Mayim Bialik's advice that pretty actresses should "dress modestly" and not "flirt" with producers if they want to avoid abuse has a lot of feminist critics up in arms.
"Big Bang Theory" star Mayim Bialik has called criticism from feminists "vicious" and "absurd" after receiving a heap of backlash over her New York Times Harvey Weinstein op-ed, which many perceived as "victim blaming."
In the article published this past Friday, the brainy, Emmy-winning actress talked about her experience with sexism in Hollywood as a "prominent-nosed, awkward, geeky, Jewish 11-year-old."
"Back then we didn’t have the internet or social media or reality TV, but I didn’t need any of that to understand that I didn’t look or act like other girls in my industry, and that I was immersing myself in a business that rewarded physical beauty and sex appeal above all else," she wrote.
She said that "young girls with doe eyes and pouty lips" were often favored for roles by powerful men like Weinstein, an observation that led her to consider plastic surgery to help her career.
The op-ed took a controversial turn, however, when she wrote: "I have also experienced the upside of not being a 'perfect ten.' 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. [...] I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don't act flirtatiously with men as a policy."
"In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want," she added. "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."
A lot of feminist critics felt that Bialik was implying that Weinstein's victims were partly to blame because they looked or dressed a certain way, with some even wondering if Bialik secretly felt this was payback for "pretty" actresses who were favored over her.
It is also not outrageous for anyone to expected to be treated in a professional matter by anyone in a professional relationship.— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) October 14, 2017
Lots wrong with Mayim Bialik's op-ed but one quick thing: Being an awkward girl with a big nose never protected me from harassment. https://t.co/C0oA7zxAab— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) October 14, 2017
The schadenfruede that Mayim Bialik seems to have over the fact that she thinks that only pretty girls are sexually assaulted is gross— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) October 15, 2017
This is horrendous victim-blaming bullshit identical to “wear hijab so that men respect you & don’t rape you” https://t.co/qkG9XHllAC— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) October 14, 2017
"I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly." This is disgusting. @missmayim is placing blame on victims and forgetting that rape and assault are about power, not about desire. https://t.co/gVFoct2QyQ— wikipedia brown (@eveewing) October 14, 2017
Sad it still needs to be said: people who look, dress all kinds of ways are also sexually assaulted or harassed. https://t.co/KR074UPKS6— Irin Carmon (@irin) October 14, 2017
This bullshit speak of women like her is same bullshit I hear from judgy fellow Muslim women telling me: ‘wear hijab’ 4 protection - #GoAway— Yasmin A. Choudhury (@yasminisyasmin) October 15, 2017
Ugh I finally read that Mayim Bialik piece blaming women for not dressing modestly.— Scary Feminist Zoe🐟 (@ZoeSTodd) October 15, 2017
When I was assaulted I was wearing very 'modest' clothing. It's not about the clothes, Mayim. Yeesh.
To be honest, Mayim Bialik has far more hardline views on women and sexuality than some of the religious police I spoke to in Saudi Arabia.— sarah amy harvard (@amyharvard_) October 15, 2017
Bialik responded on Twitter Saturday night, saying "a bunch of people have taken my words out of the 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."
She said she would discuss the issue further during a Facebook Live event with the New York Times on Monday.