Rose McGowan

Rose McGowan on Weinstein Verdict: “I Can Breathe for the First Time in Years”


The actress, filmmaker and activist, one of the first “silence breakers” to share her story, claiming that the mogul sexually assaulted her in a Park City hotel room in 1997, says: “Hopefully now this will be the first day of the rest of my life.”

I’m currently sitting on my bed and I have my arm around my puppy Pearl Kali, a Havanese from Cuba named Kali after the warrior goddess. A therapist told me that I needed a puppy for chronic PTSD and so, here we are. I’m looking at her while staring at a horizon that I haven’t seen since I was raped in 1997. I haven’t had a free moment from this man since then.

God bless the women who testified: Annabella Sciorra, Miriam Haley, Jessica Mann, Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff and Lauren Young. I can imagine what it felt like for them to be on that stand because, essentially, it’s like standing there naked in front of the world, allowing people to put tiny pinpricks in you as they try to pull the skin off. Death by a thousand cuts during a trial that was reality versus gaslighting. It’s brutal and harrowing but they were brave. Donna Rotunno, Harvey’s lawyer, came at them with this kind of wink to the incel movement and by using the same trigger words as the alt-right dudes. These women had to literally look at the belly of the beast while the beast that hurt them is standing behind the beast. It was a Herculean effort and there aren’t enough words to describe how I feel for them or what I feel for them.

Justice is a privilege and that’s a really twisted thing to say. Justice should be the norm, not a 2 percent conviction rate on rape cases. Most women, men, boys, girls or anybody who has ever been hurt — myself included — will never have that moment where they can sit across from the person who hurt them and point at them and say, “That was the person who hurt me.” That’s a privilege and that’s a sick privilege to have. I wonder how long it would have taken if we’d all been black or Latina? I have so many thoughts about the cultural aspect of it all, but there’s also a personal aspect. It’s two separate things for me and I haven’t had as much opportunity to process the personal of it until now, until tonight, when I feel like I have the weight of a thousand boots off my back.

I can breathe now. Obviously, I breathe a minimal amount to stay alive but I’ve gotten used to living with such a weight on me. Now I feel that I can breathe for the first time in years. The weirdest part is I feel connected to the girl who walked in that hotel room that morning for a meeting, and I have not felt her for a long, long time. I mean, I know her because she’s frozen in time in a few of the movies I made, but when I see pictures of myself from around that time, I’m like, damn, she was a baby. Now, it feels like she and I are high-fiving. [Rose pauses and starts crying.] These are happy tears. I’m crying tears of relief for the first time.

It can be an extremely hard push as an activist or global re-educator, whatever you want to call it, trying to unwire millennia of tradition brought on a certain subject and yet being a trauma survivor myself who has to do the work that triggers an act of trauma. Gee, no wonder I short-circuit sometimes? But if somebody were to ask, is Rose more angry with Harvey or the complicity machine? I would definitely say the complicity machine because I do believe there’s something deeply wrong with him that he’ll never fix in his head.

Hopefully, now this will be the first day of the rest of my life as I attempt to see what life would have been like without someone trying to kill me or paint me as an insane person. I had an entire career before. I do a fuck ton of creative things besides talk about stupid Harvey Weinstein. That’s what I find exciting about this moment. I understand that people are terrified of me out there and I don’t know what to do about them. I can’t hold onto that because while I had to help take down their cult leader, it’s OK to not be in a cult, you know? I should know, I was in one. It’s actually OK to say this is fucked up and I don’t need someone like him in my life. What if it’s time for someone else to just come in and make amazing movies? I just feel, energy-wise, that the planet would be better off if he wasn’t on it. That’s my hippie answer.

What I do know is that tonight, a predator is off the streets. Recently, I’ve been watching new TV shows and movies and I’ll see an actress and say to myself, “Wow, he would have raped her. That’s totally his type.” Now, I get to hope to God that these women will get to live their lives, have careers and do everything they want to do and achieve what they want to achieve. And I get to be centered and free. That’s my gift.

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