Last week, Jennifer Lawrence chose to wear a stunning Versace gown at a press event for her latest film, Red Sparrow. Lawrence was photographed, outside in London, with four wrapped up male co-stars. Sure, she might have looked cold, but it was a stunning dress so a harmless decision, right? Apparently not, for many so-called feminists, just ‘looking out’ for the defenseless actress.
Social media was offended on Lawrence’s behalf, with Jezebel publishing an article titled ‘Please Give Jennifer Lawrence a Dang Coat,’ while twitter called the photo ‘depressing’ and ‘revealing.’ The photo became kindling for the ‘feminist’ fire that is social media opinion parading as social justice. An inoffensive dress at a mere photo call was transformed into a call to arms against the gender inequality rampant in the film industry.
However, this outrage was so misguided that it ended up as incredibly counterproductive, for a number of reasons. Firstly, why is it that social media assumed that Lawrence did not choose to wear that dress? Why was it assumed that some sexist PR forced her into a gorgeous designer dress and made her stand outside in the cold? It was not for a second questioned whether or not Lawrence chose to wear the dress. Secondly, turning every minor detail into a feminist issue detracts from real problems. The more time spent focused on why X actress wore Y dress is less time spent talking about genuine issues.
Lawrence herself found these claims ridiculous, and defended herself via a rare Facebook post:
Great, Lawrence cleared this mess up, it was her choice to wear the dress, nothing more, end of story. Not quite! Apparently, even this post was controversial. Suddenly, Lawrence is difficult; prompting a Guardian writer to open her article questioning, ‘Remember when Jennifer Lawrence was nice?’ The article explores when and why Lawrence’s transformation from girl-next-door to Hollywood diva took place. The only question not asked is where this took place, as it, very clearly, exists solely in the realm of social media. She is damned for wearing a dress outside; the helpless woman, defenseless in a male-dominated industry, forced to wear provocative clothing to sell a film. She is a diva for speaking out, for defending her own decisions and her right to wear what she wants to. She is damned if she does, and damned if she doesn’t.
The keyboard warrior brand of feminism is frustratingly muddled; everything will be turned into a sexist issue. Even when it requires tearing down a woman to prove a terribly misjudged point.