Anthony Bourdain, who died today at age 61, became an unlikely #MeToo advocate after his girlfriend, Asia Argento, publicly accused embattled movie producer Harvey Weinstein of rape.
Bourdain was a well-known advocate of the voiceless and spoke out for years for the rights and safety of kitchen workers and minorities in the restaurant industry. This made it somewhat of a natural pivot to becoming a real supporter of the #MeToo movement, particularly through Argento’s connection, says The Daily Beast.
In speaking with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show, Bourdain said he was saddened to realize how many women in his industry had their own experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault and didn’t feel that they could come to him.
“I came out of a brutal, oppressive business that was historically unfriendly to women. I knew a lot of women, it turned out, who had stories about their experiences—about people I knew—who did not feel I was the sort of person they could confide in.”
He explained that through his relationship with Argento, women in his life started “opening up to him” about their own trauma. Bourdain says he started speaking on the topic himself from “a sense of real rage.”
Primarily, because of his close relationship with Argento, this topic became very personal, but he was reluctant to accept praise for embracing it.
“I’d like to say that I was only enlightened in some way or I’m an activist or virtuous, but in fact, I have to be honest with myself. I met one extraordinary woman with an extraordinary and painful story, who introduced me to a lot of other women with extraordinary stories and suddenly it was personal.”
Bourdain said that more than anything, the #MeToo movement made him ask himself some serious, hard questions about his own behavior in reference to interactions with women in and out of the restaurant industry. He felt that a lot of men, including himself, were in the process of reexamining their lives and questioning things they had seen and not reported or allowed to happen around them. Bourdain said that he is merciless when addressing people and other chefs he admired about their potential crimes.
“I’m not in a forgiving state of mind. I mean, that s**t ain’t OK.”
Anthony Bourdain was open, honest, and blunt when speaking about issues surrounding the #MeToo movement, says Newsweek. He publicly praised Argento for her bravery in coming forward with her story of assault.
“I am proud and honored to know you,” Bourdain tweeted to Argento in October. “You just did the hardest thing in the world.” He added, “Can we use the word ‘rapist’ now? #Weinstein.”
Anthony Bourdain was found dead today of apparent suicide in Strasbourg, France. He was 61-years-old and is survived by his teen daughter, Ariane.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.