‘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’
Designer Donna Karan has come to the defence of Harvey Weinstein, the film producer accused of harassment by multiple women. Offering a bizarre, disturbing excuse for Weinstein, Karan has suggested that what women choose to wear and act like is to blame for alleged abuse by a powerful man.
Weinstein has been fired from the board of his own company after a New York Times investigation reported the details of his alleged behaviour to women across the years, including Ashley Judd and Romola Garai. The allegations of horrifying sexual misconduct stretch across three decades.
Rose McGowan has spoken powerfully about her own experience as a film industry abuse survivor; the director and actor reached a settlement with Weinstein and has in the past spoken about a studio head that raped her. McGowan told the Hollywood Reporter: “Men in Hollywood need to change ASAP. Hollywood's power is dying because society has changed and grown, and yet Hollywood male behaviour has not.”
And while actors and industry people have come out to condemn Weinstein, from Meryl Streep to George Clooney, Karan has outlined her differing opinion in a red carpet interview with the Daily Mail, describing her friend as “wonderful”.
“It's not Harvey Weinstein, you look at everything all over the world today and what (women) are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do,” Karan said at the CinéFashion film awards in Los Angeles. “I think (Weinstein) is being looked at right now as a symbol and not necessarily as him.”
She added: “Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified. Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it's been a hard time for women.”
The designer stepped down from Donna Karan International in 2015 to work on her nonprofit for Haitian artists and designers Urban Zen.
Continuing in her interview, Karan suggested that dressing provocatively gives consent to abhorrent sexual violence. “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? 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.”
Rose McGowan described Karan’s comments on Twitter as “deplorable” and called her “scum in a fancy dress”, while Mia Farrow tweeted “no more Donna Karan for me”.
Since the interview’s release, Karan has issued a statement to distance herself from the comments.
“While answering a question on the red carpet I made a statement that unfortunately is not representative of how I feel or what I believe. I have spent my life championing women. My life has been dedicated to dressing and addressing the needs of women, empowering them and promoting equal rights.
“My statements were taken out of context and do not represent how I feel about the current situation concerning Harvey Weinstein.”
She added that sexual assault was “not acceptable” and offered her apologies to “everyone that has ever been a victim.”
More news on Harvey Weinstein says that he ‘pleaded’ with top Hollywood executives to back him before he was fired. He has said he is “in therapy”, while his lawyers claim the allegations are false.