It is well documented that women are a persecuted people; their trials and tribulations have, for the better part of an androcentric history, been largely ignored. Worse still, their achievements have only recently been acknowledged on the same level that men’s have. Unfortunately, a recent article posted by Vice has only further worsened the already precarious position of women with their recent Fashion spread. The spread involved a number of photographs which, apparently, were supposed to artistically depict the suicide deaths of a number of female literary giants including Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Parker and beat poet, Elise Cowen.
The article on jezebel.com (the link to which I will post at the end of this entry) describes the spread to be “breathtakingly tasteless”, turning suicide into some kind of fashion statement where the items worn in the photographs are listed underneath by style, store and price. As noted in the article, the works of the authors are conspicuously missing from the spread.
I could not agree more. The spread seems to indicate that contemporary and mainstream interest in the works of women could only be taken in their deaths, and even more offensively, by turning those deaths into fashion statements.
Women could peruse the pages of the magazine, and if they so wished, buy and wear the exact stockings that Taiwanese author Sanmao hung herself with.
This is offensive to the burgeoning female identity, which is only ju
st coming to define itself outside the parameters of a male framework stitched together by the bleeding fingers of women.
I can’t help but think that a fashion-orientated expose on famous male figures would definitely not have occurred. I can’t imagine that the suicides of Koljević, Bernstein or Hemingway would have been re articulated in a GQ fashion spread where the undershorts they wore as they died could be ordered online, free of shipping costs.
And so, I cannot for the life of me, from any academic, literary or relevant viewpoint, understand why the same respects were not given to these women; many of whom were pioneers of women’s rights and literary movements in general. Virginia Woolf is perhaps one of the most reputable and noted female authors of the Modernist movement, Elise Cowen was a poet of the Beat movement, a lesbian who was literally kicked out of her secretarial job because she didn’t fit the 1950’s construct of femininity and later moved into an apartment with Allen Ginsberg (author of Howl).
The fashion spread is not only offensive to the deceased authors and the legacies they left behind, but to an entire movement of women trying to unearth their buried selves from the rubble of the oppressive male voice. I can only conclude that the Vice fashion spread is one step for fashion, and one giant leap back for feminism.
Apparently the article was removed after readers reported the offensive and insulting nature of the spread, but you can read the Jezebel.com article here: http://jezebel.com/vice-published-a-fashion-spread-of-female-writer-suicid-513888861
- Vice Recreates Female Literary Icons’ Suicides in Photo Spread (observer.com)
- “suicide is not a fashion statement” (thecarodiaries.com)
- Vice’s female suicide fashion shoot is ‘cynical bid for clicks’ (theweek.co.uk)
- Magazine’s Suicide-Themed Fashion Spread Causes Uproar (abcnews.go.com)