Update: Ashley Judd has expanded on comments she made on on the BBC World News program HARDtalk, taking to her blog to explain the limits of binary thinking, and how she can believe the women who have come forward with accusations against James Franco while also commending the way he's responded to the allegations.
"I believe the women who have accused James Franco. They have my unequivocal, fierce support and love," she wrote, later adding, "I also believe that elements of his statement are hopeful (not the entire statement), specifically his expressed desire to set right all harms done and to make restitution. Time will tell if he does these things."
She clarified that his apology doesn't have meaning if his actions don't match his words, but that we have to move on from wanting people to "stay wrong so that we can stay right."
Original story follows.
According to a report by The Los Angeles Times, five women have accused James Franco of "inappropriate or sexually exploitative behavior." The actor, who won a Golden Globe for The Disaster Artist while wearing a Time's Up pin for sexual harassment awareness, has denied the allegations through his lawyer, and responded to them during an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
After being unable to name an incident in which he hurt Ally Sheedy, an actress he directed in an off-Broadway play and whom namechecked him on Twitter during the Golden Globes before deleting her tweets, Franco told Colbert:
"Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I’ve done... I have to do that to maintain my wellbeing. I do it whenever I know that there’s something wrong or needs to be changed...The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out...because they didn’t have a voice for so long. I don’t want to shut them down in anyway. It's, I think, a good thing and I support it."
Now, in an interview with Stephen Sakur, which will air this coming Sunday at 11:30 p.m. on the BBC World News program HARDtalk, activist and actress Judd has applauded Franco's comments. Judd, who was one of the first women to publicly accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, stated during her interview:
"I think that what James said is terrific. And I think that we’ve all behaved — at a certain level — unconsciously, and done things that were insensitive, inappropriate, without necessarily understanding that they were. I mean we’ve all operated with a certain amount of tone-deafness, and I like the culpability, and we have to have restorative justice. This is about men and women being all together and having a more equitable and just workplace, home life, social spaces."
It's certainly important that Franco confronted the rumors against him, rather than shutting down the conversation or insinuating that the women who spoke out were lying. Still, words are just that: We have no idea what actions Franco is taking in order to correct his potentially problematic behavior, or made amends with the women whom he has allegedly hurt.
There is no rulebook for the accused to follow, but it's worth wondering if even the most well-meaning of words will ever be enough.
Refinery29 has reached out to representatives for Judd and Franco. We will update the post should they have any additional statements.
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).