Sean Penn Comments on #MeToo, Completely Misses Its Point

Penn has faulted the movement for dividing men and women.
September 18, 2018
4 mins read

The #MeToo movement has been gaining extra attention this week, especially after the Brett Kavanaugh accusations came to light. But after so many victims have come forward, many people are starting to ask, What’s next?

Louis C.K. has already come back to comedy, and many people seem to just be letting accused celebrities off the hook after a couple of months. Now, Sean Penn has gotten involved in the movement, but not in the way people hoped. In a recent interview, Penn expressed his true feelings about the movement and received a lot of backlash for it.

In an interview for “The Today Show” released Monday, Penn explained his feelings about how the movement has an “exploitative side.” According to Penn, “The spirit of much of what has been the #MeToo movement is to divide men and women.” For obvious reasons, people were not pleased about it.

The topic of the #MeToo movement came up when Penn’s co-star, Natascha McElhone, in their new Hulu series, “The First,” remarked that the show’s strong female characters were inspired by the #MeToo movement, which Penn disagreed with. “This is a movement that was largely shouldered by a kind of receptible of the salacious… I think it’s too black and white. Most things that are very important, it’s really good to just slow down.”

Penn has also criticized the #MeToo movement in the past, describing the movement in his satirical novel as “infantilizing.”

While Penn himself has not faced allegations of sexual misconduct in regard to the #MeToo movement, he does have a history of abuse and violence. Reports from his marriage expose him for being extremely violent against ex-wife Madonna, who was even hospitalized after allegedly being hit in the head with a baseball bat by Penn. Madonna refused to press charges on her husband and has since denied the allocations against Penn.

After the interview, many people took to Twitter to defend the #MeToo movement. Author Whitney Cummings tweeted, “Hey Sean Penn, #MeToo isn’t about ‘dividing men and women.’ Spacey preyed on boys, [Terry Crews] was assaulted by a man, and 100,000 boys worldwide have been assaulted by male priests. This is about any kind of abuse of power. Bye, dude.”

Another Twitter user tweeted, “Remember: Instead of asking Sean Penn about domestic, you could ask… anyone else.”

Many Twitter users just took the simple approach of, “Sean Penn is canceled.”

Ultimately, this case seems to be bothering people because of the pure hypocrisy of the comments. For one, Penn has been reported as a known abuser in the past. On top of this, this seems to be another case of “privileged white man has a lot to say about something that doesn’t directly affect him.” Similar to as when men comment on abortion rights or the gender wage gap, comments like this just seem a little bit less relevant.

Penn completely missed the point of the movement, as the #MeToo movement is not to divide women and men, but to unite victims of sexual assault and abuse. Whether it be men or women, all victims should feel less alone. The only reason Penn feels as though it “divides” women and men is because statistically more men in Hollywood are being accused of sexual assault. So instead of blaming the women for creating a “divide,” Penn should be blaming the men for assaulting in the first place.

Rebecca Crosby, American University

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Rebecca Crosby

American University


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