and a nearly 50 percent chance of living off less than $10k per year.

Chicago House’s shameless pandering to the trans community for mediocre representation, embodied by a clueless rich white woman who thinks disenfranchised trans women of color should just pluck themselves up off the street and stop being so lazy, is an insult and a disgrace.

Adding further fuel to the fire are comments Jenner made about social service benefits for the poor and needy, during an episode of her E! reality show, I Am Cait.

“You don’t want people to get totally dependent on [benefits],” she said. “That’s when they get into trouble. ‘Why should I work? You know, I’ve got a few bucks, I’ve got my room paid for.’”

Jon Stewart Skews Sexist Coverage Of Caitlyn Jenner Debut—Totally Nails It, As Usual

Meanwhile, despite the visibility Jenner has undoubtably brought the community, sadly, when it comes to hate crimes, statistics show that visibility hasn’t translated into the general public being any more accepting, or understanding of transgender people.

According to HRC, there has actually been a spike in crimes against transgender people—2015 saw more murders than any other year on record—and 41 % of trans people are still attempting suicide:

In 2015, at least 21 transgender people have been victims of fatal violence in the United States, more killings of transgender people than any other year on record. More transgender people were killed in the first six months of this year than in all of 2014.

While we don’t know many details about these victims’ experiences, research shows that transgender people face harassment and discrimination in numerous contexts throughout their lives.

Moreover, we know that the chances of facing discrimination, harassment and violence increase exponentially for transgender women of color, who also face racism and sexism. For many transgender women of color, the threat of violence is constant, and there are few if any places they feel safe.

For more entertainment, world, music and pop culture updates and news, follow Max Page on Twitter

By Leah Ornstein,

Sex certainly sells, so it isn’t surprising that Hollywood’s hottest actresses, singers and reality stars have stripped down and flaunted their birthday suits for major magazine covers.

From Demi Moore and Jessica Simpson’s in-the-buff baby bump shoots to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera’s Disney girls gone bad Rolling Stone covers in the early 2000s, Popdust Exposed has the 20 sexiest and totally nude celebrity magazine covers for you.