Well, I'll go to the foot of my stairs...

Often startled, frequently amused, sometimes scared; rarely speechless. Can be found at witchywoo22@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day...

...and I'm blogging against sexism.

I've been thinking about what to post for this momentous day since I signed up on vegankid's blog - let's face it, there's so much to choose from it's kind of hard to decide. And it's all nasty and oppressive and limiting and dangerous and abusive and insulting and infuriating...and others will tackle the topic with much more aplomb than me. I just lose my cool in the face of injustice.

So I was at a bit of a loss, wondering exactly what kind of contribution I could make, when I stumbled across the item pictured above. This, my friends, is some nutjob fashion designer's idea of haute couture on display during Paris fashion week that came to my inbox in a Google news alert on feminism. Apparently two designers had covered the faces and heads of the women wearing their designs.

The article says of one of them:

Viktor & Rolf exhibited their exquisite tailoring and their penchant for extravagant couture flourishes in an ode to Greta Garbo. They hid each model's face behind a catcher's mask woven from satin or strands of hair.

and, regarding the 'designer' of the ridiculous piece of crap you see here:

And at the presentation of the presciently named Undercover collection Monday evening, models stepped into the spotlight with their heads wrapped tightly, unforgivingly and, one must admit, artfully in fabric with all the translucence of a pillowcase.
Could the models in Undercover even see where they were walking? Several of them wandered just a bit off-track, bumping shoulders and even meandering into the audience seating area until redirected by a handler. Each model's entire head was bound in fabric -- black, brown or white -- with only tiny pinholes for air. The fabric was knotted in back -- or at what one assumed to be the back of the head -- in the manner of a tight chignon.

Click on the 'Bride of the Mummy' link under the picture in the article to see the man's full collection - all belts and chains and very restrictive clothing.

The article ends in a somewhat whimsical fashion with:

Given the collective weight of these disconcerting masks, camouflaging shapes and unnerving expressions of rootlessness, one can't help but think that feminist outrage or humanistic anger would be misguided. The fundamental sadness in these clothes is not their oppressiveness or anonymity, but in the way they underscore a sense of universal loneliness.

"Misguided feminist outrage"? My arse! As if women aren't invisible enough unless we're naked! Another designer, a Mr Yamamoto, underlines the obvious with his use of super-sized clothes that make the (female) body 'seem that much smaller and insignificant'. Can't you just tell he doesn't have to live in one? Unless we're naked and on display we take up far too much room in this man's world and, rather than underscoring a 'sense of universal lonliness', I posit that by completely covering a woman's face there's even less reason to acknowledge that what you're looking at is a human person. This is confirmed by the fact that the women wearing these monstrosities had 'handlers', just like animals do. Not 'minders', you'll note. Not 'guides'. 'Handlers'.

If there is any 'sense of universal lonliness' I'd argue that it stems directly from the oppression of women and our 'anonymity' to men that is fostered and fed by patriarchy. The divisions created and fostered by patriarchal ideology can only serve to isolate individuals unless they fight tooth and nail to stay true to themselves (and even then...). There's something about "show your face" and "stand up and be counted" that is being both highlighted and negated by the images of women's heads being bound. The Chinese bound women's feet and as a consequence they could barely walk. Is binding women's heads an attempt to stop us thinking? To restict our consciousness?

But just imagine if this type of designer headgear caught the sartorial imagination of the masses the way the mini skirt did in the sixties (even the Queen of England wore a mini skirt, you know). Women all over the western world would totally bind their heads, having only tiny pinholes so that they could just about breathe, for the sake of being 'with-it'.

Obviously we'd be expected to continue to contribute to men's daily life as much as we do now. We'd have to go to the supermarket to shop; though fuck knows what we'd be putting in our trollies - we wouldn't! There'd be collisions in the aisles as we 'wandered a bit off-track' until some bright (male) spark developed a supermarket trolly with a sonic warning system. Babies would get dropped left right and centre and accidental damage from nappy pins would soar. Cleaning would be very much a hit and miss affair because we wouldn't know where the dirt was but, hey, it wouldn't bother us that much - we couldn't see it! And if we were to go out with a man we'd have to be kept on a leash in case we meandered off into the road...how blissful for them. And as for sex, well...it kind of brings home one of their quaint little sayings - "I'd give her one, if you put a bag over her head".

Christ on a bike though, can you imagine that kind of shit being designed for and worn by a man on the catwalk? No? That's sexism for you. So bollocks to 'misguided outrage'. This feminist is outraged.


  • At 2:05 AM, Blogger spotted elephant said…

    I think covering women's faces completes objectification and sends a clear message. Because it was so sublte before. ;)

    The picture is horrifying-I didn't know what I was looking at at first. Your depiction of everyday life hit the mark. I think that example deserves to be broadened-it's perfect. All of the accidents that would occur would not be remedied by removing the &*% masks, but instead an entrepeneur could make a ton of money off of creating "solutions".

  • At 11:41 AM, Blogger existsnomore said…

    Those pics were so disturbing. We're just bodies to them.


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