Amber Tamblyn: There Shouldn’t Be a ‘Sliding Scale’ for Punishing Harassers

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Amber Tamblyn at Vulture Festival L.A. Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

Speaking before a packed room during Vulture Festival L.A.’s “Feminist AF” panel, Amber Tamblyn minced no words when an audience member asked about what it means to be a feminist during the current wave of sexual misconduct accusations: She has no patience for people who want to save the careers of harassers and assaulters.

“Women need a space to tell their stories and be believed, whether that person is someone we know and like a lot or is a friend of ours,” the writer-poet-actor told the crowd. “You see people come forward and someone says, ‘Well, let’s make a tiny exception.’ No. The exceptions are over. The consequences go across the board. They go from trying to stick your tongue down someone’s throat all the way up to rape and worse. And the consequence for all those things, in my opinion, is you lose your career and you go away for a while. I don’t think there’s a sliding scale. It’s unanimously, ‘You have to go, you’re done.’”

“It’s especially disorienting for cis white men,” Tamblyn went on. “They’re very confused because never in their entire lives have they had consequences that were not served by themselves to each other. And now it’s not them deciding the fates of their lives, it’s women. And that’s a scary feeling for them.” She said being a feminist now means “not making exceptions for ‘I know him, he’s really nice.’ These exceptions have to go, they really have to go.”

In closing, Tamblyn offered a rallying cry of sorts. “The important message for me is to say, ‘Believe first, question later,’” she said. “We have to stand as a unified front. You have to look left and right and behind you and see who’s not being supported. Who can you bring with you? Because an army is not strong enough if we’re not holding each other’s stories as strongly as we can.”

Amber Tamblyn: No ‘Sliding Scale’ for Punishing Harassers