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Ideas on Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Fashion Images - Essay Example

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Ideas on Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Fashion Images

(Pleck, 1981) This is the point where ideas about fashion depict society's gender relations. These ideas will be examined in detail in the subsequent portions the essay.

Brod (1995) asserts that in the past, masculinity was clearly defined in the workplace. In the twentieth Century, most men were considered as breadwinners and women were expected to be home makers. However, industrialisation changed this as work became more mechanised. Men were not the only ones who could provide labour. With time, more and more women began penetrating into positions that were previously considered masculine. They started doing clerical jobs and others even took over as the main providers in their families. Eventually, what was considered a male domain had now been changed/. Many philosophers have suggested that this is the source of gender struggles that have been become a common feature in today's society.

Kimmel (1996) explains that the shift in masculinity has created unclear images about the male gender. For instance, one may expect men to show elements of their emotions yet at the same time claim that there should be strong and heroic. Men who may not depict these types of behaviour may be considered a socially deviant. This gender crisis has been depicted in fashion images. Before the crisis, fashion images mostly focused on women as objects of consumption while men on the other hand were objects of production. Most fashion items concentrated on women as their most important clients. However, with the introduction of technology, there was a shift from that point of view. Men were now considered as important consumers. Marketing plans and depictions also depicted masculine fashion items.

Fashion as a depiction of power and authority
Perhaps the most outstanding aspect of the corporate world can be seen in the 'suit'. The male suit is box in shape and creates a regular shape of any wearer hence hiding some of the natural curves associated with individuals. Consequently, individuals appear similar to all others indifferent parts of the world. This means that the suit wearer represents the acceptable and cohesive image of masculinity. No matter which part of society one belongs to, when they wear male suits, they portray an image of masculine authority and de-emphasise their own individual aspects. Most movies and advertisements trying to show individuals in positions of power such as powerful CEOs or influential mangers, usually wear suits to transmit those ideas.

For example, there was a movie in the year 1971, called 'I became secret hippy'. In this movie, the main actor enters the room dressed in a t-shirt and jeans and long hair. However, before embarking on his task, he gets his hair shaved and then changes into a black suit; it happens to be an FBI uniform. The reason why a suit was chosen for this role was in order to convey na image of authority and power which is normally associated with this national institution. One can therefore deduce that the suit in that scenario was used to depict masculine identity and power. It was also supposed to hide the actor's individuality as there is more focus on the institution he represents. (Jones, 19995)

With regard to the movie mentioned above, the suit was also used a symbol of transformation within the masculine gender. For example, the person who has walked in was dressed in a t-sh ...Show more


Gender or sexuality is a more of a social rather than biological creation. Brod asserts that gender is a mixture of social interactions and social relations. Gender is created by society and reflects the way people conduct relationships. …
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