Last week, You actress Victoria Pedretti posted—then quickly deleted—an Instagram post detailing a time when a “well-known actor walked up to me at a party and said ‘I’ve jacked off to you so many times.’” As screenshots of the deleted post went viral overnight, a flood of social media users demanded to know the actor’s identity. But she’s not going to reveal his name, Pedretti told her followers in a video Instagram story Tuesday, unless she hears that the actor has been gross or abusive to anyone else going forward.
“Trust me, I told this person if I if I ever hear anything else in regards to him, like, then we have an issue,” Pedretti told her followers. “But I can handle it. I don’t need his career ruined because he said something really fucking dumb.”
Her original post last week, she says, didn’t come from a place of wanting anyone to take action on her behalf, but rather “started with me wanting to post a nude” on her birthday, “and then thinking about what happened last year, and how wild that was.”
“So, the main point was the nude, and then I was like, no matter what you do, people are going to say terrible things, and they’re going to be weird about the way they feel entitled to talk about women,” Pedretti concluded.
Her Tuesday Instagram story is a reminder to self-appointed internet MeToo sleuths that women who publicly share their stories of experiencing sexual harassment are not obligated to name their harasser and are not asking anyone to take action on their behalf. As a handful of famous women like Sheryl Lee Ralph, Stranger Things’ Grace Van Dien, and Jena Malone have come forward recently sharing experiences of sexual assault or creepy encounters with unnamed famous men, the online reaction has often pushed them to reveal more information than they’re comfortable or feel safe sharing.
Asking women to name the men who’ve allegedly hurt them is also a very weighted demand in an emerging golden age for defamation suits and social media backlash against survivors (see: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s defamation trial).
Pedretti is clearly fine. As she reiterated on Tuesday, she shared the post to have a bit of fun while underscoring that women are often sexually harassed regardless of how they present themselves. She wrote that she sometimes “[enjoys] modesty,” and sometimes she doesn’t—but either way, “it’s a joke to think that my own modesty will protect me from any disrespect I experience as a femme body.” A point well made.