The MeToo movement lost a fierce supporter in Anthony Bourdain, whose girlfriend Asia Argento accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault

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  • Celebrity chef and host of CNN’s “Parts Unknown” Anthony Bourdain was found dead of an apparent suicide Friday morning.
  • Bourdain was a fierce supporter of the MeToo movement.
  • His girlfriend, Italian actress Asia Argento, accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault in a New Yorker expose.
  • After the report, Bourdain expressed regret about not speaking out more about harassment, even within the restaurant industry.
  • He regularly tweeted in support of Argento and other women, and reflected on what more he could do to be an ally in numerous interviews.

The MeToo movement lost a fierce supporter in celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who was found dead Friday morning of an apparent suicide in his hotel room in France.

Bourdain, who hosted CNN’s “Parts Unknown,” had been dating Italian actress Asia Argento for over a year. Argento was among numerous women to accuse former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault or harassment last year in a New Yorker expose, which helped spark the MeToo movement that has brought allegations against powerful men like Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, and Charlie Rose.

After Argento told The New Yorker that Weinstein had “forcibly performed oral sex on her” in 1997, Bourdain became an outspoken proponent of her and other victims of sexual misconduct who came forward as part of the MeToo movement. After the report in October, Bourdain tweeted at Argento, saying “I am proud and honored to know you. You just did the hardest thing in the world.” He followed up that tweet with another that said “Can we use the word rapist now? #Weinstein.”

Bourdain tweeted many times after that in support of Argento. Most recently, he tweeted about Weinstein’s arrest in May, in which Weinstein turned himself in to New York police and was charged with rape, criminal sex conduct act, sex abuse, and sexual misconduct against two of his over 70 accusers.

Bourdain tweeted on May 25, “When you went on record, @AsiaArgento you were sure this day would never come, that you would be crushed, that you were alone. And yet you did it anyway. #perpwalk.”

Following the New Yorker report, Bourdain expressed guilt about not speaking out more about sexual misconduct, even in his own industry. In October, he spoke to Slate about harassment in the restaurant industry, and what more he could do. At the time, New Orleans chef John Besh had stepped away from the restaurants he owned amid harassment claims.

“I’m angry and I’ve seen it up close and I’ve been hearing firsthand from a lot of women,” Bourdain told Slate. “Also, I guess I’m looking back on my own life. I’m looking back on my own career and before, and for all these years women did not speak to me.”

He continued: “I’ve been hearing a lot of really bad sh–, frankly, and in many cases it’s like, wow, I’ve known some of these women and I’ve known women who’ve had stories like this for years and they have said nothing to me. What is wrong with me? What have I, how have I presented myself in such a way as to not give confidence, or why was I not the sort of person people would see as a natural ally here? So I started looking at that.”

In December, chef Mario Batali was accused of sexual misconduct and stepped away from his businesses. Following this report, Bourdain responded on Twitter to fellow celebrity chef Allison Robicelli that he was “feeling sick and guilty as f–k I hadn’t heard them before,” referring to stories of sexual misconduct.

Bourdain took to Medium to share more thoughts on the subject in December. In a post titled “On Reacting to Bad News,” Bourdain defended women who came forward, writing, “Women risk a crushing level of public scepticism, vilification, shaming, and retribution. They have nothing to gain, and everything to lose.”

“Right now, nothing else matters but women’s stories of what it’s like in the industry I have loved and celebrated for nearly 30 years - and our willingness, as human beings, citizens, men and women alike, to hear them out, fully, and in a way that other women can feel secure enough, and have faith enough that they, too, can tell their stories,” he went on.

Bourdain continued to express regret this year about not speaking out more prior to the MeToo movement. In January, while appearing on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” Bourdain said that he “came out of a brutal, oppressive business that was historically unfriendly to women.”

“I started speaking about it out of a sense of real rage,” he told Noah. “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 [Argento] with an extraordinary and painful story, who introduced me to a lot of other women with extraordinary stories and suddenly it was personal.”

Bourdain’s advocacy for the women of the MeToo movement led him to butt heads with Alec Baldwin on Twitter in November. When Baldwin tweeted at Argento in November, “If you paint every man w the same brush, you’re gonna run out of paint or men,” Bourdain responded with, “You are really too dumb to pour p— out of a boot.”

Bourdain told The Daily Beast in April that his advice for Baldwin regarding MeToo would be to, “Just shut up.” Despite this, Bourdain always seemed more concerned with self-reflection than beefs, and being an ally to women more than an enemy to other men like Baldwin. In the same Daily Beast interview, Bourdain once again expressed appreciation for Argento and her fellow accusers.

“When someone you care about and respect, you see them struggle to go on the record – the incredible difficulty of going public about something, and the very real peril at the time – it changes you,” Bourdain said.

He continued: “I would love to tell you that I had all along been enlightened, but I was not. It was personal, it was emotional, and it was life-changing. I can only say that I’m honored and grateful to learn and be inspired by these women.”

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