August 24, 2011

How fashion makes us visible as "Gender Outlaws"

Hey there gender blenders,

Do you consider yourself a gender outlaw? Today I was browsing through Kate Bornstein's book, Gender Outlaws: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us, and I stumbled on something in the first paragraph that gave me one of those, "omigod, you just articulated the exact thoughts I've been trying to sort out!" moments.

via Goodreads
I've felt kind of silly posting about fashion because, at first glance, it seems so trivial. But beyond the culture of "omigod-prom-dresses-weddings-look-hetero-cute-for-your-boyfriend-Glamour-Cosmo-bullshit-Magazine-skinny-body-ideal," we have a lot more to work with.

Besides, I'm talking about how Kate Bornstein sees fashion, "as a proclamation or manifestation of identity," especially gender identity: "The link between fashion and identity begins to get real interesting... in the case of people who don't fall clearly into a culturally-recognized identity." Has anyone heard of gender as a performance? Yeah, fashion is all about that, even in Glamour-Cosmo-bullshit-Magazine it's pretty obvious, not that they would EVER admit to anything like that--"let's perform traditional hetero-femininity without questioning it."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on straight, feminine (or otherwise) girls/women. I don't question the validity of femininity as a gender performance or straight as an orientation. I do question the indoctrination of femininity (and masculinity in the case of boys/men) and heterosexuality as normal/more natural than other identifications (or even non-identifications).

How does fashion make us visible as gender outlaws? We can change/shift how our gender(s) is/are "read" based on how we perform said gender(s). Just like in a theater performance, costumes, makeup (or lack there of), and accessories/props (read this however you want) are involved, in addition to voice, movement, and social interaction.

Again I ask, are you a gender outlaw? What role does fashion play in making you visible as a gender non-conformer?


  1. Just dropping by to show a little cross-blog support! I don't know if you've read Mary Ann Doane's "Film and the Masquerade," but it's a great read on femininity and sexuality as performance in the moving image. Cheers!

  2. I actually have not heard of "Film and the Masquerade," and it sounds excellent! Thanks for the recommendation, and for stopping by!