In a disgusting exchange on live television, Jimmy Bennett – who claimed Asia Argento sexually assaulted him – was ridiculed to his face by a journalist who made the dangerously false claim that a ‘woman cannot rape a man.’
The comments made by Massimo Giletti, 56, on the Italian program Non e l’Arean (“Outside The Arena”) while he interviewed Jimmy Bennett, 22, were repulsive, but considering how sexual abuse survivors are often treated when they come forward, they are not that surprising. Jimmy, who claimed Asia Argento sexually assaulted him in 2013 when he was 17, appeared on Massimo’s show on Sept. 23. The host — “a sort of Italian Anderson Cooper” per The Daily Beast — mocked Jimmy’s accusations. “It’s difficult to believe a woman can rape a man, an act of sex that is complete cannot be rape surely,’ Massimo said.
When Massimo brought up the now-viral photo of Jimmy and Asia in bed, presumably after they had sex, he mocked Jimmy further. “I’m sorry, but you don’t seem upset. You don’t seem in this picture to be traumatized,” the host said. “You don’t look here like someone who was afraid.” The audience, shockingly, broke into applause, and Jimmy realized that this interview was more of a public stoning than a chance for him to plead his case.
Jimmy’s lawyer, Gordon Sattro, who was by his side for this ordeal, asked the audience if they would have applauded if a woman had said she had been raped. “How can they interpret what was going on in his mind,” his attorney said. “Or what was in his heart, just because of his gender?” Considering that the Italian press skewered Asia’s allegations that Harvey Weinstein orally raped her by saying it was “hardly a crime,” according to The Daily Beast, it’s safe to say – yeah, they may have laughed if Jimmy was a woman.
Jimmy detailed the alleged encounter with Asia on the program, saying that after flirting online, they agreed to meet at he Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Marina del Rey, California. “The first thing that happened was her offering me champagne. And she went to play music on a record player that she had and she smoked a cigarette. And she told me about a film she had in mind. She wanted me to be in it,” Jimmy said. “It had started when I first got into the room. There was a lot of kissing and her grabbing my face… “
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 24, 2018
“My interpretation was that maybe it was a way of her showing me affection. After the kisses started getting longer and it started with her placing her hands in different ways. Following that was when she pushed me onto the bed and took my pants off and undid my belt,” he added.
Sexual Victimization Perpetrated by Women: Federal Data Reveal Surprising Prevalence, a peer-reviewed paper co-authored with Andrew Flores and Ilan Meyer, surveyed data in the National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Justice statistics, according to The Atlantic. After analyzing data gathered from 2010-2103, the authors “found female perpetrators acting without male co-perpetrators were reported in 28 percent of rape or sexual assault incidents involving male victims.” While this is just one source reporting on sexual victimization by women, it and subsequent research should challenge Massimo’s “difficulty” in believing a woman can rape a man.
“I was worried about coming in front of an audience and being accused of not being sincere about the violence against me,” Jimmy said on Non e l’Arean. “After this, that’s why I chose the silent route. I was right.”