[Content Note: Sexual violence; rape apologia.]

Fresh from publishing a piece in which the writer questions the ethics of a woman with cancer, the Guardian now publishes a piece by Michael Wolff questioning the motives of a survivor's family.

The headline is: "The Woody Allen-Dylan Farrow case: media spin for the Farrow family?" The sub-head is: "The debate over Allen's alleged abuse of Dylan played out in the media two decades ago. Very curious how it's back again."

I suppose it would be "curious" to someone who comprehensively ignores that Dylan is now an adult and is telling her own story from her own perspective for the first time. And to someone who dutifully ignores that Dylan, Ronan, and Mia Farrow have been publicly responding to Woody Allen being honored with another round of nominations and awards, without so much as the most cursory acknowledgement from the people celebrating him that he is more than his art, except when it's to say what a great guy he is.

(That is the piece the "separate the art from the artist" arguers always miss: Awards like the Cecil B. DeMille Award which Diane Keaton just accepted on Woody Allen's behalf at the Golden Globes are about more, they always are, than the art. They are about honoring the person who makes the art.)

Wolff is certain that the Farrows have an agenda, even beyond the typical Revenge Fantasy peddled by Allen defenders:
Indeed, the larger context for this rehashed scandal is not a pattern of abuse or the ongoing dysfunctions of a celebrated family but rather the demands of a publicity rollout. Twenty-one years after the event – all parties long quiet – a story is revived. It is an old scandal for a new generation.

The impetus seems to be to establish Mia Farrow as a celebrity activist worthy of the world stage, and, as well, to launch a public career for her son Ronan.
Note that Dylan Farrow is nowhere to be found in this conspiracy theory. You know—the young woman whose face and first-person account were published in the New York Times this weekend. The young woman who was seven years old at the time of the abuse she recounts.

Also note that Wolff fails to mention that Mia Farrow has been a celebrated activist for a very long time, and that Ronan Farrow has already established a pretty solid public career. Which has certainly been aided by his celebrity lineage, but has not been contingent on exploiting his sister's abuse—something he takes so seriously that he severed communication with his father as a result.

Wolff, who further refers to publicly telling one's story of surviving abuse as "a confection," seems very annoyed that Mia Farrow and Nicholas Kristof are friends, and that her daughter's story appeared under his byline. But what Wolff misses is that many survivors have to depend on friends, especially if you've got friends with a megaphone, because no one else believes us.

Even friends who might issue caveats that function to undermine our credibility.

Telling our stories publicly and loudly is crucial, even and especially when justice has been elusive. Convictions are not a reliable measure of the incidence of sexual assault, and thus are not a reliable indicator of the veracity of any allegation. That most sexual assaults never result in a conviction is such a basic fact of sexual violence that no one who does not understand this reality, and the attendant resulting need for survivors to tell their stories, should never write about the subject. And certainly never published by any media organization that cares, even a little bit, about sexual violence prevention.

Wolff ends his piece thus:
Here's a certainty: When you play out your personal dramas, hurt and self-interest in the media, it's a confection. You say what you have to say in the way you have to say it to give it media currency – and that's always far from the truth. Often, in fact, someone else says it for you. It's all planned. It's all rehearsed. This is craft. This is strategy. This is manipulation. This is spin.
That is, truly, one of the worst things I have ever read in response to the publication of a survivor's story.

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