Regulating Bodies – Power and Control: Why Don’t Men Wear Skirts?

Tacking the ideas from last session we are extending those ideas through how power and control and why dont men wear skirts? Why do we feel the need to act in a certain way, as a way of being constructed?

Extract from Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault, 1975


We began this session by looking at an extract from Discipline and Punish, 1975 in which explained the concept of the Panopticon. The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow all inmates of an institution to be observed by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly.

I was really intrigued by Foucault’s argument on how much a body is actually controlled for example in a schools, bells which controlled the use of time, timetables to control the placement of bodies, and various systems and rules to follow at all times.

Is visibility a trap? On todays society there is a range of rules and confinments which show how not so free we think we are. Yes, I do believe its important to have a certain degree of control, otherwise, to what point would society get to? Wars? Economy? There are other arguments as to how our bodies are controlled in contemporary society, perphaps not written rules but ways of living and ways we are constrainned, passports, social media, clothing, cars, food, medicine, expectations.

Looking back in time, our body has been controlled in a range of ways, for example religion as the idea of the standard of life both in materialistic things and religion would lead to just rewards which was the concept of heaven and hell. Body in past was controlled through religion. Now, its more complex and pervasive.

Discussing the question, why dont men wear skirts? Why are sexes encouraged into wearing certain items of clothing? In contemporary society we tend to put genders into categories in thing they should do, act, wear and be. Why is it stereopically blue for boys and pink for girls? To me it is really just a bunch of mare questions because, me wanting to wear a certain thing of a certain colour doesnt make me less of a man, or more macho. I remeber when I was on 4th grade and the teacher asking us what we wanted to be when we grew up, and me innocently wanting to be a hair dresser. And God it was motive for laughter and rediculazation, from calling me names that I dont even think 4th graders actually know the meaning of and looking back how secluded I felt and my self-esteem went down to the point my mum had to come to the school several times due to the ridiculous amout of bullying. From that past event, it really affected me of following some of possible career paths (fashion designer, cabin crew – I guess being a potter is masculine enought for society, and in that sense, society wins) I could of had which simply were demmed to be female and homosexual orientated. In a way I feel sad that these views are opposed on people and how really it can affect us in a way we can’t do what we want and in that sense we are controlled and restraint.

Looking at an interesting example below of a boy which swapped a toy he had received for his birthday for a doll:


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BA (Hons) Final Year Ceramics student at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Love experimenting with material and techniques and work on a range of medium.

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