On Friday, The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik wrote an op-ed for The New York Times about the sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein and being a woman in Hollywood. Her column sparked controversy as some women on social media felt that Bialik was blaming victims instead of the alleged perpetrator or otherwise just missing the point. But Bialik's response to her op-ed on Weinstein shows that she feels her piece might have been taken out of context.
Sallie Hofmeister, a representative for Weinstein, told Romper in a statement that the movie mogul denies the allegations made against him, a similar response her team had released earlier in the week:
Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.
Despite Weinstein's denial, Bialik was just one of many celebs who released statements about the allegations, although her op-ed had a different spin to it. In The New York Times, Bialik reflected that she had "experienced the upside of not being a "perfect ten," and that men in Hollywood largely overlooked her because of her unconventional beauty.
She added in her piece that she always took "conservative roles" and that she thought women couldn't be "naive" about the world they occupy, which is why she always tried to be conscious of what she wore and said to around men. According to The New York Times, Bialik wrote, "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 added that she was lucky she never had to go to a "casting couch" to feel "stunning, irresistible and worthy of attention, respect and love," according to the op-ed.
On Twitter, many took issue with her position, alleging that she was victim-blaming or positing that women who didn't take conservative roles or looked a certain way were "asking for it" somehow.
Bialik released a statement on social media on Saturday night, responding to the criticism of her op-ed saying that a "bunch of people" took her words out of context "of the Hollywood machine" and "twisted them to imply that God forbid I would blame a woman for her assault based on her clothing or behavior." She continued:
Anyone who knows me and my feminism knows that's absurd and not at all what this piece was about. It's so sad how vicious people are being when I basically live to make things better for women. I am doing a Facebook live with the N.Y. Times Monday morning. Let's discuss it then.
For many of her fans, her perceived stance in the op-ed was sort of surprising, since Bialik is very vocal about standing up for women's equality. But, it's important to note that the paragraphs about being "conservative" or insinuating that women who aren't a "perfect ten" aren't harassed or abused is very dangerous.
Bialik didn't stop with an op-ed, though. In addition to writing this week, she also made a video for her social media accounts about talking to her sons, 9 and 12 years old, about "How Not To Raise Sons Like Harvey Weinstein." In the video, she says that she was "outraged" by the alleged cover up of the allegations against Weinstein but that she wasn't "shocked."
Instead, she was thinking more about whether or not her "lack of trust in men that her parents instilled" in her serve her well for raising sons. It's tricky. In the video, she said that she thinks she's already doing some things to ensure she's raising feminists, like teaching her boys that all genders are equal. She said that she also teaches her boys to speak up:
You are responsible for where you are. If you are in a place where there are bad things going on, leave and report it... It is your responsibility to protect a man or a woman that you see in a dangerous situation. Get out, get help, call the police. That's on you.
She added that she will advise her sons to not go to places where people pay to have sex (although she skips over how some men and women are consensual sex workers) and that they should steer clear of people doing alcohol and drugs.
Bialik added that she also teaches her boys about consent. "If you don't want to be touched — even by your own mother — you have a right to not be touched, absolutely, no exceptions," she added in the video.
Between her op-ed and this video about teaching sons to "not be like" sexual predators, Bialik's definitely offered up a lot to think about in terms of the allegations against Weinstein, the reported cover-up throughout the decades, and this damaging culture as a whole. And if anything, the conversation is not a simple one to have, whether it's among other adults or with your children.
Come Monday, hopefully she can clarify some of the points people found issue with from her op-ed and video.
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