Tonight, as I began my daily post-work ritual of reading fashion blogs in bed while listening to Taylor Swift (yes, I really am that cool), I came across a blog curiously titled, The Man Repeller. The insatiable journalist living inside me was instantly intrigued. A blog dedicated to repelling men? Was this a joke? I had to know more.
The tongue and cheek site created last April defines a man repeller as “a woman who dresses herself in a sartorially offensive way that will result in repelling members of the opposite sex. Such garments include, but are not limited to, harem pants, boyfriend jeans, overalls (see: human repelling), shoulder pads, full length jumpsuits, jewelry that resembles violent weaponry and clogs.”
The Man Repeller celebrates fashion choices in the vein of Lady Gaga and Carrie Bradshaw (in early Sex and the City episodes). From giant hair bows to fur jumpsuits, “fashion” items that blatantly flout traditional notions of sex appeal and notoriously mystify the heterosexual male species are featured. Additionally, the blog provides readers with advice on how to take conventionally “sexy” items (like snug leather pants) and “de-sexify” them (throw on an oversized knee-length plaid poncho, of course!)
While the tone is light and humorous, the underlying message really got me thinking about fashion, what it means to me and my friends, and how it influences and is influenced by our perceptions of ourselves as women. How much of the clothing heterosexual women wear is an attempt (whether conscious or unconscious) to attract the male gaze, and how much is a statement of individuality and art?
I would argue that the site’s celebration of ways a woman can remove herself from her societally enforced role as a sexualized object through the very medium that subjects her to that role in the first place (the fashion industry and popular media) is actually pretty powerful. What do you think? Would any of you feel bold enough to leave the house in some of these accessories? How about go on a first date?