On this sunny 7th of May 2020, I am sharing one of the letters I wrote for this project. It took me until April to write a letter ( yet, I procrastinated too). I kept starting and restarting, second-guessing what I was going to say. On here, I would write that no matter what you write, express, or draw for this project, it would be perfect and meaningful…. Yet I did not listen to that advice myself. In my sketchbooks I often freely write with my drawings, filling pages with words and lyrics, letting my thoughts tumble out into letters, then into drawings, then back into letters. I following this exercise a few weeks ago and it leads me to want to continue the conversation about the letter I received that said #metoo was a cry for attention. No matter how much I write, post, or talk about this letter I feel like I never express how much I actually want to say about it. I think it bothers me so much that #metoo is seen as attention-seeking because the scope of the patriarchy deems anything that gives women a voice as evil or wrong… and so many men and women are trapped under this demise. It is so ingrained in our culture that anything women like... Twilight, One Direction, even the Beatles at one point, and dare I say 50 Shades of Gray? Is put under a stereotype of screaming fangirl stupidity. The same goes for #metoo… and I guess I just will not get over it, so I will continue to write and create and maybe I can lift the veil over one person's eyes in my life and that will be enough…..
So what inspired my letter, was the fire fueled by that letter. I thought about all the times I was judged as being a dumb blonde. In high school, when that was my stereotype, I just went with it. This carried me into college when I got a perfect score on my printmaking exam and my professor thought that I had cheated because it had never been done before. For this reason, and among others, I dyed my hair red. This would make people take me more seriously right? Though the red did not stay long, I did not fully appreciate the blonde power of Elle Woods, Dolly Parton, and myself until 5 years later… So as you will read below, I simply wrote a list of all the things I wear every day as a woman.
I made a list of the anxieties I have before going out (well when we were able to socialize). Texting my girlfriends, asking what they were wearing… because if I wore my leather skirt and they were just wearing jeans then I would be thought of as the slut at the bar and not just a fashion-forward artist….. But then if I wore jeans and everyone else was wearing skirts then I would be the non-fashion forward friend and OMG wouldn’t that just be the most embarrassing thing ever. Almost as bad as an outfit repeater! I am sure you can sense my sarcasm but I am also speaking from fact. It is ingrained in our Western Culture that what a woman wears defines who she is. It was not until 1974 that women in the U.S could even apply for their own credit cards? So how can you show your worth if you literally cannot have any on your own? Well, how you adorn your body of course. Our societal norms of judging a woman based on her looks come from the voice and liberation women were given by being able to show their worth by dressing their bodies in their inherited monetary wealth because that was all the power they had. A woman had nothing except the husband on her arm, the baby on her hip, and the gifted pearls around her neck. Which of course leads to the misogynistic stereotype that women are obsessed with “pretty little things.” Fashion, decorations, jewelry… basically anything a woman could own was seen as silly, just like all of the books and music she liked… But if a man were not allowed to be on a jury, watch the Olympics, smoke, play golf, or let's go back to have their own bank account without a spouse...I am sure they would have adapted to find another source of wealth and evolve to find a new hobby.
I guess what I want to say after this long ramble is to wear it loud and wear it, proud ladies! Wear #metoo on your skin, wear pearls around your neck, wear your baby on your hip, weather your leather mini skirt, wear your thigh-high boots, wear flowers in your hair and if you are like me don’t wear a bra! What you do and what you wear gives you a voice and gives you power. Stay strong in your voice and power, we will not let the patriarchy diminish #whatwomenwear.