Can fashion make real social statements?
One of the biggest questions out there is how the mood of the upcoming award season will be with the latest and countless allegations of sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood. Since October of the last year, when the news of Harvey Weinstein’s many cases of abuse was released, Hollywood’s atmosphere changed abruptly. It began with a dark aura of revulsion and disapproval from all the fans who felt let down by their favorite celebrities. However, a light of hope came from all the brave and strong women and men who spoke against the horrors they had experienced and had been forced to conceal out of fear of possible retaliation. Unless you’re a hermit with no access to the internet or news, almost every week there’s a new exposure that shows how Hollywood has always been a hideous network of predators who can get away with their disgusting behaviors. As of this date, none of those accused has been formally sentenced or received any serious punishment. So, under that context, some weeks ago the internet was filled with news about how actresses were organizing a silent protest against sexual harassment during the award season. The idea is that those supporting the protest would attend the ceremony wearing all black.
When the news came out, people applauded the movement and thought it was a great way to not only show their support towards the situation, but also bring an air of solidarity and understanding. According to People Magazine the top major actresses, including presenters and Golden Globes nominees, would embrace the silent protest, but just when everybody was supporting the movement, an interesting comment was made through Twitter. Rose McGowan, one of Weinstein’s main accusers, claimed that actresses like Meryl Streep (who was one of the first to say she didn’t know what was going on, but absolutely despised this man’s behavior) were nothing but hypocrites taking advantage of the situation to be under the spotlight. She added that the problem with the silent protest was precisely that, the silence, the fact that no one did anything when they knew. To give the coup d' grace, she said that these women should wear black Marchesa gowns, Georgina Chapman’s (Harvey Weinstein’s wife) fashion label.
The tweet was later erased after people started backlashing her for criticizing Streep after she released a message on Huffington Post. However, I think it’s important to consider something about Mcgowan’s statement, which I think it’s absolutely right. The first thing is that yes, making a “silent” protest adds a sense of passiveness to the situation, and yes, one of the main problems is the fact that people who knew remained silent. This problem is relevant, not because the people involved are celebrities, but due to the fact that it shows how abuse and harassment happen everywhere, regardless of the social class, race, or status. These truths were exposed in a circle that has always been promoted as the top ideal only shows how basically everybody is exposed to hideous predators. Now, going back to the silence, I don't assume to know what happens with the lives of actresses and actors who, like Meryl Streep, have worked close to these people. For me, it’s just kind of unbelievable when they claim they didn’t know anything. If you take a look at some of the accusations, some of them happened in public spaces, and even other people from the media have acknowledged they knew and didn’t do anything. So, claiming ignorance, especially when all your career has been basically linked to these predators, doesn’t sound that credible.
I don’t want this to enter into the tabloid gossip area, but I think it’s important to look at the facts, since what was unveiled next is worth reflecting on. As I mentioned before, two days after Rose McGowan’s tweet, Meryl Streep released a statement saying that she had asked some of their common friends to give her McGowan's personal phone number to talk about the issue, a call that never happened. Still, she defended her position and claimed that she didn’t really know anything. She had met Weinstein on a handful of occasions and had never considered him someone close to her. Moreover, she said that it wasn’t her intention nor should become the nature of the issue to get women against each other in a situation that requires union and strength to fight against these behaviors. Naturally, this was absolutely applauded on social media, mainly because Streep has been a character who has spoken openly about what she believes in, and it seemed that she was genuinely willing to completely support the cause.
Of course, this didn’t end up here. Soon posters of a photo of Streep and Weinstein with the legend “she knew” were placed on important streets over LA. At first, it was assumed these were places by Streep’s detractors, but soon it was clarified that these actually made by a rightwing artist based in LA who wanted to take revenge for Streep’s comments on Donald Trump. I mention this because I think it’s important to see how things can get out of context so easily and how these situations only end up distracting us from the real issue, and that is the everyday injustice millions live every day. So for that matter, I do believe that the protest is important, not with the silent intention it had, but being out loud and defiant against this useless system.
It might sound vain at first but if you think about it, most of the big fuss about these events goes around fashion, and for that, I do believe the idea of the dresses might be relevant. These small actions can keep this movement alive, and it’s not only the Golden Globes protest, but awards like the Screen Actors Guild of this year will feature only female presenters, and perhaps others will follow in making statements and supporting the fight. However, I do believe we shouldn't focus only on what’s going on in Hollywood, but we must start doing things for ourselves as a society that’s been experiencing this for such a long time and that needs a real change regarding these behaviors.
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