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In an Instagram post, Douglas apologized on Tuesday about her previous victim-blaming tweet that said it is “our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy” to avoid enticing “the wrong crowd.” In her apology, Douglas not just stressed that “no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you,” but she also claimed that her comments, which were in response to a tweet by fellow Olympian and alleged Nassar victim Aly Raisman, were hypocritical because she herself was violated by the doctor.
“It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar,” Douglas wrote. “I didn’t publicly share my experiences as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent and honestly some things were extremely painful. I wholeheartedly support my teammates for coming forward with what happened to them.”
A post shared by Gabby Douglas (@gabbycvdouglas) on
Over 140 women claim Nassar sexually molested them during medical exams, including fellow Fierce Five members Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
Douglas went on to say that she “wholeheartedly” supports her teammates that came forward, and she asked fans to forgive her “for not being more responsible with how I handled the situation.”
“I do not advocate victim shaming/blaming in any way, shape, or form!” she clarified. “I will also never support attacking or bullying anyone on social media or anywhere else.”
Douglas’ post sparked a lot of discussion online about how victims are “supposed to” react to being assaulted. In light of her coming forward about Nassar, many point out that Douglas’ original comments read more like an abuse victim grappling with the internalized cultural values that, she herself describes, “conditioned [her] to stay silent.”
Looks like Gabby Douglas did what many survivors of sexual assault have been known to do--internalize their abuse. That's why so many of us were so hesitant to dog her last week.— Liz. (@LizMAdetiba) November 21, 2017
That's why cancel culture is so harmful. https://t.co/qIipzeo7jA
PS - You can support Gabby Douglas without being ok with her statements last week. Believe her when she says she's also a survivor. That's it.— SofiaRune (@sofiarune) November 22, 2017
I really wanna smack everyone who keeps saying that Gabby Douglas admission of assault is "bizarre" after she shamed her teammate for the same shit. Most of us (BW) are taught that modesty shit. Who tf are you to be judging and canceling folks?— suprihmbé, patron saint of brunch (@thotscholar) November 22, 2017
Still, many agree Douglas deserved the criticism for her original statement.
her comments still needed to be addressed. Also I don’t know what ‘cancel culture’ is supposed to mean but celebs are still doing fine.— Alison Jean (@Jalison100) November 22, 2017
Gabby Douglas just said she was abused by the same doctor. Why did she even make that comment to Aly in the first place? Could've not said anything— Roy G. Biv (@CinnasMama) November 22, 2017
Nice assessment, I am inclined to agree with you however, I am not willing to forgive her stupidity. I also know she is a smart woman who pribably would know that we could assume her actions were due to some sort of survivor guilt.— David Samuelson (@davidxsamuelson) November 22, 2017
So Gabby Douglas was abused by the team doctor too and she still had the nerve to victim blame and advocate for modesty when her teammate spoke out about her own personal abuse??? why???— Gen (@runningbullets) November 22, 2017
Meanwhile, others think online toxicity is damaging to women of color like Douglas, because, as one user puts it, activists “built” Douglas up only to “tear her down” after she made a mistake.
So anyway, if we could possibly find it in ourselves to forgive a misstep and understand why that misstep may have happened, it would be greatly appreciated. 9/9— Patrick (@QuadCityPat) November 22, 2017
Either way, Raisman clearly doesn’t have any hard feelings toward her teammate.
I applaud your bravery @gabrielledoug I support you.— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) November 22, 2017
Nassar currently faces 22 first-degree criminal sexual conduct counts. It has been speculated that Nassar will plead guilty to sexual assault charges in court, according to the New York Times.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.