On Saturday, actor Amber Tamblyn found herself embroiled in a Twitter saga that soon grew to be about something much more significant than a tweet. It all started with a retweet from 70-year-old director James Wood, in which he criticized the upcoming movie ‘Call Me By Your Name’ that will tell the story of a gay relationship between a 24-year-old and a 17-year-old. Armie Hammer, who stars in the film, hit back, asking “Didn't you date a 19 year old when you were 60…….?"
Tamblyn tweeted in support: ”James Woods tried to pick me and my friend up at a restaurant once. He wanted to take us to Vegas. 'I'm 16' I said. 'Even better' he said,” The response was almost instantaneous, with many speaking out in support of her story. However, there were also people that questioned the validity of her experience, and Woods himself denounced the accusation as a lie in a subsequent tweet. But Tamblyn is not taking not taking the backlash lying down. As well as responding on Twitter, she has penned an open letter to Woods that was just published on Teen Vogue’s website.
“What you are experiencing is called a teachable moment. It is called a gift. It is called a humbling,” she opens. The letter is gracious, but also asserts her right to control the narrative. She sees the potential for this controversy to draw attention to the sexist double standards that benefit powerful men, but does not have high hopes. “Since you've now called me a liar, I will now call you a silencer. I see your gaslight and now will raise you a scorched earth,” she writes.
She then goes on to detail the specifics of the situation in which she alleges Woods approached her when she was 16 years old in order to support her claims. “You tried to make it sound innocent,” she writes. “This is something predatory men like to do, I've noticed. Make it sound innocent. Just a dollop of insinuation. Just a hair of persuasion. Just a pinch of suggestion.” She calls out the victim-blaming culture that questions women’s stories, by default. “The nation's harmful narrative of disbelieving women first, above all else.” This is not just about one woman’s experience. By standing up to the criticism, Tamblyn is standing up for all women who have ever been told that they are lying about the harassment they experience. We stand with her.
Read the full letter on Teen Vogue here.
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Molly McLaughlin is a travel and culture writer currently based in Mexico City. Her work has appeared in publications including Lonely Planet, Refinery29 and Ms. Magazine. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @mollysgmcl.