In 1998, Rose McGowan attended the MTV Video Music Awards with her then boyfriend Marilyn Manson in a sheer, black beaded knee-length gown with a black thong on full display. It was a provocative red carpet look, earning a censor blur in photographs, as well as during the show’s broadcast. Now McGowan is speaking out about the true meaning behind her clothing choice that night.
“That was my first public appearance after being sexually assaulted. I was like, ‘Is this what you want?’” McGowan explained earlier this week in an interview with Dr. Oz. “I’ve never worn something like that before or since,” the actress said of the dress. “That was a political statement. Of course, there was no Twitter at the time or Instagram, no way to speak for yourself.”
McGowan has been incredibly vocal about the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood (long before the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements), especially on Twitter. She was even suspended from the platform after she named Harvey Weinstein her alleged rapist in a series of tweets directed at Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos. (The incident reportedly happened at the Sundance Festival in 1997.)
“I told the head of your studio that HW raped me. Over & over I said it. He said it hadn’t been proven. I said I was the proof,” McGowan shared on Twitter. "I had already sold a script I wrote to your studio, it was in development. When I heard a Weinstein bailout was in the works I forcefully begged studio head to do the right thing. I was ignored. Deal was done. Amazon won a dirty Oscar.”
The actress is once again proving (like this year’s award season) fashion can telegraph so much more than what you see on the surface.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).