Donna Karan is a mature, popular and powerful woman who is considered one of the most influential designers in the world today with a stint at Ann Klein that launched her career, as well as her well-known DKNY (Donna Karan New York) brand. However, on October 9, 2017, and following the Harvey Weinstein scandal, she was media-trashed; rendered into a cold-hearted witch who was abetting violence against women; she was called deplorable, scum, her company took a hit on the stock exchange, and she was made to walk back her own words, eat them up and apologize profusely. What she could have facetiously responded with is what Winston Churchill once said: “Eating Words Has Never Given Me Indigestion.” Herein are the words that caused the enraged public furor:
“. . . how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking for? Are you asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?”
I have thought of her words a lot since then, without emotion or bias, and away from the social media hoopla. I tried to think logically, calmly and honestly about the issue of what we wear and whether suggestive clothes are “asking for it,” because I believe that what we choose to wear is important, and I haven’t yet met a woman who doesn’t think so. For one thing, our choice of attire says a lot about us.
Having said that: we, women, have an absolute right to wear whatever we choose, and, in making our choices, we are not giving any man a license to sexually assault us because of that choice. However . . .
. . . would you go to church, or synagogue, or mosque dressed in a bikini? Would you go to your child’s graduation dressed in the revealing dress pictured at the end of this post? Would you go to a wedding dressed in all black? Or, to a funeral dressed in shorts and a spaghetti-strap top? Would you allow your teenage daughter to go to school dressed in the shortest of shorts, bare midriff, and a see-through, low-cut top?
The sensible answer to all of the above questions is: No. However, you can do so, if you wish. There is no law that prevents you from doing that. The police won’t come and haul you off to jail (though you might be asked to go back home!). And No Man should be able to grope or rape you because of your choices to any of the above illustrations.
And, while dressing appropriately for any occasion is a matter of taste – and, yes, “taste” is a value judgment – there are, nevertheless, reasonable choices and acceptable societal norms that most women would agree on.
Watching the female stars on the Hollywood Red Carpet and how their dresses are becoming skimpier and skimpier every year, revealing almost all of their artificial everything, is not really glamorous. In fact, it exudes female sexual objectification. And it is what “sells,” and what the corporate industry wants them to wear in order to highlight their sex-appeal and their being commodities in the service of a decadent culture. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen only on the Red Carpet. It is happening at all such public venues, high-school proms, malls, restaurants, parties and galas. Young women – and some older ones, too! – adopt these figure-hugging, skimpy fashions as their own, thinking that by wearing them they would become as glamorous, appealing and as sexy as the stars, and as alluring as the fashion-magazine models they see. Not so!
Let us be honest: skimpily dressed women titillate and arouse men! Plain, simple and true! Young teenage boys, especially, seeing breast-flesh, or a female’s buttocks are, more often than not, getting aroused. Plain, simple and true! Does that mean they should touch, grope or rape females who are un-dressed like that? Of course not! By the same token, does that mean that females are unaware of a male’s biology and impulses? I really and truly doubt that! So unless we females are suggestively dressed for the specific reason of appearing sexy – not to be mistaken with elegance – and intending to elicit a sexual reaction to our selves, we would be much wiser to dress in something that is more appropriate. This is not a question of looking either like a slut, or a nun! Neither of these two extremes work for most sensible women. But, there is a happy medium, no?
I feel very sorry for the brouhaha that accompanied Donna Karan’s initial words. I believe that there is truth in them, though, and that having a modicum of decency and elegance in our attire is much more visually appealing than the lurid, half-naked outfits that are sometimes worn by some women, and even by some school girls (and if it was up to me, I would dress all school girls and boys in uniforms!). It is a question of taste and class after all, and, no, affordability has nothing to do with it, because there are beautiful clothes galore for every budget. However, and unfortunately, refinement does not seem to “sell” as much as gaudiness! Sad!
The debasing of our culture in every way only serves to demean rather than raise our standards. Portraying tastelessness that is pervasive in all aspects of our culture, does not reflect our “freedom,” “liberation” and/or “independence.” To the contrary, it lowers our standards and results in a society that lacks better, and higher, expectations for itself, especially when its female component is being sexually, rather than intellectually, objectified. We should not allow this to continue happening and then wonder why our men are still behaving like wanton savages driven by their hormones rather than their brainpower. It does take two to tango! We should do our part as women to reflect, and draw more attention to our intellect rather than to our naked bodies, thereby raising our own standards, and in the process, hopefully, men’s! We can do this and still dress beautifully. It is not an “either” “or” choice! And, perhaps, by raising our standards on all levels, we just might be able to raise the commonsense values and expectations of a nation that seems to be going totally berserk in every which way. Pretty sad!
Donna Karan’s designs (shown at the top) reflect Taste, Class, Refinement and Elegance. That’s why she should have explained her words more, not eaten them as she was forced to!