Fashion is a Feminist Issue

Can you be a feminist and still care about fashion?

As some of you may know, I’m pretty interested in fashion. I spend a fair amount of time and energy (and probably more money than I ought) on my wardrobe and appearance. I pay a fair amount of attention to other people’s style: admiring it, analyzing it, deciding if I can steal it. I watch TV shows about fashion. I read books and blogs about fashion. I buy fashion magazines, and even subscribe to a couple. (It would have been just one, but we got a two- for- one deal when we subscribed to Vogue and got Glamour thrown in for free.) At big public events, Ingrid and I will spend many happy hours checking out/ commenting on other people’s outfits. Fashion has become one of my central hobbies.

And in general, I find fashion to be a fascinating form of expression. A language, even. Not in the literal Chomskyan sense, of course — we’re not born with a fashion module wired into our brains, the way we’re born with language modules — but in a metaphorical sense. In the sense that many extremely useful parallels can be drawn between the two. In the sense that different articles of clothes are assigned meaning more or less arbitrarily, in the way words are assigned meaning — not because those meanings bear some connection to objective reality, but because we all more or less agree on their meaning. (It doesn’t matter why, historically, a suit and tie means “I am willing to treat social conventions with some degree of respect, and expect in return to be treated with respect myself” — that’s what it means now, regardless of its history). In the sense that the meanings of these clothes shift over time, the way the meanings of words shift over time, rendering them even more arbitrary. (The meaning of makeup on women, for instance, has shifted over the decades from “prostitute” to “brazen” to “fashionably cutting-edge” to “entirely conventional.”) In the sense that these meanings change depending on how we combine them — the “grammar,” if you will (jeans with muddy boots and a baseball cap from the feed store mean something different from jeans with stiletto heels and a $500 Dior T-shirt). In the sense that these meanings can change depending on context (jeans at a rock concert mean something different than jeans at a funeral). In the sense that different cultures assign vastly different arbitrary meanings to clothing. (A short skirt and stiletto heels mean something different in Manhattan than they do in Cedar Rapids… and something very different again in Dubai.)

In fact, fashion and style are so much like a language, I’m always a bit baffled when people say things like, “I want to be judged on who I am, not on the clothes I wear.” It’s a bit like saying, “I want to be judged on who I am, not on the words that come out of my mouth.” But that’s a point for another time.

Here’s my point for today. Fashion is a form of expression. A language of sorts. An art form, even.

It’s also one of the very few art forms/ languages/ forms of expression in which women have more freedom than men. [Read more...]

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED!

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED!

As of this writing, I am no longer blogging at this address. This blog has moved to the Freethought Blogs network. My new blog is now at:

Greta Christina’s Blog

The archives from this blog have not yet been moved over to the new location, and I still haven’t figured out how to switch the FeedBlitz updates to the new site. And there are a few other technical bumps I’ll be working out over the next few days. So for a few days, I’ll be posting links here to the new posts on the new blog. But there will be no new content on this site. It’s all going onto the new site.

And there’s some good stuff coming up! I’ve just debuted with a barn-burner — Diplomacy and Accomodationism Are Not The Same Thing. I also have pieces scheduled for the next few days on feminist fashion, angry atheism and community building, progressive religion and cherry-picking, and more. So you definitely want to get your butt over there!

If you have me in your blogroll, or your RSS feed, or your elaborate carrier pigeon system designed to bring you avian updates of my blog posts… please switch it over to the new site. Thanks so much for reading my blog — and thanks for continuing to read it at my new home!

Diplomacy and Accomodationism Are Not The Same Thing

We spend a lot of time in the atheist movement talking — okay, fine, bickering — about confrontationalism versus diplomacy. Whether firebrands are making things harder for the atheist movement. Whether accomodationists are conceding too much ground to believers. Whether these approaches are stronger together than either one would be alone. You know the drill.

I’ve been realizing something about these conversations — something that I think might clarify them and make them more productive.

Diplomacy and accomodationism are not the same thing.

We often use the two words interchangeably. When we talk about diplomacy and accomodationism, we act as if we’re talking about one idea. But they are not the same thing at all. Diplomacy and accomodationism are actually pretty different. And I think this confusion is muddying these conversations.

So let me try to de-muddify. [Read more...]

Welcome to my Freethought Blog!

Hi there!

Thanks for visiting Greta Christina’s Blog at the new Freethought Blogs site. I am pleased as punch — how pleased is punch, anyway? — to be part of this new network, and am beyond proud to have been invited to join it.

Once I get settled in, I’ll be introducing new readers to myself a bit more, showing you around the best bits of my archives, etc. In the meantime, here’s a bit about me for those who don’t know me:

I’m an atheist. Like, duh.

I’m a feminist sex writer who’s been writing professionally since 1989. My first paid writing gig was for On Our Backs, the (now sadly defunct) by- lesbians- for- lesbians sex magazine. I write a lot about atheism — like, duh — skepticism, sex (mostly non-fiction, occasional fiction a.k.a. porn), feminism, books, LGBT issues, and cultural commentary (a fancy way of saying “what movies and TV I’m watching”.) I write occasionally but less regularly about food, art, music, smug unsolicited advice about life, cats, weight management, weird dreams I had the night before, and whatever happens to pop into my head.

I’m on the speakers’ bureaus of the Secular Student Alliance and the Center for Inquiry.
I’m editor of the Best Erotic Comics 2008 and Best Erotic Comics 2009 anthologies (yes, a third volume is on its way, long story, don’t ask), and of Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients (out of print, but available on Kindle). And I’m the author of Bending, an erotic novella published in the three-novella collection Three Kinds of Asking For It (edited by Susie Bright).

I’m on Twitter, as of about two days ago. @GretaChristina

And in just a moment, I’ll be ranting about accommodationism and diplomacy. Get used to it. Welcome to my new blog!