A take on the movements ME TOO and TIME’S UP:
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for standing up against sexual misconduct and abuse, and I applaud the many who have voiced their traumatic experiences in the hope that justice will be served and that their stories will inspire others to do the same. However, there are certain elements which, I feel, are being treated as the core symbols of these Feminist movements, which are becoming larger focuses than the causes.
To me, a particular event that compounded this was the most recent BAFTA Awards ( Feb 2018), in which women were encouraged to turn up on the red carpet wearing black to show solidarity for the movements Time’s Up and Me Too. There was just one thing that bothered me…
… two women did not wear black, and the internet nearly broke with angry tweets and comments about their clothing items. The actress Frances McDormand and Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, opted not to wear black, however, it was acknowledged early on that both women were definitely NOT condoning poor sexual behaviour.
Now, on a small side note, the British royal family are not allowed to show their political views, and McDormand said that she had …’a little trouble with compliance.’ (Feminism has nothing to do with compliance). Both women also had black elements to their outfits and, certainly in the case of the Duchess, these small touches were most likely nods to the movement without her breaking royal protocol. Catherine’s emerald jewellery has also been taken to symbolise ‘hope and victory’, another nod towards the movements.
The BBC, The Independent, The Sun, The Daily Mail, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, whatever you can name, they all went into meltdown about two women ( in particular the Duchess), not wearing black. So, how about the focus on the ACTUAL purpose of wearing black: the demonstration by women from all corners of the media industry who were finally uniting in the battle against sexual abuse and rape. If any cause like this, in fact any Feminist cause, is going to gain ground and not lose its meaning, then the focus has to remain on the key issues of the campaigns, not on the odd fashion choice ( particularly when aforementioned rules are in play).
It is a remarkable thing to see women all over the world standing up for their rights, the protection of their dignity and female identity. The reason why the recent scandals have rocked the world is less to do with the content, more to do with the rapid spread of support for the world to stand up against the evils at play, so THAT SHOULD BE THE FOCUS. We should be celebrating the fact that all but 2 women on the red carpet at the BAFTAS turned up wearing black, making a statement in support of friends and co-workers, and others who have suffered similar injustices.
Using a dress code as a tool for bullying others who don’t visually conform is belittling other women in a cause which aims to empower them. This goes well beyond a black dress, anyone can wear a black dress at any point in time. What makes the difference is action and the will to change. What we need is for men (and women) to behave, show respect to others, and just know where the boundaries are and recognise them.
By Sophie Rieckmann