Trigger warning: This post deals with sexual assault. It may be distressing for some readers.
Fury star Shia LaBeouf has revealed he was sexually assaulted by a woman in a gallery earlier this year.
In February, LaBeouf sat silently in a gallery for five days with a paper bag on his head, as members of the public were invited to visit with him, one by one, and spend ten minutes with the star.
In a recent series of emails with a journalist from Dazed, LaBeouf has disclosed that he was sexually violated by a woman during the five day performance.
“One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for ten minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me,” LaBeouf wrote in an email.
“There were hundreds of people in line when she walked out with dishevelled hair and smudged lipstick. It was no good, not just for me but her man as well.”
“On top of that my girl was in line to see me, because it was Valentine’s Day and I was living in the gallery for the duration of the event — we were separated for five days, no communication. So it really hurt her as well, as I guess the news of it travelled through the line.”
“When she came in she asked for an explanation, and I couldn’t speak, so we both sat with this unexplained trauma silently. It was painful.”
At the risk of alienating some LaBeouf fans, I’m going to admit that I don’t have a lot of time for LaBeouf. In fact, back in February, when I first read about this “artistic performance”, I rolled my eyes and groaned.
Watching an extremely powerful and privileged Hollywood star attempt to ‘explore’ what it must be like to be voiceless, does not exactly strike me as clever, witty, insightful or cutting-edge.
On the contrary, there is something incredibly cringe-worthy (and borderline insulting) about watching a man of remarkable privilege and wealth, dabble in what it must be like to feel powerless and voiceless (which is, of course, a lived reality for millions of less privileged people around the world, each day).
And if that’s not enough, then let’s all remember that this is also a guy who once plagiarised a short film, and then plagiarised the apology he gave, once he was found out.
So it’s fair to say that, in my book at least, I’ve always seen LeBouf as a bit of a tool.
But here’s the thing. Regardless of my personal tastes and preferences in different celebrities, it’s not up to me pick and choose which sexual assault victims deserve our sympathy and support. Nor is it up to me to decide how violated an individual can feel as a result of a specific sexual exploitation.
Indeed it’s not up to any of us to judge or scrutinise another person’s experience of sexual violation or how they feel about it.
Of course I can already hear the comments screaming: “But why? Why didn’t he take off his stupid brown paper bag hat and stop what was going on? He could have simply said no, and stood up, walked away!”