Sunday, September 13, 2015

What feeds rape culture--or--doesn't everyone want a dress with a penis on it?

No publication is complete without an occasional inclusion of the latest in the fashion world. I most likely would not have stumbled on this had it not shown up under a “rape culture” alert I subscribe to. Rape culture is a term that showed up five or so years ago, and it means a society in which the abuse and exploitation of women by men not only exists but is encouraged and supported and, by extension, a society in which males hold almost all of the power and privilege.

This has resulted in many things--none of them, as far as I can see, good. One is the rise of a militant type of feminism that seeks not to promote women—a noble goal—but to belittle men. Another is the insanity that is sweeping U.S. college campuses, one that is resulting in an accusation of sexual assault being treated the same as a conviction and any insistence that the accused receive due process being derided as coming from “rape apologists” and as proof of male privilege and the existence of this rape culture--a circular argument if ever I heard it.

But what does that have to do with penises on dresses, you ask? Let’s start with the fact that the fashion collection is named, “My pussy, my choice.” Add to that a major motif running through much of the collection—“cartoonish penises in transparent latex and sparkly silhouette.” 

And the reason for this…questionable…choice of design and accessory? “ ‘It's like playing the penis game,’ Namilia [the designers] said of its playful use of a symbol of male power. ‘The more often and louder you say it, the more harmless it becomes.’ ”

A comment made in reference to a bra constructed of representations of male genitalia—one on each side—reveals what this is all about. “Filling out sparkly 2-D testicles with breasts is a brilliant power play.” 

Power. Make men's most obvious physical difference from women a fashion accessory, reduce it to a meaningless pattern on a piece of clothing or, even better, something in which to insert a female body part, and men themselves are negated to something weak and laughable and pathetic.

Feminism was about equality. It was embraced by those of both sexes as something whose day was long overdue. This feminism is about power. It is the opposite of equality. It allows no equality. If you question that, imagine the fall-out if a designer of men’s clothing used the pictorial representation of breasts and vaginas to decorate shirts.

Actually, you don’t have to imagine. Just remember back a few short months. A brilliant scientist, Matt Taylor, instrumental in the success of an important ESA mission, had his career virtually destroyed because he wore, on camera, a shirt that portrayed female film stars wearing bathing suits. Bathing suits. He was bashed and ridiculed and demeaned by bloggers and tweeters across a wide spectrum of individuals. Feminists demanded his resignation if not his head on a platter. One male blogger with a wide readership wrote, “If he [Taylor] wore that shirt around female colleagues it was automatic sexual harassment anywhere in the US, and completely disrespectful to any woman in the room...."

What if one of the women scientists there had worn a blouse decorated with penises? What would that have been called? Courageous and empowering?

1 comment:

  1. Yep,The original feminist theory..the days of the Gloria Steinem era I grew up in is gone. It is now the era of "Power feminism"


No personal attacks, profanity, or obscenities.
Thank you.