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Donna Karan Victim-Blames in Weinstein Scandal

During the past week, after several allegations of sexual harassment, Harvey Weinstein has been fired from his own company, The Weinstein Company, and is currently living in the spotlight as one of Hollywood’s most recent scandals. Multiple women from throughout Weinstein’s career have come forward, sharing their stories of how their “meetings” with Weinstein turned into traumatizing, intimate affairs. He has managed to settle with some women, but there are others that refuse to do so. These women are instead using their stories not only to warn other budding actors, but to make a change in the way the industry treats women.

One of the most vocal women on the subject is Rose McGowan, who was one of the first to step forward, explicitly naming Weinstein after she’d previously spoken about him in a vague manner regarding an incident in a hotel room. A new report from the New York Times has brought it back into the light, allowing other women to talk about their own incidents.

In the report, Weinstein is painted as a “liberal lion, a champion of women and a winner of not just artistic but humanitarian awards,” citing actions such as taking in Malia Obama as an intern and endowing a faculty chair at Rutgers University under Gloria Steinem‘s name. The Times, however, then turns around and touches on the fact that Weinstein has settled with at least eight women, detailing incident after incident in which women who worked for Weinstein’s company had felt harassed, shaken, and disturbed after having met with him.

While McGowan has been vocal about the reports, other celebrity names have stepped forward in support, such as Mark Ruffalo, Lena Dunham, and Amber Tamblyn. After McGowan’s Twitter account was suspended for tweeting out a phone number, her fan base – collectively known as #ROSEARMY – inspired a 24-hour event recognized as #WomenBoycottTwitter, in which women went silent on Twitter for the entirety of October 13th to protest McGowan’s Twitter suspension.

Despite the protests and social media uprising, not all women seemed to be in agreement with the way Weinstein has been portrayed. In an interview, fashion designer Donna Karan remarked, “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… 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?”

Shouts erupted on social media, calling Karan out for her clear stance of victim-blaming. McGowan herself spoke on the issue, calling Karan deplorable. “Aiding and abetting is a moral crime,” she tweeted. “You are scum in a fancy dress.” She isn’t wrong – the way Karan phrases her words makes it seem that she blames women’s presentation of image for the fact that there are so many incidents of sexual harassment in society today.

Karan has since spoken out on her words, apologizing for how they may have been construed by the media. “My statements were taken out of context and do not represent how I feel about the current situation concerning Harvey Weinstein,” she argued. “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.”

“I believe that sexual harassment is NOT acceptable and this is an issue that MUST be addressed once and for all regardless of the individual. I am truly sorry to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim.”

As more and more about the Weinstein scandal comes to light, a number of opinions are bound to surface to public record. Hopefully, the majority of people will understand the injustice of victim-blaming, and side with those whose voices desperately wish to be heard.

Featured Image by JD Lasica on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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