January 3, 2017 – North Carolina State Capitol, Raleigh

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  1. Judith Butler has been an influential figure in the study of whether gender is a construction or inherent. According to Butler in her book Gender Trouble, a gender identity is a series of gender signifiers, for example, gestures, which are learnt via mimesis and reinforced through repetition (Butler, 1990, p6). Through this reinforcement the performance of gender also becomes internalised so that we come to believe these masculine and feminine identities are ‘normal’. As such, gender is a social construction imposed on individuals based on their anatomy (sexual identity) (Butler, 1990, p6 If gender identity is learnt, then it is not inherent, and therefore does not necessarily coincide with ones sexual identity. By encoding specific garments and styles as either feminine or masculine, it becomes much clearer what gender someone is because their appearance (and as such part of their gender identity) is expected to coincide with their sexual identity. In this way, what is considered masculine and feminine in regards to dress is also a social construction. As fashion is primarily considered a feminine concern (, it is through examples of the female gender identity that fashions influence can best be seen.

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