Woody Allen. A man who has been talked about endlessly in the wake of the MeToo campaign, in light of his marriage to his step-daughter, and the ‘false’ accusations of child-abuse against another step-daughter, many years ago. This week, Allen’s adopted son Moses Farrow came out with a personal essay, contesting the accusations, and explaining how his mother’s presence in his house was much more abusive than his father’s.
The essay is an exceptionally difficult read. Farrow makes it clear that he was remarkably damaged by his relationship with his mother and that he sees little wrong with his father’s marriage to his sister Soon-Yi. His main focus is on the influence his mother had over Dylan’s abuse accusations, but despite all this, I can’t help but finish the essay with absolutely no feeling of pity for Allen.
Perhaps the accusations were entirely false; perhaps Allen never touched the seven-year-old girl, and, therefore, to say he did is a terrible injustice. With sexual abuse claims I often take the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach, in that the woman claiming she has been abused is innocent until the guilt of her lying about her abuse is proven, because we must remember that she is not the one on the stand. But, if Allen was never a paedophile, then it is harmful and tarnishing to brand him one.
Despite this, there is a huge part of me that finds his relationship with Soon-Yi, which allegedly did not start until she was a convenient 21-years-old, an intensely uncomfortable one. Whether she was of age when her affair with a man 35 years her senior started or not, whether they’ve now been together over 20 years or not, he was in a position of power in her household. He may not have been her biological, or even adopted father, they may not have spent any time alone until she was 21, but regardless, he held a parental position within her household, and should thus have viewed her among his children, as a child. The effect that this affair would have had on her mother, his partner, is irrelevant here. If, best case scenario, this was a relationship of love, imagine the impact on the other children in the household, watching their father marry their sister.
It’s uncomfortable, it’s an abuse of power, and a man in the role of father should never be in a position in which he was humanly capable of sexual attraction towards someone he had known from the age of nine, and raised as a daughter, among his other children.
I’m not going to sit here and devalue Moses Farrow’s brave speaking-out against his abusive childhood, but I’m also not going to sit here and not call Woody Allen out for an entirely inappropriate relationship that reflects the power the patriarch holds over a family. Loving or not, I can’t help but see the relationship of a father-figure and a woman he’s known from her being a child and him being in his 40s, as grooming.