Women's fashion, periods and trousers

There has been much reporting over recent weeks of the disrespect and harassment of women across a variety of workplaces and areas where women are trying to make their way into their chosen careers. This is a multilayered subject, but at its most plain it is almost always about power and influence versus a desire to get a foot in the door and a great uncertainty as to how to be your own person without messing up future chances to a career, fame or just a job and an income.

Images such as the photograph of five women modelling for AllSaints (Financial, 30 October) reinforce, as have many fashion photographers over recent years, the impression that women are bodies and not people. Vacant faces, faraway looks and dead eyes all conspire to conjure a view of woman as image/object, not a human being at all.
Margaret Prosser
Labour, House of Lords 

• I was surprised to see your article on menstrual periods (There will be blood, Weekend, 11 November), referring to them still being treated as something to be ashamed of. In 1976, I was exploring my own menstrual cycle as part of my fine art degree show at Leeds Polytechnic. The artwork I produced were four paintings, each one was a Tampax transfer of blood from my period of that day printed on to paper. So by day four of my period I had four prints of actual blood, which told a story of how much blood I was losing each day.

The Mirror wrote an article on my controversial period artworks (under my then married name Hobbs). The Tampax company sent me two large boxes of tampons and asked to see the artworks.

It has now been 41 years since I produced the controversial artworks and after all this time it is still an issue. Good luck to my young sisters who have now picked up the red torch once again for menstrual liberation.
Mari Peacock
North Walsham, Norfolk

• In the case of Jo Hale v Whickham Comprehensive, in which the right of the school to ban girls from wearing trousers as part of the school uniform was being challenged, the school settled out of court. This meant that no case law was established. Subsequently the solicitor for the then Equal Opportunities Commission which was supporting Jo Hale, wrote to the Department for Education suggesting that the DfE fund a test case so that all the arguments could be debated and case law established. The DfE declined.

When faced with determined parents threatening legal action over the right of girls to wear trousers to school, School Governors invariably settle out of court (Letters, 8 November). Not least because to use school funds to defend the indefensible might well be seen as misconduct in public office. Consequently the chance of ever having case law in this area is very slim.

Therefore, as a favour to parents, pupils, headteachers and governors etc, the DfE should state clearly in its extensive guidance on school uniforms that denying girls the right to wear trousers as part of their school uniform is direct sex discrimination. And if that means that boys can wear skirts then that is fine too.

Arguments in favour of trousers and details of various challenges can be found at trousersforall.co.uk
Professor Claire Hale
St Bees, Cumbria

Source: fashion – Google News

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