Culture 12 February 2018
In the weeks leading up to NYFW, fashion industry insiders — and both its avid and quasi-invested followers — wondered what the week would look like in the midst of the #MeToo movement. Would it even be acknowledged? In short, yes. But to what degree? That answer is still to be wholly determined, but one thing's for certain: #MeToo isn't being swept under the runway rug.
This season, there's been even more focus on the treatment of models in regard to sexual harassment and their general health and wellbeing backstage and at shoots. This, of course, has been a hot-button issue for numerous years. In the wake of #MeToo, though, models have grown increasingly vocal about which brands, and people, are guilty.
There's also been a lot of buzz regarding Marchesa's co-founder, Georgina Chapmen, who was married to Harvey Weinstein for a decade and is currently going through a divorce. Chapmen has been radio-silent since the late 2017 allegations. Marchesa was scheduled to present a collection on February 14, but at the end of January — not even two weeks before NYFW — the designers hit the cancel button. According to the NY Post, a source said, “Georgina couldn't go through with it. She was too scared."
The #MeToo Fashion Show
While all this pre-NYFW chatter was happening, Myriam Chalek — the creative director for American Wardrobe —was busy putting together a first-of-its-kind #MeToo fashion show. Though it was not a formal part of the NYFW agenda, the February 9 event was on people's lips in the days and weeks leading up to the show. It was attended by a wide range of media, and guests flooded the room, inside NYC's Yotel, with standing room only.
Mixing fashion with #MeToo still seems a foreign idea, and naturally, nobody really knew what to expect. The full event title was, “The #METOO Fashion Show: Slap the Pig Outta Him!!!" which might have led people to believe it'd be a highly aggressive event. That was not the case.
Eight women, only a few professional models, walked the runway wearing American Wardrobe clothing. The collection itself was strong and feminine with armor-like jackets and an assortment of sturdy wings. But pretty clothes weren't the focus here, and Chalek made that clear. This was about each woman's story and the #MeToo movement at large.
After their first walk down the runway, all eight women re-entered the room to Austra's song, “Hurt Me Now," this time standing next to men wearing pig masks and a pair of handcuffs in hand. Within seconds you could feel a heaviness settle over the emotionally charged room, and the audience was remarkably silent. The music stopped, the women all stood still, and one by one they told their stories with chins held high.
“When I was younger, about 11, I was sexually abused. So, I was working my way around, trying to accept that as a person and to live with it. For a while, I actually thought that it went away," said Melissa Davis.
The 22-year-old model and actress continued, sharing a recent story about a director in Florida who tried to use his power to “get into a relationship" with Davis while she was casting for an acting role in a show positioned to be sold to Netflix. She did not get the role.
“In that situation, I stood up for myself and was very bold and up front and vocal about what type of work I'm doing," she said. “I'm an actress, and I hate the fact that in the modeling industry and entertainment industry, women, we get overlooked for our talent, for our beauty. It's something that happens all the time."
Alicia Kozakiewicz — who was abducted at age 13 by a 38-year-old man and held chained and captive in his basement for four days — also spoke.
“He shared this abuse, this torture, online. He livestreamed it. And there were those out there, who watched it and drew pleasure from my pain. I knew he was going to murder me, and my time was almost up. Thankfully, miraculously, I was rescued. Those chains from around my neck were cut, and I was given a second chance at life," she said.
Male and female models walked the runway handcuffed together
Kozakiewicz's story received international attention in 2002 after the FBI rescued her from Scott Tyree's basement. She's since become a motivational speaker and an internet safety educator and advocate.
She continued, “The nightmare didn't end there. I suffered from PTSD, nightmares, flashbacks, as so many survivors do. And I suffered at the minds of a public who quite literally blamed the victim — certainly something that runs rampant today. And with that, my voice became silenced… but not for long. At the age of 14, I began sharing my story…Here I stand today, on a New York Fashion Week runway, no less, and I declare that I am no longer just a victim."
The event concluded with Sabrina Piper sharing her story of a consensual interaction that digressed into violent rape by the person she was seeing.
“We started getting intimate … it was consent both ways at first," she recalled. “About two or three minutes into it, he stuck his fingers into my vagina. I was like, 'I'm not ready,' to which he said to me, 'you feel ready.' Which is stuck in my mind to this day. He didn't care that I wasn't."
He then physically forced himself onto her and penetrated her, and she repeated that she was not ready to have sex. He apologized and held her, but shortly after penetrated her again from behind.
Pig-masked male models accompanied women on the catwalk
“I guess he thought it was rough sex. That's what I was thinking, and I was just trying to blank out of anything in my mind for a couple of minutes. Then he pulled out and he finished," she said. “It didn't set in until I get into the car and look down and see just a trickle of blood going down my thigh and my skirt."
When she got home, she saw blood everywhere — on her underwear, her clothing, her thighs, her vulva and vagina. Her vulva was swollen to “four times" its normal size, she said. Sitting at home in blood-covered clothing, swollen and in pain, was when she realized it wasn't just rough sex in his mind — she was assaulted.
“I'm not the first girl to go through this whatsoever, and I wish I could say I'll be the last, but unless we all band together — and we do something about it, like seriously, seriously do something about it — it'll just keep happening."
That's exactly what the #MeToo movement is about. It's not a phase and it's not a trend — it's a movement that requires constant discussion until the issue's eradicated. To some, the runway may seem an awkward or unlikely place to convey such a powerful message, but the #MeToo fashion show demonstrated that every voice, every story, and every event that furthers the mission is helping to put an end to all forms of sexual abuse and inequality.
It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.
Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.
Read with a Purpose
Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.
Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.
When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.
Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.
You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.
Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.
Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.
If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.
Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.