Amber Tamblyn’s Letter To James Woods Expertly Calls Out The Problem Of People Discrediting Women “Above All Else”
Amber Tamblyn isn't done speaking to James Woods. Tamblyn wrote Woods an open letter for Teen Vogue, which the outlet published Wednesday. To say the letter is powerful would be an understatement, but it absolutely is a must-read as the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants actor shines a light on the ongoing problem of not believing women when they come forward with accusations, especially those of any inappropriate nature, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual abuse.
As the 34-year-old writes,
The saddest part of this story doesn't even concern me but concerns the universal woman's story. The nation's harmful narrative of disbelieving women first, above all else. Asking them to first corroborate or first give proof or first make sure we're not misremembering or first consider the consequences of speaking out or first let men give their side or first just let your sanity come last.
Her letter comes on the heels of Tamblyn alleging Woods, who is 36 years her senior, once tried to pick her up when she was just 16. At the time of the alleged incident, Woods would've been 52. The actor has denied Tamblyn's claim.
All of this started after Woods tweeted the following about Armie Hammer's movie, Call Me by Your Name, in which he plays a 24-year-old dating a 17-year-old: "As they quietly chip away the last barriers of decency. #NAMBLA" To that, Hammer replied, "Didn't you date a 19 year old when you were 60.......?" This prompted Tamblyn to tweet, "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."
Business Insider reported in June 2013 that Woods not only was dating a 20-year-old named Kristen Baugess, but previously had dated a 26-year-old named Ashley Madison. Per the Daily Mail, his relationship with Madison began when she was 19.
Bustle has reached out to Woods' agent about Tamblyn's claim and her Teen Vogue piece, but did not receive an immediate response. After a Twitter user asked Woods Monday, "What makes a 24yo/17yo gay relationship inherently indecent but skeevy old guys trying to pick up a pair of 16 year old girls is okay?", he responded by denying Tamblyn's allegations. "The first is illegal. The second is a lie," he tweeted.
Tamblyn's letter shouldn't come as a shock, especially since she tweeted Tuesday, "Calling me liar, James? This is now far from over. That I can promise."
In the letter, she makes further claims about the alleged incident with Woods. While at Mel's diner in Hollywood with her friend Billy, she claims they were stopped by the actor and his friend, "who both seemed very nice." She claims,
At one point you suggested we should all go to Las Vegas together. "It's such a great place, have you ever been?" You tried to make it sound innocent. 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. "It will be so much fun, I promise you. Nothing has to happen, we will just have a good time together."
The former Two and a Half Men actor then alleges that after telling Woods her age, which she thought would "horrify" him, he allegedly said to her with laughter, "Even better. We'll have so much fun, I promise."
Tamblyn's letter isn't just for her to tell her side of the story or to make people believe her, but she uses it to illustrate how, in general, women aren't believed when they come forward with accusations. Like she tweeted Tuesday, "Since I know people love to question the intengrity [sic] and honesty of women when they come forward with stories like this, here you go."
And this is the point she's trying to make. Far too often, women aren't believed right away, are required to provide some form of corroboration for their claims, and instead of being seen as a victim, they somehow end up getting blamed. When it comes to sexual assault, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) reports that many sexual assault victims don't come forward (only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police) because they don't think they will be believed. The organization reports that from 2005-2010, 13 percent of female victims didn't report their sexual violence crime to police because they didn't think authorities would do anything to help, 20 percent feared retaliation, and 2 percent believed the police couldn't do anything to help.
As Tamblyn says in her letter, this is "a teachable moment" for, really, both Woods and others. "It is called a gift. It is called a humbling. It is called Jesus, I come to thee. It is called an awakening. It is called a growth edge. It is called hope." She continues, "The hope being that through this experience, you can change. You can redefine the man who will come after this moment and this man who came before."
As much as this is Tamblyn's story, she uses her letter for a greater purpose — to demonstrate how often women, and not just herself when it comes to her own allegations, are unfortunately not believed.
To read her letter in its entirety, head on over to Teen Vogue.