Rose McGowan speaks out about being slut-shamed for years after iconic VMAs dress
Getty Images

Rose McGowan made headlines in 1998 when she stepped onto the red carpet in a skimpy dress.

Two decades later, she has told Yahoo Entertainment that she remembered how much people had criticised her and called her names for daring to do it – and how much that moment meant to her.

McGowan said that the dress and appearance with her then boyfriend, Marilyn Manson, was the first big public appearance she made after being sexually assaulted.

She has previously alleged that Harvey Weinstein, the film financier, raped her in 1997.

McGowan said of the dress:

I just felt like, ‘Oh Hollywood, would you want a body just that you can use and throw away? Then I've got one for you!’ It was like at the end of Gladiator when he comes out and he's like, ‘Are you not entertained?’ And if you look at me, I did it with power.

I didn't do it with my hand on my hip to be sexy. … Most of the women that are dressed like that on the red carpet, it's a calculated, sexy move to turn people on. Mine was like, ‘I’m gonna f*** with your brain. I'm going to blow your brain up.’ And nobody had done it.

At the time, news outlets and other organisations criticised McGowan for the dress – which was made of chainmail.

McGowan also says that Manson didn’t really understand why she did it, and didn’t really understand her throughout their relationship – they broke up after five years together, and have since made amends.

McGowan also admits that even though the moment meant a lot to her, she wasn’t prepared for the shaming that came after.

She said:

I'm like, ‘Why did I do that?’ I've had to look at that.

You know, when you do stuff sometimes on instinct and in a mood, like when a mood overtakes you on, you analyse what it was that brought you to that mood or that choice. So, I've certainly had a lot of time to analyse and I'm looking at the timeline. But I completely understand why I did what I did.”

She continued:

They slut-shamed me like crazy. It was kind of hard. I hadn't really ever dealt with global media shaming. But it prepared me for later on it happening to me a whole bunch.

McGowan is an activist and actress, best known for her roles in Charmed and Jawbreaker. She spoke out publicly about her experiences of sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood in 2017 and 2018.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)