If you were looking for the worst take on the New York Times’ investigation into years of sexual harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Donna Karan wants to help you out. In an interview with The Daily Mail, the fashion designer describes the studio mogul and longtime friend—who’s been accused of sexually harassing actresses and employees for decades—as “wonderful,” and says that women need to examine their own behavior to figure out the ways they’re “asking” to be (allegedly) masturbated in front of and propositioned for nude massages.
In the on-camera interview, Karan repeatedly tries to widen the focus of the scandal, alternately pointing to other parts of the world where women are fighting for equality and suggesting that “it’s not just Harvey Weinstein,” even as she talks about his “amazing work.” But mostly, she goes out of her way to hold women accountable, asking “I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?”
The designer continues in that victim-blaming vein, asking “And what are we throwing out to our children today about how to dance and how to perform and what to wear? How much should they show?,” even though there’s nothing anyone can ever wear, say, or do to provoke sexual harassment or assault. Full stop.
The public dragging commenced almost immediately, with Twitter users posting in memoriam-style messages were being posted for Karan’s career after making such rape culture-supporting comments. Rose McGowan, who sued Weinstein in the ’90s, according to the Times’ report, called Karan a “deplorable” for shifting the blame to the alleged victims.
But according to the Associated Press (via ABC News), Karan now claims her quotes about women asking for it were taken out of context. The designer issued a statement Monday after the Daily Mail interview was published, in which she apologized “to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim.” Karan now says that “sexual harassment is NOT acceptable and this is an issue that MUST be addressed once and for all regardless of the individual” [emphasis hers]. In the event of any boycotts of her line, Karan will presumably, given her call for personal accountability, look back at the way she “presented herself” with these incredibly insensitive comments.