This past week brought a sobering with the quiet words of Dylan Farrow, the daughter of Woody Allen. Some critics like to throw “adopted” in front of that familial title, as if that makes the charge of sexual abuse somehow more palatable. But it pisses me off. Family is family, no matter how it is constructed; and as GLBT people all over the world fight for their claim to use the word, I have no patience for those who are dismissive of such ties.
Although Ms. Farrow made headlines at a young age during an ugly and public split between her parents, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, and the accusations that her father sexually molested her, she never spoke publicly about the abuse, until last week, in an open letter to the New York Times. Along with an account of molestation, she shared how her life unfolded afterwards:
“Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself. That torment was made worse by Hollywood” (Farrow).
Reading her brutally honest recollection sickened me. But I am equally sickened reading the subsequent articles of those who stand with Allen and proclaim his innocence. Others state they are staying neutral, yet, in their silence are actually defending him. I wonder, is it his public or professional persona that they cling to? They say they don’t want to act as judge but as they accept his “innocence” aren’t they then calling out Ms. Farrow’s “duplicity”?
One blogger asks: “If you find Farrow’s letter easy to dismiss, because you like Allen’s movies or because you read some overly-defensive essay in the Daily Beast just last week, I tell you, you’re just as guilty of this so-called “rush to judgment” as anyone else” (Dean).
Our media disallows a neutral stance as we are force fed rape stories from around our globe; and yet, we know the reports only represent the tip of such crimes. “According to the Justice Department, 60 percent of rapes go unreported. Only 3 percent of rapists will spend even a day in prison. It’s no mystery why more victims don’t come forward. There is far too little to gain at far too high a cost. Justice and dignity are elusive. Instead, victims have to recount their story to an often skeptical audience. They have to endure, if they’re lucky — if they are lucky – a trial and the machinations of the justice system, and then hope their attacker is found guilty and sentenced to an appropriate prison sentence while knowing that there is rarely a prison sentence that can adequately provide justice for the crime of sexual violence” (Gay).
Knowing the outcome of too many rape accusations, why would Ms. Farrow lie? And after all these years, why wouldn’t her father?
I am tired of the stalled discourse of rape. Of repeated sex offenders. Of registries. Of violence perpetrated against women. Of abuse in the home, in the office, in the dorm, and in the Church. Of the continued victimization portrayed on our TV’s seven nights a week. Of the sad shattered lives. Of victims left silent behind a curtain of hair.
Do what we continue to do and we will change nothing.
“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 (Gay).
** “Rape Fantasies” is a short story by Margaret Atwood. Complex and disturbing but definitely worth reading. The title is as uncomfortable as it is ironic. The following is a concise analysis of Atwood’s story: “Literary Annotations“