'The Big Bang Theory' star's op-ed about Harvey Weinstein sparks outrage on Twitter

Mayim Bialik

C. Flanigan/Getty

Mayim Bialik, one of the stars of the popular sitcom “The Big
Bang Theory,” attracted sharp criticism on Saturday over an
op-ed she
 for The New York Times about the multiple allegations of
sexual assault
and harassment made against Hollywood mogul
Harvey Weinstein. 

Bialik wrote that although she was “shocked and disgusted” by the
accusations against Weinstein, she was not surprised by

I quickly learned even as a preteen actress that young
girls with doe eyes and pouty lips who spoke in a high register
were favored for roles by the powerful men who made those
decisions,” Bialik wrote. 

The actress went on to note the choices she makes today
that she deems to be “self-protecting and wise.”

“I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for
private situations with those I am most intimate with,” she
wrote. “I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a

The op-ed drew immediate backlash from critics who
said Bialik was insinuating that modesty and a conservative
wardrobe can guard one against sexual assault. 

Several observers pointed out that Bialik had glossed over the
fact that the central motive behind sexual assault and
harassment is power, not sexual desire.

“As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic
surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal
experience with men asking me to meeting in their hotel rooms,”
she wrote. “Those of us in Hollywood who don’t represent an
impossible standard of beauty have the ‘luxury’ of being
overlooked and, in many cases, ignored by men in power unless we
can make them money.”

Bialik’s comments drew sustained criticism from those who said
she was demonizing women based on their attractiveness and
implying that they invited sexual harassment because of their
looks. Several observers pointed out that a woman’s appearance
often has little to do with whether or not she experiences

“I have to say I was dressed non provocatively at 12 walking home
from school when men masturbated at me,” tweeted actress Patricia
Arquette. “It’s not the clothes.”

Bialik’s op-ed came on the heels of designer Donna Karan’s
comments last weekend about whether women today are “asking for
it” based on how they dress and their behavior. 

“How do we present ourselves as women?” Karan reportedly
said at an awards
 Sunday evening in response to a question about
the accusations against Weinstein. “What are we asking? Are we
asking for it? By presenting all the sensuality and all the
sexuality? What are we throwing out to our children today? About
how to dance, how to perform and what to wear? How much should
they show?”

The New York Times broke the first bombshell report
detailing several allegations against Weinstein, and The New
Yorker followed up with a separate report which included
additional accounts of sexual harassment and assault, as well as
some allegations of rape.
 Dozens of women,
including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina
Jolie, have now stepped forward to accuse
Weinstein of sexual misconduct to varying degrees.

Most of the alleged encounters detail “business
meetings” that occurred in Weinstein’s hotel suites that turned
into scenes of sexual harassment or assault. These
accusations stretch back as far as the 1980s and include a
variety of film industry figures, including actresses,
assistants, and other employees.

After the stories broke, Weinstein was fired from the Weinstein
Company, which he
co-founded. The British Academy of
Film and Television Arts also suspended Weinstein’s
, releasing a statement on Wednesday that called
his alleged behavior “completely unacceptable and
incompatible with BAFTA’s values.”

On Saturday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences also voted to oust

Michelle Mark contributed reporting.

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