Okaaay here we go. One would have to be living under a rock on Mars not to have heard the recent palaver over Dylan Farrow’s letter published by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/opinion/sunday/kristof-dylan-farrows-story.html
Dylan’s letter has unleashed a maelstrom of hostility towards her, and by implication anyone who speaks out about their experience of childhood sexual abuse. Well, not anyone actually, because we all know that if the perpetrator is NOT a privileged, influential, white male then the “alleged” accusations can sometimes sway the onus of proof of innocence onto the abuser rather than the victim.
However, when we are talking about rich, powerful, primarily white, male privilege it’s a different story. In the cases of Woody Allen, Jimmy Saville and the Catholic Church, we have seen time and time again that there is always doubt about the victim’s account, because the “innocent until proven guilty” legal privilege is given to the accused while it is the accuser whose innocence is doubted from the outset.
In the case of Dylan Farrow, her mother has been the target of the most vicious slurs which go some way to illustrating the rampant misogyny underlying the polemical fluffing for Woody by influential white men like Stephen King who described Dylan’s letter as “palpable bitchery” or Robert B Weide’s article published in The Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/27/the-woody-allen-allegations-not-so-fast.html where he writes:
“I am not here to slam Mia. I think she’s an exceptional actress and I seriously admire her political activism. (I even follow her on Twitter.) But those who hate Woody “for what he did to Mia,” should be reminded that if Sinatra was indeed Ronan’s biological father, it’s not the first time Mia had a child by a married man. In 1969, at the age of 24, she became pregnant by musician/composer André Previn, 40, who was still married to singer/songwriter Dory Previn. The betrayal is said to have led to Dory Previn’s mental breakdown and institutionalization, during which she received electroconvulsive therapy”.
The point of this article is not to “slam Mia” oh no siree, just an objective accounting of “facts” to help you think Mia is a vindictive fantasist, a home-wrecking liar; to make you question whether Dylan Farrow was molested, question if she was mentally stable, to doubt Ronan Farrow’s credibility.
And just maybe, it is pathetic justification for working with Woody Allen, venerating him because “we just can’t know what happened, it’s a private family matter”. Well ain’t that the truth? White male privilege means that any abuse of power within the private domain of the master’s family and home that comes to light in public will be met with hostility and disbelief- private matters are private unless we have prurient pictures as proof, then they are in the public interest. The go-to position for western society is to seek the comfort of co-option into the morality of patriarchy where we can be “rational”, “objective”, focus on “facts” and punish those who innocently remind us of the inequitable power differential between women, children and men, especially if it collides with sex, class, ability and race.
Disturbingly, in my own little social media world a psychologist wrote:
“ It just doesn’t feel right to me to vilify someone when I am not privy to all the facts (on this occasion??) Inexplicably horrible for this girl if it is true but also as horrible for Woody Allen if it’s not. I’ve sadly seen both sides”.
In another post a children’s special needs educator re-posted Robert B Weide’s article reiterating the dominant view that Dylan, Ronan and Mia Farrow are fantasists out to ruin Woody’s reputation out of malice and spite.
I find this disturbing because implicit in this co-option into the ‘Woody was found innocent of charges” camp is the fundamental view that children and their mothers lie, because “I’ve sadly seen both sides”. This means that in their professional capacity as mandatory reporters of child abuse, these educators and psychologists will be starting from the position that a child may be lying. Children are not stupid, they sense cynicism and doubt, so how are they meant to trust and feel safe with a professional – who palpably has given the benefit of the doubt to the person who has power over them as an abuser, as the entitled member of the innocent (until proven guilty) party?
It is this co-option and group fluffing of phallic power that doubly makes a victim of abuse powerless, marginalised and voiceless, their experience completely invalidated- a symbolic jizz in their faces for daring to speak out. Woody Allen, Jimmy Saville and the Catholic Church have a hell of a lot of sycophantic supporters screaming to drown out the lone voices of their victims. In the case of the Church and Saville it is patently obvious that educators, psychologists, the media and the establishment allowed child sexual abuse to occur under their watch because “we can never know what really happened”, we didn’t SEE it. Thus the very people in a position to protect children fail them time and time again. That’s exactly why privileged, white male child molesters, and, the beneficiaries of a patriarchal society will always place the burden of proof of innocence and thrust shame in the faces of little children who unwittingly challenge patriarchal power.
As for the argument “we cannot know what happened, we weren’t there, so we cannot judge”? How disingenuous: you have judged Dylan Farrow, her mother and brother because Dylan WAS there and she has told you in her own words what happened.
*Postscript for the innocent re: Fluffing: “A technique used in most pornographic films today. When the male star has to get “aroused” for the camera he is fluffed beforehand. A stagehand, someone usually chosen just for this job, either gives the star a hand or blow job” ` http://www.urabandictionary.com