Guest Speakers

Guest Speakers

Ever since the launch of this blog, I was eager for it to be a place of points and counterpoints and was even hopeful for a little — gentle — sparring between the genders.

Well, thanks to Tramps (and not tramps, it must be said), that day has come.

Interesting offline discussions have turned into online discourse, and I am delighted to introduce Guest Speakers — a spot for guest bloggers. Please enjoy the first piece by Baberaham Lincoln, a frequent and witty commenter on this blog.

And please, if you are interested in contributing, just let me know. I’d love to see your name and views here, too!


Fashion is a language – by Baberaham Lincoln

26 June 2012 — Fashion is a language. So said philosopher Roland Barthes, in doing so a) overintellectualising something simple; and b) making you feel insecure about what you’re wearing. This pretty much makes him The Best At Being French Ever (I’m assuming he was smoking a Gauloises and having extra-marital sex while he said it).

It’s a fun way to think about clothes. The men’s suit, for example, is a sonnet: tightly structured, but capable of transcendence. The sundress is an essay. Women’s boots are an epic poem.

But the tramp look is neither poetry nor prose. It is an advertisement. I mean no disrespect: a good ad is hard to make. It relies upon message discipline, or, as it’s called in the trade, a ‘Single Minded Proposition.’ And make no mistake, if you’re tramping it up, you’re making a proposition with a one-track mind.

So far, this doesn’t look like much of a counterpoint. Soho, as usual, is right: tramp works. But one thing sticks in my craw. It’s the whole ‘not the marrying kind’ proviso, or as one commenter suggested, that a girl who tramps is ‘Ms Right Now,’ rather than ‘Ms Right.’

This is nothing more than the old virgin/whore dichotomy tarted up, desperately trying to look contemporary. It’s not. It’s a relic of the bad old days and I’m surprised to find it being served here by such a stylish host.

You don’t need a bloke to lecture you on why it’s anti-feminist. My concern is the scurrilous libel it peddles about men. Yes we are base, visual and all that stuff Soho says. But we ain’t stupid. We’re quite capable of realising that people – yes, even female people – have multiple facets to their personalities. So what if a girl is dressed in a way that says ‘Hello boys…’? The rest of the sentence could easily read, ‘…I’m a Rhodes scholar/ great storyteller/ massive Spurs fan,’ or whatever makes one ‘the marrying kind.’

To return to the advertising analogy, an ad can only encourage you to try something once. If you come back for more, it’s because you like it. Whether two people have a future together depends upon whether they connect, not how much make-up one of them is wearing.

You may say that I’m being naive, that I’m giving my gender too much credit.

Perhaps.  There will always be a certain number of tiny-todgered misogynists who are looking for any excuse to write a woman off. Are they really your target audience? I’m told women like a confident man, but any man who has to make himself feel better by treating women as one-dimensional is clearly crippled by insecurity. He is neither confident, nor much of a man.

And there are certain things worth being naive about until the world pulls its socks up and joins you. If you want a world where breasts and brains aren’t seen a mutually exclusive, don’t pander to the morons. Slap on your makeup, hitch up your skirt and if any terrified man-child looks up from his cartoon Japanese schoolgirl porn long enough to leer at you, don’t call him a four-letter word. Call him a polysyllabic one.

  1. #1 by Empty Vessel on June 27, 2012 - 5:11 pm

    To extend the Barthes analogy, if fashion is language, a lot depends on the length of conversation. Or alternatively, to use the advertising analogy, i imagine the manner in which one responds to advertising depends on the setting in which one shops ( i have no empirical evidence for this but it seems intuitive). I would be more inclined, for example, to consider a variety of products from a store i trust (‘a friend’s house party’) than when overloaded with choice at a supermarket (‘Infernos’)

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