Ain’t I a woman
Disclaimer, Rýmd, Reykjavík, 2019
This project explores how fashion plays a central role in shaping and transforming how gender is performed as an identity. It is a relation that has been both celebrated and highly criticized. Fashion has been both blamed for body-shaming women and equally celebrated for providing a platform for the emancipation and freedom of expression for women. It has played a critical role in giving visibility and expression to queer identities, but equally critiqued for its promotion of heteronormative values. Fashion and the performance of gender identity are central to each other and always have been, but the relationship has shifted and expanded over time.
Fashion has always had a relationship with identity formation. However, this relationship can be understood in many ways. In a postmodern consumer society there is an enormous pressure for individuals to define themselves in society and how people do that could be one of the ways we could explain the term identity. The term fashion shouldn’t be confused with clothing, however, even though the two are very much connected. Clothes are definitely a very important part of fashion, especially because of their intimate relationship with our bodies, but fashion is about more than that.
Modern fashion plays a lot with the distinction between masculinity and femininity and has become even more obsessed with identities now that they are more fragmented. Fashion has become an unavoidable part of identity of the self and even those who refuse to play the game of fashion need to pick something to wear, extension, adornment, which then represent a reaction against fashion, which is a political opinion that they are now expressing with their appearance.
In the virtual worlds, biological sex has no functionality. With the use of an avatar, the gender can be chosen and manipulated. If there is no avatar, gender is assumed and applied through pronouns. People feminize or masculinize themselves, or present themselves as androgynous to suit their own ideas about their gender identity. This means that the audience have no way of knowing if the person behind the screen is in anyway similar to how they portray themselves. The virtual world makes gender less substantive than it has been before and shows it for the immaterial socially constructed concept that it is.