The Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik responded to people who accused her of “victim blaming” in her recent New York Times op-ed. Bialik’s essay detailed her experiences in Hollywood after the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal came to light this month, resulting in his termination from his own company.
“[It] has become clear to me that there are people who think I implied or overtly stated that you can be protected from assault by the clothing that you wear or the behavior that you exhibit,” Bialik said during a Facebook Live. “That is absolutely not what my intention was and I think it is safe for me to start this conversation by saying there is no way to avoid being the victim of assault by what you wear or the way you behave.”
In the original essay, Bialik wrote about some of the “self-protecting” choices she made as a young actress to counteract the industry’s culture of complicity. “I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with,” she wrote. “I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.”
In response to Bialik’s editorial, several prominent actors voiced their distaste with her logic on social media. Patricia Arquette, whose sister Rosanna has accused Weinstein of harassment, wrote, “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.”
Ijeoma Oluo wrote on Twitter: “The schadenfreude that Mayim Bialik seems to have over the fact that she thinks that only pretty girls are sexually assaulted is gross.”
Bialik countered that her piece did not condone victim blaming. “I really do regret this became what it became because literally, I was trying to speak about a very specific experience I had in a very specific industry,” she said. “The only people who are responsible for their behavior in assault is the predators who are committing those horrendous acts.
“I do want to assert again that I’m excited and motivated to be part of a larger conversation … If this was not the way to do it in these 900 words, I do apologize for that and I hope to be part of opening up more of this conversation.”