Sexuality and Style-Fashion-Dress
Chapter 7 (titled Sexuality and Style-Fashion-Dress) is related to fashion and cultural issues for two reasons, and both of them are about linking the way people dress to their sexuality, but the term “sexuality” can be understood differently. First, the chapter explores a person’s sexuality as a representation of a type of person to whom the person is attracted. Homosexuals, who have been outside of the hegemonic sexuality for centuries, have been using style-fashion-dress to express their differentness, thus making the way they dress a signal of their identity and belonging to a particular community. Second, sexuality is explored in a broader sense, outside of the heterosexual-homosexual binary—as the way of experiencing and displaying attraction connected to the body and imagination. From this perspective, fashion has served as a tool and environment of various manifestations of sexuality for centuries.
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Is fashion essentially about being sexy?
To a great extent, it is. Style-fashion-dress is largely about the desire to be attractive, and the boundary between this desire and wanting to be sexy is rather blurry (Kaiser, 2012). From this perspective, many fashion phenomena and their connections to cultural issues can be explained through the driving force of wanting to be sexually attractive, although not all such phenomena can be addressed in this context only.
When wearing pants was not socially acceptable for women, women who did wear pants adopted the male identity. Many had to resort to this measure for survival or safety. One of the first women who wore pants without rejecting her identity as a woman was Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (Kaiser, 2012). Through the way she dressed, she challenged the existing differentiation and contributed to women’s liberation by breaking the limits of what a woman should not do.
Bodies in Motion through Time and Space: Age/Generation and Place
Chapter 8 (titled Bodies in Motion through Time and Space: Age/Generation and Place) is related to fashion and cultural issues for two reasons. First, the chapter goes beyond previously explored characteristics, such as race, nation, gender, and sexuality, and views style-fashion-dress on a larger scale, from the historical perspective—from the perspective of time and space. It is stressed that the way people dress not only says something about them or something that they want to say about themselves but also generates material culture that serves as a tool for articulating and representing history. Second, the chapter demonstrates that people’s style-fashion-dress is not only a political statement, but it is also there for pleasure, creative resistance, and play, which should not be disregarded by cultural theorists.
Do people use style-fashion-dress to reinforce their subject positions?
They might, but they might do the opposite as well. Most of the time, people live in between subject positions, and the way they dress becomes a way of staying in a subject position as well as creating bridges between them to migrate from one to another at some point in their lives (Kaiser, 2012). Body, which is the center of style-fashion-dress, is an inborn and, to a great extent, an unalterable condition of belonging to one subject position or another, but fashion has become an instrument of transition, which largely contributes to various social processes.
A person’s life is a struggle between body issues and mental issues, i.e. between predetermination and modification, and fashion works for bridging the two. Through minding their appearances, people demonstrate who they are (Kaiser, 2012). Clothes and accessories should not be regarded as mere objects of material culture because they are more than this—they are articulations of positions, power relations, and perceived selves.
Kaiser, S. (2012). Fashion and cultural studies. New York, NY: A&C Black.