We’ve seen plenty of powerful op-ed pieces popping up from voices in Hollywood in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Sarah Polley and Lena Dunham both wrote essays for The New York Times, but none seems to have sparked as much attention as The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik’s.
In a piece titled Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World written by the mother of two, the former Blossom star made several comments that has Twitter up in arms.
After describing at length how she has always felt out of place and less physically adequate than her peers in the industry (“I was always aware that I was out of step with the expected norm for girls and women in Hollywood”), Bialik had many raising their brows when she implied that it was her very unwillingness to fit into society’s standards of beauty that protected her from such atrocities as those described by Weinstein’s victims.
“I have also experienced the upside of not being a ‘perfect ten,’” she wrote. “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.”
The line sparked offense in many, who saw her comments as suggestive of the idea that feminism can’t co-exist with interest in beauty. “Since when does being a strong, independent feminist equate to homeliness?” one reader wrote.
Bialik went on to say that she has made the choices to dress “modestly” and not act “flirtatiously” outside of “private situations with those I am most intimate with,” decisions she called “self-protecting and wise.”
While she conceded in the piece that women SHOULDN’T have to think about their clothing choices or demeanor with regard to safety, she feels we still must. “I am entirely aware that these types of choices might feel oppressive to many young feminists. Women should be able to wear whatever they want. They should be able to flirt however they want with whomever they want. Why are we the ones who have to police our behavior?” she wrote. “In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But 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.”
People were not here for the suggestion that to cover up would prevent the heinous actions of a predator.
Bialik has since responded to the backlash with a statement. “I’m being told my NY Times piece resonated with so many and I am beyond grateful for all the feedback. I also see a bunch of people have taken my words out of 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. Anyone who knows me and my feminism knows that’s absurd and not at all what this piece was about. It’s so sad how vicious people are being when I basically live to make things better for women. I am doing a Facebook live with the NY Times Monday morning. Let’s discuss it then.”
She’ll certainly have plenty to talk about!
What did you think of Mayim’s words? Share with us over @BritandCo.
(Photo via Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)