Fashion, Witches and Ecofeminism

In Dior’s new season fashion show, he follows the “witches”, which he defines as strong, brave, activist and warrior women, from which he was inspired both in thought and design, and the protest spirit they symbolize; We examine the male-dominated thought from past to present, how patriarchy oppresses nature and women, and how ecofeminism rebels against this oppression.

There were worn sleeves, torn lace, models swinging with holes and damaged dresses, ghost-like looks, and “strange” silhouettes carrying long frock coats at Dior’s Spring/Summer 2024 fashion show.

It is possible to read how to read the fashion show, which was dominated by a mystical style and black, in the words of makeup artist Peter Philips, who said, “Maria Grazia Chiuri wanted us to do witch lips, so we did it just as she said,” and complemented the models’ tight buns with jet black lips.

Through the silhouettes she creates, Chiuri not only reminds us of the witches who were marginalized in the Middle Ages and killed because they were considered strange and dangerous, but also shows that men continue to dominate women today, as they did years ago, and that the struggles of witches in the Middle Ages still continue today, albeit in a different way, against the masculine perspective. and actually invites all women to become “witches”. Here, with the witch character, Dior refers to the profile of a feminist and activist woman who rebels against the system, as he emphasized in his previous fashion shows.

Another brand that emphasizes rebellious and protest women this season with a gothic style dominated by black and lace is Dolce & Gabbana and Yamamoto. Let us also remind you that fashion has brought the “witch” image to the catwalk not only this season but also in previous years, with dramatic and dystopian looks, through many brands, from Alexander McQueen to Rick Owens, from Noir Kei Ninomiya to Rokh.

While “witches”, which have been included in our lives with popular culture in recent years and have appeared in different media from TV series to movies, applaud the profile of a strong, unyielding and combative woman today, they are actually an expression of misogyny and marginalization through women whose great ancestors were tortured and killed years ago in the Middle Ages. and in fact, it forms the basis of never-ending masculine fears.

Witchcraft, which in the Middle Ages was labeled by men as healers and wise women who represented the midwife figure, who could control the female body, who knew plant science, who knew nature and could communicate with it, is actually a symbol of a much stronger, down-to-earth female identity today, who knows what she wants. .

At that time, men wanted to suppress and destroy not only the women they accused of being witches, but also the nature that those women represented. They oppressed women whom they identified with nature. In the eyes of men, they were both weak and weak. This is the basis of the current confinement of women to roles based on fertility.

Today, ecofeminists are taking revenge on women who were subjected to witch hunts, fighting against male domination that exploits both women and nature, and waging an anti-capitalist struggle.

Starting from Dior’s feminist message, let’s look at what witchcraft means today, how it took on a feminist and warrior identity, and what role ecofeminism plays in women’s quest for equality.

WITCH HUNTS ARE AT THE FOUNDATION OF PATRIARCHAL THOUGHT

Although the witch identity is identified with a strong identity, feminism, in the fashion world today and is presented as a role model for women in their journey of freedom and equality, it is actually the symbol of women being weakened and neutralized and imprisoned in their homes due to historical events.

During the witch hunt that continued between the 15th and 18th centuries, many women who lived in touch with nature, benefited from the healing powers of nature, engaged in agriculture, earned their living from nature, had control over the female body and reproductive health, and were healers and herbalists who were engaged in midwifery were accused of witchcraft, tortured, and tortured. was killed. Witch hunts are actually one of the cores of the male-dominated perspective that still persists today, defining women only in the home environment and giving them freedom of movement only at home. Patriarchal thought still frowns on the great-grandchildren of women who were punished for working in nature at that time, working outside the home.

Between the 15th and 18th centuries, many painters depicted these women who were subjected to witch hunts in a very ugly, scary and old way; It is at the basis of the idea that women are marginalized and considered “ugly” and “evil” if they are not tamed, which still exists today. Moreover, it would not be wrong to say that these witch hunts lie behind the concept of the perfect body, which has been glorified for years and accepted as the only aesthetic truth, the imposition of youth and beauty, ageism and misogyny.


In her book “Today’s Witches”, Mona Chollet addresses all women as follows: “When we follow the path that the witches’ whispers lead us and release our world of thought and imagination, a great joy will await us: The joy of courage, rebellion, affirming life, and defying authority.”

French writer and researcher Mona Chollet’s “Today’s Witches; In her book “The Invincible Power of Women”, she points out that the witch hunts that took place in the past centuries shaped today’s world, showing how the masculine mentality and gender discrimination continue their existence yesterday and today. The observation in Chollet’s book that “During the period of witch hunts, women were banned from the production and working world and excluded from professional organizations”; It confirms that the idea of ​​removing women from active working life, which we still encounter today, started in the 15th century.

IT INVITS ALL WOMEN TO BECOME A “WITCH”!

We can say that the women who embrace witchcraft and show resistance, who choose to remain single without compromising their independence, who stay outside the system, as highlighted by Mona Chollet in her book, are the ancestors of women who are exposed to patriarchal oppression all over the world today, but do not bow to it and continue to struggle no matter what.

Women, who were tortured years ago, burned alive, and accused of witchcraft, are today beaten and killed as targets of male violence. Just as the knowledge of nature was taken away from women who were described as witches, today’s women are also struggling with economic violence, they are neither allowed to access the knowledge nor use the knowledge they have.

Another name that establishes a connection between witch hunts and violence against women today is radical feminist, academic and writer Silvia Federici. In his book “Caliban and Witch Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation”, he makes us think about the causes of violence against women, reveals the policies underlying the fear of women, and reminds us that the fear of women and women’s bodies behind today’s violence actually extends to these witch hunts.


In her book “Today’s Witches”, Mona Chollet points out that the witch hunts that took place in the past also shaped today’s world. The movie “Poor Things”, marked by a strange mise-en-scène and gloomy characters and based on a woman’s independence, won Emma Stone the Best Actress award at the Golden Globes and was nominated for an Oscar in 11 categories.

While Mona Chollet invites all women to become “witches”, she calls them to resist, to fight, to get out of the areas where they are imprisoned, to take control of their bodies and to persevere to achieve what they want to do until the end.

Such a meaning lies behind the active, strong and warrior woman that the witch represents in both the fashion world and popular culture today. The masculine oppression of women may not have ended, but the women’s struggle continues all over the world, growing stronger and stronger since the witch hunt.

ECOFEMINISM AGAINST MASCULINE POWER

While the need to suppress women, their bodies and women’s relationships with nature during the witch hunt period of masculine oppression continues today, and today women are struggling against the climate crisis and the exploitation of nature, the ecofeminist thought that emerged in the 70s seized the flag of this struggle and protected both nature and women. She rebels against the murderous male domination and capitalist order. In other words, ecofeminists today demand the rights of women accused of witchcraft many years ago; They seek it by waging war against male domination, which believes that it can dominate both nature and women. They continue their work for the freedom of women and the sustainability of nature, without reducing women to nature and the natural, and without thinking that women will be completed with nature.

While women are the most affected by the climate crisis (it is a proven fact that the climate crisis increases male violence), those who speak out loudest against the climate crisis and protest against the exploitation and destruction of nature are also women. Let’s not forget that it is women who resist the nuclear power plant and HEPPs in Akkuyu, the dam construction in Hasankeyf, and the mining projects in Bergama and Kaz Mountains, and that women play an active role in the ecological struggle. We can consider the women who played a leading role in the environmental movement as the younger descendants of women who lived in balance with nature 500 years ago, protected and protected nature, but were accused of witchcraft.

Ecofeminism does not only come to life in women’s involvement in environmental actions, but also believes that the salvation and liberation of nature, which is the purpose of these actions, lies in the end of masculine power, just like the liberation of women. She argues that women should organize against the patriarchal system and its extension, capitalism, which she considers to be the main source of women and nature problems. It plays a big role in the continuation of the struggle against the male-dominated point of view, and in women’s ability to be brave, warriors, free and “witches” who do not bow to the system, as the fashion world calls for today.

Academician Dr. Senem Timuroğlu explains ecofeminism:

“Ecofeminism is a theoretical and organized struggle that unites the women’s movement and the environmental movement and establishes a link between feminism and ecology. Ecofeminists, unlike environmentalists, emphasize that the reason for hostility towards nature is the patriarchy and its ideological basis, which exploits and oppresses women. He built the philosophical basis of the patriarchal order with hierarchical duality based on the pairing of mind, soul and man with body, emotion and woman. In this dual structure, women; Along with animals and nature, they are made to belong to the material, that is, physical world, devoid of mind. For the male mind, this world is in a lower position than the realm of reason and spirit, which needs to be controlled and regulated. This view, which legitimizes women as the inferior gender, understands animals and nature from the same perspective. The concept of ecofeminism, first put forward by Françoise d’Eaubonne in 1972, questions the relationship between sexism and speciesism in this sense. Since then, different theorists have developed different approaches. The main ones are; cultural ecofeminism, global ecofeminism, socialist ecofeminism, queer ecofeminism, vegan ecofeminism.

The main difference between ecofeminist approaches is between those who find women’s closeness to nature biological and those who find it social, that is, cultural and historical. Cultural ecofeminists, which include spiritual ecofeminists who mostly associate with the goddess religions of pagan periods and witchcraft; It establishes a closeness between the biological structure of women and nature. However, this view cannot be a correct approach for the liberation of women, as it is the same view that in the hierarchical dualities of the patriarchal order reduces women to reproduction, especially due to their fertility characteristics, says that they lack intelligence, and thus legitimizes dominating women. The other ecofeminist view argues that women’s closeness with nature stems from the fact that women have accumulated experience in nature for millennia to ensure the daily livelihood of humanity. The accumulated knowledge from this experience, which includes the accumulated experiences of women who are actually called witches, midwives and healers, such as collecting plants and nuts, making medicine from plants, and dealing with agriculture, was confiscated by the patriarchy. While the global ecofeminist approach pioneered by Vandana Shiva struggles to protect seeds for the future of food against patriarchal giant capitalist corporations, it also compiles and collects the knowledge hidden by women for sustainable agriculture. Despite the differences between them, all ecofeminist approaches point out that the liberation of women will occur together with all non-human beings. Therefore, the feminist movement moves forward with a broad alliance across genres. Ending the climate crisis can only be achieved by ending violence against women, animals and nature, that is, by ensuring ecological balance. The destruction of the dual thought structure of male human arrogance, that is, the idea that ‘I am the most valuable being, those other than me are inferior, I can exploit and control them in any way, destroy nature, rape women and animals’ will be achieved by the establishment of ecofeminist philosophy structure, ethics and concepts.”


Article: Selin Miloshyan

Photos: Launchmetrics Spotlight

Taken from ELLE Türkiye February 2024 issue.

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