As we all know, Twitter is a great simplifier. The conversations I'm hearing in my own circles more closely resemble that of The Cut's editor-in-chief Stella Bugbee and senior culture writer Anna Silman, who published a conversation in which they flipped back and forth between their feelings of protectiveness towards Argento because of an inherent desire to believe women, and their feelings of hypocrisy and revulsion in the face of the evidence. They also expressed concerns about the future of #MeToo.
There are many reasons why this particular case feels confusing and icky to so many. A major one is that, as women have come together under the #MeToo banner over the last two years, much of what has kept everyone united is an absolute belief in the voices of women. So what happens when a woman is issuing a denial instead of a claim? Of course, there have been male accusers too, but, until now, their fingers were pointed at other men. It was inevitable that a woman would finally fall into #MeToo's accused category; we just didn't expect it to be this particular woman.
There are other factors with Argento's case that make it harder to swiftly throw her onto the growing pile of Hollywood abusers. There is her own abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein; Argento says she was raped by the movie mogul in 1997. Could a relationship with Bennett have been influenced by her own desire to reclaim a sense of power? (The potential of abused individuals becoming abusers is well-established.)
There is also the very recent suicide of her boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, to consider. Perhaps her official statement might have more accurately reflected the intimate nature of her friendship with Bennett if she wasn't in the midst of horrible grief right now.
Finally, there's her nationality. The age of consent in Italy is just 14. Did Argento forget that America's is 18?
Truthfully, there is only one way to view this case, and that's the same way that we've been asked to view all other #MeToo cases so far. When a person says they have been victimized, we should probably believe them. When there are imbalances of power and status between two people, the ability to consent is compromised. When there is a sizable age difference between two people, the exploitation of the younger party becomes more likely. If Asia Argento really did have sex with a much less famous 17-year-old, she must be treated no differently than others in her situation.
The most prominent figureheads of #MeToo, including founder Tarana Burke, already understand this. Many of them have been swift to publicly respond to the Argento-Bennett case in the same way they have to every other #MeToo assault claim: they believe the survivor and offer support.