The actress was accused of blaming women for being sexually harassed
After facing mounting criticism in response to her recent New York Times op-ed, Mayim Bialik has issued a strong response.
In her piece “Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World,” the Big Bang Theory actress described the hidden blessing of being an “average-looking” person in Hollywood, indicating that her “nontraditional” appearance for the industry helped her avoid harassment from men like Weinstein, who has been accused by dozens of women on-the-record of sexual assault and abuse. (Weinstein has denied allegations of non-consensual sex, while acknowledging that his behavior has “caused a lot of pain.”)
“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,” Bialik wrote. “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 concluded the essay with a particularly divisive passage. “In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want,” she wrote. “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.”
In a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday evening, Bialik clarified her stance as a steadfast supporter of women. She also noted that many have reached out to her in support of the piece, and lamented that some readers “twisted” her words and took them out of context. “It’s so sad how vicious people are being when I basically live to make things better for women,” she wrote. “I am doing a Facebook live with the N.Y. Times Monday morning. Let’s discuss it then.”
After her Times piece was published, Bialik drew swift condemnation by many on social media, who read the piece as implicitly blaming women for men’s abusive behavior — at one point, Bialik wrote that she doesn’t “flirt with men as a policy” — and indicating that sexual predators tend to leave women who do not dress in revealing clothing alone. Among those to call Bialik out was Oscar winner Patricia Arquette, who relayed her own experience with sexual harassment when she was just 12 years old.