Fashion designer Donna Karen defended Harvey Weinstein when she suggested his alleged victims may be at fault for dressing too sexually.
Weinstein, who is a Democrat mega-donor, is facing allegations of sexual harassment and assault made by multiple women. He has also had eight sexual harassment complaints filed against him over the course of 25 years.
During a red carpet interview on Sunday, Karen insinuated that the way the victims were dressed could have made them seem like they were “asking for it.”
“To see it here in our own country is very difficult, but I also think, how do we display ourselves,” she told the Hollywood Reporter while wearing a revealing V-neck dress. “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?”
“It’s not Harvey Weinstein, you look at everything all over the world today and what [women] are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do,” Karen continued. “I think [Weinstein] is being looked at right now as a symbol and not necessarily as him.”
“Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified,” she said. “Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it’s been a hard time for women.”
The fashion designer’s comments come after Weinstein was accused of sexually harassing young women in the industry.
The accusations were chronicled by The New York Times:
In interviews, eight women described varying behavior by Mr. Weinstein: appearing nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed or repeatedly asking for a massage or initiating one himself. The women, typically in their early or mid-20s and hoping to get a toehold in the film industry, said he could switch course quickly — meetings and clipboards one moment, intimate comments the next. One woman advised a peer to wear a parka when summoned for duty as a layer of protection against unwelcome advances.
According to Karen, who has since apologized for her comments on the situation, she was taken “out of context.”
“My statements were taken out of context and do not represent how I feel about the current situation involving Harvey Weinstein,” she said in a statement as cited by the Miami Herald. “I believe that sexual harassment is NOT acceptable and this is an issue that MUST be addressed once and for all regardless of the individual. I am truly sorry to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim.”
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