Mormons miss the point of #MeToo by focusing on modest gowns at Golden Globes

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Gal Gadot, from left, Octavia Spencer, and Kristin Cavallari arrive at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 7, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photos by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP; caption amended by RNS)

(RNS) — Last night, history was made.

Women draped themselves in black to protest the culture of sexual harassment that has long defined Hollywood. Women and men spoke out to negate the culture of silence that has allowed sexual harassment to continue unchallenged.

And women also kicked ass in winning awards for their writing, acting and lifetime achievements.

And this morning, LDS Living magazine* responded by posting a roundup of which gowns at the Golden Globes could be safely considered Mormon-approved. Here is a screenshot from the story:



OK, let’s just parse that opening sentence. “This year’s Golden Globes saw an unprecedented number of celebrities sporting modest dresses.”

You think? Did it occur to anyone working on this story that there was a reason for that?

Celebrities were “sporting modest dresses” as a form of protest. The fact that they were almost all wearing black — which is not even mentioned in the LDS Living roundup — could be regarded as a clue. Because they’re sick of women’s bodies being objectified, judged and treated as property. Because #MeToo is true of too many women.

So Mormons respond by dishing out more of the same, objectifying and judging women’s bodies and perpetuating the lie that women exist for purposes of ornamentation.

As if critiquing women’s attire is a Mormon right. As if we are divinely appointed to praise women whose fashion choices conform with our own narrow and culturally conditioned standards.

These were not “stunning, modest dresses from the red carpet.” They were intentionally somber dresses that were selected to make a point — a point that LDS Living could not have been thicker about missing.

Listen, instead, to what The New York Times had to say about the night’s funereal aesthetic:

The Globes were draped in black, quite literally, with actresses and some actors vowing to use their attire to make a statement about sexual harassment in Hollywood and other spheres. Winners were expected to use their moments of glory to rail against the systemic sexism and silence that allowed the behavior of men like Mr. Weinstein, James Toback, Louis C.K. and Mr. Spacey to fester for decades.

On the red carpet, eight actresses walked hand in hand with activists who focus on sexual harassment and gender inequality.

So here’s a challenge for LDS Living. How about next year, we focus on the praiseworthy things that women write, do and accomplish, rather than the clothes they choose or the bodies they have? How about we stop contributing to a culture of sexual harassment and start celebrating women as creators and subjects in their own right, rather than objects for our viewing pleasure?

Would that be so hard?

* Ed. Note: LDS Living magazine is not an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although it is a division of Deseret Book. See here for more information about the publication.

Update 1/9/18: Late yesterday, LDS Living updated its website with this sentence: “Last night, women wore black dresses in solidarity with #TimesUp, a movement protesting sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace.” As a result, I have also updated this post by including a screen shot of how the LDS Living page appeared when I first wrote this, rather than the way it appears now, to avoid reader confusion about my complaint that the LDS Living article did not mention the reason why celebrities were wearing black. My original post had included only the text from LDS Living, but the magazine has since revised that copy without explaining that it had done so.

(Jana Riess is a Religion News Service columnist and the author of “Flunking Sainthood.” The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of RNS.)