Like fellow actors Alyssa Milano, Ashley Judd, Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, Blake Lively is saying “Time’s Up”.
The Gossip Girl star has publicly expressed her support for the Hollywood-led initiative, which has established a legal defence fund to help people fight sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. It’s the answer to the “now what?” question, the practical step after dozens came forward with allegations against powerful figures in the entertainment industry (Harvey Weinstein, anyone?) and inspired millions more around the world to declare #metoo.
“I’m honored [sic] to be a part of this movement. The time is NOW! Go to http://timesupnow.com if you need legal support or if you want to donate ANY amount you can,” the 30-year-old tweeted on Wednesday.
Yet while thousands applauded Lively’s endorsement, the comments beneath her post were littered with one name: Woody Allen. They questioned how someone so supportive of a campaign in aid of sexual assault victims could continue to publicly support the American director given allegations of abuse levelled against him.
Among the dissenting chorus, was the very person behind those allegations: his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow.
“You worked with my abuser [on 2016 film Café Society], @blakelively,” the 32-year-old writer responded. “Am I a woman who matters too?”
Farrow, adopted at two weeks old by the director and his then-partner actress Mia Farrow, has been vocal about the claims against Allen.
“I have long maintained that when I was seven years old, Woody Allen led me into an attic, away from the babysitters who had been instructed never to leave me alone with him. He then sexually assaulted me,” Farrow wrote in The Los Angeles Times. “I told the truth to the authorities then, and I have been telling it, unaltered, for more than 20 years.”
Farrow also alleges Allen groomed her, touched her inappropriately and that he once “buried” his head in her lap after taking off her underwear – an incident that she claims was witnessed by a babysitter.
LISTEN: The Harvey Weinstein fallout, explained.
A state’s attorney in Connecticut said he had “probable cause” to prosecute Allen in 1993 but did not file charges, reportedly in order to spare Farrow from an exhaustive trial.
In the face of this and Allen’s vehement denials, the writer now uses column inches in an attempt to prosecute her father’s behaviour, plus that of industry figures who she believes have allowed him to work with relative impunity. Producers, film company executives, actors.
Lively, she argues, is among those who choose to simply ‘avoid the subject’.
When questioned about the allegations by The Los Angeles Times in 2016, Lively said, “It’s very dangerous to factor in things you don’t know anything about… I could [only] know my experience. And my experience with Woody is he’s empowering to women.”
She's not alone. Kate Winslet, star of Allen's new film Wonder Wheel told The Envelope, "Having thought it all through, you put it to one side and just work with the person. Woody Allen is an incredible director." To Rome with Love actress Greta Gerwig told NPR, “I think I'm living in that space of fear of being worried about how I talk about it and what I say.”
Other actors, however, have publicly criticised Allen and refused to work with him over Farrow's claims: notably Susan Sarandon, Jessica Chastain and Ellen Page, who said she was "ashamed" to have signed on the 2012 film To Rome With Love.
The Juno star wrote on Facebook, “I had yet to find my voice and was not who I am now and felt pressured, because ‘of course you have to say yes to this Woody Allen film.’"
It's precisely this pressure, this veil of invincibility around perpetrators that Time's Up hopes to bring undone.