I’m gonna be screenprinting a couple shirts that I’ve had a lot of requests for and finally decided to actually do. But it’s a bit of an undertaking to make shirts, so I’m going preorders for both of them. I just need 60 people to get them in order for it to be worth printing, so I’m gonna try using Celery to do this. Like a kickstarter campaign, you won’t be charged until the project is a go. If you preorder, you’ll save $2 and you’ll be sure that the size you want is available (sizes S-2XL).
Feminism is having a wardrobe malfunction.
Does your brand of feminism remove barriers for women, or simply move them around? Does is expand options for women, or does it just shift them? You don’t liberate women by forcing them to choose option B instead of option A. What is comfortable for you might not be comfortable for someone else, and it’s entirely possible that what you see as oppressive, other women find comfortable or even downright liberating.
Before you think the girl in the middle is a strawman, let me tell you I used to be her, back in my misguided youth. I considered myself the standard to which other people should adhere. But that was stupid. It’s not up to me to tell people how to dress, and it’s much nicer to let everyone choose for themselves.
Some women would feel naked without a veil. Some women would find it restrictive. Some women would feel restricted by a bra. Some women would feel naked without one. Some women would feel restricted by a tight corset. Others love them. Some wear lots of clothes with a corset. Some only wear the corset and nothing else. What makes any article of clothing oppressive is someone forcing you to wear it. And it’s just as oppressive to force someone not to wear something that they want to wear.
I have been asked by dozens of male leftists why I’m into fashion, why I blog about it or spend hours putting together intricate outfits, since it is ‘inherently’ a capitalist activity.
I have also been told (unsolicited) by many men that they think my fashion is interesting and bold, but certainly not sexy— the same (unsolicted) response given whenever I chop all my hair off.
Male leftist critiques of fashion often ignore that it is a gendered form of self-expression and no more complicated by its relationships with commodification and capitalism than any other aesthetic or form of self-expression. To do many artsy things, you must buy things. Paintings go for millions in hushed auctions filled with white men, so why don’t men criticize artists who use paints, pencils, or finely crafted crayons for being sellouts?
Moreover, fashion can be a way to avoid the male gaze or to at least alienate it. There are many women into creative dressing that are told ‘you aren’t sexy, you won’t attract a boy looking like that.’ As if that should be the only point to your self-expression.
These days I experiment with masculine silohettes. I am wearing slacks and a wool-and-leather top with weird loafers. My hair is to my chin. Many of my guy friends have complained that I de-sexify myself when my hair is short. Or they mutter, you’re clearly going for some weird fashion thing and not attractiveness. It reminds me of the saying that when women get their hair cut short, they do it for themselves.
These days, I don’t twart male gazes completely but I come off as aggressively visible. Most strange men avoid speaking to me, which is what I prefer. They look at me in weird dresses and short hair, and they often have a blank expression because they are unable to read my body within the entitled domain of their gaze.
Being into fashion has been about reclaiming my body for myself. I lose weight because I want to fit into clothes, not because I want to be more appealing to men. I dress how I went, when I want, and ignore the men who say ‘Ainee you don’t look hot today! Your shirt is weird.’
yes yes yes
Fashion is an art form, one we all participate in by wearing clothes, by not letting our hair grow indefinitely. But because women are conditioned to care about it more and put more effort into it, by choice or by necessity it is seen as “low art” if it’s seen as art at all, frivolous and shallow. Fashion and feminism are intertwined like the threads of a cable knit sweater.
How is painting my face more vain than painting a canvas? Seriously, what is the difference? Nobody has ever been able to explain that to me. When I paint a portrait, it’s art. When I paint myself, it’s shallow. I don’t buy that.
When I design a burlesque look, while my sexuality is blatantly on display, it is infused with a confrontational element that many people find frightening and uncomfortable. It isn’t the delicate, demure look of an object up for consumption. It stares back at you. It doesn’t care if you like it or not because it’s not about you, it’s about me. You’re the passive one in this scenario.
If that isn’t an artist statement, I don’t know what it is.
And see, I think about this stuff when I plan outfits. Even when it’s day to day outfits and not stage outfits. I am communicating, expressing, telling a story, a mobile art piece. And I create what I want. I don’t take commissions.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find my tutu. I’m going to the opera tonight.
“”Excuse me,” she asked. “Can I buy you a coffee?”
It was a nice surprise. Most people don’t buy me cups of coffee, and I was just sitting at the Starbucks trying to plot my novel. So it was kind of charming, to have a cute girl offer to buy me a free drink. I told her sure. She brought me a nice iced chai, and sat down next to me, and then asked, “So have you heard about Jesus?”
Now, as it turns out, I’m a Christian, so I’m not opposed to Jesus -– but it was a little disappointing to realize this drink wasn’t done out of niceness, but as a sort of recruiting tool. Maybe I’d have been into a religious discussion if she’d said, “Hey, let’s have a philosophical talk,” but as it was, I felt a little betrayed. So I said that I wasn’t interested, as politely as I could (for I was sipping a delicious drink), and returned to my plotting.
The next day, another girl: “Hey, can I buy you a coffee?”
This time, I was trying to work out a difficult programming solution in my mind, and she asked me at exactly the right moment to have all of my thoughts collapse like a house of cards. “Are you just going to ask me about Jesus?”
”Oh, no,” she said, reassuring me. “It’s just that I think you’re cute.” And she was kind of pretty.
“…all right,” I said, guardedly. She bought the coffee. Sat down at my table.
”But if you were wondering about Jesus…” she said earnestly, and I ejected her from my table. I kept the drink, though. It seemed cruel, but she had been stupid enough to buy it for me even though I didn’t want it.
Over the next week, it just got worse. Two or three times a day I’d be deep in thought, trying to focus on this tangled plotting that I needed to resolve, and some woman would tap me on the shoulder to offer me a cup of coffee. I couldn’t concentrate, because sometimes they were very insistent: “You sure you don’t want a coffee, sweetie?” they’d ask, sometimes lurking over me after I’d refused them, just in case I changed my mind. Sometimes they just bought the coffee for me anyway, without even asking me if I wanted it, plopping themselves across the table from me and yammering on about being saved.
It was affecting my concentration. I started to tense up at the Starbucks, waiting for the next Jesus freak’s interruption. If it was a regular thing, like an hourly interruption, then maybe I could have worked around it, but it was erratic. Some days, I’d have four or five at once, other days I’d be blissedly free of interruption. But I had to be continually braced for the next hand on my shoulder, knowing that no matter what I was doing they’d be bursting into my personal space. I wrote less, my programs were buggier.
My friends couldn’t understand my upset. “Dude,” they told me. “You never have to pay for coffee again in your life! You’ve got it made! Do you know how much money you’re saving?”
”But I don’t want to talk to these people,” I said.
”You’ve talked about God with us before,” they replied. “Sometimes, we’ll stay up until two, three in the morning discussing the nature of heaven and hell. You dig philosophy, Ferrett. If you like talking about that shit with us, then why not with them?”
”Because they’re just one-note and don’t really care what I have to say,” I said.
”Just try ‘em, man. Some of them are cute. Maybe some of them actually want to date you!”
”I guess,” I said. “But how do I know which ones are genuine without having to talk to a bunch of phonies?”
Eventually, it got to the point where I started bringing friends with me for cover, so I wouldn’t get interrupted. That didn’t work, either –- while it helped, the more aggressive proselytizers would interrupt me in mid-sentence to ask me if I wanted a drink. Suddenly, the Starbucks wasn’t fun anymore -– it wasn’t a place to hang out, but a place where I’d just constantly be bugged by attention I didn’t want. And the guys who weren’t getting free drinks were calling me stuck-up, jealous that I was getting all these free drinks and not even wanting them.
So I stopped going.
Okay. Clearly, that didn’t happen. But I’m trying to prove a point here.
One of the things that guys don’t get is why women don’t like to be hit on. As a guy, when you get hit on, even if it’s a clumsy attempt, it’s generally a very rare and remarkable event –- it puts a spring in your step, even if you’re not particularly attracted to the woman, because as an average-looking guy, scarcity of compliments is the norm. So if a girl catcalls you and goes, “Nice butt!” and appears to be serious, there’s often this sort of strange pride. Hey, that doesn’t happen often, she must really be into me.
So a lot of guys have this unspoken attitude of, “I wish I’d be harassed.” And they don’t get why women are so angry when hey, I was just trying to be nice, why you gotta be so mean?
Thing is, when it’s not scarce, then even the nicest act starts to get annoying. Because you don’t get to control when people are quote-unquote “nice” to you, and it happens all the time, and you know there’s always a hidden cost behind it. You start to question people’s niceness, because they’re not doing it to be kind, they’re doing it because they want something from you. And maybe, yes, that’s something you like to give to certain people, but definitely not to everyone, and almost certainly not to the kind of guy who’s certain you’re going to give it to him if he just bugs you enough.
Harassment isn’t once. Harassment comes from a lifetime of dealing with people constantly doing things to you, whether you wanted them or not, at random intervals. You learn not to trust people. And what might have been pleasant, once, as an isolated incident, starts to feel pretty oppressive when it’s something you deal with on a weekly basis. It changes you, and then guys call you bitchy when you don’t feel like playing along and pretending this is just about the coffee.
But I think most of ‘em would feel the same were the tables turned. So please. Think about what you’re spouting.”
Keeping in mind that no metaphor is ever a perfect 1:1, I’ve always loved this article by my friend Ferrett. It tackles a few specific types of harassment, and is a good starting point for understanding where a lot of women are coming from when it comes to being harassed in public, and why it’s not a compliment. It’s not meant to be a fully comprehensive explanation of all types of harassment and how women have to deal with each and every type (as some have criticized already).
This one type of harassment, seen by many to be not a “real” problem or not a big deal, is a big deal. It’s good to deconstruct not only violent and abusive acts, but those seemingly harmless acts that whittle away at our psyches until we snap, and get called overreactive. This will hopefully help those who have not experienced sexual harassment to understand at least some small part of it, and hopefully will inspire people to look more deeply at other areas of sexism as well.
I mainly shave because not doing so overshadows what I want people to focus on. I actually like the look of hairy pits, on myself and others. I don’t request that anyone else find them attractive. Heck, you can even find them personally gross. But when I’ve spent eight hours sewing a dress and that’s all you can comment on? Problems. Seriously, just keep those comments to yourself. Sometimes I shave, and sometimes I don’t, and both states are fine, and could you please talk about my awesome dress and fantastic hair instead.
Hello! To cut to the chase, I was wondering what you think of strippers? I’m interested in a feminist perspective, and I think you’ve spoken about cabaret and strip tease before, so I was curious about your opinion on more conventional stripping. Thanks!
My feelings are positive. I think individual strip clubs may have policies and practices that I would find negative, but that’s true of any career. Heck, I work for the media, I got no right to judge scruples.
Stripping, porn, prostitution. As a general concept, I am for all of these things when done by consenting adults. These folks are choosing to do this job. Some will argue that they’re pushed into it by society or they’re coerced or brainwashed. Sure, women feel pressure to conform to certain standards of how to look or act, but it isn’t some absolute if/then equation where strippers are mindless zombies as a result of our culture. I think if you extrapolate enough, you can say that about ANY decision since none of us live in a vacuum.
The city where I live, some old biddies got upset about a strip club opening up in their quadrant of the city, and they made a stink about it and banned public nudity even within strip clubs. Strippers must wear g-strings and pasties, must be on a stage at least 6’ from patrons, and no touching. Makes me want to scream. Strip club participation is voluntary. Don’t like it, don’t go.
But it also means that, at least where I live, the only difference between stripping and cabaret is reputation. Though I do think the cabaret has better music. And also skits. And a very large man who smashes pumpkins with his butt. But dang, sometimes you just wanna see some tits with no pretense. Got no beef with that.
Women for Santorum: ‘A baby from rape is a gift from God’ (Found at Joe. My. God.)
It is the height of irony that women are valued for our looks, encouraged to make ourselves beautiful and ornamental… and are then derided as shallow and vain for doing so. And it’s a subtle but definite form of sexism to take one of the few forms of expression where women have more freedom, and treat it as a form of expression that’s inherently superficial and trivial. Like it or not, fashion and style are primarily a women’s art form. And I think it gets treated as trivial because women get treated as trivial.
I really wanted to quote, like, every line of the thing. But, yeah, I agree with pretty much everything here. Especially the part about women’s fashion being more about showing off for each other rather than using it to attract men.
I think the reason I most dislike the DC reboot putting all the women in pants is that it seems like DC thinks that’s all it takes to eliminate sexism in comics. It seems they think the equation is “Women - pants = sexist, therefor women + pants = not sexist.” I don’t know if that’s their actual mindset, but that’s how it looks to me. And while it is (kind of) a step in the right direction towards being more sympathetic to women comics reader’s tastes, getting rid of misogyny is not as simple as adding pants. It’s so not that simple, and I’m worried DC is patting themselves on the back like they just completely fixed the problem. I’m worried DC is going to see all the complaints from readers about the pants and think “God, they’re so nitpicky. We give them what they want and they still complain!”
Hire more women writers. Hire more women artists. Have more female characters, with more interesting plotlines and fewer refrigerators. Put some support behind your female characters. Make a goddamn Wonder Woman movie. Make a movie with a female in it who isn’t a superhero’s girlfriend at the very least. Make more comics like Batwoman. Make more female characters of color. Court female dollars. I want to eat some goddamn Hostess snacks with a chick on the box. I’ll shut up when my mouth is full of officially licensed Batwoman snack cakes.