In a recent episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, writer/director/actress Asia Argento spoke of her love of her hometown of Rome, its back alleys and bawdy songs and the simple pleasure of a plate of pasta. But ever since Argento spoke out about being sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker’s exposé of the now-disgraced movie mogul, her home country has not returned her affection. As Vanity Fair reports, Argento has been forced to flee Italy and relocate to Berlin after being vilified and blamed for her assault in the Italian press. In a typical op-ed, opinion writer Renato Farina said actresses “first give it away, then whine and fake regret.”
The shockingly harsh and retrograde criticisms are coming from both men and women, on all sides of the political spectrum. Writing for right-wing newspaper Libero, Farina said that “surrendering to a boss’s advances to make a career is prostitution, not rape.” And Vittorio Feltri, the editor-in-chief of the paper, said on a radio show that Argento should be grateful because Weinstein didn’t physically injure her in the assault. Other commentators, including some women, have criticized Argento and other Weinstein accusers for not speaking up sooner, claimed that it was their fault for putting themselves in “dangerous situations” and debated whether actions like Weinstein forcing women to give him massages “count” as “sexual abuse.” Argento’s ex and father of her daughter, the musician Morgan, has also publicly questioned her story.
Appearing on Italian TV from her new home in Germany, Argento said last week that “Italy is far behind the rest of the world in its view of women.” Writing for Quartz, Annalisa Merelli points out that rape was only classified as a crime against another person in Italy in 1996, noting that before that it was “considered just an offense against common decency, such as public display of nudity, or peeing in public.” And on Twitter, Argento has repeatedly cited the fact that, until 1981, murders of women considered to be “honor killings” came with extremely reduced sentences in Italy.