I have so many thoughts about this topic that I don’t even know where I want to start. So, I’m going to start in the middle, then go forward and then go back.
I remember where I was standing in 1992 when I heard on the news that Mia Farrow had found nude photos of her daughter, Soon Yi, taken by Woody Allen. Woody said they were ‘in love, there is no scandal.’ Soon Yi was either 19 or 21 at the time the story broke. Her birth year is not known for sure as she was adopted at around age 5 – 7 (as determined by a bone scan). I was in graduate school getting my MSW at the time, so my thoughts were mostly clinical, i.e. his lack of boundaries, and how in the sheer hell a therapist could ever wade through all of that bullshit. Then I thought about Sofia in the Color Purple (which I think about a lot, unfortunately) saying,
“A girl child ain’t safe in a house full of men.”
I was off this weekend, twiddling my thumbs as single parents do when they are off duty (that was a snarky comment to a poor misguided women who doesn’t understand that mothers are never really off) and reading when I saw Dylan Farrow’s letter published by the NYT, here. I was already interested in this topic as several weeks ago I read a long but worth it piece in Vanity Fair on Mia Farrow’s life, before and after the scandal, here. In the weeks between reading that article and Dylan’s letter, I have enjoyed the snarky tweets by Ronan Farrow about his dad (or brother in law). Dylan’s letter is heartfelt and sad. It is also pointed and sharp. She skewered Diane Keaton for lauding Allen at the Golden Globes, “You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton.”
For real, she made anybody that ever enjoyed a Woody Allen film feel like shit.
But what upset me the most were the 2600 (and climbing) comments on her letter.
“She looks mentally ill….wants attention, manipulated by her embittered mother for years. I don’t buy her story for one minute….If it was even slightly true Woody would have been crucified and burned at the stake.” – Henri B.
She doesn’t really look like an attention seeking whore.
I had to quit reading the comments, I was too upset and enraged by them. There were many of support, don’t get me wrong. But there were also many condemning her as a lying attention seeker. This type of comment was almost exclusively from men. I found the female commenters to be much more understanding and sensitve to Dylan. I’ve been thinking about this for 2 days.
Why do so many men get angered by claims of sexual assault?
(Because some men are pushy assholes, I already knew that answer.)
Why are women more inclined to believe claims of sexual assault?
Because we all have a story.
I was never sexually abused, I will say that first. Yet, I still have a story. I have several stories and I was never sexually abused. When I was 12 years old, I was outside, back when kids could play outside all afternoon, a quarter mile away from home, in the back yard of another little girl I played with in the neighborhood. Some big boys walked through her back yard who lived next door to her. The oldest one was cute and flirted with me sometimes. I was only 12 but was filling out nicely in the boobs and hip area and I will admit I had liked his attention before. But on this occasion, he flirted, then started touching/wrestling with me, until he had me on my back, on the ground, held down while he felt me up. I was trying my best to get up and in a full blown panic. What I remember most about it is he had a hole in his pants in the crotch and I could see his white underwear poking through. Thankfully, some mom yelled for kids to come home and he let me up. I didn’t tell a soul. I was embarrassed and ashamed. Also, I was scared of him. I never again spoke to that boy or made eye contact with him but he knows what he did was wrong. I can only hope he didn’t progress to rape but he probably did.
When I was 17 years old, and dating Al, I was sexually assaulted at a friend’s house. My boyfriend was out of town. I was at a party, we were drinking, and one of our mutual friends (I was friends with this boy and he was Al’s friend), cornered me in a room, held me down, put his hands all over me, and tried to put his dick in my mouth. In the course of his holding me down while trying to maneuver his dick at the same time, I got away. Al came back to town and I avoided him. I avoided all intimacy with him. I never spoke to the other boy again but I checked out mentally for a while. I didn’t tell anyone but my best friend, who was there at the party. She helped me clean up (snot and tears from crying) and get my clothes fixed and bra back on in the bathroom. I made her promise not to tell anyone. I was afraid if my dad found out he would KILL this boy and everyone would know. I was ashamed. I was about to graduate. I was also afraid of telling Al. This was his friend. I was afraid he would either, A. kill him or B. not believe me which would have killed me. I told Al the story, via email, when we first reconnected, 30 years later. I felt I owed him an explanation for freaking out that spring and withdrawing. I graduated HS and we broke up soon after. I hope Adam G. (dare me?) didn’t progress to rape, but he probably did.
I wish that boy had gotten his dick in my mouth and I had bitten it clean off.
And I haven’t even gotten to the college years yet…
Woody Allen is a terrible man. It doesn’t even take facts or the truth about Dylan’s accusations to make that assumption. We can already ascertain he is a terrible man because of what he did with his girlfriend’s teenage daughter. That was also sexual assault. He was in a position of power; he was a father figure to her, and he was 56 years old, the toast of NYC and Hollywood.
But significantly upsetting to me is the fact that so many men seem to think that what he did was okay. It reminded me of the instances in my life that I felt unsafe in a sexual way. It made clear to me the fact that many boys get away with treating girls like their personal playthings , like the two that got away with it with me, and that they grow into men that think that behavior is okay.
It is not okay.
It took Dylan Farrow (she’s changed her name 3 times in her effort to be attention seeking, snark) 21 years to call this man out publically. Most women never get the chance to do that although I have been mighty tempted to do that today. Somehow we as a sisterhood have to lose the shame and teach our daughters to report for this behavior to ever be correctible in society. I will try to teach my girls that the shame belongs to the boys.
**There is also an article I read giving another side to the story. It was written by a friend of Allen’s but did make some points, here.
But I don’t care what anyone says to defend him.
I think Woody Allen is a dirty old fuck.