Mayim Bialik slammed for 'victim blaming'

Orthodox Jewish actress criticized for suggesting that dressing modestly can help reduce phenomenon of sexual assault.

Tzvi Lev,

Mayim Bialik
Mayim Bialik
Public domain

An Orthodox Jewish actress, best known for her role on "The Big Bang Theory", has come under fire for praising modest dress in an opinion piece responding to the recent Harvey Weinstein sexual molestation scandal.

Mayim Bialik wrote in the New York Times that "I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy."

Bialik quickly faced backlash from feminists alleging that the actress was blaming victims of sexual assault. "The #MayimBialik @nytimes opinion piece is so problematic and such a step back in the wrong direction. Victim-blaming is never okay" tweeted journalist Emma Silva.

Stung by the criticism, Bialik clarified in a Facebook live video with the New York Times that she never meant to blame sexual assault victims for what they wore. "It has become clear to me that there are people that think I implied, or overtly stated, that you can be protected from assault from the clothing you wear," Bialik said. "That is absolutely not what my intention was and I think that it is safe for me to [say]...there's no way to avoid being the victim of assault by what you wear or the way you behave."

Bialik also thanked her fans for supporting her despite the furor. "I also see a bunch of people have taken my words out of the context of the Hollywood machine and twisted them to imply that God forbid I would blame a woman for her assault based on her clothing or behavior," she tweeted. "Anyone who knows me and my feminism knows that's absurd and not at all what this piece was about."