Donna Karan actually said Weinstein’s victims were “asking for it”
You’d think fashion designers might be above victim-blaming sexual assault victims based on their clothing. But this week, Donna Karan proved that fashion people are just as capable of believing in the whole “short skirt = please grope me” rape culture mindset.
In case you didn’t hear, bombshell after bombshell has been dropped this week about Harvey Weinstein using his power and influence to allegedly sexually assault, harass and even rape women. Weinstein is a mega hotshot Hollywood producer behind some of the best and biggest movies of the last 20 years — everything from “Silver Linings Playbook” to “Shakespeare in Love” to “Gangs of New York.”
This week, news of his alleged pervy ways broke, first in the New York Times. Today, the New Yorker published even more damning details — including a pretty nauseating tape where he admits to having groped a woman, while apparently trying to coerce her to come back to his hotel room:
And just moments ago, the New York Times published a second report that includes allegations from Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie that they, too, were victimized by Weinstein. They join Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino, Asia Argento and about a dozen other women whose complaints have been made public.
These revelations have sent shockwaves through Hollywood. Some who’ve worked with Harvey claim they had no idea he was like this — but it’s a little hard to believe. As Bobby Finger of Jezebel pointed out, everyone who reads gossip blogs has known about Harvey’s sketchy reputation for years. So definitely take the “I had no idea!” statements with a grain of salt.
The most troubling reaction to the news so far, though, has belonged to Donna Karan. The designer is apparently friends with Harvey and his wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman. So she decided to stick up for them.
[S]he reportedly told a reporter that while women are often poorly treated across the world, women in developed countries must ask themselves about what they could be doing, or how they could be dressing, to invite harassment. She also said Weinstein and his wife Georgina Chapman are “wonderful” people, that Weinstein had done some “amazing” things, and that he isn’t the only Hollywood offender to be “busted.”
“To see it here in our own country is very difficult, but I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?” Karan said. “And what are we throwing out to our children today about how to dance and how to perform and what to wear? How much should they show?”
“You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and what they are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble,” she continued.
Jaw-dropping, right? Now, of course, her publicists are claiming her statements were “taken out of context” — but in what context is “Are we asking for it?” appropriate?
People have been quick to condemn Donna Karan. Food zaddy Anthony Bourdain, whose partner Asia Argento is one of Harvey’s alleged victims, definitely gets the most effective diss award:
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) October 10, 2017
Here’s Donna Karan’s statement:
2. In a statement Donna Karan says her comments were taken out of context (her comments are on tape) pic.twitter.com/V5iL8ciCEC
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 10, 2017
Again, there’s really not a context where these comments would be acceptable — especially not from someone who’s built a career on displaying women’s sexuality and encouraging women to take ownership of their bodies. Donna Karan sounds more like horrible Reddit dudes explaining what makes a girl “easy” than an empowering womenswear designer.
READ ALSO: 8 guys explain what makes a girl seem “easy”
It’s tough to square these comments with Ms. Karan’s own work and legacy. Does this mean we’re only allowed to show off our bodies if we’re built like Karlie Kloss? Are crop tops and short skirts only acceptable to wear if they retail for $1,000 a pop and have a Donna Karan tag sewn in? And how could someone who makes money off of women’s bodies think this way?
Plus, what women see as normal behaviors can be misconstrued as sexual advances. Anyone who’s worked in the service industry can tell you it’s common for a man to interpret a smile as an invitation to be hit on. No matter what you do as a woman, someone will find a way to insist you were “asking for it.”
Maybe Donna Karan has occupied a position of power and respect for so long, she doesn’t remember what it’s like to be seen as a sexual object and degraded by someone who’s bigger and stronger than you.
Now that the allegations from bona fide A-listers Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have been made public, this is about to become even more of a nightmare for Ms. Karan. We’d love to hear her explain it to Gwyneth and Angelina: exactly how were they “asking for it”?