“Kanye West: Attention Seeker or Gender Equitist?”

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It’s soulfully comforting when people in a position of wealth and fame can come together to help people in need, especially In today’s society where wealth gaps and class warfare are always discussed on both conservative and liberal news sources. And on 12/12/12, the last day when all three parts of a calendar date will all be the same number, that’s exactly what happened at a Hurricane Sandy relief concert at Madison Square Garden. The Who, Bon Jovi, Alicia Keyes, Eric Clapton, the goddamn Rolling Stones. So many great talents were on stage performing their hearts out, singing from the better part of the soul of humanity, the benevolent area of their beings; to help those in need. And it was badly needed.

Now for some perspective on the “Frankenstorm”: Hurricane Sandy was a bitch of a storm that rocked the eastern coast of the United States on October 29th, 2012. Although not as bad as some disasters in less fortunate areas of the world, it was certainly rough by American standards. Downtown Manhattan flooded to levels fully submerging cars, homes in Long Island, and the Rockaways were washed away. Waves crashed to the tip of the torch on the Statue of Liberty. The jersey Shore, once home to a famous TV show that highlighted the “Guido” party life, became a torn mess of wood and battered store fronts. I have friends that lost everything and can’t rebuild, but rather, have to start anew. Hurricane Sandy ravaged an area that never sees more than a blizzard. People were not as prepared as they thought.

People were singing along, swaying to the positive vibes belted out by the singers and plucked from guitarists. But amongst all the goodwill and charm of the concert, one thing stood out like an elephant in a room; Kanye West’s outfit choice of a leather skirt. I know one should not be surprised by the antics of a man known for his flash and ripping the microphone out of Taylor Swift’s hands during an award acceptance, or a very impromptu assertion that George Bush didn’t care about black people at the Hurricane Katrina telethon that left a perplexed and stuttering Austin Powers. But for a guy that proclaims a “passion for fashion” one cannot wonder what his motives were for his outstanding attire.

West always struck me as a socially aware type of dude, with a conscience in the right place but with execution in the wrong place. His hip hop contribution and content are close to that of Nas, with perhaps a more mainstream and pop feel than the Queens rapper but, culturally relevant nonetheless. Still the choice to don a leather skirt raises the obvious question about what is acceptable for a man to wear and what isn’t.

It is clear West will wear whatever he damn well pleases and that’s the way more people should think. But should more men wear skirts? There was a recent rise in men’s leggings, are skirts going to be part of a new men’s fashion trend? Should this relabeling of gender based objects stop at fashion? In a world where people are becoming more outspoken on the roles assigned to genders from birth through to adulthood, and gay rights is picking up momentum, it’s great that celebrities can do things that help break down socially constructed gender identities. There is a teenage girl who is petitioning for Hasbro to change the cover of boxes for Easy Bake Ovens because her little brother enjoys baking; a particular instance that has garnered support from some celebrities including famed chef Bobby Flay. Or the child who was recently the center of controversy because of pink zebra-print shoes. Who says a boy can’t wear something socially designed for a girl? It’s hard to not wonder if trends were reversed, would it be the men who now wear summer dresses and the women who wear Hawaii button ups. Bringing both genders to a neutral ground, especially in terms of the very alienating area of fashion, can drastically close the gender gap and bring men and women of future generations on equal footing across the board. And if this is to be the new way I will be one hundred percent supportive I just have but one question ladies. Pleated or unpleated?

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~ by guyhamburger on December 13, 2012.

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