How Amber Tamblyn's Sexual Assault Revelation Unexpectedly Brought Her Closer to Her Mother
Tamblyn previously opened up about her experience with sexual assault while taking a stand against Donald Trump
In a Wednesday essay for Glamour, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants actress opened up about what happened after she revealed her firsthand story of sexual assault at the hands of an ex while taking a stand against GOP nominee Donald Trump earlier this month.
“Somewhere between Donald Trump calling Hillary Clinton a woman with ‘tremendous hate in her heart’ and ‘a nasty woman,’ I found myself making a phone call to my mother I was hoping I could avoid forever,” said Tamblyn, 33. “A story I shared about an encounter with an ex-boyfriend had gone viral, and I feared she would read about it in the news. When I told her, my mother’s reaction was unshockingly unshocked. ‘You know,’ she began, ‘I have a story of my own I want to share with you.’ ”
“Go ahead and fill in the blank of my mother’s story. It’s easy, isn’t it?” continued Tamblyn. “I was at a ________, and a guy _________. I was _______ years old and the father of one of my friends __________. I was at work and my boss ___________. I was walking down the street and __________. I exist, therefore ___________ is bound to happen.”
The actress explained that her mother followed up with a second story — this one involving Tamblyn’s grandmother.
“She told her mother what had happened to her, and I’ll bet you can fill in this blank, too,” said Tamblyn. “My grandmother’s response to my mother was, ‘Boys will be boys. You just have to be really careful around them.’ ”
“This is what has passed for wisdom, what’s been handed down between women for generations,” said Tamblyn. “It continues today. It encourages women to take a backseat in their own lives, telling them it’s okay: men know how to drive and know what they’re doing. It tells us to shush, to not make a fuss, to accept the world as it was built for us. It tells us we shouldn’t ask for more than what we are given, from dollar bills to the Bill of Rights. Boys will be boys and girls will be, what? Quiet. Hungry. Subservient. Game.”
Tamblyn went on to explain that she’s been “thinking about motherhood a lot lately,” — largely, because as she revealed in the essay, she’s expecting her first child, a girl, with husband David Cross.
“I think constantly about the world I am bringing her into,” continued Tamblyn. “Will I get a phone call from my daughter someday, one she never wanted to make? Will I have to share with her my story, and the story of her great-grandmother’s words to her grandmother? Is it possible to protect her from inheriting this pain? How much do I have to do, as a daughter and a soon-to-be mother, to change not just the conversation about how women are seen, but the language with which conversations are spoken in?”
Tamblyn urged her readers to think long and hard about who they will be voting for — and defended presidential hopeful Clinton.
“Powerful women don’t get to exist outside of context,” said Tamblyn. “To discount all the good she’s done in her 30 years of public service and pay attention to the bad is, at best, severely myopic. At worst, it erases the struggles and achievements of all women. If we are not allowed to be complex, compromising, wholly human — as human as men — then we are all disqualified.”
“When I hung up the phone with my mom, I felt really good about our conversation and that she chose to tell me her story,” Tamblyn continued. “After I’m done writing this, I’ll go back to my desk and fill out my absentee ballot. I’ll be voting for more than just a woman; I’ll be voting for a revolutionary idea.”
“I’ll be voting for a future for my daughter where conversations about our bodies and our lives are broader than what value they have for men,” she added. “A future where being a mother is less about warning our daughters about our sons and is instead lifting them up to their greatest potential. A future where my girl will someday say, ‘Donald who?’ and think nothing is revolutionary about a woman becoming President. A future where she can’t even believe that was ever even a thing.”