Couture loves women! Photo via Manolo
The post I’ve promised to write on fashion and misogyny will have to be postponed while I write this post on fashion and misogyny: 90 Sumatran women are chucked in the hoosegow for either "failing to don head scarves or wearing clothes considered too tight." Yesterday Indonesian cops banded together with Muslim godbags and actually conducted a sweep in which the offensively bare-headed hotsy-totsies were rounded up and lectured on "appropriate dress."
Astonishing, yes? The o-ppression! The re-ppression!
Well, I won’t keep you waiting; here is my brilliant thesis: duds are utilized by patriarchal forces to identify women as the sex class, to perpetrate cruelties against women, and to categorize them as belonging to one of two equally subordinate castes: the Virgins or the Whores. This is true of all cultures, everywhere.
It’s a piece of cake for Judeo-Christian Westerners to spot the tyranny of fashion in "third world" contexts where women are imprisoned in reams of depressing black muslin, but, as I have noted elsewhere, the so-called freedom exercised by the American woman who flits spiritedly around town in hot pants is a big fat lie; she is every bit as subject to patriarchally-imposed standards of femininity as are the collared Sumatrans. It’s only the particulars that differ.
In the sense that clothes are used to classify women according to their sexual availability, the veil is the Muslim equivalent of the Western miniskirt. The veil says: "I am some motherfucker’s property and unavailable for your sexual excitement." The skirt says: "Please contemplate fucking me." Both lovingly embrace the same principle, albeit from different sides, and that principle is this: women are dirt. Or: Fail to strive with every fiber of your being to master the art of the local feminine drag, and you will end up in the clink.
Try this simple experiment: after the Austin City Limits music festival is finally over and they take down the goddam barricades that have been preventing you–because lard knows a music festival should inconvenience as many people as possible– from leaving your neighborhood, grab a couple of your male buds and nip on down to Zilker Park for a round of Frisbee golf. When you get to that hole over by MoPac and Barton Springs Rd where Johnny Law is always lying in wait for speed demons in F-150s, everybody take off your shirts, if you haven’t already.
Now, see how long it takes for you to get arrested. Compare this to how long it takes for your male buds to get arrested.
Eventually you will notice that Christmas has come and gone, yet the aforementioned male buds continue to roam free o”er the countryside, gathering no moss, their bronzed beer guts gleaming in the sun. You, on the other hand, you offensively bare-chested hotsy-totsy, will have been chucked in the hoosegow and lectured on "appropriate dress."