We’ve created a system that is inherently rigged against some of the women whom we most need to hear.
Megan Fox knows you want her to shut up. At the height of her fame in the late 2000s, it often felt like major Fox interviews were mostly a chance for the press to rake through her quotes for faux pas. It was not at all uncommon for news outlets to call her “crazy,” sometimes right in the headline. Women’s media treated her with disdain, as the living embodiment of a plastic, synthetic, frat-boy-friendly beauty ideal: Jezebel crowned her “the patron saint of sexyface,” compiled a list of her “50 Best (& Worst) Bon Mots,” and, when Fox joked about having “a powerful, confident vagina,” ran the story under the headline “But Can It Act?”
Combing through Megan Fox thinkpieces of the era — and there were many — turns up archaeological traces of an even more visceral hatred, like a post on “feminist” blog Zelda Lily entitled “Megan Fox is an Ungrateful B—h,” or a whole (now deleted) Tumblr, “F–k You Megan Fox.”
The problem is, after years of being told that she should “keep her trap shut,” Fox evidently started taking the suggestion. In a new interview with the New York Times, Fox says that she kept silent about her own experiences of sexual harassment during the #MeToo movement, specifically because of the treatment she’s gotten from other women.
“I just didn’t think based on how I’d been received by people, and by feminists, that I would be a sympathetic victim. And I thought if ever there were a time where the world would agree that it’s appropriate to victim-shame someone, it would be when I come forward with my story,” Fox told the Times. Reflecting on her time as Internet outrage bait, she now says that “[My] words were taken and used against me in a way that was — at that time in my life, at that age and dealing with that level of fame — really painful.” She continued, “I was rejected because of qualities that are now being praised in other women coming forward. And because of my experience, I feel it’s likely that I will always be just out of the collective understanding. I don’t know if there will ever be a time where I’m considered normal or relatable or likable.”
Ah, yes. Likable, the fatal “l-word.” I, a feminist, have always liked Megan Fox; my second piece of published writing was an essay complaining about her harsh media coverage. For that matter, her treatment by feminists was always more nuanced than those brutal headlines (or Megan Fox’s memory) would seem to indicate. Even on Jezebel, the eye-rolls were interspersed with thoughtful essays about how “we should root for [Fox] to subvert the roles [she’s] positioned to fill, and to find a way to break out of the boxes that Hollywood always tends to place women in.”