There are a few fundamental beliefs that I hold, and one of them is that I believe women. We live in a world that does everything to protect the powerful, and when the powerless speak up, against great peril, it is a moment when we all must fundamentally look into souls and ask hard ourselves the hard questions.
This is a 20-year-old case. The statute of limitations has long lapsed. This man will never be tried and convicted for what he did to his daughter. But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. Woody Allen lost custody of his kids. Soon after, he married another one of his daughters (and has adopted several children with her.) He’s gone on to make movie after movie with men and women falling over themselves to be in their films. I gave up on him a long time ago, but then when Blue Jasmine came out, I wanted to see Cate Blanchett’s performance so I went. Afterwards, my first thought was, he is still such a creep and I am mad I gave him some of my money. I won’t make that mistake again. He is tainted in my mind. As I exited the movie, I reminded myself that I just don’t like him, his work or anything about him.
Dylan Farrow didn’t have to do what she did. She has made a life for herself under another name in Florida. She has a happy marriage. But she penned a letter and allowed a picture to be used so the anonymity she has enjoyed for two decades is now gone. So many women can’t speak out after two or ten or forty years, but she spoke out after Woody Allen received a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes and was nominated for another Oscar.
In a blog post on Nicholas Kristof’s site on the NY Times, she explains her reasons for finally telling her own story in her own voice for the first time:
Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away.
Farrow’s account of Allen’s pattern of targeting her is indeed harrowing:
I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me. These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal. I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different. I couldn’t keep the secret anymore.
She also calls out the A-list celebrities who have chosen to collaborate with the person who sexually assaulted her:
That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face — on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television — I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart. …
What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?
What is the outcome of this brave act? Will people in Hollywood not want to work with Allen? Doubtful. Will people not give Cate Blanchett her Oscar? Doubtful. But what it does is show that you can speak out against powerful people and your voice will be heard and there will be many, many people who believe you. The silence of the rape culture must be pierced and the courage of Dylan Farrow has done just that.