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Harvey Weinstein: Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik accused of 'victim blaming' in New York Times op-ed

Actress was branded 'mean-spirited' for the piece about disgraced film mogul where she appeared to imply that clothing and behaviour could invite sexual assault

Roisin O'Connor
Sunday 15 October 2017 10:48
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Harvey Weinstein: The celebrities who have accused him of sexual misconduct so far

The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik has attracted fierce criticism for an op-ed she penned about the multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment made against Harvey Weinstein.

Writing for the New York Times, which broke the story of the allegations against Weinstein, Bialik said that although she was “shocked and disgusted” by the accusations, she was not surprised.

“I quickly learned even as a preteen actress that young girls with doe eyes and pouty lips who spoke in a high register were favoured for roles by the powerful men who made those decisions,” Bialik wrote.

She went on to claim the choices she makes today that she deems to be “self-protecting and wise.”

“I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with,” she said. “I dress modestly. I don't act flirtatiously with men as a policy.”

The piece sparked an immediate backlash from critics on social media who said Bialik was implying that a conservative wardrobe and modest behaviour could protect someone from sexual assault.

They also pointed out that she appeared to have ignored how the central motive behind sexual assault and harassment is power, not sexual desire.

Others denounced her for apparently demonizing women based on how closely they met typical standards of beauty in Hollywood, and suggesting they invited harassment because of their looks.

“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 meeting in their hotel rooms,” Bialik continued.

“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.”

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In response to the backlash Bialik posted a statement on her official Twitter account which said: "I [also] see a bunch of people have taken my words out of context and twisted them to imply that God forbid I would blame a woman for her assault based on her clothing or behaviour. Anyone who knows me and my feminism knows that's absurd and not at all what this piece was about.

"It's sad how vicscious people are being when I basically live to make things better for women. I am doing a Facebook live with the NYT Monday morning. Let's discuss then."

Bialik's op-ed was published barely a week after fashion designer Donna Karan's controversial comments about whether women are “asking for it” based on how they dress and their behaviour.

Karan later claimed her comments had been taken "out of context" and apologised for any offence caused.

Weinstein has so-far been accused of rape by four women. Dozens of other Hollywood women have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

In his most recent statement, Weinstein apologised for having "caused a lot of pain" but denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

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