Mayim Bialik has offered her tips for avoiding sexual harassment and exploitation. This would be like me offering tips to avoid police brutality — be polite, be deferential, don’t make sudden moves, keep your hands visible. Or my tips for avoiding traffic stops in the first place – drive the speed limit, control your vehicle, signal before turns and lane changes. Not bad advice per se, but it completely ignores the fact that my skin tone and gender play a significant part in my success in achieving positive interactions with police officers (or avoiding the interactions to start with). Ignores that, in areas I frequent, police don’t encounter a lot of dangerous traffic stops.
The fact is, her real secret to avoiding harassment wasn’t her clothing or her mannerisms – it was her situation. As others have pointed out, sexual assault is about power. I didn’t wear demure clothing, I had a very open and solicitous personality, but I wasn’t harassed until I needed the job. You need the job to feed your kids or to keep your apartment, then casting directors have a lot of power over you. To start out with, even a lot of skeezy guys stay away from statutory situations. But ignoring age. Get into acting to earn rent money, to feed yourself … that’s a different scenario than Mayim. Get into acting for something to do – you can tell a guy he’s gross. Or refuse to continue the discussion at his hotel restaurant. Then his hotel room.