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Handcuffs, As Jewelry? - Symbol of Oppression in Fashion

When my daughter was fourteen I started “The Fulsome Game” (see photo below), inspired by the comparison (or should I say the shocking similarity) between three different game boards from 1966, 1967 and 1995. Adding to the culture shock for this women’s lib mother/artist were the magazines marketed to young girls filled with underwear, make-up, nail polish and articles about “how to look good” or “what do boys want in girls.”


Our culture sells this fulsome game of excessive advertising, consciously and subconsciously selling an incessant message that limits females to stereotypical roles that superficially focus on appearance instead of substance.

Fulsome Game by Harriete Estel Berman sends a powerful message.

When will women be unshackled from the limitations of these formulaic and limited roles?

DiceGRRoll the dice…

Well, I couldn't believe what I found in a recent issue of Elle Magazine discovered at the gym. What I thought was going to be entertainment turned into concern when I noticed this image below
                                  handcuffs as jewelry!


I (reluctantly) borrowed the magazine and scanned the page for your viewing. 


The above image was taken from a full page fashion spread of HOT items currently "in fashion." Something is wrong
here if "hot fashion" items are handcuffs for women as jewelry. 

Sure you can say, "don't buy it".... but I am objecting to the message.

In case you think that the one pair of handcuffs was an anomaly here is an entire page of hand cuffs as fashion accessory from the same magazine.


Interesting that the handcuffs are shown with very high heels on both pages of fashion images. The high heels give the appearance of longer legs, but at the extreme they incumber womens' ability to walk. The extreme high heels themselves are like ankle shackles. Handcuffs as jewelry??!  Bondage as metaphor?!! An amazing combination of shackled hands and ankles.

I want to be as fashionable and attractive as most other women....but why is it that "fashion" thinks it is attractive to wear items of subjugation and pain (handcuffs and extremely high heels)?

MORE BACKGROUND BELOW ABOUT MY COLLECTION OF GENDER specific games that inspire my past artwork (some highlighting handcuffs).
Come to my studio
to see the extensive collection of toys.

Fulsome Gamer by Harriete Estel Berman uses handcuffs to send a powerful message. _fullview72

As mentioned at the beginning, "The Fulsome Game" was inspired by three vintage game boards that I collected in my feminist study of our material culture. 

What ShallI I Be Board Game owned by Harriete Estel Berman inspires artworkThe oldest game is titled “What Shall I be? The exciting game of Career Girls” © 1966.

It offered six possible careers to young girls playing the game: ballerina, model, actress, flight attendant, nurse, and school teacher. 

Game cards in the box make a range of comments, some positive and many negative, for example
YOU ARE A QUICK THINKER. Good for: Airline Hostess and Nurse”
YOU ARE OVERWEIGHT.  Bad for: Airline Hostess, Ballet Dancer and Model."
"YOU ARE PRETTY. Good for: Model and Actress."
"YOUR MAKE-UP IS TOO SLOPPY. Bad for: Airline Hostess and Mode."l
"YOU ARE A SLOW THINKER. Bad for: Airline Hostess and Nurse.Another game board."

Continuing with more revelations from my collection of gender specific toys:

Front.72 Back72

Side372Above and left is the front and the back of a “Campus Queen” lunch box circa 1967. The lunch box came complete with a thermos, two magnetic game pieces and a spinner.

The game board had spaces with statements like:

Roll the dice, advance thirty years!   In 1997 my eight-year-old daughter was given a Barbie game called, “’ We Girls Can Do Anything GameWe Girls Can Do Anything’ Game, Travel the Path that Leads to the Career of Your Dreams” © 1996.

After all of these years the career options had improved only slightly (didn’t the feminist movement have any impact)?   Now, the career options are: ballerina, fashion designer, actress, musician, pilot, and doctor, but every character is dressed in Barbie pink including the pilot and doctor.

I could not hold myself back from this commentary in the piece "The Fulsome Game" .

Here is a really interesting video that adds some further perspective. Read the comments. What do you have to say?