Amid the news about Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment of dozens of women — and three women accusing him of rape — Mayim Bialik wrote an essay about sexual harassment for The New York Times. The piece was titled "Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein's World," but the Big Bang Theory star faced backlash from many feminists for her choice of words in the piece.
Bialik's essay was about her own experience in the industry, but some people saw her phrasing as victim-blaming towards sexual assault survivors. She responded to the backlash with a tweet on Sunday, before further clarifying her remarks in a Facebook live video, posted on The New York Times' Opinion Facebook page, on Monday.
The Facebook Live video included a conversation between Bialik and New York Times editor Bari Weiss. During the interview, Bialik emphasized that those responsible for sexual harassment are the "predators," not the survivors. She also reiterated that she wanted to talk about her own experience in Hollywood, not sexual harassment on the whole.
"I was not looking to speak about assault and rape in general," Bialik said during the Facebook Live video. Instead, she explained, she wanted to address the "culture of Hollywood" and how women are encouraged to present themselves in that culture, in her experience. The actress also noted that while she considers herself a "bleeding-heart liberal," she's also a "social conservative."
And for Bialik, she feels "protected" while keeping some aspects of herself and her life private. Still, she emphasized that harassment and assault are the fault of their perpetrators and that how someone dresses has nothing to do with harassment.
Bialik also believes she has more in common with her critics than they might think. Like her detractors, she explained, she wants to create "a place where women are safe" and can wear what they want to wear, without judgment or fear. When Weiss asked Bialik who some of her inspirations within the industry are, the actress cited Rachel Bloom, Iliza Shlesinger, and Wil Wheaton, as well as her own manager and publicist.
If you're interested in hearing more about Bialik's viewpoints, she also teased that she has a book forthcoming that will explore boys' responsibility in the discussion about harassment.
"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. 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," Bialik wrote in the essay. "I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. 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."
Patricia Arquette tweeted at Bialik that she was sexually harassed when she was just 12 years old (and "dressed non provocatively"). Gabrielle Union also tweeted that she was raped while working at Payless, while wearing "a long tunic and leggings."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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