Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

The Unbelievable Truth about Victoria Coren

The unbelievable truth about Victoria Coren is that she has struck again not long after having rhapsodised about Roman Polanski in her dreadful piece about so called ‘nuance and the sin of simplification’ (note there are several responses to that article on this site here).

In her Observer piece entitled Between labelling Woody Allen a child molester or his daughter a liar, I feel utterly stuck, Coren’s latest coup de grâce is to posit that Dylan Farrow’s abuse is a figment of a febrile imagination, because after all she was told what a monster her step-father is when he ‘had sex’ and ‘an affair' with her sister. The only thing I am ‘stuck’ with are words to articulate my outrage.

Let us assume . . . Coren opines (she seems to be making a living out of making assumptions, a good skill if you’re a poker player) . . . that you’re a typical Observer reader. Like me. If so, you’re probably a Woody Allen fan.

Wrong, I used to be. Yes, I grew up watching his films, used to love them but cannot divorce his heinous behaviour from his work so I have divorced myself entirely from his fan base and will never ever watch another of his films again. It really is not difficult because I have principles that I hold dear and they most certainly are not ‘clashing’ in a cacophony of apologism, unlike Coren who appears to have written this piece entirely to ease her own conscience. Here’s the thing. This is not about you or me. It’s about Dylan Farrow.

Farrow challenges Woody Allen’s audience, too . . . writes Coren. Did something resonate which inspired these convoluted mental gymnastics to exonerate herself of what she writes [turning a] blind eye from cinemagoers as a form of culpability?

After stating that we cannot possibly know what happened in that attic when Dylan was 7 years old, Coren steams ahead with her own version, irrespective of the voice of the woman who is at the centre of this.

Even in your own private thoughts, you do not want to label a man as a child molester (‘molester’, what kind of minimising language is this?) when he hasn’t been charged, let alone found guilty. She then adroitly juxtaposes this with a link to the tragic case of Bijan Ebrahimi who was murdered by Lee James whom he wrongly believed to be a child abuser. A cunning journalistic sleight of hand to further imply doubt of Dylan’s own words. Coren refers to ‘incest’ which she reminds us it isn’t ‘technically speaking’ as there was no blood relationship between Soon-Yi Previn and Allen who was for all intents and purposes, her father. ‘Emotionally’, it was incest, she concedes, which is about as far as she strays from Team Allen.

Well, judging Coren on previous performance of playing the ‘artiste card’ apropos Polanski, she also seems to have problems labelling some men as child abusers and rapists when they have been charged (and evaded justice) given her muddled (or ‘nuanced’ in Coren parlance) thoughts about him.

In Dylan Farrow’s extremely heart-rending, moving and powerful account of her response to what happened to her in the New York Times, she highlights one of the many barriers survivors face in speaking out:

But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told that their memories aren’t their memories (my bold) have given me reason not to be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.

Lo and behold, Coren who linked to this piece does precisely what I have emboldened above by effectively resurrecting the despicable False Memory Syndrome (I refuse to link to the ‘Foundation’s’ website) and reinforces the same culture of disbelief that Farrow describes (thanks Freud for pandering to the Viennese elite, the ‘age of denial’ which still prevails to this day).

I have read Dylan Farrow’s open letter; as someone who works with survivors of childhood sexual abuse and rape, I personally have no ‘miserable moral conundrum’ about its veracity. Nor am I going to presume how Farrow felt at the time that her family unravelled and Allen’s predatory behaviour of her sister was exposed, as unlike Coren, I refuse to try to construct a narrative to suit me as I accept the one that Farrow tells us, because I believe her. It is beyond insulting. It is beyond patronising. It is beyond offensive. It is revisionist gaslighting that Coren employs to erase Dylan Farrow’s experience solely for the purposes of her own self-indulgence. It is beyond reprehensible to rob a survivor of her power and control, the same power and control that was abused during her childhood.

Furthermore, what is glaringly apparent is Coren’s total lack empathy with survivors and understanding of sexualised trauma, coping and survival strategies. It is this very same woeful ignorance that is one of the cornerstones of rape culture which was played out in the trial of William Roache this week where myths abounded about memory and its retrieval as a result of sexualised trauma.

So in order to assuage your guilt, Victoria Coren, of still enjoying Allen’s work, you have fabricated a sickening work of pure fiction in order to relieve yourself of your ‘miserable moral conundrum’. You have tried and failed to walk the line between believing Allen and Dylan. I know who I believe.

#Ibelieve her.

If you are affected by this you can contact the Rape Crisis (England and Wales) freephone helpline: 0808 802 9999. 12 - 2.30pm, 7 - 9.30pm.
Rape Crisis Scotland on 08088 01 03 02 every day, 6pm to midnight

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7 thoughts on “The Unbelievable Truth about Victoria Coren

  • Jean Hatchet says:

    Very thorough and knowledgeable piece. Puts my own hurried one to shame.

    • Admin says:

      We think both pieces are great!

      Thanks to both of you for contributing 🙂

      • Alison Boydell says:

        Thank you both. Jean, your piece is excellent. I broke my golden rule of reading some of the Observer comments . . .

  • Thank you for your articulate, balanced and informed piece.

    La Coren is frankly a paedophile apologist. First Polanski and now Allen, presumably excused as they are ‘artists’. I’m not sure why she is given a platform to espouse these views or what she is ‘famous’ for.

    I won’t be reading this article as I know that steam will come out of my ears and I’ll be angry for days – much as I was the last time she made excuses for child rape. http://wp.me/p2CjcG-KT

    • Alison Boydell says:

      Thanks Scarlet. I find it totally sickening and horrific at the lengths some will go to to protect their idols. I share your sentiments.

  • Gill Ward says:

    Fab piece, well written, full of the horrors of the impact this piece could have. if one child or woman keeps silent then Coren can eat her words and more. No more blaming the survivors, blame the perpetrators and stop hiding behind forgotten, fabricated memories Coren. No more Coren and definitely no more Allen for me. If he gets an Oscar (what a farce that crud is), i hope it melts in his bare hands on stage in front of millions and his adopted wife daughter.