The past couple weeks, we’ve been presented with every possible opinion on Dylan Farrow’s open letter to Woody Allen, which spoke to him sexually abusing her as a child. The alleged abuse was a hot topic in the early 90’s, but Farrow’s open letter published in the New York Times’ opinion section was the first record of her publicly addressing the issue.
Since then, it has once again become a topic of discussion, and opinion; from her supporters who will never watch another Woody Allen movie again, to disbelievers who have issued death threats, to people who just don’t give a damn.
This situation can either fall off the radar and teach us nothing, or we could realize that child and sexual abuse are happening on a daily basis, by and to people we know and love.
Many supporters of Dylan Farrow have proposed Woody Allen should not receive potential merits, but I think that Woody Allen should still be regarded as a great director in the same way that Chris Brown should still be regarded as talented entertainer and Sean Penn should still be regarded as a gifted actor.
I’m not advocating that we support these abusers, but we need to realize that people we love, admire and honor do horrific things to people.
Abusers don’t exist in a vacuum and we can not keep perpetuating the myth that they are always mysterious strangers in the night; they are our friends and family members.
According to the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, around 30 percent of rapes and 70 percent of childhood abuse is committed by someone the victim already knows.
According to PBS, numbers are hardly representative of rape and childhood abuse, because most accounts go unreported. For this reason, we need to believe people when they say they are a victim of a crime.
We need to start taking allegations seriously. I imagine that everyone would be upset if their car was broken into and upon filing a police report or discussing it with friends, they were asked why they parked in a certain area, why they had such a nice car or if, maybe, they just imagined the whole thing.
We can not continue to blindly defend alleged abusers, and I believe that the benefit of the doubt should be given to the victim. We live in a society where women are put on a pedestal— we are regarded as the fairer of the sexes.
However when we speak out against abuse, we are vilified and accused of malicious intent (which is absurd, because it’s obvious that women are not believed when they do speak out against abuse).
This perpetuates a cycle that not only creates victims, but revictimizes them when they try to get help. So, did Woody Allen abuse Dylan Farrow? They are the only ones who know for sure, and it isn’t our duty to insert our opinions where only facts belong.
What we should be doing, instead, is taking this allegation and all allegations seriously and not defending alleged abusers simply because they’re friends or family members—or because we like their movies.