Mayim Bialik under fire for suggesting women should dress modestly to avoid sexual harassment
Actress Mayim Bialik has faced criticism for writing in a column that women should dress modestly to avoid sexual harassment in Hollywood.
In a New York Times op-ed published on Saturday, the Big Bang Theory star wrote that she began her career in Hollywood “as a prominent-nosed, awkward, geeky, Jewish 11-year-old” and that while she was “shocked and disgusted” by the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, she was not necessarily surprised.
“I have always had an uncomfortable relationship with being employed in an industry that profits on the objectification of women,” wrote Bialik. “Though pressure to ‘be like the pretty girls’ started long before I entered Hollywood, I quickly learned even as a preteen actress that young girls with doe eyes and pouty lips who spoke in a high register were favored for roles by the powerful men who made those decisions.”
Bialik proceeded to recall how she was the butt of jokes over her looks when she was younger, yet she’s had a successful career in Hollywood. She noted that she takes precautionary measures to avoid scenarios of sexual harassment in Hollywood.
“I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with,” wrote Bialik. “I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.”
She acknowledged that engaging in that kind of behavior “might feel oppressive to many young feminists” but it’s the best course of action.
“In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn’t perfect,” wrote Bialik. “Nothing — absolutely nothing — excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can’t be naïve about the culture we live in.”
Bialik concluded her column with a note of encouragement to women who are “not a perfect 10.”
“There are people out there who will find you stunning, irresistible and worthy of attention, respect and love,” wrote Bialik. “The best part is you don’t have to go to a hotel room or a casting couch to find them.”
Bialik was criticized for her op-ed:
According to Mayim Bialik the best way for women to avoid sexual harassment is to be unattractive.
— Allie🐰 (@AllieImpact) October 16, 2017
— Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) October 15, 2017
Lots wrong with Mayim Bialik's op-ed but one quick thing: Being an awkward girl with a big nose never protected me from harassment. https://t.co/C0oA7zxAab
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) October 14, 2017
Others were less critical:
— Allie Stuckey (@conservmillen) October 15, 2017
I read @missmayim's NYT piece.I don't agree w/ it all, but why the outrage?She's entitled to her opinion.Maybe stop rushing to be offended?
— Jedediah Bila (@JedediahBila) October 16, 2017
Bialik addressed the outrage on Facebook Live with New York Times editor Bari Weiss.
“I really do regret that this became what it became, because literally I was trying to speak about a very specific experience I had in a very specific industry,” said Bialik. “I was not looking to speak about assault and rape in general.”
She then said she was “deeply hurt” if anyone thought she was “victim-blaming.”