Saturday, October 14, 2006

My mother, the fashionista, and some of the gothic fashions took my circuitous monkey-mind thoughts to my mother's avowal many times that things were so different in her day. Through her rose-coloured nostalg-g-g-glasses, my mother doesn't remember any dysfunctional family history, alcohol or drug abuse, sexual aberrations, etc. You name it. Whatever you might think is wrong with this time and place (my mother's current mantra is that she just isn't a part of today's culture any more; she believes she and my dad are quite out of the mainstream now), didn't exist in my mother's memory of her youth. That's just her way of dealing with life, I realize. But it does tickle my twisted sense of humour to see the goth fashions of today make their link in my mind with Tom of Finland (warning: sexually explicit erotic art at this site: do not go there if this offends you!)

For those who only want the Coles' Notes' version, Tom of Finland was the nom-de-plume of Touko Laaksonen, born in Finland in 1920, only a couple of years before my father was born. He went to Helsinki in 1939 to study art. The war years were a time when many social restrictions seemed to fall away, and many of my parents' generation like to recall those times of fun and anguish, a kind of heightened awareness of life being for living, with great frequency. Or maybe it's a Finnish thing to be a bit maudlin and nostalgic, period. I can't say with any objectivity, can I?

I find it ironic that it was during the war years (men in uniform and all that authoritarian culture of the military must be extra sexually stimulating and liberating!!) that "Tom" found easily available outlets for his urges, that while my dad was absorbing the "pure" ideals of Hitler's distrust of the "swing kids" music and the like, Tom was "liberated" by nazi uniforms. But during the post-war years, his particular style of homoerotic art wasn't appreciated in Finland, even in the small bohemian-artsy set in and around Helsinki. To make a long story short, his "legitimate" career was pretty much in conventional advertising, and not until the '70's, did his homoerotic art begin to make him any real money, and then, mostly in the U.S.(another touch of irony, George!). He was even managed by a Canadian company, if I remember correctly (don't you just love it, Stephen? In case you didn't know, Stephen admires George so much he wishes George were his older brother and tries to emulate him.)

The thing in today's fashion world of the variations of the goth, that reminds me in some dark way of Tom's world of uniforms, leather and bondage, is just simply that: the dark side of human nature. And it does no good to pretend, in my mother's lovable ostrich-with-its-head-in-the-sand way, it hasn't always existed. Not only that, it exists, not just in "those people" (pick your favorite brand of type of people you are suspicious of), it exists in each of us as individuals. Why not have fun with it? Really, I believe repression leads to the really bad perversions!

I can't picture myself wearing any of the goth styles, (my usual dress being quite conservative in fact) but I do admire and enjoy seeing the variations of it that are worn by 12 and 13 year olds these days. As I looked at some the baby-faces wearing the edgiest goth-stuff, I felt sorry for my daughter, whose own daughter is not there yet, and may never wear that stuff, but who is already appalling her mother aka my daughter in ways similar to her mother's ability to frighten me, years ago. How useless were my attempts to protect my daughter by ensuring she dressed in certain (my preferred) ways! As if how you dress could actually protect you. Just visit I Blame the Patriarchy , where Twisty dishes out very clear examples of exactly how the sins of the patriarchy are blamed on the victims, again and again!

(BTW, just to be clear about variations of sexual tastes: I may not enjoy certain things myself, but between consenting adults...whatever! But for your information, I am totally against, and cannot abide anything where the power-equation is not implicitly and explicitly equal, especially kiddie porn or pedophilia!)

Anything that is humorous and tweaks the imagination a bit, that nudges us out of the comfort-zone, once in a while, is a good thing. That is why I think dressing up, even dressing up for Hallowe'en, is a great thing. We feel renewed, maybe even new and different! We imagine, play with, and accept and/or reject, the various possibilities of the different facets of our complex personalities.

And OK, sure. Most people would like to see me clean up and get dressed to go out...Most people would probably vote to make it a 'fricken National Holiday ( as my sister used to say: honestly, truly ... christianately!!) if I promised to never wear this particular outfit (my slippers, pj's and thread-bare sweatshirt, as above) again. Ever! In public or at home!!

OK. my sugar-fix (from some Parnoosh dates) and my caffeine-fix (from three large cups of coffee) haven't helped the brain-sizzle much, so maybe I should go and cook something sensible, and actually nourishing, to everybody's relief, including my own??


Blogger Xris said...

Kati: You crack me up. I did not expect to be reading about Tom of Finland today. And not on your gardening blog!

I've been watching all of what you've mentioned in your flurry of posts today - blaming the victim, confusion of predation with preference, the "slow plague" of abuse - unfold predictably in the U.S. Mark Foley scandal.

It takes humor just to get through the day in this world.

Peace - Xris

11:37 p.m.  
Blogger Kati said...

lord, ain't that the truth! balance is hard to achieve, and even harder to maintain. walking in my garden, fields and woods helps a lot to keep me sane. life just is, there, without judgment.

3:49 p.m.  

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