Wake up, Mrs. Polanski!

The director's wife defends his crime as belonging to "a crazy time"

Topics: Roman Polanski, Violence Against Women, Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

I’ve often wondered how Roman Polanski’s wife lives with the reality of her husband’s crime, and now I have the answer. In a rare interview with France’s Elle magazine, Emmanuelle Seigner defends her husband’s admitted crime of unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl as the product of a ”crazy” time. 

Forty-three-year-old Seigner, who was 10 at the time of Polanski’s crime, explains: “I am not a super-liberal person who thinks that nothing is that serious. I also think that at the time people didn’t live and react in the same way.” She adds, “It was a crazy time. The attitude to drugs was not the same, nor was the attitude to sexual liberty and permissiveness.” But what about the liberty to refuse sexual advances, as his accuser claims she did? What about obtaining permission from someone before anally penetrating them? 

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Social mores have indeed changed since 1977, but it’s not like things were so wild ‘n’ crazy back then that allegations of raping a child were shrugged off as “eh, whatever.” A grand jury charged him with, among other things, rape by use of drugs and Polanski himself admitted to unlawful sex with a minor (read: statutory rape) under a plea bargain. We may have a slightly difference cultural perspective now looking back at the incident, but the legal perspective is fundamentally the same: What he did was criminal and is still criminal. Most of us have at some point lied to ourselves to avoid an unbearable truth, but, I’m sorry, this particular case of self-delusion is inexcusable and can’t go unchallenged.

Tracy Clark-Flory
Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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