Photo: Rick Davis / Splash News
In this week’s WTF news, designer Donna Karan comes to the defense of producer Harvey Weinstein who was recently accused of sexually harassing employees, actresses, and journalists over the course of his career. While walking the red carpet at the CineFashion Film Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, Karan was asked about the allegations against the media mogul. In response, Karan suggested his victims may have been asking for it.
“I think we have to look at ourselves,” Karan said. “…What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality? What are we throwing out to our children today? About how to dance, how to perform, and what to wear? How much should they show?”
Later in the interview, she continued, “It’s not Harvey Weinstein, you look at everything all over the world today, you know, and how women are dressing and what they’re asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble.”
These comments are a blatant example of rape culture. Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress contributes to a society that disregards women’s rights. The length of a woman’s dress or the cut of her blouse does not determine consent. In fact, a Federal Commission on Crime of Violence study found that most convicted rapists could not remember what their victims were wearing.
Sexual assault remains the most under-reported crime with only 63 percent of attacks being reported to police, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and shaming victims has been shown to make it harder for them to come forward and report the abuse.
While Karan’s original comments seem to excuse Weinstein’s behavior, today, her publicists released a statement on her behalf, claiming the comments were taken out of context. “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,” it read.
Karan's initial comments were met with fury—and rightfully so.
“Donna Karan just single handedly ruined her career and any chance of being respected as a champion of women’s causes ever again,” wrote actress Sarah Wynter on Twitter. Rose McGowan, one of Weinstein’s victims, posted, “Donna Karan you are a DEPLPORABLE Aiding and abetting is a moral crime. You are scum in a fancy dress.”
And Anthony Bourdain posted a photo of a Donna Karan campaign to Twitter, writing, “To @dkny How many seventeen years olds have you dressed like they are, in your words, ‘asking for it’?”