Bella Thorne is the latest star to speak out about sexual assault in Hollywood – but the 20-year-old actress and singer didn’t use the #MeToo hashtag to tell fans about her experience.
Instead, her revelation came in response to a cruel comment on one of her photos.
Bella tweeted an image of herself in a purple suit, captioned with the words: “If I could f*ck this suit, I would.”
In response, a Twitter user asked: “What did Disney do to this girl? I think she was molested“.
Thorne fired back: “Yeah I was. So it wasn’t Disney.”
There was something uncomfortable about the exchange that went way beyond the shocking revelation and the unkind and ill-thought out comment that prompted it.
It raised some difficult questions.
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Had Bella intended to speak out? Or had she been backed into a corner, pushed to reveal something deeply personal and traumatic to justify herself to an internet troll?
We can’t speak for Bella, but if she did intend to share her story, we’re not sure a hasty retort in a heated Twitter exchange would’ve been her preferred way to go about it.
It revealed something potentially problematic about the #MeToo movement.
The hashtag is a rallying cry for victims of sexual assault. It’s a nod of solidarity; a safe space for all women.
But since the movement began, pressure has been felt by victims who don't want to share their stories, those who aren't ready and those who just aren't sure.
This should be clear: women don't owe it to men, or to anyone, to share their stories. Being unwilling or unable to relive horrific events doesn't make them anti-feminist or mean they're not 100 per cent behind the cause.
It doesn't make them any less courageous or worthy of empathy than the victims who have bravely spoken out.
The campaign has empowered countless women and given them a voice, but no one should feel obliged to share their story if they don't wish to. This burden to share shouldn't be placed on victims' shoulders - the pressure should be on men to stop their predatory behaviour.
Bella Thorne didn't owe anyone her story - and you don't owe anyone yours.