Criticizing women who didn't wear black to the Golden Globes is part of the problem.
Not every woman wore black on the red carpet, and that's totally OK.
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.
Actresses Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek, and Ashley Judd attend the 2018 Golden Globes. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.
Blanco and a few others, like Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Meher Tatna, donned bold colors — but with a purpose.
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."
I think I would call this look “not reading the room” this year. #goldenglobes https://t.co/vZkiygLlkR— Cynthia Littleton (@Cynthia Littleton) 1515363928
"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."
Similarly, there was no hidden meaning behind HFPA's Meher Tatna's outfit. PR firm Sunshine Sachs tells us Tatna stands with and supports Time's Up but wore a dress custom-made for her by Anamika Khanna because in her culture, it is customary to wear festive colors during a celebration. And this was the 75th anniversary of the Golden Globes. Tatna did, however, don a Time's Up pin in support.
Blanco, too, stands by the movement. "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, Blanco took to Twitter, saying, "Shaming is part of the problem" and "The issue is bigger than my dress color."
Shaming is part of the problem— Blanca Blanco (@Blanca Blanco) 1515384734
The issue is bigger than my dress color #TIMESUP— Blanca Blanco (@Blanca Blanco) 1515402250
Red is passionate— Blanca Blanco (@Blanca Blanco) 1515416584
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.
HFPA president Meher Tatna, model Barbara Meier, and Blanco opted not to wear black to the 2018 Golden Globe Awards. Photos (L-R) by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images, Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.
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.
Savage and Blanco attend the awards. Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images.
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.
Clarification 1/9/2018: The headline was updated because not all women pictured in the share image are actresses. Additional update 1/11/2018: Information about Meher Tatna's red outfit has been included.