A few weeks ago, I watched one of the most disturbing videos I’ve ever seen on the internet (and that is saying something.) It featured a woman named Rose McGowan. To provide some context: After the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke last October, many women of Hollywood came forward to share their traumatic experiences with Weinstein. Rose McGowan was among those women. Since then, she has put herself at the forefront of a movement dedicated to speaking out against sexual assailants. It takes a great amount of courage for victims of sexual assault to speak out against their abusers, particularly one as rich and powerful as Harvey Weinstein. I would never call into question a woman brave enough to do it, McGowan included. However, though one may find her spring into action admirable, my shock and horror stems from one isolated incident that took place on February 2, 2018, which proved very telling of the darkest part of her character.
The video features an incident in which a transgender woman calls McGowan out for not doing enough for the trans community during her recent crusade. From the moment this woman opens her mouth, one can see McGowan slouch down in her seat with a dismissive attitude written all over her face. As the woman goes on explaining the reality of trans women constantly fearing for their safety, McGowan begins to cut her off saying things like, “So have I. We’re the same,” in response to this woman detailing her experiences. The exchange continues until the woman is escorted out while screaming, “This is White *cis Feminism!” After the woman is removed from the room, McGowan snaps. She stands up with a beat red face and screams into the crowd, “What I do is for the fucking world, and you should be fucking grateful!… I’m mad that you put shit on me ‘cause I have a fucking vagina and I’m White…Fuck off! All of us want to say it, I just do!”
It was at this point in the video that I was floored. A white cisgender woman, claiming to dedicate her life to standing in solidarity with other women for their safety, just screamed over the pleas of a trans woman that she should be “fucking grateful.” This exchange is the perfect depiction of the evil that is White cis feminism. A member of a marginalized group is literally yelling out for visibility, while a white cis woman screams over them, alludes to them being an alien, has them removed, and demands that they be grateful for all that is being done for them. It is no secret that trans women experience the world differently than cis women. They experience violence at a much higher rate and have needs and struggles unique to them. I can only imagine the frustration of voicing these facts and having them be trampled over by the needs of the ever front and center white cis woman. All “other” women feel this frustration. And Rose McGowan wants us to be grateful for it.
The video of the incident concludes with McGowan bursting into tears as the audience consoles her. Audience members can be heard saying “We’re so grateful. We love you!” How fitting. A reward for silencing those that need a voice most, white cis feminism at its finest.
*Cis: Short for cisgender. A term for people who identify as the gender assigned to them at birth.