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Actress Gabrielle Union took to Twitter yesterday to make some pointed statements about the link between sexual assault and women’s attire — namely, that there isn’t one.

The recent scandal surrounding disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, accused of sexually harassing scores of women in Hollywood, has reinvigorated discussion about just where responsibility lies in tackling a culture in which harassment and assault has gone unchecked for years.

Union, who at 19 was raped at gunpoint, took the opportunity to highlight the circumstances of her own assault:

Union spoke up in light of controversial suggestions made by actress Mayim Bialik, of The Big Bang Theory (and Blossom) fame. In an op-ed piece for The New York Times over the weekend titled ‘Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World,’ Bialik described her choices to “dress modestly” and “not flirt with men as a policy” as “self-protecting and wise.”

She went to say that, “As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms,” suggesting a link between the choices made by those who have come forward, and what happened to them. Many of those who have spoken out against Weinstein described harassing encounters in hotel rooms, being invited under the guise of discussing film roles.

Through sharing the details of her own experience, Union manages to do away with the idea that a woman’s behaviour is somehow to blame, and yet reminds us there are people who have a tendency to look for some reason the victim was complicit in the crime:


Union’s statements make clear that assault is assault, and that it “can happen to anyone at anytime anywhere,” regardless of where they are, or how they choose to dress. She goes so far as to remind us that “In Hollywood meetings in homes, hotel lobbies….is the norm,” powerfully pointing out that the harassment and assault is what is unusual, not the environment in which it may take place.

By opening up about her experiences on such a public platform, and dismissing the link between women’s choices (sartorial or otherwise) and the sexual abuses of men in power, Union helps put the focus of debate around responsibility back where it belongs — on the perpetrators, and not on the victims.