UPDATED: Donate now at http://genderplayful.tumblr.com/ to get this off the ground!
One of the really wonderful things about Steampunk is that it, more than any other sub-culture, seems to want to teach us things. I have always been very interested in the technology of the 19th Century, it's been a passion since a very young age. this passion is certainly part of what got me interested in Steampunk in the first place. However, as I delved deeper into the history of technology I got really interested in other aspects of how the world changed during the Industrial Revolution.
In particular I became interested in the Women's Movement, which began in the late 19th century, feminism, and gender theory. Chasing down this rabbit hole has lead me to books like Marilyn French's Beyond Power, which is currently blowing my mind and has the feel of one of those books that forever changes to way you view the world. I also started to cultivate an interest in fashion which friend and co-editor Libby Bulloff has mercilessly encouraged.
Recently, Libby and I presented a panel at SteamCon II in Seattle we called "Queering Steampunk Fashion." For some time now Libby and I have been interested in Steampunk garb that is fashion rather than costume. Clothes that you can wear outside of the convention environment but are still clearly transgressive and something other than a pure affectation of Victorian wear. Since the 19th century was a period in time where fashion became particularly rigid for both men and women, and since what we do in Steampunk is joyfully rip things out of context and re-mix them to our own desire, queering Steampunk fashion seemed like a no brainer. You can read all about our presentation here.
And that brings me to the subject of today's post. One of the points that Libby and I tried to get across in our presentation is that gender-bending fashion and re-mixing gender-typed garments presents a great opportunity in Steampunk fashion and personal expression as well. As Libby puts it: "Androgyny should be a gender Smörgåsbord not an absence of gender" which is why we are both excited about this new project from GenderFork creator Sarah Dopp. Please watch the video and click through and help her out if you're excited by it too.