It feels like there’s a new allegation of sexual assault every day. We’re being inundated with stories about everything from masturbating in front of someone without consent to full-on rape. And while it’s amazing that the more than 90 women who came forward with reports of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein have helped other sexual assault survivors feel more safe and supported so they can share their own experiences, I’ve noticed that one allegation in particular has been lost in the mix.
According to TMZ (one of the few major outlets to report the incident), Mariah Carey is very close to being sued by Michael Anello, her former bodyguard. Anello, whose security company was employed by the Carey camp between June 2015 and May 2017, alleges that Carey performed “sexual acts with the intent that they be viewed by Anello.” According to the drafted lawsuit (it’s currently on hold as the parties are trying to resolve the issues outside of court) obtained by TMZ, Anello recounts a trip to Cabo San Lucas, during which Carey requested his assistance to move some luggage. When he arrived at her room, she was wearing a see-through negligee that was left open. Anello says he tried to leave the room but Carey insisted he move the luggage first. There was no physical contact between them.
In addition, the drafted lawsuit claims Carey constantly humiliated Anello and his colleague by referring to them as Nazis, skinheads, KKK members and white supremacists. It also includes allegations that Carey owes Anello and his company $221,329.51 and that he was promised another two years of work, which would have earned him an additional $511,000.
The Weinstein allegations have (hopefully) ushered in a deeper collective understanding of just how important it is to believe survivors when they come forward with their experiences of abuse or trauma—so why didn’t Anello’s story go viral? Carey is a musical icon and arguably one of the highest-earning pop stars of our time—she grossed $27 million in 2013 alone, but only a measly number of major media outlets even mentioned it.
Why do we speak up about some alleged instances of sexual assault and not others?
The clear difference in this case is the accuser is a man and the accused a woman. Somehow, despite all the effort we’ve put into unconditionally believing those who share their experience of assault—people were rightfully outraged when Cara Delevingne disclosed her incident with Weinstein and believed Anthony Rapp immediately when he spoke out against Kevin Spacey, for example—we’ve forgotten that women can perpetrate this violence, too.
I’m not denying that we’ve made any progress—with each new allegation, we learn how to better deal with the realities and aftermath of sexual assault. But we can’t let gendered stereotypes about how and to whom sexual assault happens prevent us from seeing the truth: it can happen anywhere, to anyone.
Michael Anello’s allegations against Mariah Carey may not be true. They may not even make it to judgment by a court of law, but—regardless of what happens—his story should be treated with as much significance and consequence as any other story of assault.
Men who have been sexually harassed or assaulted can find gender-specific information and resources via 1in6. Women can contact the Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 1-866-863-0511 or find a rape crisis centre or women’s centre in your province via The Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres.
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