How Can We Take #MeToo Seriously When Celebrities Still Support Alexander Wang?
Controversy being swept under the rug to keep a celebrity’s image squeaky clean is nothing new. But we’re calling out a really unfortunate, yet classic example of memory-holing: Alexander Wang’s failed cancellation.
If you haven’t heard anything about this, I’m not surprised. Controversy surrounding Alexander Wang’s sexual misconduct was stirred up in late 2020 when a model named Owen Mooney alleged that, back in 2017, Wang had groped him without consent.
“I was by myself at one point and this guy next to me obviously took advantage of the fact that no one could fucking move and he just started, like, touching me up and fully like, up my leg, in my crotch, like it made me freeze completely because I was in such shock,” said Mooney, whose statement ignited a firestorm of similar stories being shared by people in the fashion industry and the New York nightlife scene.
Naturally, Wang denied all allegations, but then even more serious sexual harassment claims began to arise. A trans model and actor named Gia Garison alleged that Wang tried to pull his bikini bottoms off while dancing in a club in 2017, and in a similar vein, a 2017 Twitter thread from a model named Nick Ward resurfaced about Wang supposedly groping his genitalia. Other stories went as far as claims of having been slipped MDMA without consent and even rape.
Media cancel culture started out guns ablazing on Wang with demands to unfollow him and boycott his clothing line. However, sexual assault allegations can be very hard to prove with only 5 out of 1,000 rapists actually spending time in prison. Why? Well, lack of consent can be difficult to define, and tangible evidence without witnesses, photos, video or audio recordings, or confidants at the time can leave a gap to corroborate allegations. Additionally, in Wang’s case, his financial resources gave him an edge against public shaming that he could have leveraged as defamation.
Wang first called the allegations “baseless and grotesquely false accusations,” which had been “wrongfully amplified by social media accounts infamous for posting defamatory material from undisclosed and/or anonymous sources with zero evidence or any fact-checking whatsoever.”
Wang admitted his wrongdoing, ducked down into privacy, and then reemerged as if time had healed all wounds.
In a surprise twist, Wang did a complete 180, posting on Instagram an acknowledgment of his misconduct and regretting the pain that he caused all of the individuals who came forward. Wang admitted his wrongdoing, ducked down into privacy, and then reemerged as if time had healed all wounds.
But is it really enough to meet with your accusers and empower them to “speak their truth” as Lisa Bloom, his attorney, called it? Is it enough to promise that you’ll “do better” when you allegedly have a deeply troubling behavioral issue?
Wait, Now Celebs Are Wearing Alexandra Wang Again?
Just a couple of months ago, Alexander Wang returned to the runway and unveiled his Fall/Winter 2022 collection, which Vogue praised for its “effortlessly cool, slightly unexpected, and seemingly attainable” look. Adriana Lima, Candice Swanepoel, Alessandra Ambrósio, and countless others donned his garments on the runway.
What’s more, actress Julia Fox recently made a bold statement to the paparazzi in a full Alexander Wang lingerie get-up to go grocery shopping. Then there’s Kim Kardashian displaying Wang’s fashions on her Instagram story. Even Rihanna donned tiny cotton Alexander Wang shorts to show off her baby bump.
All of this to say, why does it feel like the elites can pick and choose who they decide is worthy of canceling through the #MeToo movement versus who they think should get a free pass?
To me, this just reeks of “rules for thee but not for me,” since countless of other high status men have had their entire careers decimated over far less serious allegations. But an established, world-renowned American fashion designer who happens to be a gay, Taiwanese man? Well, it wouldn’t fit the narrative of #MeToo, which is usually weaponized to take down straight, white men.
Choosing to #BelieveAllWomen and then keeping your lips sealed when you can’t come to terms with your favorite designer actually being problematic creates a significant obstacle for sexual assault and rape survivors trying to seek justice.
If the fashion industry and celebrities are to be intellectually honest and ethically consistent with themselves and the public, shouldn’t they stand by the victims alleging predatory claims instead of (perhaps unintentionally) gaslighting the public into forgetting the scandal?
All this does is further solidify the fact that we can’t take the #MeToo movement seriously when they contradict themselves out of convenience. Though Alexander Wang’s accusers didn’t necessarily have as much credible evidence to leverage as, say, Joe Biden’s accuser Tara Reade had, the #MeToo movement’s treatment of women as a commodity to leverage political pressure is blatant and disgusting. When top #MeToo activist and actress Alyssa Milano heard about then-presidential candidate Joe Biden’s sexual assault allegations, she doubled down on her support of his candidacy and responded by saying, “He’s a man I know, respect, and admire, and who I can’t picture doing any of the things of which he’s accused.”
Why does it feel like the elites decide who is worthy of canceling and who they think should get a free pass?
So then what’s up with the radio silence from leading ladies like Milano who would usually be rallying against someone like Wang? Could it be because Wang has more oppression points as a gay man from an ethnic minority? Could it be that the #MeToo movement doesn’t actually want to eat their own or ever possibly paint the picture that their favorite politicians and celebrities can, in fact, be problematic?
Former House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey got #MeToo’d around the same time Alexander Wang’s supposed sexual assaults took place. Spacey’s response was to retire from acting and that he’d be living out the rest of his life as a gay man. No one really heard much from him for a few years and now he’s back booking multiple acting gigs.
Unlike Alexander Wang, Spacey’s return to the silver screen isn’t being met with praise or indifference to what he did, with media calling him a disgraced actor or reporting on how he’s finally standing trial in a sex abuse civil suit. Did Spacey hope that everyone would forget about what happened? Yet, with a similar amount of time out of the limelight as Alexander Wang, people haven’t forgotten what Kevin Spacey did.
It begs the question: why does the fashion industry support designers accused of predatory behavior, leaving their models vulnerable to abuse?
Let’s not be naive, the #MeToo movement has clearly deviated far from its original purpose and has instead gone down two dangerous paths: becoming a politically charged platform to destroy careers or an endorsement by silence of a person’s innocence for strategic protection.
If we want to actually spread awareness about sexual assault and remove the stigma that victims face when thinking about speaking up, we’re ultimately doing victims a disservice when we cave to witch-hunts for certain people and then give free passes to others.
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