Saturday, 4 February 2017

On Bandage Dresses and Bad Language

with a consequential NO THANKS

I try to write something everyday and often go to writing exercises to accomplish this. There is an exercise that asks one to force-fit three completely unrelated ideas chosen randomly and write a 1000 word article relating the three concepts in a socially significant way. I put ten ideas in the hat and the three I chose were Donald Trump, bad language and bandage dresses. In effect the first two are not unrelated; however the bandage dress did prove to be a challenge. I put one more criteria upon the exercise and that was to write it as a blog post. Here I go . . . 

The American President's "locker room language" remark, in an attempt to dismiss his use of two very derogatory words when denigrating women he has known, reflects the evolution of "bad language". I guess he feels that if he associates it with an immature "behind closed doors" kind of behaviour that we will accept it. He's hiding behind that cultural construct, not facing what he said. He probably should have said something more like, "I said it, I now wish I hadn't." Take responsibility for the words you say and the words you write, don't blame anyone or anything else. Yet this may be significant as far as what is acceptable or becoming more acceptable in society. 

As long as men feel that somehow women are or should be more "pure" than them then there will always be "locker room language". Inequality still exists at this most base level. The meanings of these types of words are used to denigrate someone either by sex, ethnicity, colour, political affiliation, or socio-economic status. Therefore it is all tied up in meaning and perception. 

The word "fuck" only holds as much negativity as society has assigned to it and here in North America it is considered the worst expletive there is. It is still called the F word by many and it is still a difficult word for me to say and write (although I have done both). At one time its use indicated a low social status or a minimal educational background but now perhaps it is in the process of eventually losing its force. That may be, but still, because of its "bad language" status it finds itself more so in adolescent banter, rap lyrics and in "the locker-room". I think of the use of "damn" or "hell", words that were once considered blasphemous, are now used without any horrible consequences. I remember being in Ireland and hearing "fuck" in conversations as likely as "damn". It's a word; it's just a word, to indicate emphasis, and perhaps it is evolving. In France, a public billboard read, "Fuck le S.I.D.A." (SIDA is the acronym for AIDS). I say "merde" or "schiesse" more than I say "shit"; in a foreign language it seems less vulgar. In translation or different cultural contexts, the connotations are not the same.

"Bandage dresses" are in the same category. In 1985, when French designer, Hervé Peugnet (now known as Hervé Léger), introduced the bandage dress, who would have thought that for the past thirty-two years it would keep recurring? It was seen as a trend in European discos in 1985 and is now replacing the traditional prom dress in the United States. The bandage dress has infiltrated into traditional settings and has affected all ages.

I should have left it hanging in the store but
I did remove the frou frou from the shoulder strap.
Photo Source: JoyD Creations
Who is buying this dress? I would think, but I have no statistical evidence to prove or disprove this: it is mainly the late teens and the twenty-somethings; however, the thirty- and forty- somethings who have something to prove are buying them and the fifty- or iffy- somethings who are searching for their twenties have them in their closets. It has infiltrated all ages and very often, all sizes. Although it sells most in the "up to the size 8" range.

And yes there is one in my closet. I had lost forty pounds in 2011, needed a dress for a charity event and had something to prove to myself. I wore it to the charity banquet and maybe, I can't quite remember, for New Year's once. I have used expletives more than that. 

We need to lose the meanings behind both the bandage dress and expletives. Like the word "fuck", the bandage dress won't go away and they have their purposes for the persons who use them. Is it possible that eventually both will become mundane and no one will blink when either is used? There are mothers all over North America who are trying not to see the negative connotations of the bandage dress on their sixteen year old daughters as the young women swoon over them and demand them as their prom dresses.

Will all this cause the demise of society? Likely not. When the telephone was invented, some considered it an instrument of the devil and there were predictions that communication between people would suffer and hence the demise of society was imminent. Rock and roll was seen in the same way. Mini-skirts were probably viewed just like bandage dresses until your Math teacher showed up in one. When "hell" or "damn" were once used, you would end up in the public stockade and scorned. I think society will survive while wearing bandage dresses and using expletives in their conversations because both just may lose their initial shocking meaning. There will be other things and words to take their places.

Back to "The Donald" . . . I have put him in the same category as bad language and bandage dresses. Incongruence is what motivates growth and development in society. Donald Trump provides that contrast to all that we traditionally know as political and social decorum. He needed to prove something and was needed to prove something - we shall see what that something is. We shall also see how the reaction to the Trump contrast will develop, along with bad language and bandage dresses.

As writing exercises go . . . I'm not really sure if the objective was reached but, this one was note-worthy with a consequential no thanks.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments inspire me and so I read them in gratitude and reply with delight. Thank you.