The Fear That Follows “Speaking Truth To Power”

Trigger warning: I’m about to discuss abuse and trauma. Sexual and emotional abuse. The trauma that follows.

 

When I wrote out the story of my sexual abuse at the hands of a stranger and the emotional abuse, over many years, committed by my father, and then clicked a button that says “Publish,” I did what my therapist calls, “Speaking Truth to Power.” I put my truth into the world, in a space that is mine, and no one can take that away. At first, I felt adrenaline at this power, during the battle that I could fight, here, on social media, in conversation. During this battle, many people like me fought alongside one another for public opinion to believe that listening to the survivors of abuse is more important than being “fair” or hearing “both sides.” I fought for the right of every person with a story of pain, suffering, abuse, to be heard. Then, I took myself out of the fight; I was uninterested in the “yes he did it/no he didn’t” arguments. Listening and believing have become tied up together, in our culture, as though hearing a story and acknowledging the pain that clearly exists in the bearer of that story, has anything to do with a decision about anyone’s guilt or innocence. It was important for me to fight for the power of simply listening, and acknowledging the feelings that exist, outside the details of what and when.

When the adrenaline faded, fear took its place. This is why we do not tell our stories. They may damage the reputations of our abusers, or cast a shadow of some kind, but they rain fire down on us. We have to face the anger of the people who do not want to believe that the person they love could have done such a thing. We have to hear, implied or spoken aloud, “I don’t believe you.” In telling our stories of how those with power used their strength against us, we find ourselves once again in a position of weakness.

I do feel powerful in having the space to say that my father was emotionally abusive when he told me that he was my greatest teacher and mentor, that no one would ever love me the way that he did, and telling me that if I really loved him, I would do and believe what he said, even if I disagreed. Growing up, I lived in a world where “we” had to protect ourselves from “them,” because they were jealous of how special we were. As it turned out, we were a pretty typical example of emotional abuse; only the details are unique, because the pattern fits neatly into a clinical definition.

So, where does the fear come from? It comes from the very nature of abuse–if we were not afraid of our abusers, we would simply walk away. We would “just leave” or “say no” or “scream” or “tell someone.” But my fear and grief run deeper than those stereotypical examples. My father is abusive. He refuses to be pleased by my behavior, no matter how I twist and turn into whatever shape he says he wants, this time. He says that he loves me, but he wonders why it is that I keep hurting him. He says that I am dangerous, and that I have caused breakdowns in his mental health, halts to his progress. It’s not only a fear that I will lose my father, or his love; I feel afraid that the loss is my fault. I could not do what he asked, there is something wrong with me, and my love is not great enough. I am not good enough. I am unsafe, and he must protect himself from me. 

I lie awake, picturing the disappointment on my father’s face, and wonder if the same flaws that he sees will drive others away. Now that I have said the forbidden words, and laid out all the pain in our relationship for the public to see, a doubting voice returns. What if he is right? What if it always happened because of who I am? What if I lose everyone I love, when they see the monster in me that frightened my own father to do and say these awful things?

No monster lies within me, of course, but facing that truth means that I have lost my dad. I grieve for a father. I rage at the way he manipulated me, even when I was very young. My heart breaks, knowing that he believed he really was protecting himself, and at times, me, from dangers only he could see. I feel all of it at once–love, grief, rage, sadness, nostalgia–when I look at my child and see that I have broken the abusive cycle.

bricksspeaktruth

Tonight, I read my seventeen-month-old son a story called “I Love You More,” about a mother and son who love each other more than anything in the whole wide world; I then burst into tears and sobbed into my lap. I find myself crying in short bursts, lately, to release all the feelings that well up in me, as I continue to grieve. My little boy looked back and forth from his father to me, clearly concerned. His dad said, “It’s ok, buddy,” and ruffled his hair. Then, I cried tears of joy, because I married a man who sits with me, and shows our son that it’s really is ok when big feelings come, no further explanation required. My husband just listens, and I feel heard. I do the same for him. Our son will learn how to listen with deep respect, too, by watching his parents.

When I speak truth to power, I show myself, my family, and anyone else who might be watching that telling my story matters.  Even if nothing can make it easier to face our fears, we fighting so that more of us can speak truth to power and demand a respectful audience.

 

The Migraine Fog (Anxiety, too, of course)

Every month, a get a horrific migraine that medicine doesn’t usually touch. I caffeinate, medicate and sleep my way through it. This month, it lasted six days. I had a headache–sometimes blinding, sometimes just really painful and exhausting–for six full days. Migraine and the medicines that treat it make me feel like I’m wrapped in a dangerous fog. The Migraine Fog increases anxiety, of course, because I feel like I’m going to miss something and BAM! disaster. At any moment. By Friday, I was texting my therapist (talking on the phone?! are you kidding me? the noise!) with one eye closed, asking if headaches were a symptom of depression. The Migraine Fog had me so turned around that I couldn’t remember if I had been feeling depressed before, making the headaches a symptom of depression, or if I was depressed because I was sort of hearing my life go by without me from behind the bedroom door. Or both. We agreed that I should call my psychiatrist. Which I will do, as soon as it’s not the weekend, and I can stand to talk on the phone.

Fog at Johnson Park by Flicr user Dendroica cerulea

Fog at Johnson Park by Flicr user Dendroica cerulea

The Migraine Fog is a lot like the Anxiety Fog my friend over at A Place of Greater Safety describes–honey, can you post the link in the comments, please? I am losing energy, quickly, and can’t find it–because getting these headaches often, or getting one that just will not go away, makes me feel like I could get one at any moment, and it will just stop me. I can track them, and point out in very clinical terms why they are obviously hormonal. I can tell myself that I am seeing (yet another) new health professional this week, this time someone with a new approach. A dear friend referred me to Brie, who promises that we can train my body to correct this imbalance. For the first time in ages, I feel hope. I scheduled that appointment on Tuesday, while the pain was still hiding behind the meds. She works with patients over web conference. Call her, if you like natural healing but don’t like the idea paying for weekly appointments and daily mixes of Chinese herbs for the rest of time.

People with the best of intentions have asked me, have I tried this or that. Probably, yes, I have. This much pain means I will try anything. A joke that actually made me laugh–have you tried eating only purple food? And I laughed because I would totally do it. Two changes terrify me, and I haven’t tried them: living without gluten or dairy. I grew up in Northern Minnesota, and I am the granddaughter of a dairy farmer! “Drink your milk,” is a phrase I heard everyone’s mother at everyone’s house say! But I’m letting it all go. Whatever it takes. I can’t live like this. I want my sanity, or whatever sanity I had before, back. Thanks for being patient while I took time off first, to process the fallout of my posts about Dylan Farrow, and then to hide in the dark, from the nightmarish Migraine Fog.

 

Why I Believe Dylan Farrow, Part II: I Wasn’t Lying, Even When I Was

I will repeat my earlier ::TRIGGER WARNING:: from my post Why I Believe Dylan Farrow, Part I before I discuss child sexual abuse, divorce/separation, emotional abuse, including child emotional abuse, all in relation to recent news regarding Woody Allen and his former adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, as well as my own childhood and parents’ divorce.

 

 

First, a bit of fact checking:

I have learned this week that Dylan Farrow’s “supporters,” as we are called, are often accused of “embellishing” facts, so I want to make sure that I get them right. Thus, I need to correct a fact that I got wrong in my post, Why I Believe Dylan Farrow, Part I – Woody Allen’s wife is not his former adoptive daughter. Mia Farrow and a previous significant other adopted the child who grew up and is now the woman now married to Allen. Even Woody Allen’s defenders admit that they understand why some people find this creepy. They admit that his children were raised alongside his wife, and that she is both their sister and mother-in-law. I just want to make sure I’m getting my facts straight, and I didn’t know about those details, until today, while doing research for this post.

My research actually consisted of reading links helpfully provided by my dear friend, at her blog, A Place of Greater Safety. Specifically, I found these two pieces most helpful in understanding the details of “the Allen case.” To just quote directly from my friend:

She has many other great links up, though, so go and check out her post.

Nothing chills me to the bone quite like the way Woody Allen’s defenders casually pick apart Mia Farrow’s romantic history and sex life. It is wrong to use a mother’s sex life, let alone rumors and suggestions about a mother’s sex life, to suggest that a child has invented her own sexual abuse. My father convinced me that many awful things were true about my mother, and he used her sexual history against her, even he had none of his facts straight. I even believed, for a short time, that she had never wanted to have a second child (me) at all and wished that I didn’t exist. My father told me that, and I believed him. But he did not convince me to invent sexual abuse out of thin air. His firm belief that my mother knew about the abuse and let it happen, on purpose, to keep a man in her life, did not even last long, with me. 

LET ME BE CRYSTAL CLEAR: I believe Dylan Farrow’s story. Every word that is in her letter. I am NOT saying that she told lies during that infamous custody battle. I AM saying that, even if she has said anything untrue, she would NEVER have made up the abuse. We are almost the same age. In the past twenty years, we have both been confused about details and said contradictory things. Neither of us has ever wavered on one thing: THIS HAPPENED.

And that marks the end of my participation in the “did he or didn’t he” conversation. I’m done. It’s too painful.

I am going to be as “objective” (as if that were possible, in any family matter) as I can, and lay out what I now believe happened to ME. I want to set my own record straight, because I spent so long believing and repeating lies.

In 1999, memories of having been sexually molested began to surface in my mind, and I had to purge them. They began to rise up, in shards and fragments, just after my mother told me that she was dating a man, and that his name was David. I didn’t know him, and she wasn’t sure I had ever even met him. My relationship with my mother was a rocky one, and had been for a years, even though I was still only fourteen. By late summer, I had a collection of bits and pieces that did not arrange themselves into a neat chronology. I also felt so angry at my mother that I refused to see her or speak to her. I did what any confused, hurt child would do; I turned to my father for help in making sense of these feelings and the images that haunted my nightmares.

At no point did my father tell me what to believe. Given the fact that my mother’s news about her boyfriend, if he was even a boyfriend, had triggered the most epic panic attack I’ve ever experienced, I asked my father whether he knew who this David person might be, and I asked whether he had dark hair and a dark, thick mustache. (I know, the mustache is almost too much, isn’t it?) Yes, he had met him, and yes, that’s what he looked like. I asked when it was that I slept in the bedroom with the pink carpet–I occupied one across the hall with blue carpet, at various points. I remember the carpet and the shape of the room, but not how old I was or anything about what it looked like outside. We went over each memory fragment and tried to put it in its proper place in some sort of chronology.

I know that it happened in October, 1993, because that is the only time that makes sense, when I take both my parents’ histories into account. I know who it was, because they both confirmed my description. I know what happened and where, because the physical sensations will not leave me alone.

By the following logic, my father and I added details: because I had memories that seemed disjointed, it must have happened more than once. Because my father believed that mother had spent many nights with this man, while I was in her custody, despite the short duration of their separation, we decided that he had had the opportunity to molest me in the middle of the night. This lead to the conclusion that my memory of noise outside the door was a separate incident, backed up by the theory that disjointed memories were obvious indications of multiple assaults. And so on.

I cannot begin to describe the pain that I feel, when I remember those conversations with my dad. He was so calm and rational. I needed one of the people in charge to be calm and rational, after all, and he was the one with the house, this time. I needed a trustworthy parent, and my father gave me good reason to believe that he was the parent to trust. I will not dignify the lies he told me about my mother, but the rundown is not unlike what you might have read this week about Mia Farrow. Accusations of sexual promiscuity, particularly during teenage years, adultery, a hedonistic attitude towards casual sex. My love of old Hollywood could not have prompted my mother to give me, a voracious reader, a biography of Marilyn Monroe–when I threw out the book because it was explicit about Monroe’s early sexual life and based entirely on rumor, my father casually suggested that it was probably an attempt to convince me that sex was not a big deal, just as it was clearly not a big deal for my mom. When a bar called our house after finding my mom’s wallet, her driver’s license inside, to return it to her, my father confided to me that he had heard rumors of her drinking and going out with men.

I was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, forced to listen to these details about my own mother’s supposed sex life, because my father told me that it was what I needed to hear. I needed to hear it, he said, so that I could protect myself from her. Now that I am an adult, I shudder at how dramatically inappropriate it all was, to put it mildly.

It has taken me over a decade to unravel the lies told so casually (and probably fully believed) that it never occurred to me to question their voracity. As an adult, I began to acknowledge the gut feeling that something in my story just did not add up. When my father began accusing me of abusing him (yelling while I was an angry teenager constituted verbal abuse, in his first accusation), I felt confident that I could start questioning a lot. First, I asked my mother about her teenage years. She was so angry, so confused, and so disheartened. The real story is not mine to tell, but hers, so I will simply say that it has nothing in common with what I was told. My mom was not the most level-headed, responsible parent you’ve ever met, but she made a point not to talk about my father, after they separated. Their fight was not mine, in her mind. Meanwhile, in our house, he told me that he was fighting to protect me from her “evil” (yes, he used that word).

If my mother is no villain, does that make my father the bad guy? Because I turned away from my mother completely during the year their divorce was being processed, he got sole custody of me. But he did not have Woody Allen’s bank account. He ended up with sole custody and no child support to pay, but he also ended up with a heavily mortgaged and not-quite-finished geodesic dome house. (That house is another story altogether.) I don’t see any reason to claim that he manipulated me because he is cold-hearted or evil. I believe that my father manipulates his loved ones in repetition of a pattern of emotional abuse that began, at least, with his father, and I believe that he does not know that his behavior constitutes abuse. I believe that, in his mind, wracked as it is by mental illness, he has protected and loved me. The idea that he has emotionally and verbally abused me is a new wound, compared to the scars I have shown you, this week. I am so very angry at him. And I still can’t bring myself to believe that he did any of this in cold blood.

Me, summer 2006.

Me, summer 2006.

Just today, I learned about another lie, the strangest one he has ever told me, and I still can’t convince myself that he lies, knowingly. I called my mother this afternoon, heart aching at all the things I once said to her and about her. Telling her about the guilt I was feeling lead to a question about another source of guilt: was my abuser still involved with the elementary school system in that neighboring county? She had no idea what I was talking about. Fifteen years ago, my father told me that my abuse was particularly tragic at the hands of this particular man, because this person was a substitute art teacher in a particular school district. I have carried guilt around for years, thinking he was spending his days with ten-year-old girls just like me. It was a complete fabrication. Did my dad get this man confused with someone else, combine the two people, and somehow arrive at this fictitious job? My mom hasn’t a clue. Me either. My abuser was neither an artist nor a teacher at any point in his life, as far as she knows.

The story I told earlier this week feels true, in my heart, because this narrative happened in a safe space, under professional supervision. Just three years ago, my mother visited me and bravely sat with me, in my therapist’s office, to hash it all out and answer my questions, as best she could. My lack of trust in her was something we just could not move past. She was willing to put herself in this very vulnerable place in the hope that we could repair that trust. It just so happens that my therapist is a licensed clinical social worker. She is uniquely qualified to work through this kind of thing. With her help, we both left with enough shared memories to confirm a version of events that finally let her believe me, and grieve with me.

Yes, she remembered my abuser being in the house, but only once, and it would have been a time when there were several friends in the house. We started there. I looked hard at the fragments of memory I felt sure about–the tactile memories, the sounds, the lighting, the shape of the room, etc. I held that close. Then, I asked her what she found difficult to believe. Opening myself up to that question was terrifying, to say the least. The sticking point was my accusation that she had opened my door, seen what that man was doing to me, and turned her back. I took a deep breath, and I asked her–was it possible that I had placed that memory in the wrong order? Was it possible that she had stood in my doorway and then turned around, at some other time, that same night? Well, yes, of course. To check on a child put to bed, before going to bed herself. Alone. The more I asked, the more answers she had, and the more peace I felt. Unlike my teenage interactions with my father, this was more like an interview. I checked in with my therapist (MY therapist, this time) to make sure everything rang true, to her, too. I asked her, in her professional experience, could the sense of betrayal that permeated this memory of my mother, alone, framed by the hall light, have come from a child’s shock that my attack had gone unnoticed? Yes.

As painful as it has been to relive my trauma this week, I have undergone so much healing. A child abuse investigator writing about “the Allen case” explains, “Children who are repeatedly interviewed about the same incident often change an answer to please the person doing the interview.  We see this in custody cases all the time. When the kids at mom’s they say they hate dad, when they’re at dad’s vice versa.” In my case, there was no time “at mom’s.” Obviously, talking only to my father and his own therapist of a decade or more, set me up for the “lies” I told. The investigator/journalist has answered me there, too: “In the Allen case, Dylan should NEVER have been questioned by a doctor in a hospital room with her mom there. Unfortunately, it was 1993.  Now children are interviewed in safe one-on-one settings, for the most part.” I had no specialist in child abuse or recovered memory or even in child psychology to talk with, in any sort of safe, one-on-one, setting.

Finally, I feel an incredible sense of freedom, because the statement I just quoted says, “Unfortunately, it was 1993.” As the full article makes abundantly clear, coming forward in 1993, even immediately after I had been touched, would likely have ended in no proof, no criminal charges and possibly a great deal of trauma for me, given the era’s lack of sensitivity towards the fragility of children in my position. Having my credibility questioned was the worst feeling I have ever experience, even greater than the betrayal I felt on that awful night. But I could fight back. I was fourteen, and I faced doubts by my mother and people who loved her and couldn’t see a coldness in her that would allow her to watch me suffer in the way I described. My current therapist didn’t see that in her, either, so it’s no wonder that her close friends were doubtful. No one defended my abuser. No police officer or doctor questioned me. I would not have fought for myself at age ten. I would not have been prepared to defend my credibility.

 

Why I Believe Dylan Farrow, Part I

HUGE TRIGGER WARNING: this post discuses childhood sex abuse in explicit terms. I will not shy away from detail, because rape culture feeds on silence. Sex abuse happens more often the less often we speak about it. Get prepared to be uncomfortable, or click away.

 

I was sexually abused as a child, and Woody Allen’s alleged abuse of his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, is everywhere I turn, this week. Well, I have flashed back to my own horrible experience often enough to know that I can stand it, so I think that this time, I will put it to some use. I was once an abused child whose story was a central part of one of the ugliest divorces in history. You can take it from me, now that I have spent over a decade in therapy, processing all the feelings about all the memories and even all the gaps in my memory–

The Truth of what Woody Allen did to Dylan Farrow doesn’t matter. Not being members of a jury, we are under no obligation to look for guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Our obligation in this, as it always is with survivors of abuse, particularly children, is simple: we must listen to their stories.

Nicholas Kristof, of the New York Times, has given us a chance to do just that by publishing An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow. The letter relates, in a few stark words, Dylan Farrow’s childhood sexual abuse by Woody Allen and her life since his very public breakup with her mother, Mia Farrow. And here is what shocks me, every time I think about it–this is the first time the public has heard from Dylan, herself.

Woody Allen has long enjoyed a platform as wide as the world to express every last feeling he has ever had. Dylan Farrow has had just under 1,000 words in one column in one newspaper. Why are so many people concerned with the repercussions of those words on his life? Why can we not stop to look, for just a moment, at hers?

It’s a common refrain that sex abuse should be “dealt with” quietly, lest the accusation damage the reputation of the (insert the implication: falsely) accused. But it doesn’t play out that way. Even before we find out whether the victim is telling the truth, and we rarely do, the accused almost always simply moves on with life, as though it had never happened. How many public allegations of rape or abuse have ruined the abuser’s life? R. Kelly’s pedophilia is a now a joke for late-night comedy, and his Wikipedia page has more details about his throat surgery than about the dozens of accusations of statutory rape and possession of or solicitation of child pornography made against him (note: he was fount not guilty one case that made it to court, and another was dropped after a judge ruled that the police did not have probable cause for the search that revealed the photos of underage girls on his digital camera). Kobe Bryant still plays for the Lakers, and he’s better known for fathering Kim Kardashian’s child than for the accusation of rape made against him by a hotel employee in 2003. A freshman football player won the Heisman Trophy last year, even under the “shadow” of accusations of sexual assault. Roman Polanski pled guilty to statutory rape (she was 13, he was in his 40s) in order to reduce the charges against him, but fled before sentencing and simply stays out of the United States to avoid being arrested. He continues to make films and accept awards for them from abroad. Woody Allen remains married to a woman who was a girl, and his adopted daughter, when their sexual relationship began. These men all have the following in common: they have all won the highest accolades and awards achievable in their careers while under strong suspicion of having committed sex abuse.

Not only is Woody Allen nominated for an Academy Award, but his nomination has brought his former girlfriend, Mia Farrow, and the daughter he abused under harsh public scrutiny. For lying. Maybe. For manipulating “the truth” to get more money in an ugly separation. Maybe.

Whose lives have really been “ruined” by Dylan’s story having been made public? Which–the accuser or the accused–ends up holding the shame at the end of it all?

From Dylan’s perspective: “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. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, ‘who can say what happened,’ to pretend that nothing was wrong.”

Unlike Allen and his defenders, Farrow does not ask her readers to believe her. She asks, instead, that we stop telling survivors of sexual abuse to “shut up and go away.” She explains that her first ever public statement has been prompted by Allen’s Academy Award nomination and the publicity that has come with it. She says that “For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance [by the world] silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away. But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.”

That’s it. Her entire agenda. She just wants to talk about it. Why not? This all became public in 1993! Surely, we have had time enough to process the shock that we can now handle listening to Dylan.

Now, I told you that this case haunted me. Here’s a big reason why: guess what happened in my life, in 1993?

Yes, that’s right–I was sexually assaulted.

In October, 1993, my parents were separated, and my mother was dating a man she introduced to me as David. I was nine or ten years old (I’m not sure if it happened before my birthday, or after), and at some point later that evening, David used the “party” (there was almost never any alcohol in my house–they were probably meditating and burning incense in my hippie living room) as a cover, while he came back to my room. Somehow, I ended up on the floor, on my back. He touched my chest and nipples, and put his fingers inside my vagina. It hurt. I didn’t bleed. He was in my house only once. He was in my room for no more than ten minutes. I didn’t tell anyone. I know now that my mother never knew what happened, but when she came in later to check in on me, I felt shocked and betrayed that she couldn’t see how much I suffered.

Me, around the age when I was attacked, with my friend, just being an innocent kid.

Me, around the age when I was assaulted, with my friend, just being an innocent kid.

My mother couldn’t see what had happened, of course, because my body bore no marks of any visible damage. I didn’t understand what had happened to me, let alone why it had happened or what I ought to feel about it. I didn’t understand why my father was living in a hotel, then an apartment. My parents’ separation had been sudden, because they had been fighting for years. I hadn’t noticed any distinct change. Then, my dad was just living somewhere else. It ripped my world apart. David, whose full name I have never even heard, took advantage of my broken world. I don’t remember considering telling anyone; I didn’t think or reason. I just held it inside. I survived. My secret eventually wrapped itself in a protective ball of rage, guilt and terror.

If you have ever felt fundamentally and truly unsafe, then you know this: rational thought disappears, when you are afraid that you will not survive.

I will explain, in my next post, why my secret couldn’t stay hidden and how it became involved in my parents’ horrifically ugly divorce, years after my assault took place. For now, I will simply say that this story is different from the story I used to tell. I suspect that a few of you reading this will be feeling surprise at how it has changed. The heart of my story remains true, and it is the same. An adult man violated me, when I was a child, for his own sexual gratification.

I don’t want coos of sympathy. The event itself was worked through years ago. Reliving it doesn’t even make me cry, anymore. Stories like Dylan’s break my heart, though, because they paint such a clear picture of the devastation we cause survivors of abuse, when we demand their silence. It is hard enough to live with the physical, emotional and psychological trauma caused by sexual assault, without asking that survivors defend our credibility, too.

Please, ask yourselves, why is it so automatic to our media to question Dylan’s story? And not just hers, but all the women and girls in all the cases I mentioned, and all the cases you know about.

Why is the response still, after all these years, “Well, we can’t know what happened,” just as it was in 1993?

Why is her credibility, as fully-functioning member of society, instantly questioned?

Why can’t we just listen?

I believe Dylan Farrow. If you have any doubts, ask yourself where they came from. Were you manipulated into believing that the Great Genius, towering icon of Hollywood, was too harmless to have done such things?

Were you made suggestible by your youth, when you first began watching him onscreen? Are you perhaps inclined to feel defensive, because you find his Hollywood persona endearing?

Can we appreciate the art and believe that the artist belongs behind bars?

If we ask, what if Dylan Farrow was manipulated into believing a lie, then we must also ask–what if we are the ones who have been duped? It’s only fair to question both the guilt she asserts and the innocence he proclaims.

Isn’t it a bit backwards that we find it easier, smoother, simpler, to question the alleged victim?

A final note about Allen’s latest film, Blue Jasmine: Inspired by A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, Allen’s film removes the cause for the heroine’s ultimate decline into madness, leaving his audience with no one to blame but her. Guess what he removes? Her rape. He removes her rape, and then sets about convincing his audience that nothing she says can be trusted. Streetcar features, Blanche, who is clearly hiding a great deal, who has been shamed by scandal, and who adopts the attitude of a higher social class than she occupies. She is tragic, nonetheless, as her brother-in-law, Stanley, becomes increasingly barbaric in his effort to silence her, viewing her as a threat to his marriage and masculinity. Allen turns Blanche into Jasmine, still desperate and destitute, but far more calculating. There is an objectionable brother-in-law figure, but he poses no real threat to Jasmine. He seems downright hapless compared with Williams’s vengeful Stanley. There is no ruthless, relentless, attempt to keep Jasmine silent about the way life “should” be. Blanche is haunted by a scandal involving sexuality and an underage boy, but Williams makes it clear that men hold the true power when Stanley rapes Blanche and then denies that it ever happened, finally toppling her fragile mind into madness. While Williams makes very clear that any power his women possess can be erased by a man willing to use sex to gain power, the women in Allen’s Blue Jasmine attract and repel men as they please. These men are responsible for their behavior, good or bad, only in the sense that “boys will be boys,” as though it were only natural for men to drink too much, commit adultery and use physical violence as an outlet for their anger. By the end of the film, which explains much more of the past than Williams’s Streetcar, Jasmine seems entirely culpable for her destruction; she brings about her own insanity. Blanche is literally dragged from her sister’s home, but Jasmine walks right out the front door. To top it all off, I want to vomit just thinking about the scene in which Jasmine screams at the husband who has just announced his plan to leave her for their friends’ au pair, “She’s a fucking teenager!” It is her reaction to this news that brings about her own destruction, and Allen uses her own child to voice the opinion that this is a mistake worthy of blame and punishment.

Written and directed by none other than a man who left his adult partner for the teenager they had agreed to raise as their child. Remind me, again, why are we questioning Dylan Farrow, instead of demanding answers from Woody Allen?