Opinion: What Donna Karan’s Statement for Harvey Weinstein Says About Women in Fashion

When a woman is raped, blame is not up for debate; the person who raped her is absolutely at fault. No matter how short or tight the garment is, women should be able to wear whatever they desire without the fear of being robbed of their self-worth and dignity.

However, Donna Karan, a high-profile fashion designer, believes that women should look at themselves and think, “Are you asking for it?”

In a recent interview at the CineFashion Film Awards in Los Angeles, Karan came to disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein’s defense when asked about her thoughts on the recent sexual assault allegations in Hollywood. Supporters of these numerous alleged victims, which has now totaled to 60 accusers, have described Weinstein’s alleged actions as inexcusable and horrific. In stark contrast, Karan described that Weinstein, a longtime friend of hers, has done “amazing things,” adding that he and his wife are “wonderful people,” which some have interpreted as a subtle aim to justify his alleged actions.

“I think we have to look at ourselves,” Karan said. “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.”

Starting as a seemingly innocuous statement, she continued: “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?”

Instead of holding perpetrators accountable for sexual assault, Karan seemed to turn the blame onto victims instead.

“It’s not Harvey Weinstein,” she said. “You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and what they’re asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble.”

It was a baffling remark coming from a designer who has framed her entire business around female empowerment for more than 30 years. The message that women are “asking for trouble” insults not only Weinstein’s alleged victims, but also all women who have fallen subject to rape and abuse by holding them responsible for their clothing choices, rather than the individuals who did the action itself.

Karan’s statement sparked backlash from victims of sexual assault, including actress Rose McGowan. In response to the criticism, the designer apologized in an exclusive ABC News interview.

“I want to say how sorry I am,” Karan said. “What I said is so wrong and not who I am. I love women. I absolutely adore women. I care about them. I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother. You know, and I’ve never done this before, and I will never, ever do it again.”

It is not the responsibility of a woman to repress her own style for the sake of a man’s sexual impulses. Men should be able to control themselves. It does not matter what a woman is wearing because the intentions of a sexual predator will always remain. Whether a woman is wearing a tight skirt or sweat pants, she will never be “asking for it.”

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