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Archive for June 2012

Jean Paul Gaultier: Androgynous Fashion

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Wednesday Rica and I went to see “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. (March 24 – August 19, 2012)

Years ago I thought I wanted to be a fashion photographer until I realized I was more interested in the models than I was in the clothes. I haven’t paid much attention to men’s or women’s fashion since. If you’ve ever seen how I dress you know the obvious truth to this statement.

So it was a surprise to discover that Gaultier is a world famous and celebrated French couturier, known for his irrelevant humor, flamboyant wardrobes, cone bras, and extremely loose male-female boundaries.

The multimedia exhibit is very large, covering about ten dramatically lit rooms, and dominated by rows of talking androgynous mannequins with video-animated faces. The eerie faces were a mystery to me until I noticed the projectors in the ceiling precisely aimed at each talking head. Your really have to see this to appreciate how well this comes off.

I found the experience mind bending. Gaultier certainly challenges societal codes and clothing design. He’s extremely creative and I can understand him being dubbed fashion’s “enfant terrible.” Still, I found the experience somewhat disturbing. Fashion has legitimacy as an art form, but at it’s extreme can send a message to women I’m not comfortable with: You’re not OK as you are.

These photos hardly do justice to the high drama of the exhibit, but hopefully you’ll get a taste. I used my Fujifilm  X100. Rica used her iPhone. Considering how dark the rooms are, both cameras did remarkably well.

Gaultier at the De Young

Gaultier models

Tube bra

Gaultier fashion exhibit

nude

Rica took the following photos with her iPhone
 
Gaultier model
 
Gaultier headwear
 
Talking heads
 
Gaultier lace model

Update: June 19, 2012

Friend Uwe Wagner has just shared some of his iPhone photos from the exhibit. According to Adobe Lightroom 4, his phone chose to expose at 1/15 sec at f/2.8. This is a slow shutter speed to handhold and expect sharp pictures, but the little devise did the job. Either the phone has good image stabilization to reduce blurring or Uwe has incredibly steady hands. Naturally he’d like to take credit!

I’m still left with the question: Does anyone in the real world wear these clothes? I guess I might see some of them at the Academy Awards, but that’s hardly the real world.

Let me know what you think.

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Written by Ron Greene

June 16, 2012 at 11:05 am

Turning Point: My conversion to gay marriage

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Same-sex marriage has been in the headlines lately, and I’ve been surprised by my reservations. I’ve always fancied myself a freethinker, ahead of the curve, but on this one I’ve resisted jumping on the bandwagon.

Maybe it’s generational prejudice, or a lingering discomfort about homosexuality — I admit to being a little squeamish about same sex intimacies. I’d like to think I’ve just been reasonably cautious about a major change in our social order. I grew up with a loving father but without a mother to help me understand what it takes to sustain a healthy male-female household. Will encouraging same-sex marriages have an impact on our already stressed traditional families?

One thing I know is that my unease hasn’t been based on religious convictions, because I haven’t any.  This has made it easier for me to dismiss arguments made by advocates for the religious right like Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, that homosexuality and same-sex marriages are “against the Lord’s agenda.”

Harrison Street Bears, Gay marriage, San Francisco

“Harrison Street Bears” shop wedding rings at a San Francisco street fair.

One of the things I love about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is its respect for various lifestyles.

On the other hand, I want to respect the beliefs of others even if I disagree, so it is a little harder to dismiss claims that legalizing same-sex marriage will inevitably lead to schools promoting ideas offensive to religious parents. (“Homosexual families are just as good as traditional families.”)

But what if this is true? What if same-sex couples are just as likely to raise healthy children as traditional marriages?

Perkins claims that many years of social science research shows that children who grow up with a mom and dad are emotionally stronger, and do better academically and financially in life. From my experience, I don’t doubt that this is true for two-parent homes, but does it matter if “mom and pop” are male and female or the same sex?

I wish I had witnessed more public discussion of social science research bearing on these questions, and more attention to possible unintended consequences. For example, what can the experience in European countries where same-sex marriage is legal teach us? Has gay marriage in these countries harmed the traditional institution of marriage? In the United States, can gay marriage and heterosexual marriages gracefully coexist?

I’ve been won over

I’ve finally decided that they can, based on sources I respect.

First of all, I’m impressed by President Obama’s recent endorsement. I don’t believe he would be supporting same-sex marriage without a thorough review of the issues involved. The same goes for the voices of former President Jimmy Carter, Vice President Joseph Biden, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The American Psychological Association’s official position of support

And digging a little deeper, I’ve found the endorsement of my own professional association, the American Psychological Association. At its 2010 annual convention in San Diego, the APA’s governing council issued a statement that read in part:

August 11, 2010 “The American Psychological Association reaffirmed its support Wednesday for marriage equality for same-sex couples, noting that its annual convention taking place here this week provides an opportunity to call attention to the science supporting this position.

As the world’s largest organization of psychologists, we felt it was important to make a statement here and now to demonstrate APA’s unwavering support of marriage equality,” said APA President Carol D. Goodheart, EdD. “With the issue playing out so prominently in California, we are using the opportunity presented by our annual convention to present the growing body of science that is the foundation for our position, and that has influenced many of the legislators, judges and other public officials who are working to achieve this goal.

Research has shown that marriage provides substantial psychological and physical health benefits due to the moral, economic and social support extended to married couples. Conversely, recent empirical evidence has illustrated the harmful psychological effect of policies restricting marriage rights for same-sex couples. Additionally, children raised by same-sex couples have been shown to be on par with the children of opposite-sex couples in their psychological adjustment, cognitive abilities and social functioning.”

APA has been a strong advocate for full equal rights for LGBT people for nearly 35 years, based on the social science research on sexual orientation. APA has supported legal benefits for same-sex couples since 1997 and civil marriage for same-sex couples since 2004 . . . .

Same-sex marriage

Brides kiss during their wedding ceremony. Slate Magazine
Photo by Jacques Zorgman/Newsmakers

Fears that gay marriage will destroy traditional marriages appear unfounded. A recent article in Slate Magazine provides a detailed look at the data.

So I’ve overcome my reservations and now support PGPT marriages with all the rights and privileges (and headaches) of heterosexual couples. One day, we will be wondering what all the fuss was about.

It comes down to respecting a person’s right to live and love as he or she chooses under the law. The rule of reason, fairness and sound research have won me over. I still worry about societal pressures on traditional families, but now I’m thinking that institutionalizing same-sex marriage will end up benefiting society. It certainly will make it more just.