In early October, a revolution of sorts began when The New York Times and The New Yorker published damning reports that detailed decades of alleged sexual misconduct committed by Harvey Weinstein, ranging from harassment to rape. It sparked an avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations against powerful men in Hollywood, Washington, D.C., newsrooms, and beyond. Women and men everywhere began tweeting #MeToo, sharing stories they'd kept secret for years.
The fact that sexual misconduct and abuse of power is so widespread is hardly surprising. The most notable aspect of this movement is that, for the first time, alleged victims are being given the benefit of the doubt. High-powered men are either resigning or being fired from their positions. But in an op-ed published in The Los Angeles Times today, Woody Allen's daughter Dylan Farrow points out that there's one glaring exception: her father.
Farrow has maintained for years that Allen sexually assaulted her when she was only 7 years old. (Allen denies the allegation.) As she points out in her op-ed, three adults corroborated Farrow's account under oath. Furthermore, Litchfield County state attorney Frank Maco publicly stated there was "probable cause" to charge Allen with Farrow's assault, but he chose not to because he believed testifying in court would traumatise her.
"From allegations against studio heads and journalists, to hotel maids recounting abuses on the job, women are exposing the truth and men are losing their jobs. But the revolution has been selective," Farrow writes, noting that Allen's latest movie Wonder Wheel is out soon.
If there was any controversy surrounding the film's release, I certainly missed it. Like Weinstein and the myriad other men who have been accused of sexual misconduct, Allen hasn't been found guilty in a court of law — but the allegation against him is incredibly serious and it's far from baseless. Farrow's question is completely fair: If the new normal is "Believe Survivors," why isn't this standard being applied to Allen?
She points out that Kate Winslet, Blake Lively, and Greta Gerwig have all taken a strong stand against Weinstein but have sidestepped questions about Allen, saying they don't have much knowledge of the accusation (details of the case are easily accessible) and they were simply doing their jobs by working with him.
"The truth is hard to deny but easy to ignore. It breaks my heart when women and men I admire work with Allen, then refuse to answer questions about it," Farrow writes, adding that she's grateful to the women who have taken a stand against her father. "It meant the world to me when Ellen Page said she regretted working with Allen, and when actresses Jessica Chastain and Susan Sarandon told the world why they never would."
Many of us feel understandably optimistic that powerful men like Weinstein are finally facing consequences for their alleged actions. But Farrow's op-ed is an important reminder that the fight to believe survivors is far from over, and exceptions are still being made for people like her father.
"It isn’t just power that allows men accused of sexual abuse to keep their careers and their secrets. It is also our collective choice to see simple situations as complicated and obvious conclusions as a matter of 'who can say?'" she writes in conclusion. "The system worked for Harvey Weinstein for decades. It works for Woody Allen still."
As we boycott the work of powerful men accused of sexual misconduct, it's worth asking ourselves: Are we applying the same standard to all of the accused?
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.