Mayim Bialik Responds to Victim-Blaming Backlash

Mayim Bialik was applauded for her October 11 Facebook video explaining why her sons won’t grow up to be like Harvey Weinstein. But her New York Times op-ed published two days later wasn’t as well received. In the essay titled “Being a Feminist In Harvey Weinstein’s World,” the Big Bang Theory actress offered her take on the scandal involving accusations of sexual assault and harassment against the movie mogul — and many people viewed her words as victim-blaming.

The 41-year-old, who has been in show business since age 11, wrote that she knew from the start that “girls with doe eyes and pouty lips who spoke in a high register were favored for roles by the powerful men who made those decisions.” But Bialik chose to reject the “expected norm” for women.

“My mom didn’t let me wear makeup or get manicures,” noted Bialik. “She encouraged me to be myself in audition rooms, and I followed my mother’s strong example to not put up with anyone calling me ‘baby’ or demanding hugs on set.”

Bialik also believes that she has protected herself from predators such as Weinstein. “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 revealed. 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 mom of Miles, 12, and Frederick, 9, (with ex husband Michael Stone) wrote that she continues to make “self-protecting” choices. “I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with,” she shared. “I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.”

Her op-ed sparked sharp backlash on Twitter from users including Oscar winner Patricia Arquette. “@missmayim I have to say I was depressed non provocatively at 12 walking home from school when men masturbated at me. It’s not the clothes,” she wrote. Swedish model Ines Helen chimed in: “Mayim Bialik missed the perfect opportunity to call out men in Hollywood. Instead she blames women.” (Arquette’s sister Rosanna was one of the women who accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.)

One user tweeted: “In which @missmayim essentially congratulations herself for not having been sexually assaulted. As though it’s a matter of choice.”

Bialik, however, thinks her piece was was misconstrued.

“I’m being told my N.Y. Times piece resonated with so many and I am beyond grateful for all the feedback,” she wrote in a Tweet on Sunday, October 15. “I also see 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.”

As previously reported, Weinstein is facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct spanning decades. The producer was fired from The Weinstein Company and his wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, left him. Over the weekend, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board revoked his membership. He is currently seeking treatment in Arizona.

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