Women have been many things down through the centuries. They have been helpmates, wives, lovers, sisters, mothers, chattels, slaves, and, yes, toys. “Toy” is not usually the woman’s choice as a role, but some clothing styles tend to play up this role, along with the emphasis on having a new, in-style wardrobe each year.
Clothing as a Statement
Clothing has long played a part in the way a woman can assert herself or state her role. It has been a way of labeling or restricting women so that they are unable to do simple physical things. One of the most visible steps toward voting suffrage and financial freedom was the adoption of clothing that allowed women to move freely and to safely engage in activities such as riding horses or bicycles, operating machinery, running, jumping and swimming. The other was enabling women to have their own income.
It has also been a very strong determinant of how women are projected and viewed in many societies. Clothing designs for women that are considered “trendy and flashy” have often emphasized sex appeal in the expense decency. Don’t get us wrong, it’s still possible for women to dress decently and project sex appeal. But clothing designers haven’t focused on this blend for a long time. Clothes that are slightly or too revealing have ranked in popularity and sadly, this has been done on the behest of men.
Women’s Fashion and the Larger World View
Like Mahatma Gandhi who eventually wore only garments he had woven himself, women are recognizing that it is important to wear clothing made from fibers that are grown ecologically and created by factory workers who have humane working conditions and who are paid a living wage. It also shines a light on the fashion industry that thrives on a change of style each season. There is a greater focus on sustainable, simple, comfortable clothing that can be worn for several years.
The context of women fashion in the larger world view can be seen through various perspectives. But there’s one that stands out. Women have often been dressed like trophies. Many men want their women to be the most outstanding person in the room. They want their women to be the attraction of the party. Although women have often felt that they have the right to decide what they want to wear, there has been pressure from men and even other women to dress in a manner that leads to sexual attraction. That’s probably where the phrase “dressed to kill” came from and unsurprisingly, it seems to apply to women more often than men.
The Pressure to Reinvent Women Clothing
Clothing trends among women seem to have an expiry date that’s not always that long. Wear a garment for too many years, and soon you have to defend it as “vintage” rather than “old.” Bell bottoms are long out of style, skinny jeans are “in” – but just wait a year or two, and the trend is likely to reverse. It does seem like a lot of women are always on a clock. They have to find ways to look more attractive than they did a year or two ago. This is the reason why trends in women fashion keep changing. But why should people care whether you are wearing a “vintage” top or a flashy new piece. Well, it turns out everybody does. Women need to find a way to adjust clothing with their changing bodies over time in order to maintain their sex appeal. But for men, you can wear your same old suit and tie and no one will care.
Not Toys, But Hard-Working Human Beings
The context in which women are viewed can also bring out the long-standing objectification. Even in a corporate set up, women will be viewed based on their beauty first before their brains. Senior managers are often men. Whether you put in a lot of hard work in that project or work your magic to bring new business to the company, as a woman you will always be the beautiful and sexy girl. Besides, many companies feel that it’s good PR to have women work for them. Although these are women who have so much to offer, they have to work extra hard to get the recognition they deserve beyond their looks.
The Song of Solomon had clearly identified the role of women in relationships. Song of Solomon 3:4 stated the holy connection between a man and a woman. “I have found the one whom my soul loves” is probably the greatest love song in history and commonly used on many Christian t shirts.