Tom Ford, the stratospherically successful fashion designer has recently released lipstick shades called ‘Age of Consent’ and ‘First Time’. He also produced a perfume called ‘Lost Cherry’. There has been a bit of an uproar by some feminists who think it appalling to make references to sex with underage girls as a marketing ploy.
Known for coming up with the idea of logos shaved into pubic hair and regularly using nude models, Ford, a gay man, is branded fashion’s King of Sex. He denies sexism, claiming to be an ‘equal opportunity objectifier’ because he also features nude male models, insisting there is ‘nothing wrong with using people’s bodies as a selling tool.’
Fine, except flashing the odd naked man on the catwalk is often seen as a laugh and a bit of a change from the usual. It does not contribute to the climate of misogyny women have to operate within.
It is often assumed that gay men can’t be misogynistic and that they somehow relinquish male power and privilege over women because of their sexuality, but the reality is that these men still have a significant advantage over women. Acts of hostility and sexism can be misinterpreted as ‘appreciation’ for women’s bodies, when those bodies are treated as accessories or something to be objectified bitchily with just as much venom as a straight man. Gay male fashion designers, such as the late Alexander McQueen and Gianni Versace, either make women look like teenage boys or parodies of women. Many will design clothing and accessories that, when worn, cause pain, discomfort and, in some cases, disfigurement. Many will design clothes that will not even fit the vast majority of adult women. And images that parody sexual violence are ever present in the catwalk shows of many a gay male designer.