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FASHION NEWS

Cate Blanchett's words are true but they really shouldn’t need to be said

Yet apparently, they do – again and again, until everyone gets the message says Laura Craik  

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By Laura Craik on

And in today’s instalment of Bear Shits In The Woods, we bring you Cate Blanchett, a bear who tends to speak more truth than most of the other bears in her position. Taking to the stage to accept the Style Icon award at In Style’s annual Fashion Awards in LA, she told the audience: “Women like looking sexy, but it doesn’t mean we want to fuck you. No-one says to Steve Bannon, ‘you look like a bag of trash. Do you want me to throw you out?’ But the comments that get said about what women wear on the red carpet – I mean.”

Post-Weinstein, there have been a lot of Bear Shits In The Woods moments, as I fondly call them. It was only two weeks ago that I wrote about how no woman is “asking for it”, regardless of what she wears. This really shouldn’t need to be said. Clearly, what Cate Blanchett said really shouldn’t need to be said either. Yet apparently, it does – again and again, until everyone gets the message.

Blanchett has form in using her platform for the greater female good. Interviewed by The Guardian in 2015, she commented that “women do the same work as men do – they should be paid equally. I mean, God! It’s a boring conversation.” A boring conversation for sure, but an ongoing one. Women are still not being paid equally, any more than they are being treated equally.

Long before they’re adults, girls learn what to wear to appeal to men and what to wear to seem invisible

One of the few positive things to have come out of the Weinstein saga is that it has got people talking – not only about Weinstein and his victims, but about the wider issues surrounding the scandal, such as consent. I can’t put it better than the actress Brit Marling in her recent essay for The Atlantic, so I’ll quote her instead. “Consent is a function of power,” she writes. “You have to have a modicum of power to give it. In many cases women do not have that power because their livelihood is in jeopardy and because they are the gender that is oppressed by a daily, invisible war waged against all that is feminine – women and humans who behave or dress or think or feel or look feminine.”

As a girl, this is an extremely difficult, unfathomable concept to get your head around. As a 14 year-old desperate to express herself through the language of clothes (stripy tights, back to front braces, a spiral perm; don’t ask), I couldn’t understand why any boy would ever think I was dressing for anyone other than myself. Soon enough, I realised my own naïveté. Whenever I “experimented” with fashion (ugly shoes, any sort of hat, a pair of white bloomers worn over the aforementioned stripy tights), I’d be called “weirdo” or “minger”. But when I wore something more... conventional (a short skirt, tight jeans, any top that wasn’t a tent), I might be called “fit” or, on occasion, “slag”. All girls go through this horrid transition from being their own judge to being judged, quite unsolicited, by men. Long before they’re adults, girls learn what to wear to appeal to men and what to wear to seem invisible. Creepy art teacher? Better keep the school jumper on. Lecherous boss? Steer clear of the silky blouse.

Yes, women like looking sexy, but that doesn’t mean they’re always free to be. Alas, what we wear is still dictated by our circumstances as much as our desires: whether we’re going somewhere that’ll be full of pervs, whether we can afford a cab home or whether we’ll be walking down a dark street at 1am. If we’re wearing a little black dress that shows off our cleavage? No, that doesn’t mean we want to fuck you. We might want to fuck you, but don’t assume it from the dress. Consent should never be derived from clothing. It has to be more emphatic than that. It has to come from words. And if men and women have any hope of coming to a better understanding of each other, we really need to keep talking.

@LauraCraik

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