[Content Note: Rape Culture, Child Abuse, Rape Apoglists, Misogynist + Ableist Narratives]
I have been reading a lot about Dylan Farrow and Woody Allen for the past couple of weeks. I will admit that a lot of this is new material for me because I did not have full access to the news in 1992 (the conversation about how ultra conservative Christian households often filter information from children is not the conversation I want to have in this thread, but suffice to say: that is a thing) and after I had information more freely available, I didn't proactively seek it out because I didn't know that there were these things about Woody Allen that needed to be known out there being knowable.
I lead with that not so much to center myself for this piece, but because it's not something I am seeing much addressed when the apologists come out of the woodwork and decry Dylan Farrow for speaking up now, So Long After The Fact, as though people like me didn't exist:
Some of us are hearing Dylan's story for the first time.
I don't have a lot to add to this discussion except to add my voice to those who say #IBelieveDylanFarrow and to strongly recommend everything that Melissa McEwan has written on these events.
But I do want to add this: I keep seeing rape apologists using misogynistic attacks against Mia Farrow to try to have their cake and eat it too. When people point out (as Ashley Miller has) that "[Woody Allen] was already in therapy for inappropriate behavior towards [Dylan] who he was not allowed to see alone", then the rape apologist fallback position on this established history of behavior (which is important because abusers groom their victims to accept an escalated pattern of abuse) has been to try to shift the blame of abuse off of Woody Allen and onto Mia Farrow.
The argument goes that if that established history of behavior was the genuine threat that it appeared to be, then Mia Farrow would have broken contact with Woody Allen earlier because she would have known that abusers can't be fixed by therapy, so since she didn't break contact with Woody Allen in the early stages of Dylan's abuse, therefore both those early stages and the escalation of abuse must both be an elaborate fabrication. (Cake.) And also -- look over here, a shiny! -- if both the established history of abuse and the escalation of the abuse are true, then the conversation should be not about how Woody Allen is an abuser, but about how Mia Farrow callously allowed an abusive man remain in the lives of her children, even after she had concerns about him. (NOM NOM NOM.)
Heads, she's an abusive crazy bitch who harmed her daughter (by making her think she'd been abused); tails, she's an abusive crazy bitch who harmed her daughter (by not breaking up with Woody Allen sooner). The important thing we can all agree on is that Mia Farrow is the villain here, even if Woody Allen abused Dylan. And of course once we all agree that Mia Farrow is the villain here, then we can all go back to ignoring Dylan Farrow because survivors are messy and inconvenient and feeling sorry for Woody Allen because bitches amiright.
Now, I don't know Mia Farrow from Eve. I don't know what mistakes she's made in her life, or what regrets she may have. (I do imagine that she hasn't lived this long without accruing some of each; I know I haven't.) What I do know is that Dylan Farrow, whose opinion on her own abuse is the only opinion that counts, has spoken about how her mother has been supportive of her, and that Dylan feels she has "a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home."
And on this point too, I Believe Dylan Farrow.
I know that blaming mothers is something of a national pastime. But I am frustrated at how many people apparently find it inconceivable that a man who can groom one victim for abuse may be able to groom another victim for abuse. And I am frustrated at how many people find it hard to believe that a mother might genuinely be mistaken about the nature of abuse, especially a mother living in 1992, when (sarcasm mode engaged) we all of us definitely knew everything there was to know about abusers and how therapy rarely changes them and this fact was very well-publicized in our culture, and also we never exhort everyone to show sympathy for abusers and rapists who pretend to conform to a reformation narrative, like how people argue that someone like Roman Polanski isn't a threat because he supposedly "hasn't hurt anyone since". That stuff never happened in the 1990s and definitely never happens now.
And I find it infuriating that rape apologists are using widespread misogyny against mothers to argue that even if Woody Allen abused Dylan Farrow, the real villain here is not the abuser but the mother who failed to prevent the abuse from happening. Because, come hell or high water, we will not hold abusers accountable for their actions. Never.
I believe Dylan Farrow when she says that she is a survivor of sexual assault.
I believe Dylan Farrow when she says that her mother was and is supportive of her.
I believe Dylan Farrow more than I believe misogynistic narratives.
I believe Dylan Farrow.