Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The fragility of woman

This week the fashion designer Stella McCartney revealed a new collection that celebrated the fragility of women. This pisses me off.

Why not celebrate the fragility of human beings? After all, we're all relatively fragile. It only takes chance - an accident or illness - for us to be here one minute and gone the next. 


Why fragile is bad

In a time before feminism, women were seen as fragile, stupid creatures, who needed men to protect and guide them. Then came feminism, which has been fighting tooth and nail to knock these assumptions on the head.

Just because we're not as physically strong as men doesn't mean we're not equally intelligent, capable and physically and emotionally tough. 

Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
via Wikimedia Commons
Because the gist is that if we are fragile in comparison to men, then we really are not as capable as them. And not as capable is not as good. 

Among some bollocks McCartney wrote about clothes, was this little nugget: "It's about the the fragility and the movement and the warmth of summer, in a woman, and bringing out your strength. Strength on its own in a woman is quite abrasive and not terribly attractive sometimes. And this collection is celebrating the gentler side."

Quite apart from the fact that this makes me want to exert some of my "not terribly attractive" strength on McCartney's warm summery person, it seems to me that she is harking back to Victorian notions of feminine fragility and gentleness - notions that we should have left behind more than a century ago. It's sad and shocking to find a woman in 2014 speaking in this way.

'Put down that hammer and get back to rocking the cradle', she seems to be saying.

Purchasing fragility

I had a look at McCartney's website. You can buy diamond-encrusted jeans for 550 quid. I buy my jeans from New Look. They're considerably cheaper but don't come with diamonds. But what this really means is that to purchase McCartney's diamond denims, or any of the fragile floaty garments she's talking about, you need to be pretty flush. Not in the least bit fragile, financially speaking.

In fact, you could do with being the kind of powerful, independent woman that McCartney herself is - a hugely successful businesswoman (let's overlook her famous dad). McCartney is an institution. She ain't fragile. 

I'd urge you to not buy any of McCartney's clothes in protest, but since I'm 99% sure you can't afford them anyway, I won't bother. 

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