When actress-director Amber Tamblyn shared a memory on Twitter about the time actor James Woods hit on her and her friend when she was 16, he immediately called her account a lie. It was a shocking moment that kicked off an important conversation about people not believing women—even those in Hollywood who have clout, like Tamblyn does.
The actress didn’t let Woods have the last word; instead, she wrote an essay for the The New York Times that gave a voice to something many women live with on a daily basis. And thanks to her mental-health-boosting #realtalk, which extended to a Facebook Live sesh with a NYT editor, folks everywhere are realizing they can speak up, too.
Here are 3 points from Tamblyn’s essay that prove women should be done with not being believed.
1. Women aren’t given the benefit of the doubt
When Tamblyn was 21 years old and a crew member on the set made her feel uncomfortable, she nervously sat down and talked to her producer about the situation. But the producer only had one thing to say: “Well, there are two sides to every story.” Unfortunately, whether you’re a famous actress or an impressionable college student, it isn’t unusual for people to question the validity of your side.
“Women do not get to have a side. They get to have an interrogation.”
“For women in America who come forward with stories of harassment, abuse, and sexual assault, there are not two sides to every story, however noble that principle might seem,” Tamblyn wrote. “Women do not get to have a side. They get to have an interrogation.”
Women shouldn’t have to be interrogated just to tell their truth—and deal with the scrutiny that comes after speaking up.
2. Women have to be on guard…all the time
Still—in 2017—women are deemed at fault if they’re sexually assaulted. And because of that, you almost always have to watch your own back.
“Every day, women across the country consider the risks. That is our day job and our night shift. We have a diploma in risk consideration.”
“Every day, women across the country consider the risks. That is our day job and our night shift. We have a diploma in risk consideration,” Tamblyn wrote. “Consider that skirt. Consider that dark alley. Consider questioning your boss. Consider what your daughter will think of you. Consider what your mother will think of what your daughter will think of you. Consider how it will be twisted and used against you in a court of law. Consider whether you did, perhaps, really ask for it. Consider your weight. Consider dieting. Consider agelessness. Consider silence.”
She makes a valid point: Most sexual assaults end up going unreported because women feel like they won’t be believed if they speak up about what happened. And that’s a shame.
3. Women need to start believing in themselves
Tamblyn—as well as her friends—have been afraid of speaking up in the past, whether it’s about a career opportunity or simply asking for something from a man who’s in a position of power.
“Disbelief is not just about men disbelieving us. It is about our own disbelief in ourselves.”
She’s learned that believing in yourself and speaking up are the only ways to get ahead—because when more and more women band together, their voices have to be heard. She wrote, “Disbelief is not just about men disbelieving us. It is about our own disbelief in ourselves.”