Ronan Farrow won a Pulitzer Prize on Tuesday for his reporting in The New Yorker about the many sexual assault claims made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Four days earlier, Italian director and actor Asia Argento, who had shared her own nightmare with Weinstein for the story, chastised Farrow for his “simplification.”
Farrow, she said, hadn’t fully grasped the complicated nuance of her interactions with the powerful Weinstein in 1997 when she was 21, and how what she said were years of his stalking, manipulation, and “ultimate domination” of her had taken hold of her life and made her fear for her career and her safety.
“I tried to explain this,” Argento told a crowd in Harvard Hall Friday. And while she acknowledged that Farrow couldn’t devote five pages to her story, she called his summary for the article “a simplification that ruined my life.”
Argento said her willingness to come forward against Weinstein, combined with what she sees as Farrow’s mischaracterization, exposed her to criticism and harassment. In the months since the story first ran, Argento said she has been victimized again on social media and in the Italian press. The director explained that misogyny is still deeply ingrained in Italian culture and that women there who challenge men are regularly blamed, shamed, and disbelieved. When The New Yorker story ran, many critics in the Italian media questioned why she didn’t speak up sooner, go directly to the police, or say “no” more forcefully.
“It was worse than the rape, the re-victimization,” said Argento.
Argento said she has received support from other women and feminist groups in Italy, and shared her story with others who suffered similar assaults. “This is what saved me,” she said.
She also said she has spoken to Farrow about his work, and what she views as its shortcomings.
“It’s hard for him to accept that this summarization, this simplification ruined my life. He told me, ‘I am sorry that you feel this way.’ Well, it’s not that I feel this way; it’s what’s written that is wrong.”
A lawsuit that that might challenge his reporting “would take away from what he is trying to do,” said Argento, who is considering writing a book about her experience that would “explain the simplification.” Yet the director still expressed support for Farrow and his efforts. “I want him to expose other things … bless him. Mad props to Ronan Farrow.”