March 30, 2011 • Pop Culture
“Batman, Pass Me My Man Repellent Spray”
Fashion blog, Man Repeller, has been garnering praise for deflecting the male gaze, but writer Isabel Slone looks at whether the blog merely reflects internalized misogyny.
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The feature “From Man Getter to Man Repeller” shows, with a few simple accessories, just how easy it is to turn a perfectly good outfit into one that no self-respecting man would ever want to have sex with you in! Medine refers to large frames as “birth control glasses” and even jokingly suggests particular fashion choices as “Ten looks to kick start your anti-mating regime for spring.”
Though her blog is written in a humorous tone, the language she chooses is a continuous reinforcement of Naomi Wolf’s "Beauty Myth", that women must adhere to a particular visual aesthetic in order to attract a sexual partner.
The Man Repeller is definitely funny, but upon closer inspection, it exemplifies internalized misogyny. By claiming that no one would ever have sex with you while wearing something, it reinforces the notion that a woman’s physical appearance is directly related to her sexual currency.
Medine’s method of eschewing of male attention reads something like a 7th grade science experiment where she goes out wearing a ‘normal’ outfit to see if it made a difference in her attractiveness to men, and lo and behold she gets asked out on a date by a man. Though I doubt her conclusions were airtight, I can’t help but question her hypothesis. We all know physicality is an important part of attraction, but what about personality, a sense of humour, and all those other important factors in the recipe for sexual chemistry? If some women have a Woody Allen Complex, where super attractive women to fall for homely, bookish men by virtue of their humour and intellect, then isn’t there something similar out there for men? Oh, that’s right, women have to be perfect-looking all the time or else we won’t get good jobs, find love and end up complete disasters.
Though the Man Repeller is meant to be celebratory of weird fashion choices, it sadly ends up being the opposite. Medine’s words imply that women have relinquished control over their own sex lives, accepting that men are the power-wielders in the minefield of sexual attraction. The haunting male gaze is always right over our shoulders instilling fear in single women that the outward expression of their individuality may be the reason for their romantic failures. Ultimately, Medine is more Camille Paglia than Cindy Sherman, and her blog does nothing to deflect the power of the male gaze.
Isabel Slone is a 21-year-old completing her degree in Environment and Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo. She enjoys sequins, cats, The Smiths and chronicles her
daily outfits at http://hipstermusings.blogspot.com.