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After a week of actresses speaking out against the predatory actions of Harvey Weinstein and other powerful Hollywood men, actress Mayim Bialik published an op-ed for the New York Times in which she wrote about her experiences as a woman in the industry.
Having entered the TV world as an 11-year-old, she said she wasn’t surprised by the Weinstein allegations. The Big Bang Theory star also wrote about her experiences of “constantly being teased” over her looks and that she always made conservative choices as an actress, in part, because her parents were skeptical of the industry. She then went on to link her appearance and her choice in clothing to her having had almost no experience with “men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms.”
“I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. 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.
“I am entirely aware that these types of choices might feel oppressive to many young feminists. Women should be able to wear whatever they want. They should be able to flirt however they want with whomever they want. Why are we the ones who have to police our behavior?
“In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. 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.”
It is this passage that many women have found problematic. On social media, she has been taken to task for her perceived victim-blaming, her condescension, and her seeming lack of awareness that you can be sexually harassed or assaulted no matter what you wear or how attractive you are.
"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
Mayim Bialik's NYT op-ed is 🚮. The "Pence rule" is 🚮. Blaming women's or victim's choices for Weinstein or any predator is 🚮.— Jessica Luther (@jessicawluther) October 14, 2017
Mayim Bialik’s trash NYT op-ed shouldn’t be a surprise if you remember this pic.twitter.com/s6QeSIfaKe— Ira Madison III (@ira) October 14, 2017
.@missmayim 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.— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) October 14, 2017
Mayim Bialik missed the perfect opportunity to call out men in Hollywood. Instead she blames women. https://t.co/kBJPGXhwI1— Ines Helene (@inihelene) October 14, 2017
The Big Bang Theory is one of the most misogynistic things on television. Just bc the predators are nerd men, doesn't make it less egregious— Nicole Froio (@NicoleFroio) October 14, 2017
Long story short, if you haven’t been harassed and think it’s because of your looks, it isn’t. You’re just very lucky.— roxane gay (@rgay) October 14, 2017
While Bialik considers herself a feminist, it is her narrow definition of what constitutes one that that has left many to see her as pompous and judgmental of other women. In the past, she has called attachment parenting the “normal” way to mother and has shut down those who question Zionism’s place in feminism.
On Saturday night, Bialik responded to the controversy, writing that her words had been taken out of context. She also vowed to continue the discussion.
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.