CultureFor interested women
Of Imaginariums and innovation
Historian and critic Lewis Mumford once wrote of the works ... More
The politics of meals
Lately I’ve been noticing the simultaneous acceptance and backlash around... More
The rise of historical faction
Most of us remember the writers from our youth who... More
Nine beautiful luxury sex toys
Power dressing with Caryn Franklin
Female bodies have long been fought over by people without a claim to them - which is why real power dressing means dressing like yourself
When Michel Foucault described the body as a site of power, he gave voice to an idea that’s been around since a suddenly flustered Eve first grabbed a fig leaf. Because the body, marvellous as it is, only really achieves its full potential as a symbolic entity. That it is easily subjected to the agendas of others goes without saying. There is no more effective site for the inscription of power – whether sexualisation, suppression or a Virgin Atlantic shirt. And there is no more potent piece of propaganda than a living, loving, laughing human being - raising their children, walking their dog and occasionally regretting things.
Recognition of this – and an understanding of its potential for abuse – has driven dress reform since the suffragettes first burnt their corsets and a brave lady cyclist donned her bloomers and careened down the street. Yet attempts to rationalise power dressing seem doomed to disaster. The 1980s, which saw women finally wage a sustained assault on the glass ceiling, also gave birth to a look that would have appalled early reformers for whom practicality and comfort were the key signifiers of emancipated dress. More recently, the corset has been re-appropriated as an ... More
Lightening up about death
Modern medicine is keeping us alive for longer than ever — but is it longevity we should be focusing on?
This is the idea put forward in Atul Gawande’s new book Being Mortal. Gawande, who is a practising surgeon and staff writer at The New Yorker, is critical of the medical profession’s approach to death. Instead of focussing all our efforts on putting off the inevitable, he asks, shouldn’t we also be trying to come to terms with it?
As late as 1880, approximately 20% of all children born in Western society died before their first birthday, and another 20% before their fifth. Global average life expectancy at birth was around 30 years. No one even got around to considering death from natural causes. Thanks to advances in public health and modern medicine, the average lifespan in the West is now 78 years, and this average increases by two years every decade. But a culture that grows old pushes the subject of death to the periphery. Death and dying are relegated to hospitals and care facilities.
While we might, as Philip Larkin said, have a ‘real talent’ for ignoring death, it’s always ... More
Credible likeable superstar role model
In the three short years since she started writing and performing ‒ she was previously a producer ‒ Bryony Kimmings has attracted critical praise for her down-to-earth, whimsical and frequently affecting interpretations of modern life. “I’ve always made work, I’ve always been on the stage. I knew I wanted to do but was waiting for a good yarn to come along.”
And come it did ‒ several times. In the bluntly named performance piece Sex Idiot, Bryony retraces her sexual history after an unfortunate STI diagnosis. The resulting show is unapologetic in its portrayal of female sexuality and frequently ridiculous. This was ... More