With so many stars decked out in black for this year’s Golden Globes, it was hard not to notice actress Blanca Blanco‘s bold splash of red.
The all-black look, adopted as part of the Time’s Up campaign to end workplace harassment, became a sort of de facto red carpet uniform. Many of the night’s guests adopted a more conservative look compared to years past, transforming the often obnoxious (and occasionally sexist) “Who are you wearing?” type of questions into an opportunity to discuss important societal issues.
When Blanco arrived in a daring red dress alongside actor John Savage, people immediately took notice. Variety reporter Cynthia Littleton remarked on Twitter, “I think I would call this look ‘not reading the room’ this year.”
“The problem is that when millions of women [fight] sexism and the sexualization of the woman’s body, you are just the image of what those women are fighting,” wrote one Twitter user, placing the blame for sexism on women like Blanco. “Wearing a dress like this when women are asking to heard not just seen is so appalling,” wrote another.
But these negative reactions sound a lot like the victim blaming and objectification of women in the workplace that the #MeToo movement is trying to address.
Blanco’s choice to buck the night’s unofficial dress code wasn’t intended as some sort of rebuke of the Time’s Up movement — in an interview with Fox News, she said that she she is “excited about the #TimesUp movement; true change is long overdue.”
“I love red,” she offered Fox. “Wearing red does not mean I am against the movement. I applaud and stand by the courageous actresses that continue to break the cycle of abuse through their actions and fashion style choices. It is one of many factors leading women to a safer place because of their status.”
After the awards, she took to Twitter, saying, “Shaming is part of the problem” and “The issue is bigger than my dress color.”
Shaming really is part of the problem, feeding into tired tropes about scapegoating women who were “asking for it” based on what they were wearing at any given moment.
Arguing that Blanco and her dress (whether the color or the style) are somehow at fault for sexual assault and harassment is patently ridiculous — a contradiction of the spirit of the #MeToo movement and feminism itself, which is focused on equal rights for women, who should be granted the agency to make their own choices for their own reasons.
The only people to blame for harassment and assault are, by definition, those who harass and assault others, reinforcing the act’s cultural acceptability.
Whether you see Blanco’s red carpet dress as a fashion hit or miss, it’s unfair to take it that extra step further to criticize her for the culture that made movements like Time’s Up and #MeToo so sadly necessary.
Black dress, red dress, or something else altogether, we should work to make blaming women’s fashion decisions for sexism a thing of the past.