Sexual abuse is serious. Anthony Rapp's accusation against Kevin Spacey may serve his career but it will do little to halt the sexual abuse of women - because it sets up a false equivalency. By raising this issue at this particular time, Rapp's abuse inevitably becomes part of the #MeToo campaign, implying that Harvey Weinsten and Kevin Spacey are somehow comparable.
They are not.
Harvey Weinstein is a rich white heterosexual man. Heterosexism gives him the power and in fact congratulates him on 'conquering' women. Kevin Spacey is a rich white homosexual man. He was in the closet until Anthony Rapp 'outed' him without Spacey's consent. (Rumours about Spacey's homosexual orientation were inflamed after an Esquire article in 1997. Spacey moved to London in order to avoid Hollywood homophobia.)
Gay men are part of an maligned and hated minority. Queer youth are still afraid to come out to their parents; Gay/Straight Alliances are still contentious issues in high schools. The fact that Rapp was abused by a closeted gay man doesn't excuse Spacey's actions. But if we really wish to fight the abuse of women then we must dare to be unforgivingly critical of heterosexual culture and stop making false equivalencies. We must come to the painful understanding that male abuse of women is rooted in heterosexual sexism which can no longer be tolerated; it is not simply a universal problem that everyone faces on daily basis.
Why did Anthony Rapp out Kevin Spacey in this manner? It's important to note that Rapp himself is not fully out. He's been playing the same game Spacey has been playing for years - because like all gay actors in Hollywood, he is frightened by homophobia in the entertainment industry. He has been quoted as saying "I have been in loving relationships with men . . . I haven't said 'I am gay.'" Rapp wants us to know that, unlike the 'gay' Spacey (meaning the lecherous, profligate Spacey), he is a good person (which means a loving, not very sexual person). And, let's face it, Rapp is obviously quite thrilled to be famous. And like so many gay men today, he wants everyone to know that though he may not be straight, he is just the same as every straight person in practically every way.
Well, he's not; he is part of a very different culture : gay culture.
I was told recently by one of my students that young straight men these days actually speak of female sexual conquests as "kills."
We might think about the implications of that.
And forget about the opportunistic Mr. Anthony Rapp.