More Than Just a Little Black Dress


Women in Entertainment Say Times Up on Sexual Misconduct

On Sunday, January 7, Michelle Williams, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, and many more female celebrities made waves on the red carpet of the Golden Globes, but not for the usual reasons. Women attending this year’s awards wore black in solidarity with victims of sexual assault and to support the Time’s Up movement. Growing out of #MeToo and the wake of rampant sexual assault allegations against Hollywood’s top players such as Louis CK, Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey to name a few of many. Time’s Up was created by hundreds of actresses, female agents, writers, directors, and other women in entertainment to fight sexual misconduct in the industry. Time’s Up takes the outspoken aspect of #MeToo and pushes it one step forward to include a legal fund in order for women to pursue legal action against abusers be unburdened by costs. There is also a branch of Time’s Up that is working to develop further legislation to protect women from abuse, as well as pushing entertainment agencies and studios to have an even balance of the all genders in their employment.

For the women in black, the tone of the evening did not end on the red carpet. As spearhead Reese Witherspoon put it, “this is a moment to shine a light on other people. This is not the time to be quiet.” Many female winners and presenters included comments about gender inequality and sexual misconduct. Natalie Portman introduced the nominees for Best Director as “the all-male nominees” and Oprah Winfrey delivered a powerful battle cry for change during her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille award, telling abusers that “[their] time is up.”

The mood was tense but productive. The actions and conversations of the evening put a long-needed conversation on a large-scale and mainstream platform with hopes of reaching out to all individuals and including them in the discourse. But was it enough? The black dress movement faced criticism from some people who argued that a fashion choice does not solve the problem of sexual misconduct. However, if one were to ask Reese, or Meryl, I don’t think they’d tell you differently. The goal of the black dresses was to get people talking about sexual violence. Prior to recent months, sexual misconduct in the workplace was something to be shoved under the rug, especially within the entertainment business where “blackballing” is a real fear. The black dress movement changed the red-carpet conversation from the vapid “what are you wearing” to discussing a topic that had been previously muted. It also changed the acceptance speeches from glamourizing the industry to addressing a real problem. The frequent discussion of Time’s Up and the visibility of the movement on the black and white “Times Up” pins also presented an available resource for victims watching the awards who wanted to pursue legal action but were hindered by financial limitations. What’s special about the Time’s Up movement is not only is it inspiring discussion about abuse, but it also paves the way for what can be done about it. In fact, the idea of stating these women are only “wearing black dresses” reduces these women’s capability to little more than their physical appearance, lacking of any intellectual strength or ability, which in short, is the exact reason these women wear black.