Appearances do not decide victims of harassment, assault

Appearances do not decide victims of harassment, assault

After recent events of the #metoo accounts and celebrities shining a spotlight on sexual harassment and assault, opinion-editorials have been written in order to understand the emergence of victims and their stories, with some being too problematic.

Mayim Bialik, neuroscientist and actress best known for her role of Amy Farrah-Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory,” wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times titled “Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World.” This piece is meant to be about her experience as a childhood actress and her friends’ experiences with sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood. She even noted that in a perfect world, “Women should be free to act however they want.”

However, the piece goes into further explaining that this is not a perfect world and we should not be naive about this, even though we should not excuse the actual actions of harassment or assault. However, she then brought up some questionable comments.

“I have always had an uncomfortable relationship with being employed in an industry that profits on the objectification of women. Though pressure to ‘be like the pretty girls’ started long before I entered Hollywood, I quickly learned even as a preteen actress that young 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,” Bialik said.

She continued, “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.”

Within 24 hours, women lashed out at Bialik, pointing out that her piece simplified to “as long as you are not pretty or proactively dressed, you will not get sexually harassed or assaulted.”

Patricia Arquette, actress, tweeted at Bialik, “I have to say I was dressed non-provocatively at 12 walking home from school when men masturbated at me. It’s not the clothes.”

Another user tweeted, “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.”

What these and many others have said are not far from the truth. Though Bialik’s op-ed may have been written with good intentions, there was also a sense of carelessness towards victims. It is true that this world is nowhere near perfect, but she must understand that others might not want to go the “modesty” route.

Regardless of what is out in the world, women should not be afraid to express themselves through whatever clothing or be afraid of even being pretty. For Balik to then say that her own looks and style are the reason she was never a victim is also damaging to victims who fall under those categories by society’s standards.

For Bialik and other writers, we need to use our platform as a way to bring a light to situations, not shine a light while sweeping the dust under the rug. We need to use our voices as a megaphone for victims and the traumas which they have endured, no matter if we would go about potential situations in a different way.

This may not be a perfect world, but that does not mean we should, by any means, be scared into looking or dressing a certain way to avoid harassment or assault of any kind. If anything, we should unite to stop whatever is causing fear in the first place.

(Photo Credit/WikiMedia Commons)

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