The difference is one letter away. Seated in the NYC subway today, it was impossible to not notice in front of me breasts and nipples of a 20 something year old girl wearing a tight white almost transparent lace tank sans bra. Her barely covered breasts were in plain view for me [ as I was seated] and I’m sure the man sitting next to me who kept looking to decipher the notes I was making in French on an article I was reading. The girl was not as hard to decipher as my notes to the eyes seated next to me.
I texted my friend whose interests range from film analysis to surrealism and Buddhism [her PhD] to word play to relate this story and ask her what she thought. It was she in fact who suggested this marvelous play on words in my blog title. She said if I take away the “e” in ‘lace’ and substitute with ‘k’ I get ‘lack’. Nathalie’s clever wordplay rapped on the door of my prudery. The Lace stemming from a lack… a lack of power in one’s life. And so, began my lack/lace reflection on my ten-minute walk to work.
People were in trench coats, light jackets, sweaters, jeans etc so if it wasn’t about weather, then what? It could be an age-thing – the desire to show – sometimes typical of that age group. But it could be about other things as well. I thought about Femen [incidentally lots of young women there!] and other women’s libbing movements, examples and ideas, and I thought about the constant desire to show others that one is free, whereas if freedom could just come from inside there’d be no need to prove one’s free. It would not be necessary to show others that one is free or not from one’s clothing. Others do not need to recognize or tell a woman that she is free. She owns it by her strength and fortitude, not by the clothes she wears because freedom is the domain of the personal, the inside, what we have inside that no one sees through membrane, movement or cloth.
We have been bombarded by freedom images and ideologies via ‘outside’ material things since time immemorial, but we can never find the freedom we are looking for. We haven’t found freedom yet since the 60s, or if you look at France, since the 1940s [Simone de Beauvoir published her Second Sex in what? 1949?]. How much has changed since the 1940s France or 1960s USA? And yet! Yet we do not see that these OUTSIDE things that we hold on to are replaceable, shifting and don’t stay with us. They are exchangeable, expendable, which explains why we move from one thing to the next – movements, memes etc – to prove we are free. We are constantly proving how free we are, to others, but never get free ourselves. We never become free of what society tells us what it means tone free and how it should look.
Then I got tired of thinking, and decided that it’s entirely possible that the girl in the train burnt her bra, like the women of the 60s, and couldn’t wear one on this cool day. And if history repeats itself, it’s highly likely that she won’t be free at the end of the day nor any time soon. But if it was just a fashion statement, then ‘hats off’, or rather ‘clothes off’ to her!