So I dragged you along for the first few weeks of my last project, and then abandoned ship to dedicate myself entirely to a severe bout of Deadline-itis (symptoms include, and not limited to: abandonment of mum duties, wearing the same outfit for 4 days, wearing wool in 25 degree heat hiding my granny roots, slumbering on my sewing machine at 2 am, earning frequent diner points at Mac Donald’s supplemented with peanut butter sandwiches, and buying sticking plasters in bulk to stem profuse hemorrhaging from various hand injuries).
I figured I’d bring you up to date with how that all turned out. If you’ve already forgotten my life changing words, feel free to re-read the ‘Stereotypes part 2’ blog.
We were rudely interrupted when I was beginning my research into the subject of domestic stereotypes, this was and continues to be a great source of discord in my married life. As I searched for art which played with gender roles, and ascribed behaviors, I found a plethora of considered, meaningful, sublime and ridiculous Feminist art. I’m all for that obviously, because I have ovaries, and I don’t like being a member of the ‘Me-too’ crew. I was struck by the lack of oppositional philosophical art or commentary which forwarded equality for men. There is at least a word which is the opposite of feminism; it’s Masculinism or Masculism (if, like me, you had no idea that was a thing). Feminism has been a part of my lexicon for as long as I can remember, and with damned good reason, but how could I have reached the grand old age of 41 without knowing that men had an equivalent word for it too.
I guess because men are still considered dominant in our society, there should be no need for them to forward or promote the virtues of being male, and have no need to fight for equal footing or consideration. Certainly if you search for art or literature of a masculinist bent, you inevitably end up reading a twitter feed of garbage constructed by some weird little American guy that believes that women should give him sex, regardless of their want to do so, as they are just unfairly endowed with power that they simply haven’t a right to. The reputation of this social movement is at best comedic, at worst highly misogynistic. My question at this point became: why isn’t Masculinism a respectable thing, and why don’t they just agree on the one name, as branding success relies on not operating under a plural of names.
Despite my own constant whining about equality, and how I obviously have a shitter selection of choices because I can grow humans in my reproductive organs, it has been apparent that my husband also has plenty to whine about as a ‘modern’ man, I just failed to
really attach value to his particular issues because he’s a man and can do whatever the hell he wants. Here’s a few for a start:
- All the responsibility to earn, be career orientated and always economically ambitious.
- That he’s supposed to be able to fix anything that breaks in the house.
- He can’t spend enough time with his children, or celebrate their achievements, because he can’t negotiate its importance with his workplace.
- That he’s not sure if it’s ok to hug a child that isn’t his own.
- That he’s not sure he’s allowed to pay a woman a compliment.
- That he can’t be sad, or depressed, or confused, or sensitive, or overwhelmed by life, when almost every day he is.
These are the conditions imposed on him by socially constructed gender expectations, whether I think any of these are real, is beside the point, I’m not a man, I don’t have his experience, or an instilled list of ‘man rules’ to adhere to. I know I have the ‘woman rules’ and understanding that our living with these rules is a mutual concern and often rears its ugliness in 10 minute arguments about why I’m re-decorating the bedroom on my own, or why I get to have a coffee, as my husband slaves away day in, day out in his garden office.
I like to start with my peers for opinion, to inform my work, and one response in particular really drove the point home:
‘Being made of slugs and snails is not good for a boys sense of self-worth….But I wouldn’t swap either for being forced into a beauty role…wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all just be somewhere on the ‘people’ spectrum.’
We are neither men or women, OK in our roles. We both have conformity to fight, and as much as I hate those that impose on me as a woman, I am not sure men have it all so much better.
This is what my project is about. I wanted to even the score for both genders, I want gender identifiers out of the way. I want gender neutralized in terms of our narrative, I wanted to protest against the divisive subconscious expectations we have of ourselves and one another. Take that mundane crap that seems so important day to day, and the constant race to the ‘who had the worse day’ competition out of the story of us.
After much drunken discussion, with a particularly opinionated male friend of mine, some high-brow articles and lots of google bashing, I started to find a path to bring these ideas into realization in the medium of clothing. Catch the blog next week, to see how all this crazy turned into my latest collection, including a great leap of logic which empowers my husband by making him model skirts for my collection.
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