All these women tell a vivid and powerful story, both verbally and visually, about this milestone, about this outcome to a case that sent the #MeToo movement to culture as a tsunami. In their collective and individual style, women on both sides are accusing the victims, highlighting their empowerment and defending a global brotherhood. And, in the case of Rotunno: use those messages to swim against the flow of public opinion by offering your client a vigorous defense.
Society is getting used to their stories, just now discovering how to respond to them. Weinstein is also weaving a story. But yours is familiar, an exasperating cliché.
Long before Weinstein became a social outcast, when he was an influential movie mogul, he was an extremely dazzling dressing room, a man whose style could best be described as a state of disheveled over low heat. Weinstein wandered through life with the air of someone who did not have to be adapted and elegant because his influence gave him a step for everything. He was not very careless; he simply dressed in a generous amount of contempt.
Now, stripped of the bright patina of power, with an electronic monitoring device attached to one ankle and an orthopedic device wrapped around the other, it wobbles from its SUV to the steps of the court bent over its metal walker. What was once read as schlubbiness in its own right is now read as a different kind of cartoon, that of a desperate man who makes his way to his deserved.
Defendants regularly try to influence a jury, as well as the public, with their dress and behavior in court. But Weinstein’s trial has multiple levels of spectacle. It is not just the defendant whose costumes are notable. The style of women who support and confront him is also distinguished. They are releasing a narrative about control and power, one that is nuanced, varied and bold.
Rotunno is a Chicago-based lawyer who has established a reputation for defending men accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. She believes they have the right to a defense. She believes that being a woman helps her in these cases because it allows her to aggressively interrogate the accusers without looking so vicious. And he dresses in a way that declares that traditional femininity is an advantage. Does that mean your gender is exploiting? No more than a man.
Rotunno takes control of social assumptions and prejudices about women and uses them to their advantage. She enters the courthouse with her flattering dresses, her thin coats and her high and narrow heels. It looks pretty, in the standard sense, in the familiar sense.
Rotunno goes around the old women’s dress template. Instead of the neutral floppy blouse that was part of the “Dress for Success” mantras of the late 1970s, when professional women had to dress like men to get ahead, Rotunno uses the 21st century version of that shirt: a red bow blouse. It is not stubborn. It is bright It is feminine. It is in control.
His aesthetic is relevant, which means that it seems of the moment and he paints it as someone cosmopolitan. It looks tough but not inflexible. Strong but not dominant. Single-minded but not inhuman. Rotunno makes a visual argument that a blatantly feminine aesthetic may be the default definition of bulldog ferocity. Rotunno dresses to transmit power, but also in a frankly feminine way. His style matches both.
Rotunno has argued in interviews that women have an agency and with that comes responsibility, that the women who accused Weinstein were not helpless. The feminine is powerful. His style is powerful.
Protesters also wear red. Weinstein’s antagonists have said that the color symbolizes how they are claiming their power, which means they believe it was lost or stolen. Outside the courthouse, their red coats combined to create the impression of a roaring fire in a gray and gloomy canyon.
Attorney Gloria Allred was also dressed in red. Allred works with multiple Weinstein accusers. She is the defender of advertising, the lawyer who accompanies her clients by the hand, like a protective chicken, in front of the media, who leans towards a microphone to declare her legal intentions and who understands that sometimes the impact The visual statement is much more memorable than verbal.
Rose McGowan, the accuser who often seemed dangerously close to being wrapped in her own anger, wore a pink trapper hat. His plush skin framed his face. Not long ago, a fuzzy pink hat could have been seen as a sweetly feminine aesthetic gesture. But this is the age of pink hats. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Claimed the speaker’s mallet in a fuchsia closet. Rotunno wore a pink coat to fight for his client. This is the era of pink power. The question is whether the color has suddenly been imbued with powerful bravado or if women have just recognized what has always been true.
The women dressed in red and black, with strips of black nets, alluding to the blindfold, tied to the eyes, addressed the court on Friday. Inspired by a collective of Chilean feminist art, they sang in Weinstein: “The rapist is you.” His clothes and his words linked the events that took place in New York with the struggles of women in South America, India and elsewhere. His blindfold reminded Chilean human rights protesters that they have been partially blinded by rubber bullets fired by police and soldiers.
Women are wearing attire to declare their solidarity, to underline their just indignation, to indicate their personal agency. Weinstein is the faded man in black and gray tones. He gets into court in the shadow of Rotunno. She waits for him. But she doesn’t introduce it. She is a powerful player, not a help partner. He is not a coward.
Protesters are a fiery red-hot storm. Rotunno can protect Weinstein from being completely involved. But he is already the color of ash.
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