Mayim Bialik Responds to Accusations That She Victim-Blamed Sexual Assault Survivors

Mayim Bialik wrote a controversial op-ed for The New York Times last week, and the internet was not happy with the self-proclaimed feminist's choice of words. The Big Bang Theory actress has since apologized for her piece on Harvey Weinstein, defending herself against accusations of victim-blaming his sexual assault survivors. 

As PEOPLE reports, Bialik met with the Times' Opinion section via Facebook Live on Monday in an attempt to set the record straight. In the piece, she writes of her personal experience in the entertainment industry, defining herself as a "'nontraditional-looking' woman" who "always made conservative choices as a young actress." She mentions that her mother didn't let her wear makeup or get manicures before auditions, and this has led her to make "self-protecting and wise" decisions as an adult actress. "I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy," she continued. Thus she received a lot of backlash for insinuating a woman's appearance or actions could attract sexual assault. 

"That is absolutely not what my intention was," the mother of two said. "I think that it is safe for me to start this conversation by saying there is no way to avoid being the victim of assault by what you wear or the way you behave. I really do regret that this became what it became…"

Bialik admitted that the "complicated dynamic" of a sexual assault discussion should not have been addressed in those 900 words. "I’m a human being, and there’s a lot that I’ve chosen not to share," she continued, "but absolutely I am deeply, deeply hurt if any woman who has been assaulted—or man—thinks that in any way I was victim-blaming."

Viewers flooded the comments with more questions, pressing Bialik to explain her point of view. She reiterated that she does not believe that how a person dresses or behaves has anything to do with sexual assault. "Assault and rape are acts of power, they’re not acts of sexual desire. I totally get that, and I really do intend to convey that I understand that."

In the 25-minute video, Bialik clarified that she was talking about her own very specific experience in Hollywood. She intended to start a conversation about "the way that women are encouraged to present themselves, and the way that men encourage women to present themselves." She sees the Harvey Weinstein scandal as an opportunity "to find productive ways for us to work together to find ways that we can all feel empowered and protected despite what is going on."

While Bialik's choice of words may have rubbed some readers the wrong way, her intended message is undoubtedly feminist. "I believe that women have a unique power, all kinds of women, to help others be free from the bonds of race, class and gender. Even if we disagree about certain things, we can work together to build that kind of society that we all want to live in and that women deserve to live in.”