I am a former Woody Allen fan.

Up until a few weeks ago I would have reluctantly admitted to having a soft spot for Woody Allen films.  Being a feminist, I would have conceded that I thought he was a creep, but oh well all men are creeps right?  For some reason I never really looked into what he did.

As a survivor myself, I have struggled with compartmentalizing, dissociating to get through life.  I understand in some ways just how complex human beings can be, even abusers.  

The reasons I really liked his films was because a lot of them are really identifiable.  I loved listening to his ranting monologues.  I loved the women he cast in his films.  Particularly Judy Davis, who is by far my favorite actress of all time.  He let women be older, he let them be mean and complex and ugly sometimes and I appreciated that.  

Anyway I haven’t really kept up in the past few years with his films.  Maybe it was all that radical feminism I was getting into, I was seeing between the layers of how everything was all about him and how fucking boring that can be.  Maybe I was also just too busy trying to support female directors, female artists in general to be to bothered.

In any account when I saw Ronan Farrow’s tweet about how Woody Allen had sexually abused his sister I knew immediately it was true and I was disappointed in myself for not looking further into the allegations that had been made against him sooner.

When a couple days later Dylan Farrow’s piece surfaced online about what had happened to her I knew it was true as well.  I felt her anger at how what had happened to her was not taken seriously.  Not even by adults who she thought cared about her.  Thousands upon thousands ignoring and covering up what to her was a seriously traumatic and horrific event in her life.

There are certain things you can only understand if you are a survivor, and by “survivor” I’m meaning someone who not only has been through this things but has done a lot of work to understand the effect they’ve had on you.  There are a lot more victims of male violence than we care to admit.  In my life, when I’ve talked to other women about these issues only one of them has ever claimed that they haven’t been violated by a man.  To be honest I had trouble believing her as well.

So when something is so rampant, like incest, like sexual abuse.  Why are people so determined to not believe women when they come forward and say these things have happened to them?  Women have nothing to gain from talking about it publicly.  They’ll be subjected to even more traumatic abuse from people who are more apt to believe that a man who sexually groomed, took pornographic pictures of and later married one of his adopted children than another one of the children he raised.

Woody Allen’s response is typical of abusers.  What man ever admits he raped a woman when she accuses him?  I’ve never seen or heard of it happening.  You’d have to be out of your mind to admit to something that could ruin your image and even land you in jail.  

There’s another aspect of this I think should be brought up.  Allen’s female friends.  Women publicly named in Dylan Farrow’s piece.  Abusers don’t abuse every person in their life.  We have this really backward belief that abuse is the result of a person being bad, not a person being able to get away with something.  Part of how they have support is through their relationships with other people.  I’ve seen it many times in activist communities and subcultures I’ve been part of.  Abusers have friends.  Abusers are really kind to some people.  They don’t harm everyone.  Only the ones they can.  This is why women like Diane Keaton can have the opinion that Allen is a friend of hers and wouldn’t do something like sexually assaulting his own child.  Its easy to project how someone treats us onto how someone acts all the time.  But are any of us the same person when we interact with everyone?

We need to start talking about these dynamics more openly.  Every time there is movement towards understanding and helping victims of incest in our culture backlash inevitably arises.  This happened with Freud in his early work.  He documented over and over again how many of his patients had been sexually abused.  When he came forward with his findings he was considered mad himself and was forced into “reexamining” his theories.  He came up with this bullshit about how children somehow fantasize about sex with their fathers.  This isn’t the case unless a child has been sexually abused.  Why is it easier to believe, despite the statistics that children are fantasizing about these things?

Allen also claims that Dylan was coached by his ex Mia Farrow into making the “outrageous” claims  of sexual abuse.  But courts found no evidence of coaching by Mia Farrow and you can’t coach the type of trauma into someone’s brain that Dylan wrote about.  Dylan is a grown woman now.  She has her own voice, she doesn’t need anyone to advocate for her.  Why would she still cling to this story if it were a fabrication?  She has nothing to gain from any of this.  The only person who stands to gain or lose anything is Woody Allen.

So I’m a former fan of Woody Allen.  I can’t in good conscience watch any of his films.  I can’t give him any of my money.  I can’t support his work when it would mean that I’m contributing to the further alienation of his victim.  I can’t look at him without my stomach turning and knowing that he’s no different than the men who’ve raped and violated me.  I don’t know how anyone could.

For further reading:

An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow

Carolyn Gage : Siblings of Incest Survivors

Lisa Bloom: Six Reasons Why Dylan Farrow is Highly Credible

 

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6 responses to “I am a former Woody Allen fan.

  1. I’ve been reading many opinion pieces on Dylan Farrow’s open letter, and yours is one of the best commentaries on the subject.

    Regarding Woody Allen’s women friends, and their loyalty to and defence of him–yes, this is such an important aspect to explore and to understand. The thing is: we can be fairly (though not completely) certain that he didn’t abuse those particular women. They know him, and they don’t know him. It’s as simple as that. You’re right to point out that abusers can be kind to people, that they can be as complex as anybody else–sincere and giving in one area of their lives, and sociopathic liars in another.

    Any woman who’s been gas-lighted by her romantic/sexual partner knows how much other people like, or even adore, that very same man who has psychologically tortured her. It’s the loneliest, and most crazy-making feeling in the world for victims and survivors when others to take the side of an abusive man. It is like having your own perceptions, and thus your very existence, erased in favour of his good name and the pleasure his company provides for the people he doesn’t abuse. It’s like a ritual scapegoating or sacrifice: all his sins are placed on you, so that HE can be purified. Just like Freud did to his women patients–yes! Not much has changed since the birth of psychoanalysis. Even that old word, “hysterical,” has been hauled out and dusted off in order to discredit Mia as the creator of Dylan’s molestation narrative.

    I also want to say that I have thoughts and feelings very similar to yours when it comes to Allen’s films and to the allegations when they surfaced more than 20 years ago. Like you, I don’t know why I didn’t look into it further back then, why I chose to tuck it away somewhere, compartmentalize, and continue to indulge in my soft spot for his movies. Well, it has to do with our level of consciousness at the time, doesn’t it? It’s really not easy to face, head-on, what men are capable of doing. How they get away with it; how they lie. And, of course, there’s our Judy Davis! She’s irresistible, and she, like other actresses, just shines in his films. Allen is capable of writing very convincing and complex female characters and gives these roles to convincing and complex women. Juliette Lewis, for another example. Which tells me that he actually knows, as well as we do, what a piece of shit he is. He just doesn’t care. So, Dylan Farrow deserves an award, not him.

  2. There was an attempt to paint the victim as delusional in this case as well. The panel of “experts” appointed by the state attorney to report on abuse accusations for the custody trial, claimed that Dylan had trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality, mostly because she used childish phrases in their interviews with her. The judge for the custody battle said the report was essentially a whitewash and it was disregarded. Yet this is still cited as proof that Allen was vindicated. The state attorney admitted there was enough evidence to prosecute, but said that he wanted to spare the child the stress of a criminal trial, and still most of the Hollywood establishment won’t even distance themselves from him. It’s a profound outrage, but as you pointed out, none of this is uncommon.

  3. I never liked him, he should now be put into an industrial blender and turned into soylent green.

  4. Thank you so much, I agree this is one of the best commentaries on the subject. Glad that the district attorney who Allen dissed is outraged and may sue him (this just in).

  5. When Allen first married his adopted child, I had a dude-friend who was a total Allen fan. In response to my cursing and damnation of this self-absorbed little prick, dude-friend said, yes, it was awful what Allen did, but insisted I was being “unfair.” Because I needed to be able to separate a man’s behavior from his art. That’s when I got it: Not only do they reflexively back each other up, and make you feel you are being unfair(!) to have angry thoughts re these pricks, but the art itself, or any success men achieve, is their ticket into the alpha class, which entitles them to the “perks” of rape, and insures that they will get away with it by being beyond scrutiny (because of their art, don’tyouknow). The art or whatever the success is is the License to do this shit.

    Recently a rich dude raped a woman in a West Coast state on his wedding day (not his bride, although that probably happened too). The newspaper (who headlined this story as “Mogul accused of rape; Settlement reached”) side-boxed the “alleged” rapist’s financial and professional achievements alongside the article prominently. The cops of course wouldn’t even arrest this guy. I wrote the dude reporter and dude editors and asked them if it was now the paper’s policy to highlight the resumes of bank robbers and murderers as well. They refused to publish my letter, but wrote me back to tell me this guy was FAMOUS in the tech community, and people outside the tech community weren’t aware of how FAMOUS this guy was. (See, we’re not understand how they operate wimms). Newspaper dudes of course ignored my question on whether women will achieve full human rights within my life time.

    Arctic Feminist, your point here that perps are not perps to everyone, that they are nice to key and strategic (you say “people;” I say “women”), that they hurt only those they know they can get away with is right on. Thank you for making this point here. Men will always cover for other men. That’s never an issue. But when perps are nice to women (especially perps who made these women famous/made these women money), they are recruiting and grooming character witnesses, women who will be oh-so-willing to testify on their behalf.

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