FOUR WALLS AND A DAYDREAM

 

PHOTOGRAPHY / STYLING; Sarah Scaife
MODEL; Tash at IMG Models Australia

01 T-shirt by Enfants Riches Déprimés, briefs by Calvin Klein

02 Bralette by Aimee-Cherie Intimates

03 Coat by Maison Martin Margiela for H&M

04 Bralette by Aimee-Cherie Intimates, briefs by Macpherson Men, jeans by Claude Maus

05 Bralette by Aimee-Cherie Intimates, leggings by Salasai

06 Hat and jumper by Enfants Riches Déprimés, briefs by Calvin Klein

07 Jumper by Enfants Riches Déprimés

08 Dress by Lisa Marjanovich

09 T-shirt by Enfants Riches Déprimés, jeans by Claude Maus

10 T-shirt by Enfants Riches Deprimes, briefs by Macpherson Men

WIFE

When I got to my mid-twenties, everybody – and I mean EVERYBODY – started coupling off, getting married and making babies. As a serial monogamist who had vowed long ago to not ever join that circus, I started to feel alien surrounded by a species of breeders. I think I was about 3 or 4  when I was playing doctor with a boy – or rather he was playing doctor with me, I was to bear his child and be his wife. I wanted none of it.  That was when I decided to never get married and never have children. Essentially, I was never going to grow up. Later, when boyfriends broached the subject of marriage or put out the creepy engagement feelers – testing the water – I felt completely betrayed. “He clearly doesn’t know me at all, how could he possibly love me forever?” That was usually the beginning of the end.

Little girls, or the little girls I knew, had their weddings planned by the age of 9. Some of them even had a dowry chest. They would play out the entire event over and over again, starring Ken and Barbie. I preferred to play with my paint set. I gave my one Barbie and one Jem doll (I’m a child of the 80’s) pixie cuts and had them playing in punk bands. The G.I. Joe’s couldn’t help but fall in love. Jem & B didn’t give a shit and neither did I. Please don’t confuse my whimsy for aloofness or callous. I fell in love, a lot. I fall in and out of love everyday. At least five times before breakfast. I understood early on how transient romantic love is. I love love, but don’t try to tether me to any one lover and tell me its forever.

In my mind, the moment expectations are placed on the relationship, on the lover, is the moment the romance dies. It isn’t fair to anybody. And isn’t that exactly what marriage is? A binding contract between two people (traditionally a heterosexual couple with the purpose of procreation) wrought with expectation and impending disappointment and heartbreak. (Yes – I’m a child of divorce, no – I wasn’t when this decision was made.) But it isn’t only between the two lovers, is it? It is also a contract between these two people and society – declaration of compliance to social norms, values and roles. The celebration of the end of love the the beginning of duty. There’s nothing romantic about it. And with the divorce rate what it is, its all a complete farce. But let the girl have her fairy tale wedding and let the guy have his last night of freedom. The jest of God.

When I was about nineteen I read a book called The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood – written before she got into speculative fiction. I’ll summarize by saying that it confirmed and solidified my early commitment to spinsterhood. That and The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. I’ll take lovers, but no man is going to get me under his thumb. And the second things got comfortable, lazy or complacent was the moment my heart started to wander. I was long gone by the time the relationship had ended. In retrospect, I guess I always remained semi-detached – prepared to flee. But maybe I just never met someone who challenged me the way I needed. I knew what came next – I was to be the wife, bear and rear the children, do the laundry, wash the dishes, clean up poop. I was to become a martyr – sacrifice my selfhood for the greater good of the family unit, for the greater good of society. I was to cease being an individual with her own ideas, thoughts, creativity, dreams in order to become a woman, a womb, a selfless vessel that exists solely for others.

What I’m concerned with is how women are valued. What makes a woman? Historically she has been valued as mother, as homemaker, as wife – which are all invaluable expressions of womanhood. Post-feminism, woman as such has been devalued in favour of becoming like men. We are facing a serious identity crisis on a mass scale. What does it mean now to be a woman? To be a mother? To be a wife? While in the workplace we must function as effectively as men (if not more so), only to be substantially under-appreciated and reduced to the status of bitch, women must still function as wives or mothers or else they’re neglectful. We need mothers. That’s where babies come from. But in order to remain a woman and not just a mother, a lazy stay at home what does she do with all that time on her hands – mom, mothers must abandon their children for boardrooms. And we’re left with a generation of orphans.

What I’m trying to say is this shit is still fucked. A woman is a womb is a mother is a wife is a maid is a highly functioning pretty little man, and we’re over-breeding as it is. I’m never playing that game, I’m never getting married, I’ll never be a mother.

I got married. It just kind of happened. I met him when I was living in a share house with 3 other dudes. He played in a band with one of my roomies. I was studying for my post-grad on the other side of the globe from home. He was at our place all the time and he just kind of grew on me – like a fungus. (If you saw the house, you wouldn’t be surprised about the fungus.) We became good mates and then we started doin it. Because there was no pretense, no expectation, we were able to communicate honestly about our needs, ideals and about what we wanted from each other. We loved the same shit and both didn’t want anything serious or any kind of attachment – it was perfect – until somebody introduced me as his girlfriend. I got all indignant about it, but I think it started to eat away at both of us – secretly. A couple of weeks later he asked me if I was his girlfriend yet. “I guess so.” A couple of months later he told me he loved me. I totally loved him too – blissful romantic sexy love. A month later, I met his kids – two of them. “I’m not sure I’m cut out for this, but fuck I love this guy.” All the while that honest candour remained vital to how we communicated. We decided to move in together. It was quick, but if felt right.

Several months later, I’d nearly finished my degree which meant my student visa was about to end. Faced with a huge dilemma – should I stay or should I go? – we both were not prepared to let it go at that. Which begs the next question. How do I stay? “Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage.” No, I can’t do it. It goes against everything I’ve believed up to now.
“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togevah today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam wiffin a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah and evah…”
“Man and wife! Say man and wife!”
“Man and wife.”
A man and his wife.
I told him I didn’t want to have a wedding. He told me he didn’t want a wedding. I told him I didn’t want to be somebody’s wife. He told me he didn’t want a wife. We took a trip to Montreal to visit my family, detouring through New York City first. We showed up to city hall wearing black, I wore white Chuck Taylors.
“I promise to never be a wife.”
“I promise to never make you be a wife.”

The celebrant was fantastic, he kept it quick and painless. All we had to say was I do. My younger brother was the only one who knew. He was our witness, wearing a black tuxedo t-shirt. It was all so romantic.

By the time we arrived in Montreal, we were boyfriend and girlfriend again. Of course, my mother guessed it and my father wasn’t surprised. She squeeled with delight, I assured her there was to be no grand-children. He took us out for Morroccan.

Two years have gone by and we’re still boyfriend and girlfriend. Its a label I’m comfortable with, though I’ve stopped getting angry when someone slips up and calls me his wife. Whatever the label is, it was the best half decision I ever made. Maybe this Peter Pan met her Wendy. This is the longest and the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in and there hasn’t been a moment where I’ve longed for something else, someone else, someone new. I am still blissfully and romantically in love – even if he leaves his dirty fucking socks everywhere.

Is this forever? Who knows – I don’t bloody care – because right now he believes in me, he allows me to be whoever I am in any given moment and he expects nothing. And I him. I’ve discovered that love and identity are inextricably linked. How I relate to love has completely changed how I relate to myself. And all that talk about what it means to be a woman seems somewhat trivial because whoever I decide to be, I am a woman with all its baggage and connotations. We’re complex creatures, after all.

WORDS; ANDREA SHELDON
IMAGE; SARAH SCAIFE

TRIPPIN’ ON THE ROAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHY; Tyson Millar
CREATIVE DIRECTION; Sarah Scaife and Cale Mason
MODEL; Sharnee Gates at IMG Models Australia
STYLING; Sarah Scaife
MAKE UP & HAIR; Brittany Mason

01 Hat by Vivienne Westwood from Dilettante, sunglasses by Cast Eyewear, top by Ann Demeulemeester from Dilettante

02 Hat by Vivienne Westwood from Dilettante, sunglasses by Cast Eyewear, top by Ann Demeulemeester from Dilettante, underwear by Calvin Klein, boots by Timberland

03 Coat by Claude Maus, underwear by Calvin Klein

04 Hat by Vivienne Westwood from Dilettante, sunglasses by Cast Eyewear, top by Ann Demeulemeester from Dilettante, underwear by Calvin Klein, boots by Timberland

05 Shirt by Acne from Elle Boutique, underwear by Calvin Klein, shorts by Isabel Marant from Elle Boutique, clutch by Lulu Guiness from Elle Boutique

06 Coat by Claude Maus, underwear by Calvin Klein

07 Top and underwear by Calvin Klein, pants by Winston Wolfe

08 Shirt by Equipment from Elle Boutique, hat by Comme Des Fuckdown, underwear by Calvin Klein

09 Jacket by Acne from Elle Boutique, model’s own jeans, underwear by Calvin Klein, sunglasses by Cast Eyewear

10 Jacket by Moncler from Elle Boutique, jeans by Isabel Marant from Elle Boutique

BUFFETED BUT NOT BROKEN

PHOTOGRAPHY; Cloudy Rhodes
CREATIVE DIRECTION; Sarah Scaife and Cale Mason
MODEL; Kelsey Close at IMG Models Australia
STYLING; Sarah Scaife
STYLING ASSISTANT; Beth Maslen
MAKE UP; Gillian Campbell using M.A.C Cosmetics
HAIR; Lauren McCowan

01 Coat by Carly Hunter from Billie & Rose, dress by Flannel

02 Bra by AIMEE-CHERIE, slip dress by Kate Sylvester, socks by OK OK

03 Bra by AIMEE-CHERIE, slip dress by Kate Sylvester, socks by OK OK, bomber vest by Winston Wolfe

04 Dress by Kate Sylvester

05 Bra by AIMEE-CHERIE, fur coat by Flannel

06 Dress by MLM

07 Coat by Carly Hunter from Billie & Rose, bra by AIMEE-CHERIE, shorts by Flannel, socks by OK OK

08 Sweater by Story By Tang, skirt by Kate Sylvester

09 Dress by T by Alexander Wang

I HATE THESE BLURRED LINES

It seems that being born with a vagina comes with certain obligations. Beyond the obvious procreation duties lies a whole world of public politics that pushes people of my gender out of the grey and into the harsh reality of black and white. People expect certain things of you, like looking immaculate, avoiding foul language, maintaining a certain level of personal hygiene or even showing signs of an inner maternal instinct. Is it not enough that we are all bound by birth to an unyielding legal system? Why are women buried beneath an extra layer of restriction? For a man, spread legs are acceptable in public, body hair is celebrated rather than removed, and things like swearing or spitting only increase your social status. Now, I’m not suggesting that women rebel against society and stop shaving (heaven forbid), as it is one thing to complain about something and another entirely to obtusely change the unchangeable. However, I do believe I have pinpointed the acme of female coping mechanisms. You see, after centuries of societal entrapment, we have developed a secret code of emancipation: the Ladies Night. As I’m sure you know, it is an event where women congregate together in their highest heels to share secrets and snacks, bitch about bitches and discuss cock over cocktails. And you can thank Carrie Bradshaw for globalizing this concept like a blogger with a green smoothie (or macaron).

The way I see it is, if alcohol exists to unravel preexisting social constructs, then perhaps it can be held accountable for the universal transformation from women to animals. You see, it all starts out innocently: “hi girls, let’s meet at our usual spot for a few drinks.” Hours pass and the dinner accompaniment wine becomes a bottle of champagne, the lipstick smudges and, before you know it, you’re flashing the nearest homosexual man. Of course, we must acknowledge that there is a scale of animalism; a spectrum of sloppiness that various female subgroups tend to adhere to. I even find that the events of an evening can fluctuate in extremism depending on the particular friendship group I happen to be out with. For instance, I have this one friend (we’ll call her Jenny) who will, almost every time we go out together, get into a fight. Due to the fact that conflict tends to sober me up faster than an adrenalin jab, I become the inevitable mediator, pivoting frantically between Jenny and her brand new nemesis. In this scenario, the Ladies Night has exhumed from Jenny a volatile beast, not unlike the toothless men on a rugby pitch or the boys on the bar dribbling beer down their beards. What began as a civilized meeting between women, ended like a brawl between men.

In another group of friends, far removed from the last, lives a girl (we’ll call her Penny) who will disappear like clockwork at the end of a Ladies Night. A search party will ensue, each of us triangulating through the club faster than a SWAT team, until we find her limp body draped around some dude. Now it all depends on your Ladies Night interpretation, but as far as we’re concerned, there’s nothing in the rulebook that restricts a single group member from picking up a hot piece. However, I’m talking about the infamous serial one-night-stander. Penny will insist on going home with each guy, surpassing second and third base and diving crotch-first into the home plate. I’m not about to open the Double Standards can of worms; this is merely a discussion about a woman’s progression from stereotypically feminine behavior to stereotypically masculine behavior. Isn’t it amusing that the influence of alcohol and estrogen could encourage a pattern of behavior typically associated with the male species? Maybe the deprivation makes her horny, maybe the love life comparisons heighten her desperation, or maybe the breakdown of daylight barriers quite simply unveils the androgynous core of us all.

Similarly, the Ladies Night has the ability to alter sexual orientation. A girlfriend of mine (we’ll call her Lenny) represents the woman who behaves straight by day and gay by night. With each drink that passes her lips, her interest in the opposite sex lessens, until her sultry gaze begins to focus on her female friends. As most girls nights out tends to progress, the casual cocktails will eventually shift to tequila shots on a sweaty dance floor, until Lenny pauses mid-gyration to lunge at a nearby female object of affection. Naturally at this moment, Katy Perry’s voice will resound in my ears: I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry chap stick. The male onlookers will leer and shout encouragingly, their eyes unmistakably glazed with a vague cloud of disappointment, and the women will giggle as though it is a rare phenomenon to behold. Come the morning, Lenny laughs it off, shrugs indifferently and calmly claims that she could “never eat pussy” so therefore she must be straight. If a bit of unbridled girl talk and mixed drinks can shift someone’s sexuality, then what does it say about our antidote to the influence of men? Perhaps the Ladies Night is like a flu vaccination. In order to sufficiently immunise oneself from the man, one must temporarily become one.

Most people equate the Ladies Night with sex talk. Now, what most men probably don’t realise is that despite popular opinion, we are equally as graphic in our storytelling. By day, we may not even broach the subject, but when secluded with our own kind in a safe alcohol-fuelled environment, the tongues loosen and the floodgates open (pun/s not intended). I’ve heard tales about accidental coital urination, acids trips that morphed sexual partners into other people, humiliating masturbation interruptions and sexual fantasies that should be illegal on every continent. I would share one with you, but even if names were omitted, it would be a violation of the Sisterhood. So instead, I will propose a thought: suppose the secrets of the Ladies Night were exposed to the male world, giving each of their phallocentric mindsets an insight into our well-disguised obsession with sex. Not long ago, someone’s boyfriend unexpectedly interrupted a girls-only dinner and we were faced with a choice; we could expose him to the Ladies Night secrets, or we could switch our mindsets from Boy Free to Boy Friendly mode. This was soon decided by one of the girls, who continued to crack jokes pertaining to certain self-servicing appliances. Others joined in and a metaphorical vision of vibrator fencing came to mind as I silently watched the male (and his girlfriend) cripple with discomfort. See, the reality remains that when men witness women behaving like them, and not the pure princesses history has so kindly outlined as ideal, they tend to freak the fuck out. It seems they can’t help but visualise every descriptive detail, misconstrue humour for pick-up lines or even simply recline out of subconscious concern that they themselves appear feminine by comparison. In the words of Doc Brown, “the encounter could create a time paradox, the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe! Granted, that’s worst-case scenario.”

Gender politics is one of the most pillaged subjects in the history of time. It has been the root of investigation, interrogation, mitigation and complication for as long as humans have existed. The idea that we are all innately similar, regardless of our genitalia, is no new concept by any means. However, it is interesting to note the effects of segregation and intoxication. We (women) have created the Ladies Night as a means of untangling ourselves from the men in our lives and their accompanying expectations, and the irony remains that it only seems to make us behave a lot like them. There’s the girl who gets into a fight, the girl who bangs everything in sight, and the girl who kisses girls at night (rhyme intended). Perhaps it is still important that we uphold these existing pretenses, such as presentation and behaviour, annoying as they may be; they serve to create a much-needed distinction: without them, we would all be hairy, vulgar and violent, wracked with insecurities and identity crises far more severe than those we already face. Never underestimate the importance of blurred lines (cue Robin Thicke), because at the end of the day, boys will be boys and girls will be girls, but we’ll all be a little of both.

WORDS; Sarah Scaife

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