Tone Bjerkaas

PUSSY MONEY WEED ● (full text here)

The concept of gender has always fascinated me. What constitutes and epitomises masculinity or femininity in a person is so many things, yet gender is either or.

Little girls, including myself, have been trained to become “femi- nine” women by western society since birth. We are given pink blan- kets just minutes after being released into this world. The labelling and separation of boys and girls continues our entire lives. Breaking out of society’s “gender-roles” is an almost impossible task. What comes to mind is the endless amount of trouble transgender people have to get by in everyday life, like restrooms or passport controls.

I remember as a teenager feeling envy for the simplicity I saw in menswear. Not menswear in general, but what the boys around me were wearing. Simple sweatshirts and hoodies, paired with good jeans and sneakers. A sartorial simplicity I didn’t feel I could allow myself, while still fulfilling society’s expectations of how a girl should be dressed.

Becoming a fashion designer has been my aspiration in life for as long as I can remember, but the question of whether I would design women or menswear has always confused me. Why does it still have to be one or the other? Can’t I design the casual sweatshirts that I once envied my male friends for, in a way that appeals equally to both men and women?

Realizing that unisex clothing could be a possible way out of my design despair didn’t happen until last year. I started out by doing a theoretical research about how our clothing habits had evolved from completely gender-neutral robes into the rigid pink/blue separation we have today.

I had an idea that unisex fashion was a sustainable solution for the future. Believing that the manufacturing would produce less waste than the traditional gender separated production, I wanted to find out how to design garments that let women look feminine and men feel masculine at the same time.

Women have been emancipating themselves for generations al- ready in regards to clothing, since the first, second and third wave of feminism had washed over western society, women could basically wear whatever they wanted. While most men had, since industrialization, been very conservatively dressed in shirt and pants.

Concluding the research it became evident that body language is one of the most important factors to judge if someone is feminine or masculine. There are some traits in personality that are deeply linked with what we see as masculine and feminine. Femininity is so often paired with modesty, sensitivity and submissiveness, while masculinity with aggression, competitiveness and strength. The ‘hyper-feminine’ woman is there to boost the man’s ego; she should be small and delicate, passive, naive and innocent. The ‘hyper-masculine’ man is there to dominate women and compete with the other men. He is big, strong, ambitious and demanding.

Many theorists and social-philosophers have stated that gender is a performance. I believe this is true, especially when it comes to fash- ion and style. The physical differences between male and female bod- ies are quite small if you think about it in from a tailoring perspective, historically we have been perfectly able to wear only “one-size fits all” clothing, like robes and tunics.