In the New York Times, actress Mayim Bialik weighed in on the Harvey Weinstein saga by detailing her own experience with the culture of Hollywood — one that differs from that of many of her peers.
It’s okay that Bialik’s experience is unique. Every woman’s is, and valid to boot. What’s not okay is Bialik’s fundamental misunderstanding of how harassment works — a misunderstanding that makes the piece careen into victim-blaming territory.
“I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise,” Bialik writes. “I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.”
She then connects these choices — as well as her refusal to adhere to Hollywood’s beauty standards — with the fact that she “has almost no personal experience with men asking [her] to meeting in their hotel rooms” (an obvious allusion to Weinstein’s abuses). Whether intended or not, the insinuation is clear: Bialik has evaded harm because of her own choices.
It’s a dangerous and irresponsible connection. Contrary to Bialik’s implications, it’s not just “doe-eyed” women with personal trainers who experience harassment. It’s all of us.
In the days since the Weinstein allegations surfaced, one of the narratives that’s emerged is that nearly every woman has a story of harassment, abuse, or misconduct — even if she hasn’t shared it.
This narrative hasn’t emerged because it’s a bunch of hot air. It’s emerged because nearly every woman has a story of harassment, abuse, or misconduct. And to imply otherwise is to erase victims who don’t fit the “Hollywood mold” — including women who made the same “self-protecting” choices as Bialik but were abused anyway.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with Bialik’s lived experiences. She has the inherent right to dress, believe, and behave how she pleases. And she’s certainly not responsible for the toxic, profiteering culture in Hollywood.
But neither is Asia Argento. Neither is Gwyneth Paltrow, or Angelina Jolie. Or Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. Or Rose McGowan. Or any of the women who are made to feel small by their abuse-ridden industries every single day.
Misogyny’s a monster — by now, that’s as crystal-clear as ever. But the impetus to defeat it isn’t on its victims.
It’s on the men.
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