Who knew that DKNY was less w-o-k-e and more c-h-o-k-e? Hollywood’s CEOs had more sense than to rally to Harvey Weinstein’s side, but not fashion designer Donna Karan. After receiving an award in Los Angeles for her work as “a pioneer designer in women’s wear,” Karan suggested that the real problem may be the way women dress. No, really:
She told a reporter: ‘I think we have to look at ourselves. 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.
‘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?’
Believe it or not, this wasn’t even the worst take on Weinstein in the aftermath of his firing at the eponymous company he co-founded. That belongs to Tablet Magazine, the “daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture,” where Mark Oppenheimer described Weinstein’s depravity as uniquely Jewish. Roger Ailes, Bill Clinton, and Bill O’Reilly may have wanted to have sex with women, Oppenheimer argues, but Weinstein’s need to humiliate women comes straight out of Philip Roth. Er … what? The women victimized by these other men might have something to say about humiliation too, especially Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones, and certainly about victimization. The power dynamic between all of these men and the women upon whom they preyed is by itself a dynamic of humiliation regardless of status.
In Karan’s case, the comments are even more ironic. She works in an industry that constantly pushes the boundaries of taste and sexuality, putting barely-there fashion on rail-thin models, who present themselves and Karan’s creations in zombie-like fashion on the catwalk. If the problem is that women elsewhere “present” themselves with too much sexuality — and it’s not, but if — then Karan and her cohort are part of the problem.
But that’s not the actual problem; the actual problem is accountability for those in power. Weinstein had no accountability, neither from his board nor all his peers in the entertainment industry. He had enough money to spread around to ensure that he could victimize women and risk almost nothing. That has nothing to do with the way women presented themselves, or Weinstein’s religion. It has to everything to do with unchecked power and a lack of character from those who knew and stayed silent.
Karan later claimed her comments were taken out of context:
In a statement Monday, Karan said her remarks were taken out of context and don’t represent her feelings. She says she believes “sexual harassment is NOT acceptable and this is an issue that MUST be addressed once and for all regardless of the individual.”
Karan says she’s “truly sorry to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim.”
Karan’s right about one thing — it’s not going to end at Weinstein:
When asked whether Hollywood has been ‘busted’, she replied with a smile: ‘I don’t think it’s only Harvey Weinstein.
‘I don’t think we’re only looking at him. I think we’re looking at a world much deeper than that.’
If Karan knows something about that, will she speak up and get specific? Or will she remain quiet, and contribute to the lack of accountability?