Monday, June 16, 2008

The Fashion of Feminism

Earlier this month the death of the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent was mourned. In his personal life he was promiscuous, bisexual, a drug addict and alcoholic which induced depression. In his work he was extremely influential.

The Guardian claimed that he "reworked the rules of fashion defining how modern women dressed". He has been described as "the French fashion designer who created a bold new dress code for women during the feminist revolution of the 1970s". The news agency Agence France-Presse elaborated on how he "changed the silhouette of 20th century woman with a daring new dress code". This refers to the fact that he invented and popularised the trouser-suit for women. The silhouette refers to the fact that gender distinction could be clearly indicated as it is in symbol form by the silhouette of a woman in a skirt and a man in trousers. His business partner comments. "He was the first to put women in pants, the first to put them in tuxedos, the first to put them in masculine clothes". “He transformed society and he transformed women.” The trouser suit has been hailed as the real birth of the feminist revolution of the 1970s and "what fashion gave to feminism." “Feminism was built on the trouser suit”. As commentators have pointed out he introduced this revolution when the French academic feminists were airing their views. Although there had been a similar expression of feminism by some women in the 1920s it was in the 1970s that feminism became truly popular. There were certain reasons for this. A Russian news agency points to the context of "massive popular cultural shifts of the 1960s, with sexual liberation, women's unprecedented economic freedom, and the rise of feminism".

In 1970 the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland took account of these sea changes in society in its rebellion against God's Word. Its resolution (reaffirmed in 2003) noted that there "is evidence that the "permissiveness" of the age has influenced the Church. In particular this is the case in the dress of the women, and in the hair styles of both men and women.

The Word of God demands of women that they be dressed in modest apparel, and the Synod urge the women of the Church to give heed to this counsel. Not only does it require modesty of dress but also distinction in dress between the sexes. The practice of men and women wearing clothes which obliterates this distinction is quite contrary to God's Word and expressly declared to be an abomination to Him. "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God" (Deut 22:5).

The Church must therefore condemn these practices as contrary to God's Word and direct her people to seek the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to enable them to live unspotted in the world."

Several articles in the Young People's Magazine give further guidance.
"Such also is the spirit of feminism, which tries to destroy all God’s distinctions between man and woman (Ephesians 5:21-32, 1 Timothy 2:9-15, 1 Peter 3:1-7). Holy Scripture also makes a clear distinction between male and female in dress: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 22:5). As John Calvin points out, this text is one of around 24 in Exodus to Deuteronomy which enlarge on God’s teaching of the Seventh Commandment. It is exceedingly solemn to despise any of God’s precepts. The Lord Jesus endured such suffering as no tongue can tell (Hebrews 2:10) when the wrath of God fell upon Him because of a broken law, to which He gave perfect obedience (Romans 5:19). That is our only hope of eternal life. Feminism is all about removing God-given distinctions between men and women. The items of clothing that, throughout Western society, have distinguished between men and women for hundreds of years are trousers and skirts. This is a clear distinction, still universally used today on buildings. God has made a clear distinction between men and women, but feminism rejects God and His Word. Those who fear God wish to cleave to His precepts. Thus, in their walk, and especially in His house, they honour Him by acknowledging this God-given distinction. “Why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?” We grieve the Holy Spirit when we show some outward attachment to His people while following the fashions of this world. “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). How solemn to hear one and another say, “Well, X does it”...We are safe only when we follow Christ and His Word. Let God be true and every man a liar."

Another article by Rev Neil Ross addresses the issue.
"It is true that God looks on the heart, while man looks upon the outward appearance. But the outward appearance does matter; it is part of a Christian lifestyle. Take clothing, for example: certain ways of dressing can lead to sin, and so we should remember some Scripture principles.

First, Deuteronomy 22:5 teaches us that there ought to be a distinction between male and female in their clothing: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God”. Changes in fashion do not cancel out this principle. It was in the 1960s, says a writer on the history of fashion, “that the distinctions between clothing made for men and that made for women became less and less obvious”. The principle remains however: God has ordained that there be a clear distinction between the sexes. In our culture, the dress or skirt is still viewed as the distinctly female garment."