1. Mia Farrow's actions and inactions disprove Dylan's story.
2. Dylan Farrow could be lying (or brainwashed).
Do We Punish Dylan Farrow For Her Mother's Questionable Choices?Many people seem to be questioning Dylan's story because of Mia's actions. Questions like: If Mia Farrow was so concerned about Woody Allen's interactions with Dylan, why did she continue her relationship with him? Why did Mia Farrow allow Woody Allen to have contact with her children after he entered into counselling for his inappropriate interactions with Dylan? Did Mia coach Dylan in what to say on the videotape? If Mia is so offended by Woody Allen being honored at the Golden Globes, why did she give permission for them to include her in scenes used in the tribute video?
If you felt suspicious or concerned about someone's interactions with your child, you would not continue in a relationship with this person, allow them to be around the child in question (or your other children), or continue to support their pursuit of adoption of your children. Right? It seems so very clear.
But it isn't always that clear.
Parents do not always protect their children, even when the possibility of sexual abuse is present. My uncle was a convicted child molester; convicted before I was born. It seems like the family would automatically keep this man away from children, but they didn't. One family member told me that she confronted my uncle, and told him that if he ever touched her children, she would kill him. She thought this would deter him from sexually molesting her children. After that conversation, she allowed my uncle to have repeated access to her children over a period of many years. Her threat did not protect them.
My father told me he thought I would be fine spending hours with my uncle each day because my grandparents were also in the house, and surely nothing would happen with them there. Their presence in the house did not protect me.
This isn't a new story.
I am far from the only person whose family did not protect a child from abuse, even when all the signs pointed to something very wrong happening.
I don't understand why Mia Farrow didn't do more to protect Dylan when she was a child, once she realized Woody Allen was acting inappropriately toward her. Mia was in a long-term romantic relationship with Woody Allen. He was not only her romantic partner, but also the person who provided her with a lot of work. Maybe those two things played into her decision-making process. I'm sure we will never know.
Mia Farrow did instruct the babysitters that Allen was not to be left alone with Dylan after he entered into counselling for the inappropriate behavior he exhibited toward Dylan. Maybe, similar to the actions of my family, Mia believed that would be enough to protect her daughter. I'm sure we will never know.
I don't understand why Mia Farrow gave permission for her image to be included in the Golden Globes tribute video. Maybe she thought no one would find out about her consent. Maybe she wanted to be included because a majority of her film work was associated with those Woody Allen films. I'm sure we will never know.
I don't understand why Mia Farrow has supported Roman Polanski, who is unquestionably a child rapist.
I don't understand a lot of things about Mia Farrow. Maybe she is bad mom. Maybe she is a nutcase. Maybe she did the best she could in the early 90's, and would change a lot of things if she could go back in time. But there is one thing I know for sure: Mia Farrow's actions and inactions are not a basis for questioning Dylan Farrow's story.
Dylan Farrow should not be made to answer for the actions of her mother during that time or since. Mia's part in the abuse perpetrated against Dylan (by her choice to continue to allow Woody Allen in their home and give him access to her children) is a matter for Dylan to come to terms with in her own relationship with Mia, but should not be used against Dylan when she speaks out about her story.
Do We Automatically Believe The Victim?In America, people have a presumption of innocence until they are proven guilty. This is a very important tenant of our judicial system, but people often use it to silence rape and sexual abuse victims. They are so quick to assert the presumption of innocence for the accused that they heap guilt upon the victim by presuming she (or he) is lying.
I choose to presume innocence for Dylan Farrow. I will not believe she is guilty of lying about the abuse she disclosed at the hands of Woody Allen until she is proven guilty.
This is a very involved case, and I am not going to try to take it point by point. I have included several links at the bottom of this post that give a good overview of the case if you would like to read about it in greater detail.
There is, however, one point I do want to discuss. People have pointed to the fact that one of the doctors who examined Dylan Farrow said "there was no evidence of injury to the anal or vaginal area," something that Mia Farrow admitted to in her testimony during the custody case, as an example of why Dylan is lying. This lack of injury does not mean that sexual abuse did not occur. Just as a rape victim doesn't need to be beaten unconscious and covered in bruises for it to have been rape, there will not always be injury to the anal or vaginal area when a child has been sexually molested. The lack of evidence of injury is not why the case did not go to trial. It was, instead, the belief of the prosecutor that Dylan was too fragile to testify in open court.
The story that Dylan Farrow tells is a classic case of a perpetrator grooming their victim. The question of did Woody Allen sexually molest Dylan Farrow does not just rest on that one day in the attic as Allen would have you believe. It started before that with inappropriate behavior on the part of Allen that escalated until Dylan Farrow could no longer hold back the secret of her questions and feelings about the things Allen had done to her. That was the day she disclosed the abuse to her mother.
Woody Allen has long asserted that Mia Farrow made up these allegations to get back at him for his relationship with her daughter Soon-Yi, and then brainwashed Dylan into believing them. His story plays into the myth that women are just waiting around every corner to accuse a man of rape in order to ruin his life. This myth continues to be perpetuated, even though studies show that false reports make up only 2% of rapes reported.
Like many survivors of sexual abuse, Dylan Farrow has been dismissed by many people as a liar. Even when people do not specifically use that word to describe her, it is implied each time they question the credibility of her story based on the fact that Woody Allen deserves a presumption of innocence. But in the face of opposition, of repeated investigations and questioning, and the love of a nation for her abuser, Dylan Farrow has not backed down from the truth of what happened in the attic or in the years leading up to that event. She has stood firm in her story, and she deserves our support.
Do We Separate The Art From The Artist?One last thing: Woody Allen as an artist. Do we separate his art from his life? It is a valid question; one that has been asked about many artists. I wonder if, in Woody Allen's case, we can instead use the art to get further insight into the artist. In a recent article in Esquire Magazine, Stephen Marche takes a second look at Woody Allen's body of work that is chilling. I encourage you to read it.
That examination of Allen's words for film and stage is almost as chilling as these words he spoke about himself in a 1976 People Magazine interview,
"I'm open-minded about sex. I'm not above reproach; if anything, I'm below reproach. I mean, if I was caught in a love nest with 15 12-year-old girls tomorrow, people would think, yeah, I always knew that about him." Allen pauses. "Nothing I could come up with would surprise anyone," he ventures helplessly. "I admit to it all."
*Links to articles and public statements about the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen case:
- Original Vanity Fair article from November 1992
- Court Documents, decision from the judge in the 1992 custody suit
- Vanity Fair update on the Farrow family from October 2013 and November 2013
- Daily Beast article from Robert B. Weide defending Woody Allen
- Open Letter from Dylan Farrow in Nicholas Kristof's New York Times blog
- Moses Farrow's defense of Woody Allen and response to Dylan Farrow's statement
- Woody Allen's New York Times response to Dylan Farrow's statement
- 10 Undeniable Facts About the Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation, Marueen Orth's response in Vanity Fair
- Dylan Farrow's response to Woody Allen's statement
- Re-Watching Woody Allen, a look back at some of the continuing themes in his work in film and stage
- People Magazine interview from October 1976 where Woody Allen makes troubling statements about 12-year old girls