Since news broke that Harvey Weinstein paid off sexual harassment accusers for years, women continue coming forward with stories of mistreatment, and those within Hollywood are still grappling with the magnitude of the case. In the midst of it all, Mayim Bialik wrote an op-ed for The New York Times titled "Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World." But women didn't have the response you might expect from the headline.
The Big Bang Theory actress explained that she was never "the pretty girl" and didn't fit in with others in the industry. She claimed her prominent-nosed, geeky appearance, along with her modest clothes and actions, kept her from being sexually harassed at work.
"As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms," Bialik wrote. "Those of us in Hollywood who don’t represent an impossible standard of beauty have the 'luxury' of being overlooked and, in many cases, ignored by men in power unless we can make them money."
The 41-year-old went on to explain that she makes "self-protecting and wise" choices every day. "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 said.
Many women saw her narrative as victim-blaming, including fellow actress Patricia Arquette, who tweeted at Bialik: "I have to say I was dressed non provocatively at 12 walking home from school when men masturbated at me. It's not the clothes."
Bialik did acknowledge that women should be able to wear whatever they want without fear of harassment. But, she said in the op-ed, "Our world isn’t perfect. Nothing — absolutely nothing — excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can’t be naïve about the culture we live in."
Regardless, women on Twitter pointed out to Bialik that 1) you don't have to be "hot" to be harassed or assaulted and 2) women shouldn't be blamed for what they were wearing when harassed.
Some also explained that sexual assault isn't about looks — it's about power.
Overall, women online were pretty furious about Bialik's article.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Bialik claimed people had taken her words "out of the 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 also announced she'll be doing a Facebook live with The Times Monday morning. She wrote, "Let's discuss it then."
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