Gay Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have a habit of saying stupid and inflammatory things. In 2015, Dolce called children born through in vitro fertilization “synthetic children” and implied that such kids would inevitably have psychological issues. In 2017, they told people who criticized their decision to dress Melania Trump to “fuck off” and vowed never to let musician Miley Cyrus’s brother ever model again after the pop star publicly disagreed with their politics.
So it shouldn’t really surprise us, considering all of the sexual misconduct allegations swirling around the political and entertainment realms recently, that Gabbana has decided to stick his foot in his mouth on this topic as well.
The Stefano Gabbana sexual harassment comment
In an interview with Vogue UK, Gabbana said that all of these new allegations are hardly a new thing (which is true), but also said that sexual harassment isn’t a form of violence. He said:
It’s not new! (Theater director) Luchino Visconti asked (actors) Helmut Berger and Alain Delon to go in the bed. … But listen, you decide. It’s true. Everybody knows. After 20 years you say, “Ah! He touched my ass!” It’s not violence, this. Who doesn’t do sex? Who doesn’t? It’s a trend. Now the trend is sex. But sex is an old story. We are Italian. We came from the Roman Empire. We know very well.
His airy, ‘devil may care’ way of speaking aside, Gabbana demonstrates a limited understanding of how sexual harassment and violence actually work.
Why the Stefano Gabbana sexual harassment comment doesn’t make sense
Violence isn’t merely physical; it can be psychological or inflicted through an abuse of power. Sexual harassment isn’t merely flirtation, and the recent harassment scandals haven’t resulted just because of American prudishness — they’ve come from powerful men abusing their positions to coerce and force their subordinates into sexual situations they wouldn’t have otherwise initiated.
Gabbana’s use of theater as an example seems especially tone deaf, considering the new allegations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey from 20 people who worked under him while he served as artistic director of London’s Old Vic Theatre from 2003 to 2015.