Rape Culture & High Fashion

January 27, 2014 • Fashion


You know those articles that go around all about trends dudes hate, things to wear to make your man want you, so on, so forth. You may also know the backlash where women, funny and smart women, attempt to wear all those things at once. I love these women. I salute these women. Mostly, though, I’m incredibly bored of a discussion of fashion that revolved around the premise of everything you choose to wear being dictated by the idea of getting laid. Even as a backlash response to it! Can we change the subject?

Even fashion theory talks about body and desire, bodies and clothing as a method of seduction, colors being indicative of the mood you want to give off. Color theory! Red means fuck me, it can also mean fuck off. Red can be really formal, red can be really raunchy, but it signifies hearts for eyes or boners or both. Apparently. Fine. To quote the often imitated and endlessly irritating (but also my favorite) Yohji Yamamoto, black is: “modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. But above all black says this: I don’t bother you – don’t bother me.” I actually hate this quote, but I think it serves the purpose well. It’s not untrue. Yamamoto’s clothes have been (horribly misinterpreted by fashion reporters in the 70’s) as being about sexlessness, which is funny to me. The dude was and is a playboy, and in interviews he’s done, he’s described his woman to be walking away from a one night stand, picking up her clothes and not turning back. That is the woman he designs for. Sexlessness? Hardly.

What I mean to say is, we are constantly associating clothes and the colors of them to relationships with people – ignored ones or otherwise. It comes back to sex time and time again. This is fine, this is never going to go away. But I am curious as to how we can approach the discussion if we remove that desire from the equation. How can we talk about clothes in a context removed from sexuality? Would we still want to buy clothes? What designers come to mind when you think of sexlessness in clothes? I think it’s the usual artsy fartsy crowd, and they are always pointed as being ugly and expensive. That we spend so much money to look like shit. But I mean, what if that’s the point? What if you don’t want to have a discussion about being wanted? What if you don’t want that question to even be on the table? I’m perfectly fine paying more money for clothes if it means it’ll be less likely I’ll be followed home at night. If someone could invent an outfit that would guarantee no woman would ever be harassed ever in her life, that would be worth any couture pricetag. Lay it on me, Dior.

To be honest, I’m just contemplating the relationship between trauma and wanting to be powerful in clothes. Clothes don’t protect you from getting hurt, but on the same hand– I will never not treat my favorite jacket like it’s the best bulletproof lifejacket ever embroidered. Do you know what I mean? Basically: have you ever thought about what fashion would be like if it didn’t operate based on other people’s desires to bone?

  • aurora

    The thing is, I’m not sure I’d want to talk about clothes in a context removed from sexuality, although I’d certainly want to put sexuality aside for the purpose of some conversations. Like, I wouldn’t mind to be seen as sexy wearing a pair of Comme ninja pants and blue lipstick. Just because, arguably, that “ghastly” outfit is who I am and can I please be wanted for who I am.

    But I don’t mean to make light of your comment about clothes protecting one from getting hurt.

  • First of all – does the something so disgusting like rape has the supplement “culture”! Horrible!
    We should be dressing for ourselves, not to outflank to the men. When I started dating my man, I used to walk around dressed like scarecrow, and he was more upset by the negative attention I was getting,not that I would attract other men. Just like his friends were often commenting “Your new girl is dressed like idiot!” I’m still dressing like an idiot, the way I like to (ok, I take care for silhouettes, cuts, prints, less is more,…) But when I want to seduce him, I am choosing time & place. I use my “weapon” – sexy lingerie, our bedroom or wherever we can.
    I understand that attractive clothes can attract the rapist as well, but there are so many cases when victims were dressed in just T-shirt & jeans (I mean, nothing “slutty”). Or, for instance, the rapist had a “fetish” on dark haired women, native ancestry women, redheads (a.k.a. redophiles). The clothes weren’t such an important factor for commit a crime.

  • … i wouldn’t usually comment bc i totally agree here, but i just want to counteract that latest comment; YES i want to be 100% removed from sex, as a body even, so i want my clothes to reflect that especially. i call myself hot all the time but i mean it in a platonic way, you know? i’m pretty, i’m hot, etc etc but why does that have to do with sex? can we just… contemplate my angelic sexless beauty instead?

    give me a bulletproof wardrobe asap please

Read more:
How to Apply Blush: Breaking the “Rules” with Untraditional Colors
Dov Charney is Out of American Apparel, and We Have Some Questions

All Aboard.

Get The Style Con shipped to your inbox.