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Put Your White Roses Down: Why Award Show Protests Against Sexual Harassment are Starting to Leave a Sour Taste

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Last night, at the 2018 Grammy Awards, dozens of celebs turned up wearing or carrying white roses. Much like wearing all-black at the Golden Globes, this was a visual statement, or protest against the epidemic of sexual harassment against women. Although well intentioned, both protests fall flat with a distinct lack of power behind their message. Why?

Firstly, some celebrities at the Golden Globes wore ‘Times-Up’ pins and all black, protesting against sexual harassment, whilst simultaneously supporting and advocating for known harassers in their industry- read more about it on LAPP here. This hypocrisy destroys the meaning and integrity of the Golden Globes protest entirely. It is not possible to protest sexual harassment whilst supporting its perpetrators.

Later this month, at the Grammys, protesters wore or carried white roses for the same reason, yet only 17 out of 86 Grammy awards went to women. Sexual harassment and ignoring female talent may seem like two separate issues, and arguably celebrities wearing white roses are not responsible for the results of the awards. However, sexual harassment and ignorance of female talent are two elements of the same system of patriarchy which allows them both to go unspoken about. Both involve the snubbing of women’s wishes, talents, and our bare-minimum rights. Feminists may have attended the Grammys, but the Grammys, at least in 2018, were not advocating and supporting female artists.

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Furthermore, it is again not possible to support one feminist issue whilst allowing another sexist one to happen. Feminism is intersectional and inclusive of ALL issues which affect the lives of self-identifying women. Sexual harassment is an extreme issue which threatens women’s safety, but ignorance of female talent equally effects women’s chances of success in industries which they would otherwise thrive in.

Finally, both award shows are expensive, lavish nights which celebrate industries which have allowed sexual harassment to thrive within them. The film industry? Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen. The music industry? Dr Luke, to name but a few examples. Perhaps instead of protesting sexual harassment as if it is something external, these industries should be looking closer to home. Attending and producing expensive events which host supporters and advocaters of sexual harassment, and doing nothing but wearing a certain colour to protest them, is a paradoxical action which demonstrates exactly what we’re doing for women’s rights: not enough.

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Wearing all black, or a white rose might seem like an appropriate protest of two industries steeped in sexism and sexual harassment, but surely a real protest might have been not to turn up at all? A fashionable protest where one can still show up and collect their award is one which seems shallow and self-celebratory. If we’re going to start taking sexual harassment seriously we have to do more than highlight that it’s there, we need to tackle it from it’s source.

Written by Katherine Skippon

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Written by Katherine Skippon

Katt is an aspiring writer, environmental scientist and a plant based foodie, studying Sociology.

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