Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dress sense


Why is that most lesbians - apart from the silicone creatures on The L Word - dress rather conservatively? Even we are guilty of sussing out a stranger by her dress sense (or lack of it). If she's in pantihose, high heels, a sexy little skirt and bearing a healthy cleavage, we're unlikely to say 'dyke', under our breaths, as we tend to do when in packs. We see a sensibly dressed woman on the other hand; one who is wearing a practical pair of pants and a well worn pair of shoes (flat, of course) and we smile at one another and silently mouth the word 'family!'

Hmm, so why is that exactly? Why are we stereotying ourselves into these sensible dresscodes? Is it a way of identifying one another? An extension of the gaydar system? "Ah, denin jacket and boots, must be a dyke!" or is it just that we prefer to dress for comfort and not for eye candy? Or could it be that we've subconsciously dressed that way to send signals to men that we're not on the market for them?

Maybe it's a little of each of these things. I also think it's because we are freer. We don't have to fall for the hererosexual trappings of make up or Wonder bras or stuffing our feet into teeny little heels to impress a man and make him feel strong and macho in our femininity and gentleness. We don't have to impress the male of the species and so we just are. Too simplistic? Too goody-two-shoes? Quite a few of my straight female friends who embrace all three things will disagree that it's about impressing a man. They will argue they do it to feel good. And I am sure there are many who do.

So why don't we then? Ok, some of us do, but the vast majority don't. We can look nice, of course, even pretty, but in a next-door-gal kinda way and not a who's-your-mamma-lookee-here way.

So, should we start? I think it's time we stopped living to stereotypes. If you want to do it, do it. If you don't, that's cool too. But when a sister walks in the gay bar in her sexy little black number let's welcome her instead of asking is she's lost!

1 comment:

YM said...

I remember reading an contemporary description of the young Virgina Woolf - about how she dressed without much care about how she looked and had sensible mannish shoes on. Dead giveaway, as it turned out, given her intense affair with Vita.

Recently, it was the Daphne du Maurier festival in the UK. She is much loved by the prim, traditional types. There was a documentary and docu drama showing her love affair with women. She is shown in numerous photos and film footage swaggering about in a man's suit, slacks and sensible shoes and never ever in a skirt. Rick Stein (Cornwall based chef), hosting the documentary, said "Well, I don't really see why anyone would think she was a lesbian. She's clearly heterosexual." Yes, dear, you tell yourself what you like to ease the discomfort that one of the UK's best loved novelists might be (gasp, shock, horror) lesbian.

My theory is that the novel Rebecca is more about the Girl's fascination with Rebecca than her love of Max de Winter - the sexuality of it and its forbiddenness is manifested in Mrs Danvers, who typically has to go up in flames at the end as the "evil" lesbian.

Virginia of course famously killed herself.

So much self-loathing in the old days. Tragic.