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Why Actresses Will be Wearing Black at the Golden Globes

If you’re planning to watch this Sunday’s annual Golden Globes award ceremony, you can expect to see even more black than usual represented in the couture donned by attendees. This time, though, the color isn’t just being used to represent elegance and glamor – it’s part of a strong statement against sexual misconduct in Hollywood.

The past few months have been a tumultuous time for the film industry, as the resurfacing of sexual misconduct allegations against film titan Harvey Weinstein sparked a seemingly endless wave of accusations leveled against one predator after another.

With the tides at long last seeming to turn against the perpetrators of harassment and abuse, actors are seizing the opportunity of a highly-visible event such as the Golden Globes to further increase awareness and discussion of the issue.

Actress Reese Witherspoon explained to the Bagger, as cited in the New York Times, “[Wearing black] really is a statement that women are deeply unified, we always have been, and that we stand up for those who can’t speak up.”

At its core, the expected movement is a show of solidarity and strength in the face of injustice.

“Instead of asking us who we’re wearing, they’ll ask us why we’re wearing black. We’re using [the Golden Globes’] platform and using our voices to say we can change this ideology, and shatter the sexism that teaches men that women are less,” actress Eva Longoria adds.

This is not to say that the movement hasn’t received its fair share of criticism.

Cara Buckley from The NY Times expresses the most common complaint leveled against the plan: “Isn’t the red carpet at its heart a fashion show, a parade of the ultra-privileged, the land of ‘Good point, Cate, now let’s talk about that dress’? Doesn’t it perpetuate the objectification of women?”

Another NY Times reader reflects a similar notion, stating that “[w]earing black on the runway is all well and good, but it will only make a difference when women stop dressing and showing themselves as chattel.”

Since the Golden Globes ceremony is one of the biggest fashion events of the year, critics are skeptical of the power of a statement made by women whom many believe are still marketing themselves and their bodies to the male gaze. Many, instead, argue that women should boycott the event altogether.

This, of course, is another point of contention – are the women attending the Golden Globes truly tailoring their appearances to please men and the media? Could this not also be an instance of self-empowerment through fashion? Is it fair to counterintuitively demand that women remove themselves from the event entirely in order to make their voices heard?

Other valid criticisms exist as well, such as the fact that wearing black really is not a particularly unheard-of thing for black tie events. On a larger level, some opponents even question whether raising awareness is what is needed to incite desperately-needed, actual change – in the case of so many of the men knocked off their pedestals this past year, these allegations were not new news. They had been swirling around the abusers for years, sometimes even decades – and yet these men were allowed to continue hurting the women around them until just recently.

This is where one of the key caveats of the movement comes into play – “a show of solidarity at an awards show is one very small piece,” explained Reese Witherspoon. It’s one limb of the much broader anti-sexual-harassment action plan called Time’s Up, which was announced last Monday and has been earning widespread praise since its unveiling.

Time’s Up aims to attack sexual misconduct not only in Hollywood but beyond it, extending to the plight of working-class women as well as of the A-listers who have already pledged their support.

Beyond the request that women wear black to the Golden Globes, the initiative includes a $14 million legal fund to help victims of sexual harassment, legislation to punish the tolerance and silencing of sexual misconduct in workplaces, a push for gender equality in film companies, and more.

The movement, which has no official leader but is broken up into volunteer working groups, already has more than 300 women in Hollywood supporting it, and that number is expected to increase.

With this in mind, the wear-black movement goes from a silent protest to an extension of a powerful action plan. While certain aspects remain open to criticism, it seems difficult to deny the fact that, faced with the determination of hundreds of dedicated and impassioned women, things are going to start to change.

Sexual predators should be quaking in their boots.

Featured Image by Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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