Hollywood and adjacent industries have been filled to the brim with discussions, allegations and sometimes confrontations about the topic of sexual harassment in the workplace and how it should be handled. As many industries and the people working within them are forced to confront their toxic behavior while figuring out a vocabulary to accurately discuss it with others, it's becoming easier and easier to spot the problematic opinions.
Enter Kirstie Alley.
I know that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this opinion demands a little scrutiny. It involves victims, their abusers and how the two should apparently relate to one another after a transgression has been committed. Alley's opinion about sexual assault victims and how they handle their trauma is, to put it succinctly, problematic.
On Wednesday, Nov. 29, Alley tweeted out the following: "What the hell is happening? We now live in a country where people lose their jobs when accused of something without proof or trial or in some cases w anonymous accusers? Can't confront your accuser? This is bullshit. And IT HURTS THE REAL VICTIMS of abuse. AND innocent people."
It's not clear if Alley was responding to a specific incident, but her tweet was made on the same day Matt Lauer was fired from NBC News and legendary radio personality Garrison Keillor was let go from Minnesota Public Radio, both for accusations of sexual misconduct.
What the hell is happening? We now live in a country where people lose their jobs when accused of something without proof or trial or in some cases w anonymous accusers? Can't confront your accuser? This is bullshit. And IT HURTS THE REAL VICTIMS of abuse. AND innocent people.— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) November 29, 2017
Alley's statement implies there is a kind of spectrum of possible types of sexual misconduct wherein some might not be as bad as others and that those less impactful or less severe kinds would leave a victim emotionally capable of confronting the offender (and that every victim is physically and professionally safe enough to do so without fear of retribution). There is no sliding scale for how impactful sexual harassment or assault is, and we cannot simply tell victims of this kind of assault to essentially rub some dirt in it and keep playing, metaphorically speaking. It should also be noted that Alley's statement implies there's some deep suspicion on her end about women who come forward as if their claims are not true. Again, it's a bold and problematic position to take in this conversation, especially from another woman.
Naturally, Alley faced backlash for her extremely strong opinion on this matter, and shortly after her first tweet, tweeted out a second, more placating statement.
Ok on another note..there is SO much GOOD IN THIS WORLD ..And I just hope all this chaos doesn't occlude the GOODNESS around us.. take justice against the bad and REVEL IN THE GOOD— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) November 29, 2017
Of course we want people to revel in the good and take justice against the bad, as Alley puts it. But calling out victims of sexual assault and harassment for not doing their part by facing the person who attacked or harassed them? That's certainly not the most productive way to take justice against the bad, no matter which way you look at it.
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