When I heard that The New York Times was going to publish an op-ed by Woody Allen refuting Dyan Farrow’s account of his sexual abuse, I thought he would write about how serious child abuse is and that he had been wrongly accused of this terrible crime. Instead, he uses his word count to trivialize sex abuse, repeatedly implying that any rational person ought to automatically believe his story of innocence. Otherwise, Allen uses his word count to go off on tangents characterizing Farrow as a vindictive and scorned woman.
In one of many attacks on Farrow, referring to Justice Wilk’s opinion about his relationship with Soon-Yi, Allen writes:
He thought of me as an older man exploiting a much younger woman, which outraged Mia as improper despite the fact she had dated a much older Frank Sinatra when she was 19.
So Allen’s point is that Mia is a liar and hypocrite because she also had an experience with a much older man? Could it be that she knows, first hand, about power imbalance? Obviously, Woody still sees nothing wrong with the relationship.
For his entire op-ed, Allen writes nothing to indicate that he gets child abuse is epidemic. Here’s his opening sentence:
TWENTY-ONE years ago, when I first heard Mia Farrow had accused me of child molestation, I found the idea so ludicrous I didn’t give it a second thought.
Accusations of child molestation are not “ludicrous” and actually do deserve “a second thought.” It’s disturbing that Allen just assumes the charge is no big deal and thinks that everyone ought to know how idiotic such a claim is. What if we all shared Allen’s views about how to react to claims of sexual abuse? How would children fare?
Allen makes the same point again and again.
I naïvely thought the accusation would be dismissed out of hand because of course, I hadn’t molested Dylan and any rational person would see the ploy for what it was.
Why would “any rational person” see this “ploy”? Unless we all automatically bought in to all the stereotypes about vindictive, lying women and credible, powerful men, one would hope accusations of child abuse would be taken seriously. Statistics show the chances of being sexually assaulted is 1 in 3-to-4 for girls (before they turn 18), 1 in 5-to-7 for boys (before they turn 18), 1 in 5 for women, 1 in 77 for men.
In Rolereboot, Soraya Chemaly writes:
That everyone “knows” girls and women lie about sexual assault is a dangerous and enduring myth. A survey of college students revealed that the majority believed up to 50% of their female peers lie when they allege rape, despite wide-scale evidence and multi-country studies that show the incidence of false rape reports to be in the 2%-8% range. Yes, there are false claims, but they occur in roughly the same numbers as false claims for other crimes. As the Equality for Women’s Charles Clymer pointed out recently, based on FBI and Department of Justice information, “The odds of the average straight man (the target group overwhelmingly concerned with this) in the U.S. being accused of rape are 2.7 million to 1.”
Yet, Allen goes on, continuing to describe the ludicrousness of the charges:
Now, suddenly, when I had driven up to her house in Connecticut one afternoon to visit the kids for a few hours, when I would be on my raging adversary’s home turf, with half a dozen people present, when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I’d go on to marry — that I would pick this moment in time to embark on a career as a child molester should seem to the most skeptical mind highly unlikely.
Allen’s sarcasm is offensive. If he wishes for anyone to take his defense seriously, he ought to at least attempt to express some recognition of the seriousness of Dylan’s charges. Instead, he comes off as narcissistic at best and delusional at worst.