Sunday, January 25, 2015

Forbidden Zone

    I rarely weigh in about runway fashions, unless there is something really innovative, or startling going on that makes it worthwhile. But something occurred quite recently that has sparked a conversational topic that I think is worthy here.
    Rick Owens just recently slapped the entire RTW community in the face with his S/S 2015 menswear collection.  Doubtless by now you've heard that he sent male models down the runway with their junk on display.  Okay, so apart from being a deliberate act of provocation, what is this about?  Now, Owens is an Avant Garde designer, so these sorts of razor's edge experiments are to be expected.  But what it ends up being about, for me at least, is an open challenge to our long held conventions about nudity, and body shaming. In fact, looking at the collection from a broader perspective than just men's penises on view, it seemed a larger meditation on body exposure, since many of the looks presented, showed sections of body not normally exposed outside of swimwear.
But there is a much larger, more tangled, and interesting issue at the base of this.  Why, in 2015, with all we now understand about human sexuality, and that knowledge deepening almost daily, is it still true that there is a visual no fly zone on the human body?  Why is it still true that that central section from the top of the pelvis to the base of the rump is off limits, a no no, verboten, unseen, and vulgar?
    There are, of course, because we're talking about human behaviors here, multiple reasons for this.  The first, and oldest, is our essential animal natures.  When we see the primary reproductive parts of the body, we cannot avoid understanding that we are beasts, like all other animals.  And for a large number of us, cleaving to our supposed civilization, that is a challenging, disquieting thought.
    The next reason, to my mind, is our western societal disconnect about sex, and sexuality. We know it exists, and we glory in it in certain parts of our culture, but we do not wish to be reminded that all of us are beings with a sexual aspect.  We seemingly cannot face the full truth of our sexual selves.  And in our predominantly patriarchal world, men do not wish to be reminded of the natural physical inequalities of their own gender.  Men wish to maintain the fiction in their heads, that what they've got, is best. I could do a whole post on THAT subject alone. Perhaps I will.
    Another reason is associated with the concept of body shaming, which is connected to the prior reason, but veers off on its own course.  We do not want anyone to see the unvarnished truth of us, because we are taught by our culture and religions that our bodies are bad, and that we, by association, are bad for displaying them.  Nonsense.  As I've written before, our notions of physical beauty, and body perfection have shifted again, and again over time, so claiming that this or that version of shape is most right, or most wrong, is simply a societal construct we accept.  Long past time we dropped that ludicrous notion.  And as we continue our movement along to that global community, we will be more likely to let go of these things.  Will it happen right away?  Of course not, but I see it coming, nonetheless.
    The final reason I'm going to bring up is the sheer, vast, weight of tradition. We do not expose that part of us, because it has always been so.  The truth is different.  For many tribal cultures even now, such notions are absurd. And certainly in our broader past we did not feel so constrained.  But getting past the bulk of all that time and convention is hard, even for people of wide education and experience.
    What Mr Owens did on his runway, was wave a big red flag in our faces, and show us, by the absurdity of some of the garments, the absurdity of our long held beliefs.

No comments:

Post a Comment