Rose McGowan is one of the more polarizing figures within the #MeToo movement. For one thing, she’ll call out some of her fellow activists, like Alyssa Milano. Then there’s her presentation. She’s unpolished, and unapologetic about it. She doesn’t always choose to hide her anger, and at times, it’s not a choice. It just bursts out.
The second episode of her show CITIZEN ROSE just aired, and she continues to emphasize that trauma isn’t pretty, and it isn’t over. She can’t always contain it; nor can she be contained. Continuing to fight while hurt is a truly heroic endeavor, and I’m grateful to her.
CITIZEN ROSE is powerful. It’s important. But is it recommended viewing for those who’ve been through trauma? Not necessarily.
Watching the show is a visceral experience, and frequently uncomfortable. At times, it just feels too intimate; her pain is evident in nearly every frame. But that’s not accidental, and discomfort can be an education.
She often breaks down; she cries; she rages. Sometimes she lashes out, like in the clip that circulated a few months back about her snapping at a transgendered woman who was challenging her at a book reading.
That’s what people can look like when they’re re-triggered. She is doing her best to channel it into activism and advocacy, but sometimes it bleeds out nonetheless.
For those who’ve experienced trauma themselves, it might be too much. If you’re watching for an example of healing, to see yourself in her, this might not be the show for you. She is a role model in that she so clearly feels the fear and does things anyway, which is bravery, but it’s also incredibly destructive to her personally. She’s been vindicated by #MeToo–everyone knows now that she wasn’t crazy when she was detailing Harvey Weinstein’s decade long persecution of her–and yet, she is not healed.
If you’ve been thinking that what’s needed is some degree of justice in order to heal, then you might be disappointed. Justice can be helpful, for some it might feel necessary, but it’s not sufficient. It’s one of the awful truths of trauma: Others harm you, and you have to do the emotional work to get better. That unfairness is part of the anger you likely feel, and will have to process.
The show might also cause you to feel pressure to use your trauma to help others. And if you feel strong enough to do so, that could be very worthwhile. But avoid feeling pressured toward activism. You don’t need to read every #MeToo story; you don’t need to tell your own, not if it’s to your detriment. Someday, it might feel like part of your healing, but if you’re not ready, it can be a retraumatizing. You could be triggering yourself.
Remember that the #MeToo moment has become so much more than that; it’s become a full-fledged movement, and more and more industries are feeling the pressure. We’re a society in flux, and more people are realizing that there are no bystanders. More good men are stepping up. So there’s no rush, even if there is urgency.
The time is now, and the time is later. Focus on your healing. Remember that it will be incomplete, in that every one of us continues to live with our raw spots and our vulnerabilities. If we keep trying and fighting, those can actually become part of our strength.