Nominee: Bachelor Research Award & Drempelprijs Autonomous Practices
Men in suits take decisions over female* bodies. Why does a man in a suit decide whether a womxn can have an abortion? Or why does a man in a suit decide on who can identify as womxn and who can not? Politicians in the seven chosen suits are sexist, racist, classist, fascist, misogynistic, transphobic, gynophobic, lesbophobic. Are against every freedom of womxn’s rights.
Seven male suits, inspired by seven politicians from seven different countries. Reclaimed, remade and reworn by queer womxn from these same seven countries. Queers who reclaimed their female* identity and who fought all the gender norms of the social construct. Who fought all the attacks and harassments. Who came out stronger, fought even harder. These suits are made for womxn, meant for womxn, were always supposed to be worn by all who identify as womxn.
Reclaimed Male Suits is a project that celebrates sisterhood. It’s a mixture of activism, performance art, fashion, advertising and is showcasing a female gaze, as an alternative to the male gaze that’s present in the visual culture. It’s reclaiming womxn’s rights, ownership, leadership and above all female* identity.
The theoretical background of Reclaimed Male Suits
In my research document, I searched for the answer to ‘with which visual expression can I reclaim inclusive female identity, based on the female gaze?’. My research showed that being female* is part of being gender. Gender is based on the social construct. This social construct exists of stereotypical gender norms and roles that come with your biological gender. This expresses itself in the way you’re expected to walk and talk, but can also express itself by the opportunities society gives you or the way society views you. This can be limiting and create a negative internalised limitation. The social construct is heavily present in the society we live in. We can’t escape it. But Judith Butler’s theory ‘gender is performative’ gave me hope. Because when gender is performative, we can change it. Rethink and rebuild it.
Identity is formed by our surroundings and our surroundings are heavily influenced by the male gaze that’s present in the visual culture. This influences the way we view ‘female identity’. It even influences the way we, womxn, see ourselves. We call this an ‘internalized male gaze’. We have to acknowledge our surroundings and acknowledge that there’s a present male gazed vision on what it means to be womxn that media is telling us for centuries long. And that even our own vision of what it means to be womxn, is not a pure gaze anymore.
Transformation is needed. From the masculine, patriarchal vision to a female gaze on what it means to be womxn. We live in a world led by men, but half of this earth is female*. We, womxn, have to start the conversation of the power of being female*. Whether that’s masculine, feminine, or everything in between. We shape female* identity, whether that’s aggressive or vulnerable and soft.
This project shows the exploration of what it means to be womxn, in a world led by men. It’s about reclaiming our position in society and about regaining strength. About reclaiming ownership and decision making over our own bodies. About what it means to be womxn in all of our diversity.