July 29, 2005

"Why dress in 'ho gear' and risk being treated like a hooker?"

Oh, come on. You're not going to blog every single essay Robin Givhan writes, are you?

Well, I don't know, maybe I should. You know she does ask some pretty tantalizing questions:
If clothes function as semiotics, where does the power lie -- with the sender or the receiver? And what happens when the sender is purposefully offering up misinformation?

Yeah, you find those questions tantalizing?

Uh, no, I guess not. Now that you mention it.

8 comments:

Harkonnendog said...

Interesting article.
I have to say I know a lot of 20-something women who are simply self delusional- they really think that their bare midriffs, resembling half-inflated skin colored bicycle tire tubes glued betwixt jeans and t-shirt, are sexy.
There's no empowerment there- just the kind of idiocy that leads 30-something men to think nobody notices the comb-over.

Jack said...

Well, in the US that fashion may not work, but in France (where I live right now) it isn't exactly as is described by harkonnendog...

But then again, it *is* in Europe, which is approaching but doesn't quite have the weight problem so prevelant in the US, fortunately for me...

Kate Marie said...

I don't necessarily find that kind of question tantalizing, either, but that's probably because -- despite the problems it might pose in the rarefied realm of semiotics -- I don't have qualms about answering it here in the world in which most of us live. I'd say the power lies with the receiver.

I used to teach a nice group of ninth grade girls who were upset that they would be prohibited by the school from dressing in "gansta" style clothes for Halloween. I tried to explain to them that the school was understandably concerned about the connotations of that particular style of dress (the connotations of violence were uppermost in the school's mind). The girls replied that they weren't trying to promote violence and crime, that they merely liked that "style." So I asked them what they would think if I walked into class tomorrow wearing a white robe and hood and explained to everyone that I didn't mean anything by it but that I just liked the "style." I didn't get much of a response from them, and I think (or hope) they began to see that there certain forms, ways of dress, etc., ("signs," to use the language of semiotics) have broadly accepted meanings that any one individual has very little control over.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Interesting article, and I think especially pertinent to today's young women.

So many seem to see no grave problem with appropriating styles that lead to a certain level of "presentation dissonance". And like one person in the article, some of them love the attention and yet are simultaneously frustrated at type of attention they receive.

Goesh said...

I don't mind those kind of fashion statements at all

leeontheroad said...

My colleagues and I get some mileage from pointing out to primarily (not exclusively) young women students that "advertising it" suggets "it's for sale," so if they don't want to be perceived to be "for sale," they can cover their midriffs etc.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think everyone is overreactng. Part of every generation is shocking their parents. In mine, it was long hair. More recently, we have had tatooing and piercing. Guys wearing pants 10 sized too big, showing their boxers, etc.

But Lee does make a good point that it helps to point out that the more skin that a girl shows, the more it looks like she is, as Lee says, for sale. I add to the bare midriff, too much cleavage, too short a skirt or shorts, etc. All pretty much say the same thing to me.

Part of the problem though is that it is sexy on a young woman who has a very good body. The problem with all of these exposures though is that if she isn't trim in one of those places, it just looks bad.

Kate Marie said...

Bruce Hayden attributes this style of dress to the younger generation's attempt to shock their parents. But, let's say I accept Bruce's theory. If the parents don't appear to "overreact" and be shocked,aren't the youngsters going to have to find something more extreme to shock us with? If I have a teenager who comes home wearing a swastika on his/her T-shirt, am I just supposed to shrug my shoulders and chalk it up to generational conflict?