It’s not about believing Dylan Farrow

Dylan Farrow has shared her very personal account of being sexually assaulted by Woody Allen, her adopted father, in the New York Times. Most commenters around the web are rushing to defend Allen, claiming he was “exonerated” back in 1993 when it was first reported. Claiming that the fact that Mia and Dylan didn’t take it all the way to criminal court means it was a lie. Claiming Mia is the guilty one, because coaching her child to tell a story she was too young to even understand is the sort of thing she’d do.

Her story is credible. She describes a grooming process that is the sort of detail liars don’t think to include because it doesn’t sound that bad. She talks about asking her mom if that’s simply something dads do to daughters because, for all she knew at that young age, it was. Her story is completely credible. If this isn’t the true story of what Allen did to her, it is the true story of what someone’s sexually abusive father did to his daughter. As an adult, maybe she could make this stuff up or seek out a victim to help her write it. As a child… no.

That said, it’s not really important that we all choose sides here and argue. What is important is that people open their minds to the absolutely real possibility that this happened. That Jerry Sandusky did what he was found guilty of doing. That Roman Polanski did what he’s never really denied he did. Having social standing and being a predator are not mutually exclusive. The sky will not fall if we all acknowledge this reality. If there’s any chance of the sky falling at all, it’s much more likely to happen because so many of us insist on interacting with personal mythologies instead of reality.


  1. Gabriella says

    I have a theory that some people can’t admire a person for whatever talent and have that person be capable of bad behaviour in some other regard, so they have to deny/ignore all evidence of that behaviour. Ie, said person loves Woody Allen as a director but god forbid they like one faucet of a person while being repulsed by another faucet, ergo, Dylan is lying about being molested.

    I realise a lot of this is also the patriachy – let’s believe the succesful white man over his step-daughter and her mother – but I also believe there’s an element of people being unable to reconcile liking someone creatively but finding them reprehensible personally, so, eh, let’s justify away what it is that we find abhorrent by making someone else a liar…

      • says

        I did read some of the Daily Beast article before deciding it missed the point, at which point I stopped. The Telegraph articles does a good job explaining why: sure, Mia Farrow might be a nasty piece of work in some ways, but that doesn’t help us sort out the truth either way. Sure, Woody may be claustrophobic, but attics aren’t typically all that small. Sure, there was a lack of foresnsic evidence – there usually is with rape cases (and not every sexual assault act creates forensic evidence). And so on – he trots out a bunch of factoids, which are neither the whole story, nor do they mean what he seems to think they mean.

        In fact, the most telling fact he shares is what the DA said when they dropped the investigation: he believed Dylan, but there wasn’t enough evidence. That’s very common in rape cases – prosecutors believe the victim, but lack the evidence to make the case in court. So, does he want us to conclude this DA was so brainwashed by Mia that he made what could be construed as a defamatory statement against a very public figure with the means to sue the pants off him? Really?

        • Nuria says

          Oh, the claustrophobia argument was ridiculous IMO.
          While I believe Dylan (if she felt abused, then she was, right?) I’m not sure of what to make of WA. I’m in no way a fan of his or his movies, which I find dull; If he, indeed, abused his daughter, how come he’s been allowed to adopt more children? How come there is no other instance where his behaviour towards children has come into question? (I acknowledge this may be terribly naive thinking from me). It is also interesting that Mia Farrow was/(is?) friends with Polansky and her own brother has been sentenced for child sex abuse. Could it be possible that Dylan was indeed abused by someone else?

          • says

            how come he’s been allowed to adopt more children?

            Private adoptions aren’t screened for parental fitness. You just come to an arrangement with the child’s guardian (often before the child is born).

            How come there is no other instance where his behaviour towards children has come into question?

            Well, again, looking at what happens when you come forward, who would put themselves through that? Michael Jackson was accused of molesting more than one kid – one settlement, one acquittal. When Charlotte Lewis finally came forward a few years ago to say she was also assaulted by Polanski, and she was accused of just trying to fan the flames of her acting career. When quite a few women came forward to say Arnold Schwartzenegger had assaulted them, we elected him governor. And let’s not forget Anita Hill. The man she accused is now on the US Supreme Court deciding cases about women’s rights. And then look at all the priests accused of molesting quite a few kids, scooted from one diocese to another.

            Could it be possible that Dylan was indeed abused by someone else?

            I’ve actually dwelt on this question for a long time and my answer is, “Yes, but I doubt it in this case.” Trauma can produce confusion in anybody, and kids have a built-in tendency to block out what they can’t handle. But swap out one face for another in memories? I’m sure that could happen, but how? Can a child handle the idea she’s been assaulted, but be unable to handle the knowledge of WHO assaulted her? And if, for example, it was Mia’s brother rather than Woody, Mia would probably have taken the time honored approach of convincing Dylan she imagined the whole thing rather than just try to make her think it was Woody. Of course, some people are painting Mia as just that opportunistic and diabolical, but… we’re not in a movie, folks. I find “powerful man does wrong, gets away with it” a far more likely scenario than “jealous woman thinks really fast and takes child’s molestation by her own brother as an opportunity to smear the name of the man who scorned her.”

            Here’s what gets me. Vanity Fair reported this at the time:

            There was an unwritten rule in Mia Farrow’s house that Woody Allen was never supposed to be left alone with their seven-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan. Over the last two years, sources close to Farrow say, he has been discussing alleged “inappropriate” fatherly behavior toward Dylan in sessions with Dr. Susan Coates, a child psychologist. In more than two dozen interviews conducted for this article, most of them with individuals who are on intimate terms with the Mia Farrow household, Allen was described over and over as being completely obsessed with the bright little blonde girl.

            There’s more in the article – stories told by other witnesses which are pretty disturbing. And they’re still standing by it. I know it’s hard to imagine this stuff was known and put into publication in a major periodical and still nothing was done… but what can I say? People really are just that eager to cast doubt on accusations that disturb them.

        • SunlessNick says

          So, does he want us to conclude this DA was so brainwashed by Mia that he made what could be construed as a defamatory statement against a very public figure with the means to sue the pants off him? Really?

          Similar reasoning leads me to believe Dylan Farrow now – reiterating these allegations now is unlikely to get her anything but a string of attacks and exhortations let Allen be. And she must know that. So why would she put herself through it for no reason at all?

          • says

            Very true. It’s also hard to imagine someone staying consistent with a vendetta story all through childhood and adulthood – that’s a lot of brain development and rearrangement, and yet no one seems to allege she’s ever expressed a moment of doubt or confusion about this. If she was coerced, I would think doubts would have emerged at some point.

            • Nuria says

              Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comments.

              Private adoptions aren’t screened for parental fitness.
              ::stares in horror:: :(

              • says

                Well, that’s how we roll in the US. If you want to make a business deal, you can, and if it all goes horribly wrong later, well, that’s okay because the wronged party can spend tens of thousands suing you! Right? Oh, not everyone has that kinda money? Huh. Oh, well! /facetiousness

  2. Cheryl H. says

    I believe Dylan was sexually abused and Allen is a pedophile. I can only think of one Woody Allen movie I’ve seen, and it will probably be the only Woody Allen movie I will ever see, because I have no intention of choosing to support this disgusting pervert in any way in the future. What others do is their business, but, for myself, I cannot separate the man from his work in my mind.

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