Dylan Farrow, the daughter of Woody Allen, speaks out about charges that he sexually assaulted her when she was a kid. [TW for, as you might suspect, sexual assault].
Allen was never charged with sexual assault, and so he of course hasn’t been found guilty in a court of law. And he denies the allegations; many believe him. The reality is that we will never know what exactly happened, and whether Farrow is telling the truth, or whether she believes she’s telling the truth but the abuse allegations were put into her head by a mother going through a contentious divorce. It’s worth noting “we will never know exactly what happened” is true even in the overwhelming majority of resolved criminal cases. The reality of not knowing doesn’t mean that blame can never be assigned.
Given Allen’s history of predatory, boundary-pushing behavior, I feel ok saying that I, personally, am extremely creeped out by him. Dating his girlfriend’s teenage daughter who was decades his junior as soon as she became legal, and then marrying her, is such a gross transgression it’s tough to argue Woody is just your average neurotic guy. His sexual relationship with a 17-year-old before Soon-Yi is another strike. Of course molesting a pre-pubescent girl is very different than dating teenagers, but it seems clear that Woody gets off on extreme power imbalances and crosses lines that decent adult men simply don’t cross.
As far as I can tell, Dylan has no motivation to lie about this.
And in any event, I support Dylan’s efforts to speak up for herself. I hope she finds support and healing. Roxane says it better than I could:
As the latest discourse about Woody Allen unfolds, I doubt anyone’s minds will be changed. I know where I stand and why. I know I would rather stand where I stand and eventually be proven wrong than support Woody Allen and eventually be proven wrong. We believe what we believe and it isn’t the place of public intellectuals to adjudicate such a fraught matter, to boldly declare who is right and wrong.
Instead, public intellectuals can and should critique the culture that makes this conversation possible, the culture that leaves too many people wondering whose side to take, and the culture where people are contemplating (and compartmentalizing), in any way, Allen’s “artistic legacy.”
We can consider how nearly every single article about Allen and these allegations refers to Dylan Farrow as his “adopted daughter,” instead of his daughter, as if that designation, by creating some distance, somehow lessens his alleged crimes.
We can consider how, all too often, victims need to prove their stories in the court of public opinion. They need to be unassailable. They need to authenticate their stories in an atmosphere where they will be doubted and maligned for daring to speak up.
We can consider how people seem to want to believe false rape and sexual abuse accusations are the rule rather than the exception. Why wouldn’t they? The truth and pervasiveness of sexual violence around the world is overwhelming. Why would anyone want to face such truth?