What McGowan has experienced over the past few years illustrates an uncomfortable reality: People who speak out publicly about instances of assault and abuse do so at a substantial cost. The cultural microscope they’re put under exposes every personal foible, every biographical blip, every vulnerability. If they appear erratic, or act in ways that don’t seem to conform to long-standing ideas about victimhood, the response is often to doubt their overall credibility rather than to consider how their behavior might be affected by trauma and stress.
In McGowan’s case, her impulsive and outspoken use of social media has often been fuel for those who seek to dismiss her. Last week—the week before Weinstein’s trial began—she tweeted about the U.S.’s killing of the Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and her own voting preferences, bewildering critics on both the left and the right. On Instagram a few hours earlier, McGowan had alluded to the toll the news cycle was taking on her mental health, but as her name briefly trended on Twitter, few commentators seemed to consider her frame of mind.