Concern, Clothes, Feminist Gate-keeping

There’s a lot to be concerned about of late. First and foremost, of course, is the ongoing fallout from the earthquake in Japan. Please consider donating. Then there’s the whole supposed ceasefire in Libya as we wait to see just how far Moammar Gadhafi and forces are willing to go to to put down the long-suffering rebels. And let’s not forget the Republicans’ attack on labour rights down in Wisconsin or, closer to home, the federal Conservatives’ determination to perpetuate state violence against people who are already at risk of extreme violence in so many other forums.

With all of this major stuff going on, the conclusion of a beloved style blog and a little misguided feminist gate-keeping are relatively minor issues. And yet, as many of us agonize, analyse, and strategize around the above-noted major events in numerous other forums, I cannot help but feel these relatively minor occurrences also need some attention paid.

First, then, here’s an outfit I’m calling Bruised Toughitude: A Sartorial Ode to Style Underdog, one of my absolute favourite bloggers. SU quietly concluded her fantastic blog earlier this week. Goddess, I’m going to miss her.

Shell: H&M
Sweater: Julie & Jack Cashmere (remixed)
Necklace: gifted from Janey_Em
Pleather legging/pant hybrids: Tahari (via Winners)
Boots: Fluevog (remixed)

I’ve got one more ensemble to post, but before we get there, my two cents on feminist gate-keeping. Here goes:

Feminists have a long and important tradition of gate-keeping. In fact, you could even say that gate-keeping is an important element of self-reflexivity (i.e. critiquing ourselves & each other so we can learn from our mistakes), another central tenet of feminism. After all, if we don’t watch the gate, then anti-feminist people like Sarah Palin sneak in and start messing with our things, undoing our good work (see the part in the 2nd paragraph on page 108, where bell hooks argues conservatism and feminism are diametrically opposed), and waving our flags around

But the best forms of feminist gate-keeping offer informed and respectful critique. Thus, for example, if one were going to critique a fashion blog’s virtual feminist conference, an informed and respectful feminist commenter would ensure s/he has read and understood all of the material in question. Moreover, an informed and respectful feminist commenter would acknowledge the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the piece s/he is critiquing.

S/he would also be very careful not to repeat old mistakes by smugly underestimating the people who have produced the cultural text in question. S/he would take care not to perpetuate politically damaging elitism by name-dropping for the sake of name-dropping, or gesturing vaguely toward the writings of well-known and widely-read critics in order to imply that s/he somehow knows and can apply the theories put forward in these other works more thoroughly and astutely than the cultural producers in question.

Finally, the writer of such a critique should be willing to sign her/his name to her/his work in order to facilitate further respectful, productive dialogue. Such owning of one’s work also eliminates the temptation to believe that one can launch such a critique on behalf of feminism as a whole instead of from one particular space in a vast and varied political terrain.

As feminists, we don’t have to be nice, or even friendly; we certainly know by now that we’re not all going to get along. But we need to value ourselves and others. We don’t always succeed – but we need to keep trying. If we don’t, how the hell are we going to form the personal, professional, and politically strategic alliances we need to make change happen?

That’s all on that front (for now).  Here’s that other outfit, worn to deliver a research talk at a campus institute earlier this week. In my head, it was MUCH more interesting than it is in real life. ‘Must get back into the habit of taking morning photos. Also, I think I’m finally convinced this skirt needs shortening. 

Cardigan: Kische (via Winners, remixed)
Top: Kenneth Cole (remixed)
Belt: Buffalo (via Winners, remixed)
Bracelet: The Bay
Skirt: (remixed)
Tights: Hue
Mystery booties: (via Winners, remixed)
Wine: a kiwi Marlborough

 And here, just because I have it, is a close-up of the bracelet, etc:

In other less overtly political or sartorial news, the Fuzzy Roommate has a new girlfriend. I could not be more excited that he has finally – after three years in this new city – made a friend. I really thought I’d broken him with this last move, but he’s having fun once again. Here he is with Abbie, his new favourite dog:

 

What say you, StyleNation? 
And SU, if you’re reading, we miss you already!

35 thoughts on “Concern, Clothes, Feminist Gate-keeping

  1. Ha! Be careful what you wish for. There are people who create FB pages for their dogs. Thus far, I have resisted heading this far into the crazy, but every once in a while I am a teensy bit tempted.

  2. That DOES sound like a task. Perhaps you'll just have to observe while they play and take an impromptu shot if/when they pause for a rest? I feel certain that you can and should do this. It's important work that will be SOOOO appreciated.

  3. I know, right? He's like a fur explosion right now and desperately in need of a haircut. Especially because (a) it's getting messy outside, and (b) I want to know what this winter's treat cycle has done to his waistline because if things are bad, we'll need to start a training program. Also, the action film would be awesome, no? All about cracking down on inappropriate things like running in apartments, knocking toothbrushes against the sink, and any form of violence on TV.

  4. I'll work on it. The problem is getting all 3 of them to sit at the same time. Or at least not jump on top of me while I'm trying to take a picture.I did notice the switch to Disqus! I'm digging it on our blog thus far.

  5. Aw. The first pic is always fraught with Pose Anxiety. Glad to see these two lovebirds rocked it. They're clearly into it, but not too needy. I expect to see her post it as her fbook profile pic asap.

  6. First of all, I love your tribute outfit and will also miss SU. The FR and his new gf are adorable "adorbs", even. I hear that's what all the kids are say. I just clicked through and read through the commemnts over at FA, and agree with your thoughful analysis.

  7. I would really, really love to see pic's of Jude and his downstairs girlfriends. Really a lot. I am unabashedly dog-obsessed. Also, we just totes copied you and switched to Disqus, too.

  8. These are some fantastic outfits. And, of course, the usual smarty-pants thoughts. Also, words cannot express how much I love this picture of the FR and his girlfriend.

  9. I knew about SU leaving, and was pretty bummed. She dropped off of Twitter too. Sigh.Thanks for the head's up on the discussion at FA – I hadn't seen it either, but I'll be spending my bus ride home from work tonight catching up on it. I agree that people who are bold enough to write such a critique should really sign their name. The ability to post anonymously drives me nuts (one of many reasons TCC just switched over to Disqus). I also really like your last paragraph on that subject.Last, FR and his girlfriend – AWW! I should try to snap a picture of Jude and his downstairs girlfriends before we force him to move away from them. We'll be living – gasp – a whole block north once we move.

  10. We should all have such a gorgeous girlfriend!Thank you for the heads up on SU's departure and the discussion over at FA. I left my (long) 2 cents there, so I won't repeat except to agree with and applaud your analysis. And say that your necklace is amazing!

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