Saturday, April 22, 2017
Brought to you by Coney Island U.S.A.
Karolina Sulej - "Fashion in Warsaw ghetto - practices and metaphors of femininity during the state of emergency"
Many Holocaust survivors think that abilities to survive were different in women and men. Very often females would "outlive" men. The thesis that women could have better capabilities to survive than "the stronger sex" is based on the assumption that men were much less "skilled" in everyday life. They did not know how to do the laundry, sew, cook, care for their living place or, last but not least, groom themselves.
Women's diaries from the period of Holocaust very often contain descriptions of personal care and hygiene, everyday cleaning, taking care of one's looks. For men these activities were of no importance - what they cared about were fight, politics, religion, ideals, community, "deed" in the romantic sense and ‘high culture. By contrast, women nurtured what was everyday and even "invisible" - so ordinary that it tends to go unnoticed. However, in the conditions of the state of emergency even the most mundane activities would become heroic deeds -they were to save "normality" from the period of peace in the epicentre of wartime. That was women's everyday resistance.
Experiences of women during Holocaust have also proved that practices used by women to "perform their femininity", construct their gender, only superficially seem to be oppressive. The Second World period demonstrates that seemingly meaningless activities such as make up, fashionable clothes, maintaining an attractive look - in reality often provided the ability to preserve one's human dignity. Seemingly trifling behaviour of women turned out to be subversive. Thereby female heroic narration, although constructed in a totally different way than the male one, has become at least equivalent to it.
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