Golden Globes turn black in sex abuse protest

Dark times: Meryl Streep brought along women’s activist Ai-jen Poo. © Getty

Can fashion change the world? Dozens of film stars wore black to the Golden Globes last night to highlight sexual abuse in Hollywood. But some say their actions will achieve nothing.

The Golden Globes is normally a glitzy celebration of the year’s best films. But last night the ceremony looked more like a funeral than a party, as many actresses (and actors) dressed in black to protest at the culture of sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood.

Eva Longoria, who took part in the “blackout” called the initiative a “moment of solidarity”.

But not everyone agreed. Actress Rose McGowan was one of the first to expose abuser Harvey Weinstein. On Twitter she claimed that the action will bring about “no real change”.

That remains to be seen: the black dress protest is just one part of a bigger campaign called Time’s Up. Launched on New Year’s Day, Time’s Up brings women in the entertainment industry together to fight against sexual abuse across society.

Already it has raised over $14 million for a fund to help abuse victims unable to afford legal aid.

And while it is uncertain how last night’s black dress protest will tackle the problem, the role which fashion has played in campaigning and politics stretches back centuries.

For example, in 1908 the suffragettes adopted their official colours of white, green and purple. White symbolised purity; purple was for dignity; and green for hope.

But can fashion really be an effective protest?

Style over substance

Of course not, say some. What we need is real action like activism, boycotts and marches. Claiming that we can change the world by just wearing certain clothes only discourages people from doing these practical things that really make a difference.

Symbolism can alter reality, others say. Fashion broadcasts ideas to millions of people — and when these ideas take hold, change happens. What is more, the publicity of last night's protest could encourage many vulnerable women to seek the help they need.

You Decide

  1. Will the black dress protest make a difference?

Activities

  1. Now it is your turn to design a piece of clothing with a message. What sort of message do you want your item to communicate? How will it get that idea across? You could choose to use a slogan, a picture, or make the clothing speak the message through its form and appearance. Draw out your design and share with the class.

Some People Say...

“Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas — the way we live.”

Coco Chanel

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
According to figures cited by the campaign, one in three women between 18 and 34 have been sexually harassed at work. Of those women 71% did not report it.
What do we not know?
While the campaign has pledged to spend millions of dollars on legal aid for sexual abuse victims, it is currently unclear exactly how the money will be distributed.

Word Watch

Golden Globes
The awards ceremony has been running since 1944 and is an important fixture in the film and television awards season.
Harvey Weinstein
More than 50 women have made allegations against the film producer.
Across society
In an open letter published in The New York Times, the campaign’s leaders expressed their desire to help working class women suffering from abuse.
Suffragettes
Members of a British movement in the late 19th and early 20th century which campaigned for women to be given the right to vote.

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