Mode ist alltäglich, Mode ist vergänglich und Mode ist unsterblich. (Veronika Haberler 2012)
Fashion is ordinary, Fashion is fading and Fashion is immortal. (Translation by knittingkonrad)
in my last article “Simply Jealous?” I wrote about the progress of a knitted design and of the thoughts that bothers me.
I want to thank all my followers on Twitter and my blog for their answers. Also I want to thank Rowan Yarns for putting a poll on their Facebook Page, asking the question: “So we though we’d ask you all – do you know a man who would wear the bright colours of Kidsilk Haze Stripe?” Thank you to all who answered the question, especially to those who left a reply.
I collected all the answers and my progress went on:
Thinking over this topic, I found that I need to define some statements to go further.
Here they are:
1. Roles of male and female have changed. In the last decades the roles of male a female have changed, women are not longer reduced to the famous KKK (Kinder, Küche, Kirche = kids, kitchen, church), as we say in German but they have their own career, their own money and their own life, not only supporting a men or a husband. On the other hand men are also not longer reduced being the bread-earner of the family, they are taking their part in raising the children. Former professions which were only done by men (f.e. mechanics) were nowadays also done by women, former professions which were only done by women (f.e. child care worker, nurses) are done by men. Women and men shares equal rights and responsibilities. In the western world governments have passed legislations to ensure this equality of women and men.
2. Fashion is an indicator for the spirit of the time.
3. In fashion there are symbols. Meaning, in fashion garments, fabrics and/or colors symbolizes different genders. F.e. a skirt, pink, lace are female symbols, whereas trousers, greys and browns, thicker materials are male symbols (maybe no longer, but they were!)
What I am going to talk about is, that if fashion is an indicator for the spirit of the time and the spirit of the time is that women and men are supposed to be equal, why is this equality not shown in fashion?
“To much pink and purple in them I think…”
“Would men go for the fuzz/silk though or is fluffy a feminine thing?”
“No, but that’s more to do with the ‘girlieness’ of fluffy wool.”
“As for the fibres I guess they thought maybe that kid silk was a too thin yarn for men’s garment.”
These answers are clearly showing in fashion there are symbols of what is supposed to be female or male.
But symbols are not that easy. They shows more than one direction.
F.e. White: the color for the bride symbolizing her virginity (in our culture), white is also symbolizing death (in eastern cultures), it is also exclusively worn by the pope symbolizing purity and immaculateness.
Have you ever tried to hide yourself in a wood or field wearing a fancy, bright-colored dress? No? Then you know why earthly colors are good for hiding and why they are supposed to be manly colors.
Or have you ever tried to ride a horse free-handed and in the meantime shooting arrows on enemies, wearing a skirt? No? Then you know why wearing trousers is a good thing.
“Male” colors and garments/fabrics have to do with strength, war, business. Symbolizing power! Whereas “female” colors and garments/fabrics symbolize weakness, beauty, peace.
In the last decades “the female fashion gets “fashionable” as it acquires every male detail bit by bit.” What does this mean?
Symbols that are showing power and strength are now also worn by women. It is now “fashionable” for women to show their strength. On the other hand it is not fashionable for men to show their weakness.
“In our culture the skirt is strictly encoded as a female garment. That’s the total old story. The former knock about comedy, where men dressed up as women had been queer. But women dressed up as a men always have had another touch – there are clear power relations.” (Gertrud Lehnert: http://www.taz.de/!86091/) Translation by knittingkonrad
Although men and women should be equal, having the same rights and responsibilities, there are prejudices what a man or a woman should be. I guess that fashion as an indicator of the spirit of time shows that women who are able to stand one’s ground are accepted in our society. Whereas men, showing their weakness are supposed to be queer.
In german language there is the word herrlich, Herr = Sir, Lord, meaning capital, superb, gorgeous, glorious and so on and there is the word dämlich, Dame = Dame, Lady, meaning silly, dumb, stupid and so on. (OK, it’s not completely correct in an etymological way!)
Do you get what I mean? We are valuate male attributes as more appropriate for present age as female. It is not a gender game it is a power game. And we have a clear winner!
In our world the male attributes (strength, power, fighting, winning) are highly esteemed. Fashion as an indicator of time shows that clearly.
Give me your opinion!
Meanwhile, progress four:
3 thoughts on “Statements and Conclusions”
This is very interesting. It seems fashion tells us that women can take on male attributes, but men may not take on female attributes. I find this particularly interesting because I don’t feel that it lines up with society exactly. My experience of society is that women look like they’re experiencing equality on the surface but are still hemmed in by societal gender roles underneath the surface, and on the other hand men have all the power and influence. I think it’s easy for feminists to forget that men are also limited by traditional gender expectations, and this is very clearly signalled by fashion.
Thank you for pointing out another way in which gender norms are silently encoded – as a knitter and a feminist I hadn’t even realised that we all have expectations of what yarn is gender appropriate.
Thank for your interesting comment.
You seem to be right noticing, that equality of women and men is only on the surface of society. If you dig a little deeper it is clearly shown. Look at the poll on
Rowan Yarns asked a simple question:
“One of our male fans has posed a very interesting question https://knittingkonrad.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/simply-jealous/ So we thought we’d ask you all – do you know a man who would wear the bright colours of Kidsilk Haze Stripe?”
12 agreements (YES)
21 disagreements (NO)
Every poll was made by a woman! OK, that may not be representative sample (or poll) on a yarn-orientated page, but it shows the opinion of women to this topic!
I also want to point out, that “gendered” garments are only symbols. This symbols may represent power (business, strength) or weakness (tenderness, emotion). In this case we see, that the “male” attributes are highly valued in our society! F.e. What do you think how Mrs. Merkel (Bundeskanzlerin of Germany) has become chancellor of our country? (And what is she wearing? Skirts?)
Do, in our society, women only get highly valued positions when they behave like men? (Dress like men!)
And do we blame a man in our society when he dress like a woman?
The answer is YES in both cases!
Do we laugh about a woman wearing trousers or do we laugh about a man wearing a skirt?
Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that women and men are equal in a social, political way. But I do also believe, that there are differences and they should be (last but not least biological wise). I claim that a woman should have the right to be a woman first and a man should have the right to be a man first! I do not think we are living in a better society when all people are transgender or cross dresser.
A last statement to the poll: “Whose hands are rocking the cradle?”
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