PC Culture

Jennifer Lawrence Is Right — Crying Sexism Where There Is None Distracts from Real Issues

Jennifer Lawrence at the 9th Governors Awards. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)
No, sexism wasn't the reason Lawrence was photographed wearing a dress in cold weather.

People were quick to blame sexism for a photo of Jennifer Lawrence that showed her wearing a dress without a coat with a group of men who were wearing coats — and she’s calling the whole controversy offensive and ridiculous.

The idea behind the criticism was basically that Lawrence was somehow forced to go coatless and be freezing because of the patriarchy.

Lawrence, however, quickly shut it down with this statement on her Facebook page:

Wow. I don’t really know where to get started on this “Jennifer Lawrence wearing a revealing dress in the cold” controversy. This is not only utterly ridiculous, I am extremely offended. That Versace dress was fabulous, you think I’m going to cover that gorgeous dress up with a coat and a scarf? I was outside for 5 minutes. I would have stood in the snow for that dress because I love fashion and that was my choice.

This is sexist, this is ridiculous, this is not feminism. Over-reacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward. It’s creating silly distractions from real issues. Get a grip people. Everything you see me wear is my choice. And if I want to be cold THATS [sic] MY CHOICE TOO!

Lawrence is completely right.

First of all, the idea that anyone would see that photo and immediately assume that either Lawrence had not been allowed to wear a coat, or that she was too afraid to wear a coat — rather than that she had simply decided to not wear one — is absolutely ridiculous. (It is also, as Lawrence said, very offensive to believe she would have done that out of fear. Thinking that a successful professional woman like her would be too weak and afraid to have worn a coat if she wanted to wear a coat is a slap in the face to her agency and strength.)

The critics’ absurd assumptions about Lawrence’s coatlessness — when there was a very obvious, nonsexist explanation — prove that we have become a culture that is actively nitpicking to find sexism in things that could very easily be explained otherwise, and Lawrence is correct that this distracts from the real issues.

In my years of writing about political correctness, I’ve seen everything called sexist — from hating pumpkin spice lattes to the word “too” to the small chairs in preschools — and the hysteria does nothing whatsoever to help women. No, it actively hurts us. After all: If you’re quick to call anything and everything under the sun sexist, then people are going to be much more hesitant to take the word seriously when it’s used in a serious manner.