Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From Lux: a letter to the patriarchy

Dear The Patriarchy,

Hi! How are you? Still putting it about that women have all the real power? Hilarious!

Well, another Fashion Week has been and gone and with it the still-not-getting-old debate about how size zero models are destroying our nations teen girls and whether "large" models can walk properly. Naturally, you like to offer your opinion on the subject, as you do in all things, and I can really see how you are trying to help. That said, I am really not sure that endlessly carping on about how skinny women look "weird" and how you would rather have a "real" woman is actually improving the situation as much as you think it is. It may surprise you to learn, patriarchy, that not all issues about the female body are directly connected to your collective penis. As it transpires, while you get to have a crazy amount of influence in the way we girls see our bodies, you don't actually dictate every aspect of our self image. I know!

The fashion industry cares little about whether you get your rocks off over their models. A huge, vapid, global behemoth with a largely female client base gets to define beauty any way it likes, for better or worse. The way it currently stands, I'm leaning towards worse, but not because you find double-A cups and jutting collar bones to be a bonerkiller. Yeah, sure, you want to do Cristal Renn. Who doesn't? But her story and her success in the fashion world has implications that transcend your groin. And blaming a secret "gay fashion mafia" for making flat chests and slim hips into an ideal body shape is not only daft and hand-waving a whole set of complex societal issues, it also makes you seem like homophobic as well as simply misogynist. Your dazzling resistance to believe that any concept of female attractiveness simply has to be about your desires almost makes me admire the fashion industry. Please do not make me admire the fashion industry, patriarchy!

While we are on the subject of body image, I feel I should point out that eating disorders are a far more complex psychological issue than "wanting to look like Kate Moss", a cliche that never gets old, by the way. Sometimes, it's not about wanting to please you, either, or wanting to conform to some unattainable standard of beauty. You know, the kind perpetuated by the magazines and films you like so much. Sometimes, it's about self-destruction and about control, and this is a state of mind that transcends gender. So when a man admits to this particular self-destructive urge, how about not giving it a funny name like "manorexia" or taking the piss or adding little emasculating comments of your own, as if the stigma of mental illness were not enough. There are other ways of hating your body than punishing yourself at the gym, patriarchy. Or crying yourself to sleep at night wondering how Don Draper makes it all look so easy.

So, patriarchy, I see what you're trying to do for us poor, poor ladies. But this is one time (among thousands) that you should maybe butt out. I know it's hard to accept that sometimes your judgment of our bodies is neither wanted, needed or appreciated, but it's time to realise that your desires don't get a say in everything we do. It's time to move on. Get a hobby maybe. Have you thought about knitting?

1 comment:

  1. Hey patriarchy,

    remember that time a boyfriend told me it was "okay" that I didn't wear make-up, since he didn't like much make-up on girls? Or the time a boyfriend refused to stop touching my face after I told him I didn't want his hand oils to give me break outs, and his excuse was that my body was what he focused on more than my face?

    That was charming. I felt very empowered by my ability to get a break-out and not wear make-up and still not dampen a boyfriend's desires.

    Thanks, Lux - I always love your posts :-)