Mayim Bialik defends controversial NY Times column on Weinstein

The Jewish actress says her words about modesty were twisted.

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October 16, 2017 22:00
3 minute read.
Mayim Bialilk

Mayim Bialik of the hit sitcom 'Big Bang Theory'. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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After a wave of backlash over her take on the Harvey Weinstein scandal, actress Mayim Bialik fought back against claims she was “victim-blaming.”

The Jewish star of The Big Bang Theory wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on Friday titled “Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World.”

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After a great deal of criticism, she took part in a Facebook Live discussion on The New York Times opinion page on Monday with editor Bari Weiss to defend the piece.

“It has become clear to me that there are people who think I either implied or overtly stated that you can be protected from assault because of the clothing you wear or the behavior you exhibit – that is absolutely not what my intention was,” she said. “I think that 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.”

The passages critics took the most umbrage to, were those in which Bialik, who identifies as an observant Jew, discussed her own modesty.

“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,” she wrote in the op-ed.

“As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms.”

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Implied, many say, is that those who don’t dress modestly, who have flirted or traded on their looks, who have taken a meeting in a hotel room, were obviously at a higher risk of assault.

Bialik hit back at the criticism, writing on Twitter before the Facebook Live video that her words are being “twisted.”

“I’m being told that my NY Times piece resonated with so many and I am beyond grateful for all the feedback,” she wrote.

“I also see a bunch of people have taken my words out of context of the Hollywood machine and twisted them to imply that God forbid I would blame a woman for her assault based on her clothing or behavior. Anyone who knows me and my feminism know that’s absurd and not at all what this piece was about,” she continued.

“It’s so sad how vicious people are being when I basically live to make things better for women.”

Actress Patricia Arquette wrote on Twitter to Bialik that “I have to say I was dressed non-provocatively as a 12-yearold when men on the street masturbated at me. It’s not clothing.”

Speaking on Facebook, Bialik said, “the only people who are responsible for their behavior in assault is the predators who are committing those horrendous acts.”

Bialik said she regrets the firestorm ignited “because literally, I was trying to speak about a very specific experience I’ve had in a very specific industry. I was not looking to speak about assault and rape in general.”

Actress Gabrielle Union also wrote on Twitter: "Reminder. I got raped at work at a Payless shoe store. I had on a long tunic & leggings so miss me w/ "dress modestly" shit.

Speaking on Facebook, Bialik said "the only people who are responsible for their behavior in assault is the predators who are committing those horrendous acts."
She said she she regrets the firestorm ignited "because literally I was trying to speak about a very specific experience I've had in a very specific industry. I was not looking to speak about assault and rape in general."

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