The BAFTAs happened in London yesterday and, ahead of the event, since the BAFTAs are the first major red carpet after Time’s Up was launched, attendees were encouraged to wear black in support of the movement, just like they did at the Golden Globes. Leading up to the BAFTAs, there was all kinds of speculation about whether or not Princess Kate would wear black, in solidarity with other attendees. It was reported last week that she wouldn’t, reminding people that royals don’t usually wear black because it’s a mourning colour and that they prefer to remain neutral on political matters.
Kate showed up in dark green, a Jenny Packham gown with a black ribbon around the waist and a black clutch. And immediately afterwards, people had feelings about whether or not that was the right move, considering that she’s worn black before and she’s worn black the way we saw many wearing black last night and at the Globes – with embellishments and prints.
I appreciate that she was in a difficult position and Kate, as we’ve seen over the years, has worked hard to avoid controversy, to be as undramatic as possible. She’s a team player, she plays by the rules of her team, she stays in her lane. Harry is the one who’s been known to push back against protocol and assert his will whereas Will and Kate are, generally, the ones who observe the status quo. Kate would have known that, whatever she decided, it would have been a thing. If she didn’t wear black, we’d be talking about it. If she did wear black we’d be talking about it. Her choice to not wear black, then, presumably in her mind, was the lesser of the two things. So now the question, at least for me, is what she understands about the world and whether or not she’s getting bad advice.
Was someone telling her that by wearing black, she’d be making a political statement? Or was she worried that by wearing black, she’d be making a political statement? Do they and she understand at all that this is not a political statement? Time’s Up is a movement that advocates for gender equality and against sexual harassment. These are not political positions, these are human rights. The United Nations has recognised gender equality to be a fundamental human right and sexual harassment is a moral and, at times, a criminal violation. There is nothing political about this and the people who politicise these issues are the ones who are actively trying to undermine efforts to confront them. What’s making me crazy is that Kate, or the people advising her, may be not be adequately informed about these issues. And they are directly connected to the issues that they patronise. The 100 Women in Hedge Funds Philanthropic Initiatives is on the list of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s patronages! This is an agency that seeks to empower women in the investment industries and to help advance their careers. Their careers cannot advance if they are sexually harassed and NOT PAID EQUALLY!
How the f-ck can they not see that direct association between Time’s Up and one of the organisations they themselves support?
When someone with the profile of Catherine Cambridge avoids being onside with gender pay equality and openly taking a stand against sexual harassment, which should be as “safe” to support as donating to the food bank, it tells you how profoundly insidious the misinformation and the miseducation has been.
She wasn’t the only high profile BAFTA attendee who decided against black though. Best Actress winner and the favourite to win the Best Actress Oscar, Frances McDormand, did have black on her dress but it was in the background. The primary colour of her outfit was red. Unlike Kate though, who remained silent on the issue, Frances directly addressed it in her acceptance speech:
What Frances means, I think, is that you can be in support of Time’s Up and not wear black. And she used her opportunity on stage to reiterate that – not that there would be any doubt that Frances McDormand wouldn’t be in support of gender equality and against sexual harassment. And the same could be true of Princess Kate. She doesn’t have to wear black to be an ally. And yet, Kensington Palace has not commented on her colour decision at the BAFTAs. Frances used her words to show where she stands. In the absence of any words from Kate, there is only uncertainty to fill in the gap.