In an interview with The Times on August 4, Lindsay Lohan had some, uh, thoughts about the #MeToo movement and the women that have come forward with their stories. Despite telling the interviewer that she doesn’t “really have anything to say” on something she “didn’t live,” when asked if she had any “MeToo-worthy experiences” of her own, Lohan went on to accuse the women that have come forward of looking “weak” and being “attention-seekers.”
“I’m going to really hate myself for saying this, but I think by women speaking against all these things, it makes them look weak when they are very strong women,” Lohan told The Times.
Lohan has since apologized—on August 12, she gave an exclusive statement to People, where she said, “I would like to unreservedly apologize for any hurt and distress. The quote solely related to my hope that a handful of false testimonies out of a tsunami of heroic voices do not serve to dilute the importance of the #MeToo movement, and all of us who champion it.” She did acknowledge the hurt she caused; “I have since learned how statements like mine are seen as hurtful, which was never my intent. I’m sorry for any pain I may have caused,” she said. And she (somewhat belatedly) expressed her support for the #MeToo movement and those who have come forward, saying, “I feel very strongly about the #MeToo movement and have the utmost respect and admiration for the women brave enough to come forward and speak out about their experiences.”
Which is all well and good, but let’s not forget just what Lohan is apologizing for. In The Times, the actor said that she, “can’t go along with the attention-seekers” or “trial by social media,” and that victims should “make [cases of sexual harassment and assault] a real thing by making it a police report” at the time of the incident. Lohan’s quotes (rightfully) sparked backlash, with Twitter users pointing out that her comments about women coming forward were hurtful to victims—and reflect why women find it so difficult to share their stories about sexual violence in the first place.
Lindsay Lohan calling women in the #MeToo movement weak is exactly why they are strong. They receive countless criticism, threats, and invalidation and still choose to make their stories public.
— Lex Michael (@lexforchange) August 9, 2018
— Julie Rageys (@JulieRgs) August 9, 2018
And btw, Lohan’s opinions on #MeToo were not only offensive, they were factually incorrect. Here, three examples of why LiLo needs to get her facts straight.
1. Women coming forward with their stories don’t do it for attention
The #MeToo movement has prompted many women to share their stories of sexual assault—but definitely *not* to get attention, like Lohan claims. The #MeToo movement was started by Tarana Burke in 2006 to spark conversation about sexual violence and how prevalent this problem is among women. (In Canada, even though sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, a Statistics Canada survey found that more half a million women self-reported being sexually assaulted in 2014.)
Frontline workers explain that it’s difficult for survivors to come forward for numerous reasons, such as fear of retaliation from their abuser or concern over how reporting will impact their job. For instance, Meghan Tozer, who was training to be an opera singer, told The Cut that she left her industry after reporting an influential music teacher for his inappropriate behaviour, which included caressing her in front of her class. She says that since the opera industry relies on connections, reporting this teacher essentially ended her career.
It’s safe to say that, despite Lohan’s theory, this is hardly the kind of attention that *anyone* would want.
Lohan’s comments also trivialize the truth behind women’s #MeToo stories—implying that they are making unfounded sexual violence accusations simply to receive attention. However, a 2009 study by the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women found that false accusations of sexual harassment and assault are extremely rare, with only 2-8% of these claims being false reports.
2. There are *many* reasons why women don’t report crimes to police
In the interview, Lohan dismisses the countless challenges and barriers women face in respect to filing police reports after experiencing sexual violence. “If it happens at that moment, you discuss it at that moment,” the actor says. “You make it a real thing by making it a police report.”
But it’s not *quite* as simple as filing a police report at the time of the incident. Women who experience sexual violence often do not report it because they fear that they will not be believed by the police. In fact, 53% of Canadian sexual violence survivors said they did not report incidences of assault because they aren’t confident in the police, and two-thirds said they aren’t confident in the court system. This fear comes from a fear of the offender and a lack of confidence in the justice system. In 2017, a Globe and Mail investigation found that one in five sexual assault allegations in Canada were dismissed by police as “unfounded“—meaning that police didn’t believe that the crime occurred. (Note: since the investigation went public last year, unfounded rates have started to drop.)
3. Buying a beach may not be the best way to “get revenge”
Lohan wraps up her problematic conversation about the #MeToo movement by saying that the best way to “get revenge” is success. As an example, the actor cites her physical fight with then-fiancé Egor Tarabasov on a Mykonos beach in 2016. “I had a fight with my ex on this very beach. What did I do? Nothing. I just took over the beach,” she says. “The best revenge is success, right?”
K, one: we can’t afford to do the same. Two: while “success” helped Lohan heal, that doesn’t work for everyone. Healing from sexual violence is different for each victim and is a lengthy process—one that professionals say involves working to forgive yourself, connecting with a professional who specializes in healing after sexual abuse and re-learning how to enjoy intimacy with a partner again. Implying that healing from these offences is best achieved with a “get revenge and get over it” attitude may not be the best way to go about the process.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Lohan has expressed her v. problematic views in light of the #MeToo movement. Back in 2017, she defended Harvey Weinstein in a since-deleted Instagram story when sexual assault accusations against him began to surface. Looking back at her past victim-blaming behaviour, her comments about #MeToo are even more infuriating. Despite claiming in the interview to “support women,” she certainly seems to be doing the opposite.
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