In praise of fragile femininity

A vision of red, white and black, enrobed in colorful silks. The restricted steps caused by her weighty kimono and docile demeanor emphasize her delicateness. There is nothing about her appearance or decorum that is reminiscent of masculinity. She is a fantasy of femininity, a gigantic exaggeration of something natural: A living piece of art.

Much like the traditional Japanese geisha, the modern feminine creature hones a dedication to preserving one’s softness in a hardened world. And whereas the geisha is a performance, she is merely a creature. Flesh and blood. Open to public scrutiny.

Harnessed with an armor consisting of wiles, weaknesses and willfulness, she – not fearlessly, but stubbornly – confronts the elements of the outside world on a daily basis.

In defiance to popular opinion she remains vulnerable and open, willingly so. Instead of settling for equality, she seeks out the opposite. Her opposite. For nature has taught her, sacred bonds are not made on equal grounds. And so it is on those unequal grounds she goes to play, on purpose.

The first time the creature meets her worthy opposite, she may be wayward and frivolous. After all, the way others approach her has clouded her carefree experience of the world. But strong headed she refuses to give into worldly corruption. Along the way, she may be in need of correction and discipline, because creature nature is inherently volatile…

Just like the geisha, who submits herself to her ritual and craft in order to honor something soft and beautiful in a world that is dark and cynical, the modern feminine creature submits herself to her opposite, her masculine protector. Not because she is entirely bereft of any capable qualities on her part, but simply because her femininity is defenseless by the rule that anything that is desired and valued is prone to destruction.

Text: Barbara Timmers

Images and sound: Barbette/Jasper van Loon

Location: Passage, The Hague (NL)