How Activism Works, On You

Jessie Rosen - April 25, 2017

How To Play The Waiting Game

Jessie Rosen - April 25, 2017

What If Every Woman Said What Blake Lively Said?

Jessie Rosen - April 25, 2017

Last week (I think? in #TrumpsAmerica the weeks are like decades) Blake Lively stood up to a reporter that asked what she was wearing on a red carpet.

She said some combo of:

“I’m here so we … become more aware, and that we change, and that we build women up….So, you can ask me another question.”

and

“Are we really doing this? Would you ask a man that?”

This was Variety’s Power of Women event. Blake was there to be honored for her work with the Child Rescue Coalition. Five other women joined her: Gayle King, Chelsea Clinton, Shari Redstone, Audra McDonald and Jessica Chastain.

I do not know if those other women were asked the same question. I do not know if Blake was asked the same question by other reporters. I do not know if the reporter that asked was a man or a woman. I do not know if Blake was dressed for free by a designer that expected her to report what she was wearing (but sounds like no).

But I know that this comes on the kinda heels of the 2015 campaign to #AskHerMore, which was about what it sounds like it was about and had the support of people like Shonda Rimes and Lena Dunham.

And I know that the Internet was very into Blake’s response.

 

 

I only picked the headlines that alliterated on “S” but trust that there were more.

Side note: I cannot believe no one went with “Serena slams/speaks out/scolds/shuts down/” or that they missed “sounds off on”.

Anyway, I have a lot of questions about this situation, which I find fascinating in a real and not sarcastic way.

First question: how often do women do this on a red carpet? 

I feel like if the answer was ever then we would hear about it and I would have already written this blog post, but I am willing to believe that Blake Lively gets more press on this topic than, say, Cherry Jones. That’s not a slight on Cherry Jones, who I love deeply and want badly for a project I’m writing. It’s just to say that Blake Lively + designer fashion is more of a thing.

So that leads me to question number two: if more women did this on the red carpet, would reporters stop asking?

Let’s say every single time a woman was asked, so…tell me who you’re wearing, she said, “Would you ask a man that? Please ask me another question.” Reporters would just stop asking, right? They’d have to stop. It would get too annoying and embarrassing. It would become like asking a newly married celeb if she’s going to start a family soon. You know they used to ask that in old Hollywood when everyone smoked cigarettes in the movie theaters and there wasn’t TMZ (so, the 80s). Now they don’t ask because we’ve progressed as a people (in that one way. all other progress has, of course, halted). Why did they stop asking? Might it have had something to do with women not answering? So, what if all the female celebs just did that, again?

It is because of question number three?: if a celebrity is given free clothes by a designer, is she contracted to say the designer’s name?

To be clear, I don’t know if Blake’s clothes were free for that Variety event, but I do know that many things celebrities wear are provided by designers looking for press around their clothes. But when they give the clothes, are you required to say the designer name? Maybe the designer gives all the clothes for free and isn’t asking for any name recognition? Or maybe they would be happy enough with name recognition somewhere but not everywhere? I watch the Oscars (and Emmys and Golden Globes and Tonys and Independent Spirit Awards and The SAGs, which I call The SAGs). They ask every single person “who” they’re wearing, male and female. I assume that is because A. America loves it and B. the celebs are obligated to say. But is that second part true?

And, if it’s not true, next (4th) question: would designers continue to give celebrities free clothes if they stopped getting name recognition on red carpets?

Let’s say the answer is no. No more free clothes for celebrities. Celebs have to buy their own clothes like humans.

So, fifth question, would celebs be willing to give up free clothes in order to stop being asked? 

Let’s assume in this scenario that celebrities can afford clothes.

If the answer to that question is yes, then, 5a, why hasn’t this just happened already?

Because, I’ve got to be honest, this seems like an easy “problem” to solve (in a world where the American President might be certifiably insane is on the table). If every female celebrity answered the question “who are you wearing” with “fuck off” the question would go away.

So, I don’t know, let’s maybe just try that?

Unless we don’t want that… We the people watching and them the celebrities wearing…

Which prompts the final (I lost count) question: why do we care what celebrities are wearing anyway? 

Easy. Because we want to look like celebrities (human nature) and therefore celebrities are given attention by the media (and magazine covers, etc. etc.) and so designers give them free clothes to wear in that media (free advertising) so that trends are formed and clothes are sold (capitalism). I guess there’s a world in which we could never know what celebrities are wearing, ever? But then someone would just create an app like Shazam but for fashion (does that exist? I’m sure it exists but if it doesn’t I call dibs I’ll never honestly use…).

I don’t think this system is evil. I think Blake was right to call it out at an event where she’s being honored for charity work. I think Blake would be right to call it out wherever she pleases. I love fashion, but I would survive if I never heard a celeb report what designer she’s wearing. I’d either never know or find out some other way, and then not be able to afford it in both cases. But I get why the question is asked, and I think it’s about a combination of consumerism, celebrity obsession and putting women in a box – not just the third.

But who cares because whatever it’s about, it can end. If we want it to end.

Same goes for photoshopping on magazine covers. If every single female celebrity said I will not do your magazine cover if you photoshop me, the photoshopping would end. This isn’t victim blaming – there are powerful forces at play against women. That’s why it’s major news when Blake Lively stands up against those forces. I’m just saying that if we want to win this battle, I believe we can win. And it would be really nice to win a battle right now…

So, XOXO Blake. And, for what it’s worth, I loved what you were wearing but I’m not going to buy it because Blake Lively wore it.