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Rose McGowan: we're still on a razor's edge over sexual harassment

Rose McGowan, the actor and activist who was one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape, has warned that society is “still on a razor’s edge” in terms of tackling sexual harassment.

She was speaking backstage at London fashion week just days before the disgraced Hollywood producer goes on trial in a Manhattan court charged with six counts of sexual assault.

McGowan, who had just appeared in the spring/summer 2019 catwalk show for 38-year-old British shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood, said: “We are a lot further along than where we were, but we are still on a razor’s edge. We have to start a new conversation.” She went on to describe the mood among victims of sexual harassment and assault as “still very scary”.

Since McGowan made her rape accusation against Weinstein last October, more than 75 women have accused the producer of misconduct although many of the encounters that allegedly involve criminal sexual acts are thought to be too old to be actionable. Weinstein denies all allegations of non-consensual sex.

McGowan added that the subsequent movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault had been difficult: “To everyone else, it seemed like it happened so fast, but for me it’s been very slow.

“It’s been a long haul. I’m really gratified that people are questioning what is acceptable, but it’s been a hell of a year.”

Kirkwood and McGowan met in the summer, and worked together on his spring/summer 2019 collection. Titled “Hacking and Activism” and set in an imaginary future dystopia, McGowan opened the show which was choreographed to mimic an immersive theatre piece about a female uprising, and made veiled references to Donald Trump.

If this was a show about protest, then shoes formed the crux of the message, with Kirkwood’s trademark spindly heels usurped by relatively more practical bulbous moon boots, flat sandals and thigh-high boots.

Backstage he described the models as “symbols of defiance” who used shoes as “a means of self-expression”. By contrast, McGowan went barefoot in what was also her “stage debut – I’ve only ever been on film before this”. After this, she plans to write a sequel to her January 2018 memoir, Brave.

On the front row sat Lily Allen who, in an interview in the Guardian this weekend, revealed that she had been sexually assaulted as she slept by a record industry executive, adding that abuse is “rife” in the music business.

The court hearing this week will be Weinstein’s first major proceeding in his criminal case, over 11 months since McGowan made her allegations against him. McGowan says she plans to mark the anniversary “probably with a cheeseburger and watching TV in bed”.

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