M/C Journal https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal <h1>M/C Journal</h1> <p><em>M/C Journal</em> was founded (as "M/C – A Journal of Media and Culture") in 1998 as a place of public intellectualism analysing and critiquing the meeting of media and culture. <em>M/C Journal</em> is a fully blind-, peer-reviewed academic journal, open to submissions from anyone. We take seriously the need to move ideas outward, so that our cultural debates may have some resonance with wider political and cultural interests. Each issue is organised around a one-word theme (<a href="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/issue/archive">see our past issues</a>), and is edited by one or more guest editors with a particular interest in that theme. Each issue has a feature article which engages with the theme in some detail, followed by several shorter articles.</p> en-US <p>Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:</p><ol><li>Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licenced under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/" rel="license">Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivatives 4.0 Licence</a> that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.</li><li>Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.</li><li>Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (see <a href="http://opcit.eprints.org/oacitation-biblio.html" target="_new">The Effect of Open Access</a>).</li></ol> editor@media-culture.org.au (Axel Bruns) editor@media-culture.org.au (Axel Bruns) Tue, 14 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 OJS http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss 60 The Inculcative Power of Australian Cadet Corps Uniforms in the 1900s and 1910s https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2972 <p>The 1900s and 1910s were a prime era for the growth and empowerment of cadet corps within Australia. Private schools in particular sought to build on a newfound spirit of nationalism following the Federation of the colonies in 1901 by harnessing enthusiasm for the nation and British Empire, and by cultivating a martial culture among their predominantly middle-class students. The principal tool harnessed in that cultivation were the school cadet corps, and the most visible symbol of those corps were their uniforms. By focussing on the cadet corps in the private schools of Sydney during this era, this article will explore the emphasis placed on cadet corps uniforms and argue that uniforms were <em>the central element</em> used cultivate a sense of identity and <em>esprit de corps</em>. When considered within the context of broader cadet corps activities, this will further demonstrate the power of uniforms as an instrument of cultural inculcation.</p> <p>The Federation of Australia in 1901 ushered in a new environment of national defence anxiety amongst the new nation’s middle-class citizens. The drive to Federation itself had partly been fuelled by colonial concerns regarding defence, and, in the new century, the newly federated states sought to work together to allay their combined concerns (White 114). But government policies were only one of the many ways the middle class were preparing the nation. Within the education system, middle-class private schools became a key instrument in preparing middle-class boys for their future as leaders of the nation in politics, business, and, of course, in the military. Within those schools, the cadet corps were utilised to instil core middle-class values of discipline, self-sacrifice, and responsibility in boys. As early as 1900, Sydney Grammar School authorities were proposing the resuscitation of their cadet corps following the rise in military spirit due to the Boer War (<em>The Sydneian</em> "Editorial", 1). The subsequent growth in both national and imperial defence-consciousness over the following years resulted in 100 boys forming a petition requesting the formation of a cadet corps in 1907 (<em>The Sydneian</em> "The Cadet Movement", 12). Within a year, the boys’ request was granted. With this type of enthusiasm from boys, the cadet corps increased in strength throughout the private schools of Sydney during the 1900s. Where they had already existed, they now commanded greater prestige, and where a school previously had no cadet corps, one was soon formed. In 1911, Compulsory Military Training commenced in Australia for all youths aged between 12 and 26, with a view to creating a citizens’ militia. Thus, militarism was a marked element in the new nation’s first decade. </p> <p>The changing nature of society during the 1900s also led to changing images of the ideal citizen, and understandably, of the ‘ideal middle-class boy’. Martin Crotty argues that in the 1900s, Australian middle-class society stressed that ‘fighting for one’s country is the peak of personal achievement and the epitome of manliness’ (9). Crotty goes on to examine the perceptions of middle-class manliness throughout the 1900s and 1910s, where masculinity was defined as the soldier serving his country, and the ‘manliest’ thing a person could do was to fight and die in war. Within this context, then, it is no surprise that private school boys welcomed the cadet system openly and were prepared to adhere to the discipline and the drill that went with it without a fuss. At St. Ignatius College, the school magazine <em>Our Alma Mater </em>reported in 1909 that ‘with enthusiasm on the part of the Corps, and attention to details by the officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, the College will be in possession of a really fine corps of the future defenders of the Commonwealth’. Cadets were seen as a partial answer to middle-class fears about the defence of Australia. The cadets would provide strong, disciplined, and willing officers in an army if it was needed for the defence of country and empire. It would also make decent men of the boys, curing them of the slothful habits of modern youth. <em>The Newington </em>reported during the first year of Compulsory Military Training that</p> <blockquote> <p>in a year’s time we shall see a great improvement in the appearance and physique of those who have never hitherto had any instruction in the art of bodily discipline and culture. The slouch and roll so much in vogue amongst a certain class of boys will have disappeared, we hope, and a manlier, firmer walk have taken their place. (December 1911, 171)</p> </blockquote> <p><em>The Newington</em> succinctly conveyed the hopes of all the private schools of Sydney, irrespective of denomination. </p> <p>Much has been written about the history of the cadet corps within the Australian historical literature. Craig Stockings’s <em>The Torch and the Sword</em> remains a seminal work in the field due to its broad focus on the general cadet movement in Australia. Beyond this, most scholarly works focus either on a specific cadet corps, specific location or region, specific theme, or on a specific period.<a href="#_edn1" name="_ednref1"><sup>1</sup></a> However, relatively scant attention has been paid to the importance of their uniforms, and when uniforms are mentioned, it is usually only briefly and in passing. Given the centrality of the uniform to the culture and identity of the cadet corps, this is a surprising gap in the scholarship that this article seeks to address.</p> <p>The military uniform is ‘a relatively recent phenomenon’ (Tynan and Godson 10). While uniforms appear as far back as antiquity, their widespread adoption over the last couple of centuries is due to a convergence of social norms and technology. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the increasing numbers of public servants meant that more civilians were uniformed whilst performing their duties (Williams-Mitchell 61). Tynan and Godson argue that ‘as state, society and nation converged towards the end of the nineteenth century uniform became part of a modern culture increasingly concerned with regulating time, space, and bodies’ (Tynan and Godson 6). The development of a regular military occurred within this space and can be seen as of part of the development of the stable nation state (Hackett 61). Standardisation of dress for large professional armies was enabled by technological developments brought about by the industrial revolution. Mass production of apparel meant that uniforms could be quickly produced and at a lower cost. In addition, the social culture of the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras in the British Empire was reflected in the material culture of their uniforms. During the First World War, military uniforms tended to be influenced by civilian fashion, while during the Second World War ‘a much more systematic approach to military uniforms could be seen’ (Craik 49).</p> <p>Uniforms have a psychological and social significance beyond identity. Uniforms legitimise the power of both the state and of the person wearing the uniform. The uniform seeks to overlay the image of the institution onto the person, obscuring the individual beneath. Uniforms have a power beyond just the outward appearance, they also affect us as individuals, shaping ‘how we are and how we perform our identities’ (Craik 4). This was recognised by utilitarian reformers at the turn of the twentieth century who ‘saw in the military body an efficiency that could usefully be transposed to civil society’ (Tynan and Godson 11), thereby shaping the populace’s inner as well as their outer selves (Craik 4). Further uniforms are about appearance, maintaining high standards of dress and a sense of belonging (Williams-Mitchell 111). Uniforms are instrumental in the creation of an <em>esprit de corps</em> (Langner 126). Being in the military is seen as more than an occupation, it is a vocation (Hackett 9), and to don a uniform communicates one’s sense of purpose. Part of this is achieved through the maintenance and correct wearing of the uniform, the discipline involved setting a moral high bar for others to measure themselves against.</p> <p>The use of school uniforms, particularly within the private school system, had been established by the end of the nineteenth century. While the addition of a military uniform for student cadets may at first seen incongruous, there are clear reasons why these uniforms would be appealing. Up to and during the First World War, British army officers were ‘still the preserve of young men of good social standing’ (Hackett 158), an association which no doubt appealed to schools whose remit was to prepare young men for leadership positions within society. Further, military uniforms were traditionally seen as an inherently <em>masculine</em> dress, with a ‘close fit between the attributes of normative <em>masculinity</em> as inscribed in uniform conduct and normative masculine roles and attributes’ (Craik 12-13). In Australia, wearing the cadet uniform elevated the schoolboy to a member of the Australian defence force and he was treated as such (Wise 132). As a symbol of government, the uniform endows the wearer with the authority of that same government (Langner 124).</p> <p>Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the various cadet corps that emerged from Sydney’s private schools were formed to fulfil a variety of middle-class priorities. But by the 1900s, rhetoric had shifted to emphasise that the cadets were instilling discipline into boys and preparing youth for the defence of Australia and the British Empire. They were also used as a means to express school pride and identity. The stern militarism surrounding most of the cadet activities allowed the instructors to impress upon cadets values of discipline, duty, and sacrifice and to promote romantic illusions of warfare, and, above all, the idea that war was an adventure. Cadets were also taught that their training was preparation for war. Rifle practice, drill, skirmishes, camps, hiding behind trees and running around hills to attack the enemy from behind, using bushes as cover to sneak up on the enemy (all while in uniform) – these were the tactics of modern warfare. And cadets were left in no doubt that they would become the officers of the nation’s defence forces when needed.</p> <p>Throughout the conduct of all of their activities, the cadet corps <em>uniform </em>served as a constant visual reminder of that message. Boys generally wore variations of dark green uniforms with a slouch hat, and at times carried rifles with either blank or live ammunition, depending on their purpose. Some schools used ethnic and cultural traditions and social links in the formation of their cadet corps which was also reflected by varieties in their uniforms. For example, the cadets at Scots College were sponsored by the New South Wales Scottish Rifles (later the 30th Battalion, New South Wales Scottish) and based its uniform on that of the Rifles. It consisted of a slouch hat with a red hackle and blue and gold puggaree, a serge jacket in the Scottish tradition, and kilts from the early 1900s until all uniforms became regulated under Compulsory Military Training in 1911.</p> <p>From the time a boy put on his cadet uniform to the time he took it off he was treated as part of Australia’s defence force, and no longer simply a student at school. The uniform, then, became the prominent visual marker of that shifting role and identity. J. McElhone of St. Joseph’s College wrote in the school magazine in March 1911 that ‘when we don our uniforms, and are armed with rifles, we shall then commence to take a soldierly pride in ourselves’. While in uniform the boys were expected to act like soldiers, and their instructors (also in uniform) treated them much like soldiers, with high standards of drill, discipline, and order maintained.</p> <p>Indeed, throughout the 1900s, the cadet corps commanded as much prestige as the rugby and rowing teams. Cleanliness, discipline, and good order during public parades were met with salutations and praise. Success in competitions with other schools in shooting or tug-of-war or other cadet activities was similarly recorded with pride. As with rugby or rowing, the honour of the school was at stake, a matter reflected in Sydney Grammar’s ruminations over the re-formation of its cadet corps in 1907. One of the school’s primary concerns was the risk of losing the honour of the school by having an unsuccessful and ill-disciplined company. <em>The Sydneian </em>reported in August 1907 that</p> <blockquote> <p>if a new S.G.S Cadet Corps should disgrace itself in public by slovenly drill, as it certainly would, if recruited from the “wasters” and little boys, then the Trustees would be blamed for taking a hasty step without gauging the real wishes of boys and parents … . Any New Cadet Corps must maintain the fine traditions of the old one. It must be the pride of the School – our chief object of out-door interest. All sports must give way to it, rather than that the corps, once formed, should fail.</p> </blockquote> <p>By the early 1900s Newington College and the Kings School both had reputations for the quality and conduct of their cadet corps and it was this reputation that schools such as Sydney Grammar hoped to emulate with the formation of their own cadet corps. The ‘wasters’ and the ‘little boys’ were not required. The cadet corps would bring honour to the school, the nation and empire. </p> <p>The peak expression of this pride came in wearing their uniform for public ceremonies. For example, at St. Ignatius College, the cadet corps served as a funeral cortège for the funeral of a master, Fr. Patrick Keating, in 1913.<a href="#_edn2" name="_ednref2"><sup>2</sup></a> The Newington cadet corps formed a Guard of Honour for the State Governor, Sir Harry Rawson, in 1905 (<em>The Newingtonian</em>, March 1905, 188). As the Guard of Honour the Newington College cadet corps’ duties were extended when they were required to fix bayonets in order to keep back the crowd from the main door of Sydney Town Hall where the Governor was inside (<em>The Newingtonian</em>, March 1905, 188). Whilst it may seem remarkable to have teenage boys keeping crowds back from the door with rifles with fixed bayonets, in the cadet corps of the 1900s this was expected when the circumstances required; the cadets were not looked upon as immature boys, but rather as responsible and disciplined soldiers, and they were thus treated accordingly. Great crowds lined Sydney’s streets to watch the Sydney private school cadet corps parade on special occasions, and, for many youth, being seen in uniform was an exciting and memorable experience. The experience of being one of the estimated eighteen thousand cadets who marched past the Governor-General, Lord Denman, on 30 March 1912 in Centennial Park, with parents, teachers, and government and military officials watching attentively would have been one of great pride (Naughtin 142).</p> <p>In formation at parades, the cadets were required to be in perfect order, buttons polished and shoes shining, as government and military officials inspected them and their uniforms. Boys without complete uniforms were not allowed to attend, as they would reduce the appearance of the company. Orders were given sharply by officers to fix and unfix bayonets, march in precise line, and perform specific manoeuvres, each carried out by the cadets, it was hoped, in unison. At times, the cadet corps throughout the private schools were addressed by the Inspector-General of the army, the Governor-General of Australia, or by their headmaster, each reminding them the responsibility that each one had to their cadet corps, to their school, and to their king and country. They were told that the many hours of drill required of them was teaching them the ‘very valuable and necessary lessons of life’ (<em>The Newingtonian</em>, December 1911, 171). They were told that to be effective soldiers they needed to be disciplined, do as they were told by their officers, and respond to orders swiftly. Thus, these cadets were learning not only the attributes of an officer, but of middle-class society in general: respect, presentation, and acceptance of the rules of society.</p> <p>The cadet corps uniform also helped reinforce notions of duty. Although, prior to 1911, the cadet corps were voluntary, private schools strongly urged all students to join as ‘no true Australian can fail to regard it as his duty to fit himself, as far as he is able, to be of service in the case of a call to defend his country’ (<em>The Torch-Bearer</em>, April 1908, 89). School magazines regularly reported on cadet activities throughout the 1900s and 1910s, including frequent references to the fine appearance. Certainly with boys practicing drill on football fields and outside class windows it must have been difficult for some of those boys who were not cadets not to notice, and be impressed by, the presence of one hundred of their fellow schoolmates carrying their rifles, in military uniform, and in perfect order.</p> <p>For the students who had joined the cadet corps this sense of duty became paramount. They were inundated with rhetoric praising their dedication to the cadet corps and the sacrifices they made by being a cadet. <em>The Sydneian </em>asked cadets to ‘consider your Corps first. It is your duty as “Soldiers of the King”’ (E.A.W. 19). <em>The Torch-Bearer </em>in April 1908 made a similar point:</p> <blockquote> <p>Every boy should remember that by becoming an <em>efficient </em>cadet he is carrying out a duty which he owes</p> <p>(1) to his country by rendering himself more capable of fighting in her defence.</p> <p>(2) to his school by helping to send out a corps that will do her as much credit as cricket and football teams and crews have done in the past.</p> <p>(3) to himself, by undergoing a training which will benefit him body and soul.<a href="#_edn3" name="_ednref3"><sup>3</sup></a></p> </blockquote> <p>Cadets absorbed this sense of duty, believing that they were honouring their school, their country, and the British Empire. Soldiers of the King they certainly believed they were, at least in the Protestant schools. The boys would be ‘toughened by a soldier’s hard training and learn to bear the pinch of sacrifice and bear it cheerfully’ <em>(The Torch-Bearer</em>, April 1911, 251), unlike their peers who had not joined the cadets who were regarded derisively as ‘civilians’ <em>(The Torch-Bearer</em>, October, 1908, 50).</p> <p>Thus, in an era of growing nationalism and militarism, the cadet corps of the private schools of Sydney grew as a symbol of middle-class values. The most immediate <em>visual</em> representation of that symbolism was the cadet corps uniform. When boys put on their uniform, they experienced a change in their demeanour, their identity, and their sense of duty. It had an instant impact on how they saw themselves, and how they were treated by others. These ideas were inculcated into boys throughout their training, and records from across the Sydney private schools suggest that the boys eagerly embraced those lessons. The cadet corps uniform, then, was a valuable tool in the moderation of behaviour and the instillation of core values.</p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Craik, Jennifer. <em>Uniforms Exposed</em>. Oxford: Berg, 2005.</p> <p>Crotty, Martin. <em>Making The Australian Male: Middle-Class Masculinity 1870-1920</em>. Carlton South: Melbourne UP, 2001.</p> <p>E.A.W. "The Cadet Corps." <em>The Sydneian </em>Dec. 1909: 18-23.</p> <p>Hackett, John. <em>The Profession of Arms</em>. London: Sidgwick &amp; Jackson, 1984.</p> <p>Langner, Lawrence. "Clothes and Government." <em>Dress, Adornment and the Social Order</em>. Eds. Mary Ellen Roach and Joanne Eicher. New York: John Wiley &amp; Sons, 1965.</p> <p>Naughtin, Michael. <em>A Century of Striving: St. Joseph's College, Hunter's Hill, 1881-1981</em>. Hunter's Hill, NSW: St. Joseph's College, 1981..</p> <p><em>Our Alma Mater. </em>St. Ignatius College magazine<em>. </em>Midwinter 1909.</p> <p><em>St Joseph's College Magazine</em>. Mar. 1911.</p> <p>Stockings, Craig. <em>The Torch and the Sword: A History of the Army Cadet Movement in Australia</em>. UNSW Press, 2007.</p> <p><em>The Newingtonian</em>. Newington College Magazine, Mar. 1905.</p> <p>———. December 1911</p> <p><em>The Sydneian</em>. "The Cadet Movement - Past and Present." Aug. 1907: 7-14.</p> <p>———. "Editorial: The Proposed Resucitation of the Cadet Corps." May 1900: 1-2.</p> <p><em>The Torch-Bearer</em>. Sydney Church of England Grammar School Magazine, Apr. 1908.</p> <p>———. Oct. 1908</p> <p>———. Apr. 1911</p> <p>Tynan, Jane, and Lisa Godson. "Understanding Uniform: An Introduction." <em>Uniform: Clothing and Discipline in the Modern World</em>. Eds. Jane Tynan and Lisa Godson. London: Bloomsbury, 2019.</p> <p>White, Richard. <em>Inventing Australia: Images and Identity 1688–1980</em>. Routledge, 2020.</p> <p>Williams-Mitchell, Christobel. <em>Dressed for the Job: The Story of Occupational Costume</em>. Poole, Dorset: Blandford Press, 1982.</p> <p>Wise, Nathan. "The Adventurous Cadet: Romanticism and Adventure in the Cadet Corps of the Private Schools of Sydney, 1901-1914." <em>Australian Folklore </em>29 (2014).</p> <h2><strong>Notes</strong></h2> <p><a href="#_ednref1" name="_edn1"><sup>1</sup></a> For several key examples focussing on this period see Martin Crotty, <em>Making the Australian Male;</em> Thomas W. Tanner, <em>Compulsory Citizen Soldiers</em> (Sydney: Alternative Publishing Co-Operative, 1980); David Jones, ‘The Military Use of Australian State Schools: 1872-1914’ (Ph.D. Thesis, La Trobe University, 1991); John Barrett, <em>Falling In – Australians and ‘Boy Conscription’, 1911-1915</em> (Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1979); Nathan Wise, ‘Playing Soldiers: Sydney Private School Cadet Corps and the Great War’ (<em>Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society</em> 96.2 (2010)); Nathan Wise, ‘The Adventurous Cadet: Romanticism and Adventure in the Cadet Corps of the Private Schools of Sydney, 1901-1914’ (<em>Australian Folklore</em> 29 (2014): 127-141).</p> <p><a href="#_ednref2" name="_edn2"><sup>2</sup></a> St. Ignatius College Archives, photo ‘Fr. Patrick Keating’s funeral leaving St. Mary’s, North Sydney, for Gore Hill Cemetary, 1913’.</p> <p><a href="#_ednref3" name="_edn3"><sup>3</sup></a> <em>The Torch-Bearer</em>, Sydney Church of England Grammar School Magazine, Apr. 1908: 90. <em>The Torch-Bearer</em> uses the double synonym that the cadet corps were both like a sporting team and a military unit. This supports an argument of D.J. Blair’s ‘Beyond the Metaphor: Football and War, 1914-1918’ in <em>The Journal of the Australian War Memorial</em> 28 (Apr. 1996) that sport, particularly team sports such as football, and war were very similar. Sport assisted in the creation of the ideal man, and one best suited for military training, as it enhanced values of ‘loyalty, courage, self-discipline, and teamwork’ that would be required in war. This argument is further supported by the competitive nature of the cadet corps as examined in chapter four.</p> Nathan Wise, Lisa J. Hackett Copyright (c) 2023 Nathan Wise, Lisa J. Hackett http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2972 Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 Trooping the (School) Colour https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2970 <h1>Introduction</h1> <p>Throughout the early and mid-twentieth century, cadet training was a feature of many secondary schools and educational establishments across Australia, with countless young men between the ages of 14 and 18 years of age undergoing military training, ostensibly in preparation for service in Australia’s armed forces upon their coming of age. Unlike earlier in the century, when cadet training was mandatory for all males within the relevant age range, during the Second World War cadet detachments could only be formed and maintained by secondary schools for pupils attending those schools. Additionally, the Australian Army provided so little financial support to school cadet detachments during the conflict that schools had to rely on the parents of their pupils to purchase their sons’ not inexpensive cadet uniforms, with a result that only a limited number of schools could afford to maintain a cadet detachment, and almost every schools that could do so made enrolment in their detachments voluntary for their pupils. Counterbalancing these material obstacles, however, was the threat of the ongoing conflict and the demands for trained soldiers both overseas and within Australia, which resulted in school cadet training becoming increasingly popular between 1939 and 1945, with many schools across Australia either establishing new cadet detachments or expanding their existing cadet detachments in order to contribute to their nation’s war effort.</p> <p>Not only did the Second World War increase the number of cadet detachments among educational establishments, but cadet training became more diverse and varied both within and between schools. Owing to their preoccupation with maintaining both the Australian Imperial Force and a defence force against a potential invasion of Australia, the Australian Army’s supervision of and contribution to cadet training became more sporadic than it had been in peacetime. As a result, school headmasters became increasingly powerful in their discretion to direct the cadet training that went on at their schools, with the Australian Army providing little to no input to or supervision of the day-to-day training at the myriad of cadet detachments across the nation. This state of affairs allowed schools, and the educators who ran them, an unprecedented amount of freedom to enact their own idealised version of military training through their cadet detachments, resulting in a diverse range of training syllabi, organisational practices, and uniforms. Unlike in other nations such as New Zealand, Australian schools’ cadet uniforms were not issued by the Australian Army, but instead were designed and purchased by the individual cadet detachments, with the Australian Army only providing official recognition and partial funding for the designs. Under this system, Australian schools designed a diverse range of uniforms for their cadet detachments, tailoring them to suit their individual conceptions of what cadet training should contain and how a cadet detachment should appear. This resulted in cadet detachments clad in uniforms that reflected the ideals of the schools to which they were attached, with the training practices and identities of a school reflected in the design of its cadet uniform. This article will examine two prevalent influences behind the design of Australian school cadet uniforms during the Second World War – the competing prioritisation of smartness and practicality, and the range of identities and loyalties which schools attempted to inculcate in their pupils. In the process, it will be argued that these variations in cadet uniform designs reflect the diversity of practices and ideology within male secondary education in Australia during the 1940s.</p> <h1>Uniforms for Purpose</h1> <p>Despite the limitations imposed by wartime shortages, a school’s priorities for their cadet training could still be expressed through their design of uniforms. For many, the range of priorities can be summarised as a split between smartness and toughness. Some establishments designed their cadet uniforms on traditional ideals of rigid sartorial orderliness, tailoring them to be pleasing to the eye when paraded in public. Others disregarded smartness in favour of hard-wearing uniforms more suited to rigorous physical training under a variety of climactic conditions, emphasising comfort and durability above appearance.</p> <p>Schools did not openly state that their choice of uniform was motivated by a desire to have their cadets appear impressive on the parade ground. However, many voiced their praise for their cadet detachments’ appearances in public parades. One example of this can be found in the June 1940 edition of <em>Terrace</em>, the magazine of Christian Brothers’ College Gregory Terrace, in which the cadet training column finished by proudly declaring that “the appearance of the cadets and their military bearing called forth expressions of praise from all who saw them marching in the Corpus Christi procession at NC” (“G.T. Corps Jottings” 5). Similar evidence of a school’s prioritisation of smartness and presentability in their cadet training can also be found in numerous contemporary descriptions of cadet training by the cadets themselves. One anonymous pupil at Sydney Church of England Grammar School described the hardships that the school’s cadets faced in maintaining their uniforms – a khaki combination of woollen slouch hat, tunic with brass buttons, brown leather ‘Sam Browne’ belt and trousers with a blue stripe down each leg. In a lengthy poem describing many aspects of school life, the pupil’s ‘Song of Shore’ described how “of each cadet the heart is set on being clean and smart; A fleck of dust, a speck of rust, will break his sergeant's heart” (‘A Song of Shore’ 131). These demands for cleanliness and smartness weighed heavily on a cadet, with the author lamenting how “he cleans his boots, he cleans his belt, he cleans his bits of brass: his Brasso goes to chapel and his Kiwi into class; but still they say, ‘Put it away! To Friday drill you go!’ And button-sticks in period six are dangerous things to show” (‘A Song of Shore’ 131). Given that this context of uniform maintenance is the only description of cadet training in this poem, the emphasis placed on sartorial orderliness at schools such as Sydney Church of England Grammar School was clearly strong enough to eclipse all other aspects of training in the eyes of those subjected to it.</p> <p>Uniforms designed to visually impress, however, often wore out quite quickly under the harsh conditions of cadet training. One cadet at Geelong College noted how after an afternoon of instruction on the school oval in “a comfortable spot in the rain and wind … my well-tailored uniform is sopping with either sweat or rain according to the consistent weather of these parts. My chin-strap has lost all its flavour and generally I feel most inefficient” (“Chank” 31). The short life of stylistically-prioritised uniforms was often exacerbated by the difficulty of obtaining replacement items of clothing under wartime conditions. In 1941, the cadet uniforms of Hale School, Western Australia – presented in fig. 1 and consisting of slouch hat, woollen khaki tunic, Khaki drill breeches and tall leather gaiters – had been reduced in number and quality to such an extent that one boy described the process of selecting uniforms at the beginning of each year as “scramble day”, when, “after trying on various clothing you begin to wonder how many deformed people were in the corps before you” (“Lance-Corporal” 96). The cadet elaborated by lamented how “pick[ing] out the right hat is like winning the Charities, and all you can do is to hope for the best next year” (“Lance-Corporal” 96), and “on being issued with your hat badge you will say confidently, ‘Well, at least this must fit.’ But don't be optimistic; it is sure to have the clip missing” (“Lance-Corporal” 97). The shortage of serviceable uniforms became so acute that by 1943 the annual ‘Cadet Notes’ article in the school’s magazine <em>The Cygnet</em> announced that “it would be greatly appreciated if Old Boys who have any part of a uniform, would make it available” (“Cadets” <em>Cygnet </em>20). This sentiment was echoed the following year by an anonymous cadet’s cartoon (fig. 2), highlighting the deplorable state of the school’s cadet uniforms after so many years of use, with frayed hems, baggy seams, and, most significantly, a severe shortage of sizes which fitted the average cadet (“Uniforms for ‘B’ Company” 74). This, when compared with the formal photographs of cadets published by the school in an earlier edition of the <em>Cygnet</em>, seen in fig. 1, gives a clear indication of the disparity between the image that schools intended to project and the and that which cadets perceived.</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/barnsdale-figure-1.png" alt="" width="1856" height="1375" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 1: Hale School cadet uniforms as presented by the school in 1939 (“Officers and N.C.Os.” 55)</em></p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/barnsdale-figure-2.png" alt="" width="561" height="500" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 2: Hale School cadet uniforms as perceived by a cadet in 1944 (“Uniforms for ‘B’ Company” 74)</em></p> <p>For many schools, however, the ideal cadet uniform was simple, easily-maintained and durable, often drawing inspiration from contemporary, rather than traditional, military uniforms. When designing a uniform for their newly-established cadet detachment in 1939, Brisbane Boys’ College stated categorically that “the first consideration was smartness” and that “the preservation of that smartness will be the duty of every cadet” (“Cadet Corps” 41). However, while other schools chose stiff and heavy woollen cadet uniforms, the committee appointed by the College to decide on a uniform opted for a light combination of felt hat, khaki drill jacket, and shorts, “similar in design to that of the Darwin Mobile Force”, a new Australian Army formation created the previous year intended to defend Australia’s northern coastline from invasion, “which looked so smart when that force marched through the city early in the year” (“Cadet Corps” 41-42). When further explaining their choice, the College argued that “shorts, we consider, are more serviceable for the Queensland climate” (“Cadet Corps” 42). Brisbane Boys’ College was not the only establishment to be impressed by new military formations and their heralding of a new form of warfare. Newcastle Boys’ High School’s cadet uniform deviated from those of other schools’ cadet detachments by including a navy blue beret in place of the ubiquitous felt ‘slouch hat’. This choice of headwear, coupled with the School’s unusual decision to replace the normal khaki items of clothing with a field grey battledress-style jacket and slacks, was so similar to that worn by the armoured divisions both in Australia and Britain that when the <em>Newcastle Sun</em> published a picture of four Newcastle cadets wearing their new uniforms, they jocularly warned their readers that “these are not members of the Tank Corps” (“High School Cadet Corps” 7). Evidently, while some schools opted for a more traditionally smart design for their cadet uniforms, others chose to emulate more modern military uniform designs, even to the point where their uniforms lost all similarity to those traditionally worn by cadet detachments in Australia.</p> <p>It was not through the emulation of contemporary Australian Army uniforms that schools implemented practical uniform components in place of stylish ones. When several independent Roman Catholic schools in New South Wales applied to form cadet units and intended to adopt cadet uniforms in a variety of colours with brimless, forage cap headdress, Australia’s Military Board directed Captain McConnel, the Staff Officer Commanding Senior Cadets for New South Wales, “to invite schools again to reconsider the uniforms they have submitted with a view to their adoption of the Australian Hat and Khaki materials” (McConnel 1). McConnel acknowledged that “particular uniforms are not stipulated”, but claimed “khaki to be most suitable and economical for field training while the Australian Hat gives greater protection from the sun”, which was a factor of “considerable importance” as “work in the open is one of the main objects of cadet training” (McConnel 1). However, despite McConnel’s emphatic pleas to the institutions to reconsider their uniforms, only two of the eleven schools chose to alter their uniforms to suit the Military Board’s recommendations. The remainder either compromised by retaining their forage caps but adopting McConnel’s recommendation of using khaki material for their uniforms, or, as was the case with Marist Brothers’ High School, Darlinghurst, wrote in response to McConnel’s letter stating that they found “no reason for altering the design initially submitted”, and persisted with their application (Frederic 1). This case demonstrates that while dispassionate logic could motivate schools to design practical uniforms resistant to the wear and tear produced by strenuous outdoor cadet training in the Australian climate, these considerations were often outweighed by the subjective ideological motivations behind educators’ desires to adopt attractively smart cadet uniforms that were expensive and ill-suited to physical training. Evidently, educators’ personal desires to make their cadets, and as a result their schools, appear impressively smart and orderly were a powerful motivation behind not only their choice of uniform but also their support for cadet training in its entirety. These motivations could and frequently did outweigh practical considerations, to the point where the appearance of a cadet detachment, and thereby that of the cadet detachment’s school, was considered more important than the training it provided.</p> <h1>Uniforms as Identity</h1> <p>The division between concepts of cadet training held by the Australian Army and the highly diverse forms of training practiced by individual schools extended beyond differences of opinion over the relative merits of smartness and practicality expressed by cadet uniforms. A cadet uniform not only reflected educators’ intentions regarding the contents of their training, but also reflected the values of the group identity they wished to immerse their boys in, and the overarching group to which this identity owed its loyalty. The best example of uniforms reflecting a cadet detachment’s loyalty can be seen in the widespread adoption of uniforms that emulated Australian Army uniforms almost exactly. Although Australian cadet detachments were not issued with official Service Dress uniforms until 1945, many detachments’ uniforms emulated the Service Dress’s design and material down to the ubiquitous wide-brimmed ‘slouch hat’ or ‘Australian hat’ worn by the Australian Army in both the First and Second World Wars. Brother RJ McCartney, “the nominal C.O.” of the cadet detachment at Christian Brothers’ College Ipswich, specifically described his detachment’s uniform to the <em>Queensland Times</em> in 1944 as “similar to that issued to Army personnel” after declaring that “the training [cadets] receive will be most useful to them should they join one of the fighting forces later” (“95 Boys” 2). The popularity of this design cannot be attributed solely to the arguments made by the Military Board for its practicality, and the symbolic power of these uniforms raised the cadet detachments from insular, extra-curricular organisations to a unified whole, connected to the Commonwealth’s war effort through their uniforms and the martial identities they espoused.</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/barnsdale-figure-3.png" alt="" width="344" height="351" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 3: A contemporary drawing of Brisbane Boys’ College cadet badge from 1939 (“Cadet Corps” 42)</em></p> <p>Not all Australian educational establishments, however, chose to emulate the Australian Army uniform in their cadet detachments’ uniforms, with many adopting uniforms that emphasised school or local identities above national identity. Most schools expressed their local identity through the implementation of school colours in their hat bands or ‘puggaree’ or designed insignia for their cadet uniforms based on school insignia. The cadet detachment at Brisbane Boys College adopted a badge that was nearly identical to the College badge, seen in fig. 3, albeit with a crown in place of the book (“Cadet Corps” 42). This alteration brought the design into alignment with common practice in military insignia, but it could also be viewed as symbolic representation of the difference between the College and the cadet detachment – whereas the College’s primary objective was to educate, the cadet detachment’s objective was to instil a sense of patriotism and duty.</p> <p>The most prominent examples of schools deviating in this manner can be found among Presbyterian schools, many of which chose to emphasise their Scottish ancestry instead of their Australian nationality. One such school was Scotch College in Claremont, Western Australia, where in August 1939, after “several unsuccessful attempts to secure a uniform dress for the cadets”, “the corps fitted out with uniforms which made the boys look like trained soldiers … which consisted of a Cameron kilt, with a kangaroo-skin sporran, a khaki tunic and glengarrie [<em>sic</em>]” (“Cadets” <em>Scotch</em> 16), which gave the detachment the appearance of a highland regiment of the British Army. After being issued with their new uniforms and instructed on their wearing, an event that was satirically recalled later that year by a cadet asking the headmaster what was worn beneath the kilt, the cadets were addressed by the school’s headmaster Mr Anderson, who “mention[ed] the fine example set by our predecessors, which example, he knew, we would endeavour to live up to” (“Cadets” <em>Scotch</em> 16).</p> <p>A similar uniform was worn by The Scots College, Sydney, prior to and during the Second World War. The College’s cadet uniform, shown in fig. 4, was just as rife with Scottish motifs as the uniform of Scotch College, including a kilt which one anonymous cadet described as “eleven yards of pleats, folds, buckles, buttons and straps all mixed up” (“C.S.R., IVa” 91). The Scots College’s uniform incorporated more colonial aspects than their West Australian contemporary’s uniform, however, with the glengarry and khaki tunic replaced by a Blancoed-white pith helmet and dark green standing-collared jacket with hooks and eyes that, according to the anonymous cadet, “were typically scotch”, in that “they would not give in” (“C.S.R., IVa” 91). Despite the free issue of Service Dress by the Australian Army in 1945, the College maintained its distinctly Scottish cadet uniform, albeit with the pith helmet replaced by a glengarry cap. So strong was the College’s prioritisation of its colonial ancestral identity above any contemporary Australian national identity that the <em>Sun </em>newspaper described them as “Black Watch juniors” when publishing a photograph of them parading “in support of the War Loan Campaign” in October 1941, seen in fig. 4 (“Black Watch Juniors” 3). Although these schools formed the minority in espousing divergent local identities above a centralised national identity, is these exceptions to the broad consensus which reflect the diverse nature of not only cadet training but secondary education within Australia in the first half of the twentieth century. Furthermore, this diversity was only revealed due to the refusal of the Australian Army to issue free uniforms to cadet detachments, with the resulting absence of a centralised identity leading to a vacuum in which schools decided upon an identity with which to imbue their pupils through the medium of cadet uniforms.</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/barnsdale-4.png" alt="" width="602" height="365" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 4: The Scots College cadets parading through Sydney, as presented by the Sun (“Black Watch Juniors” 3).</em></p> <h1>Conclusion</h1> <p>The Australian Army’s refusal to issue a free, standardised cadet uniform to secondary school cadet detachments prevented many educational establishments from establishing their own cadet detachment. However, this policy allowed those schools that did establish a detachment to clothe their members in a manner that they believed would align with the school’s unique conceptions of both what cadet training should consist of and how a cadet detachment should be presented to the world. As a result of this freedom, Australian secondary school cadet uniforms were influenced by a wide range of practical and ideological factors, with a diverse range of uniform designs reflecting an equally diverse range of thinking around cadet training. Some schools preferred a cadet uniform to be tough and suited to strenuous outdoor use under harsh climatic conditions, with Brisbane Boys’ College modelling their uniform after the recently-formed Darwin Mobile Force and incorporating shorts and a wide-brimmed Australian hat of the type recommended by the Australian Army for its value in shielding its wearer from the sun. Other cadet uniforms, such as those adopted by many Roman Catholic schools in Sydney, emphasised sartorial orderliness and visual splendour, incorporating unusual colours and forage caps to showcase their cadets and their school while emphasising their institutions’ individuality, against the Australian Army’s recommendations for durability and practicality. Similarly, a school’s cadet uniform could reflect its ideological objectives, revealing the identity it aimed to immerse its pupils in. The wide range of schools’ cadet uniform headdress alone, from ‘slouch hats’ to glengarry and forage caps to pith helmets, reveals the many split loyalties and ideals held by Australian schools during the Second World War between imperial, national, local, and religious identities and ethos. However, despite Australian Schools’ diverse and meticulously curated choices in cadet uniforms, cadets’ contemporary descriptions of their uniforms reveal that the intentions behind the uniforms’ designs were often entirely lost on those who wore them. Many cadets overlooked the lofty educational and ideological intentions behind their educators’ choices and instead only took note of their ridiculous, impractical, and uncomfortable aspects. This difference in perception, with educators praising and pupils decrying their cadet uniforms, reveals the performative nature of the entire uniform design process, with schools designing their cadet detachments’ uniforms not for those wearing them but for any third party who might view them. As such, schools’ overtures regarding the practicality, smartness and identity of their uniforms were not the result of the schools’ established practices, but the values with which the schools wished to be associated, with cadet uniforms acting as the medium through which these values would be communicated to the wider world.</p> <h2>Images</h2> <p>“Black Watch Juniors in City Parade.” <em>The</em> <em>Sun</em> 10 Oct. 1941: 3.</p> <p>“Officers and N.C.Os. of the Cadet Corps, 1939.” <em>The Cygnet: Hale School Magazine</em> 19.3 (June 1939): 55.</p> <p>“Uniforms for ‘B’ Company. Only Two Sizes 2 Large OR 2 Small.” <em>The</em> <em>Cygnet</em><em>: Hale School Magazine</em> 14.4 (June 1944): 74.</p> <h2>References</h2> <p>“A Song of Shore” <em>The</em> <em>Torch-Bearer: The Magazine of the Sydney Church of England Grammar School</em> 43.2 (1 Sep. 1939): 130-131.</p> <p>“Cadets.” <em>The</em> <em>Cygnet: Hale School Magazine</em> 13.3 (June 1943): 19-20.</p> <p>“Cadets.” <em>The Scotch College Reporter</em> 32 (Dec. 1939): 16-17.</p> <p>“Cadet Corps.” <em>The Portal: The Magazine of the Brisbane Boys’ College</em> Dec. 1939: 41-43.</p> <p>“Chank”; “A Day in the Ranks.” <em>The</em> <em>Pegasus: The Journal of The Geelong College</em> 37.1 (June 1946): 30-31.</p> <p>“C.S.R., IVa”; “A Bonny Wee Scotsman.” <em>The Scotsman: A Record of The Scots College, Bellevue Hill, Sydney</em> 32.3 (May 1946): 91.</p> <p>“G.T. Corps Jottings.” <em>Terrace: Quarterly Review, Published by Christian Brothers’ College Gregory Terrace, Brisbane, Queensland</em> 3.2 (24 June 1940): 5.</p> <p>“High School Cadet Corps.” <em>The Newcastle Sun</em> 4 June 1940: 7.</p> <p>“Lance-Corporal”; “Scramble Day.” <em>The</em> <em>Cygnet: Hale School Magazine</em> 13 (5 June 1941): 96-97.</p> <p>“95 Boys Receive Training in School Cadet Corps.” <em>The</em> <em>Queensland Times</em> 21 Aug. 1944: 2.</p> <h2>Memoranda</h2> <p>Brother Frederic to Captain McConnel. “Cadets – Educational establishments – Approval to form senior cadet detachments – Roman Catholic schools.” 7 April 1941. Australian War Memorial, Ref. AWM61 426/2/176.</p> <p>Captain McConnel to Director CBC Waverley, CBC Lewisham, CBC Darlinghurst, MBC Darlinghurst, MBC Randwick, MBC Kogarah, MBC Parramatta, MBC Church Hill, DLSC Ashfield, DLSC Marrickville, HCC Ryde, SJC Hunter's Hill. “Cadets – Educational establishments – Approval to form senior cadet detachments – Roman Catholic schools.” 13 March 1941. Australian War Memorial, Ref. AWM61 426/2/176.</p> Liam Barnsdale Copyright (c) 2023 Liam Barnsdale http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2970 Tue, 14 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 The Blue Beret https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2969 <p>When we think of United Nations (UN) peacekeepers, the first image that is conjured in our mind is of an individual sporting a blue helmet or a blue beret (fig. 1). While simple and uncomplicated, these blue accessories represent an expression and an embodiment resembling that of a warrior, sent to bring peace to conflict-torn communities. UN peacekeeping first conceptually emerged in 1948 in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war that ensued following the United Kingdom’s relinquishing of its mandate over Palestine, and the proclamation of the State of Israel. “Forged in the crucible of practical diplomacy” (Rubinstein 16), unarmed military observers were deployed to Palestine to monitor the hostilities and mediate armistice agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbours. This operation, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), significantly exemplified the diplomatic and observational capabilities of military men, in line with the UN Charter’s objectives of international peace and security, setting henceforth a basic archetype for international peacekeeping. It was only in 1956, however, that peacekeeping formally emerged when armed UN forces deployed to Egypt to supervise the withdrawal of forces occupying the Suez Canal (informally known as the ‘Second Arab-Israeli’ war). Here, the formation of UN peacekeeping represented an international pacifying mechanism comprised of multiple third-party intermediaries whereby peaceful resolution would be achieved by transcending realist instincts of violence for political attainment in favour of applying a less-destructive liberal model of persuasion, compromise, and perseverance (Howard). ‘Blue helmet’ peacekeeping operations continue to be regarded by the UN as an integral subsidiary instrument of its organisation. At present, there are 12 active peacekeeping operations led by the UN Department of Peacekeeping across the world (United Nations Peacekeeping).</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/strungaru-figure-1.jpg" alt="" width="546" height="364" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 1: United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) sporting blue berets (<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-troops-awarded-un-medals-for-south-sudan-peacekeeping-mission">https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-troops-awarded-un-medals-for-south-sudan-peacekeeping-mission</a>)</em></p> <p>But where did the blue helmets and berets originate from? Rubinstein details a surprisingly mundane account of the origins of the political accessory that is now a widely recognised symbol for UN peacekeepers’ uniforms. Peacekeepers’ uniforms initially emerged from the <em>ad hoc</em> need to distinguish UN troops from those of the armed forces in a distinctive dress during the 1947 UNTSO mission by any means and material readily available, such as armbands and helmets (Henry). The era of early peacekeeping operations also saw ‘observers’ carry UN flags and paint their vehicle white with ‘UN’ written in large black letters in order to distinguish themselves. The blue helmets specifically came to be adorned during the first peacekeeping operation in 1956 during the Suez crisis. At this time, Canada supplied a large number of non-combatant troops whose uniform was the same as the belligerent British forces, party to the conflict. An effort to thus distinguish the peacekeepers was made by spray-painting surplus World War II American plastic helmet-liners, which were available in quantity in Europe, blue (Urquhart; Rubenstein).</p> <p>The two official colours of the UN are ‘light blue’ and ‘white’. The unique light “UN” blue colour, in particular, was approved as the background for the UN flag in the 1947 General Assembly Resolution 167(II), alongside a white emblem depicting a map of the world surrounded by two olive branches. While the UN’s use of the colour was chosen as a “practical effect of identifying the Organization in areas of trouble and conflict, to any and all parties concerned”, the colour blue was also specifically chosen at this time as “an integral part of the visual identity of the organisation” representing “peace in opposition to red, for war” (United Nations). Blue is seen to be placed in antithesis to the colour red across several fields including popular culture, and even within politics, as a way to typically indicate conflict between two warring groups. Within popular culture, for example, many films in the science fiction, fantasy, or horror genres, use a clearly demarcated, dichotomous ‘red vs. blue’ colour scheme in their posters (fig. 2). This is also commonly seen in political campaign posters, for example during the 2021 US presidential election (fig. 3).</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/strungaru-figure-2.png" alt="" width="1856" height="917" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 2: Blue and red colour schemes in film posters (left to right: </em>Star Wars: The Force Awakens<em> (2015), </em>Captain Marvel<em> (2019), and </em>The Dead Don’t Die<em> (2019))</em></p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/strungaru-figure-3.png" alt="" width="540" height="304" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 3: Biden (Democratic party) vs. Trump (Republican party) US presidential election (<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-15/us-election-political-parties-explained-democrats-vs-republicans/12708296">https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-15/us-election-political-parties-explained-democrats-vs-republicans/12708296</a>)</em></p> <p>This dichotomy can be traced back to the high Middle Ages between the fourteenth and seventeenth century where the colour blue became a colour associated with “moral implications”, rivalling both the colours black and red which were extremely popular in clothing during the eras of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance (Pastoureau 85). This ‘moral metamorphosis’ in European society was largely influenced by the views of Christian Protestant reformers concerning the social, religious, and artistic use of the colour blue (Pastoureau). A shift in the use of blue and its symbolic connotations may also be seen, for example, in early Christian art and iconography, specifically those deriving from depictions of the Virgin Mary; according to Pastoureau (50), this provides the “clearest illustration of the social, religious, and artistic consequences of blue's new status”.</p> <p>Up until the eighteenth century, the colour blue, specifically ‘sky blue’ or light blue tones resemblant of the “UN” shade of blue, had minimal symbolic or aesthetic value, particularly in European culture and certainly amongst nobility and the upper levels of society. Historically, light blue was typically associated with peasants’ clothing. This was due to the fact that peasants would often dye their clothes using the pigment of the woad herb; however, the woad would poorly penetrate cloth fibres and inevitably fade under the effects of sunlight and soap, thereby resulting in a ‘bland’ colour (Pastoureau). Although the blue hues worn by the nobility and wealthy were typically denser and more solid, a “new fashion” for light blue tones gradually took hold at the courts of the wealthy and the bourgeoisie, inevitably becoming deeply anchored in Western European counties (Pastoureau). Here, the reorganisation of the colour hierarchy and reformulation of <em>blue</em> certainly resembles Pastoureau’s (10) assertion that “any history of colour is, above all, a social history”. Within the humanities, colour represents a social phenomenon and construction. Colour thus provides insights into the ways society assigns meaning to it, “constructs its codes and values, establishes its uses, and determines whether it is acceptable or not” (Pastoureau, 10). In this way, although colour is a naturally occurring phenomenon, it is also a complex cultural construct. That the UN and its subsidiary bodies, including the Department of Peacekeeping, deliberately assigned light blue as its official organisational colour therefore usefully illustrates a significant social process of meaning-making and cultural sociology. The historical transition of light blue’s association from one of poverty in and around the eighteenth century to one of wealth in the nineteenth century may perhaps also be indicative of the next transitional era for light blue in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, representative of the amalgamation or unity between the two classes. Representing the ambitions not only of the organisation, but rather of the 193 member-states, of attaining worldwide peace, light blue may be seen as a colour of peace, as well as one of the people, for the people. This may be traced back, according to Pastoureau, as early as the Middle Ages where the colour blue was seen a colour of ‘peace’.</p> <p>Colours, however, do not solely determine social and cultural relevance in a given historical event. Rather, fabrics and clothing too offer “the richest and most diverse source of artifacts” in understanding history and culture. Artifacts such as UN peacekeepers’ blue berets and helmets necessarily incorporate economic, social, ideological, aesthetic, and symbolic aspects of both colour and material into the one complete uniform (Pastoureau). While the ‘UN blue’ is associated with peace, the beret, on the other hand, has been described as “an ally in the battlefield” (Kliest). The history of the beret is largely rooted in the armed forces – institutions typically associated with conflict and violence – and it continues to be a vital aspect of military uniforms worn by personnel from countries all around the globe. Given that the large majority of UN peacekeeping forces are made up of military personnel, peacekeeping, as both an action and an institution, thus adds a layer of complexity when discussing artifact symbolism. Here, a peacekeeper’s uniform uniquely represents the embodiment of an amalgamation of two traditionally juxtaposing concepts: peace, nurture, and diplomacy (often associated with ‘feminine’ qualities) versus conflict, strength, and discipline (often associated with ‘masculine’ qualities). A peacekeeper’s uniform thus represents the UN’s institutionalisation of “soldiers for peace” (Howard) who are, as former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold proclaimed, “the front line of a moral force” (BBC cited in Howard). Aside from its association with the armed forces, the beret has also been used as a fashion symbol by political revolutionaries, such as members of the ‘Black Panther Party’ (BPP) founded in the 1960s during the US Civil Rights Movement, as well as Che Guevara, prominent Leftist figure in the Cuban Revolution (see fig. 4). For, Rosabelle Forzy, CEO of beret and headwear fashion manufacturing company ‘Laulhère’, the beret is “emblematic of non-conformism … worn by people who create, commit, militate, and resist” (Kliest).</p> <p><strong><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/strungaru-figure-4.png" alt="" width="1856" height="918" /></strong></p> <p><em>Fig. 4: Berets worn by political revolutionaries (Left to right: Black Panthers Party (BPP) protesting outside of a New York courthouse (<a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2988897/Black-Panther-double-cop-killer-sues-freedom-plays-FLUTE-Murderer-demands-parole-changed-fury-victim-s-widow.html">https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2988897/Black-Panther-double-cop-killer-sues-freedom-plays-FLUTE-Murderer-demands-parole-changed-fury-victim-s-widow.html</a>), and portrait of Che Guevara)</em></p> <p>In a way, the UN’s ‘blue beret’ too bears a ‘non-conformist’ visage as its peacekeepers neither fit categorisations as ‘revolutionaries’ nor as traditional ‘soldiers’. Peacekeepers personify a cultural phenomenon that operates in a complex environment (Rubinstein). While peacekeepers retain their national military (usually camouflage) uniforms during missions, the UN headwear is a symbol of non-conformity in response to sociological preconceptions regarding military culture. In the case of peacekeeping, the implementation and longevity of peacekeepers’ uniforms has occurred through a process of what Rubinstein (50) refers to as ‘cultural’ or ‘symbolic inversion’ wherein traditional notions of military rituals and symbolism have been appropriated or ‘inverted’ and given a new meaning by the UN. In other words, the UN promotes the image of soldiers acting without the use of force in service of peace in order to encode an image of a “world transformed” through the contribution of peacekeeping toward the “elaboration of an image of an international community acting in a neutral, consensual manner” (Rubinstein, 50). Cultural inversion therefore creates a socio-political space wherein normative representations are reconfigured and conditioned as acceptable. Rubinstein argues, however, that the UN’s need to integrate individuals with such diverse backgrounds and perceptions into a collective peacekeeper identity can be problematic. Rubinstein (72) adds that the blue beret is the “most obvious evidence” of an ordinary symbol investing ‘legitimacy’ in peacekeeping through ritual repetition which still holds its cultural relevance to the present day.</p> <p>Arguably, institutional uniforms are symbols which profoundly shape human experience, validating contextual action according to the symbol’s meanings relevant to those wearing it. In this way, uniform symbolism not only allows us to make sense of our daily experiences, but allows us to construct and understand our identities and our interactions with others who are also part of the symbolic culture we are situated in. Consider, for example, a police officer. A police officer’s uniform not only grants them membership to the policing institution but also necessarily grants them certain powers, privileges, and jurisdictions within society which thereby impact on the way they see the world and interact with it. Necessarily, the social and cultural identity one acquires from wearing a specific uniform only effectively functions by “investing differences”, however large or small, into these symbols that “distinguish us from others” (Rubinstein, 74). For example, a policeman’s badge is a signifier that they are, in fact, part of an exclusive group that the majority of the citizenry are not. To this extent, the use of uniforms is not without its controversies or without the capacity to be misused as a tool of discrimination in a ‘them’ versus ‘us’ scenario. Referring to case regarding the beret, for example, in 2000 then US Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shineski, announced that the black beret – traditionally worn exclusively by specialised US Army units such as ‘Rangers’ – would become a standardised part of the US Army uniform for all soldiers and would denote a “symbol of unity”. General Shineski’s decision for the new headgear symbolised “the half-million-strong army’s transition to a lighter, more agile force that can respond more rapidly to distant trouble spots” (Borger). This was, however, met with angry backlash particularly from the Rangers who stated that they “were being robbed of a badge of pride” as “the beret is a symbol of excellence … that is not to be worn by everybody” (Borger). Responses to the proposition pointed to the problem of ‘low morale’ that the military faced, which could not be fixed just by “changing hats” (Borger).</p> <p>In this case, the beret was identified and isolated as a tool for coordinating perceptions (Rubinstein, 78). Here, the use of uniforms is as much about being external identifiers and designating a group from another as it is about sustaining a group by means of perpetuating what Rubinstein conceptualises as ‘self-legitimation’. This occurs in order to ensure the survival of a group and is similarly seen as occurring within UN peacekeeping (Joseph &amp; Alex). Within peacekeeping the blue beret is an effective symbol used to perpetuate self-legitimacy across various levels of the UN which construct systems, or a ‘community’, of reinforcement largely rooted on organisational models of virtue and diplomacy. In the broadest sense, the UN promotes “a unique responsibility to set a global standard” in service to creating a unified and pacific world order (Guterres). As an integral instrument of international action, peacekeeping is, by extension, necessarily conditioned and supported by this cultural model whereby the actions of individual peacekeepers are strategically linked to the symbolic capital at the broadest levels of the organisation to manage the organisation’s power and legitimacy.</p> <p>The image of the peacekeeper, however, is fraught with problems and, as such, UN peacekeepers’ uniforms represent discrepancies and contradictions in the UN’s mission and organisational culture, particularly with relation to the UN’s symbolic construction of community and cooperation amongst peacekeepers. Given that peacekeeping troops are made up of individuals from different ethnic, cultural, and professional backgrounds, conditions for cultural interaction become challenging, if not problematic, and may necessarily lead to cross-cultural misunderstandings, miscommunication, and conflict. This applies to the context of peacekeeper deployment to host nations amongst local communities with whom they are also culturally unfamiliar (Rubinstein, "Intervention"). According to Rubinstein ("Intervention", 528), such operations may “create the conditions under which criminal activities or the institution of neo-colonial relationships can emerge”. Moncrief adds to this by also suggesting that a breakdown in conduct and discipline during missions may also contribute to peacekeepers engaging in violence during missions. Consequently, multiple cases of misdemeanour by UN peacekeepers have been reported across the years including peacekeeper involvement in bribery, weapons trading, and gold smuggling (Escobales). One of the most notorious acts of misconduct and violence that continues to be reported in the present day, however, is of peacekeepers perpetrating sexual exploitation and abuse against host women and children. Between 2004 and 2016, for example, “the UN received almost 2,000 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse” (Essa). According to former chief of operations at the UN’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre, Andrew Macleod, this figure may be, however, much more disturbing, estimating in general that approximately “60,000 rapes had been carried out by UN staff in the past decade” (Zeffman). An article in the <em>Guardian</em> reported that a</p> <blockquote> <p>12-year-old girl had been hiding in a bathroom during a house search in a Muslim enclave of the capital, Bangui [in the Central African Republic] … . A man allegedly wearing the blue helmet and vest of the UN peacekeeping forces took her outside and raped her behind a truck. (Smith &amp; Lewis)</p> </blockquote> <p>In the article, the assailant’s uniform (“the blue helmet and vest”) is not only described as literal imagery to contextualise the grave crime that was committed against the child. In evoking the image of the blue helmet and vest, the author highlights the uniform as a symbolic tool of power which was misused to perpetuate harm against the vulnerable civilian ‘other’. In this scenario, like many others, rather than representing peace and hope, the blue helmet (or beret) instead illustrates the contradictions of the UN peacekeeper’s uniform. Here, the uniform has consequently come to be associated as a symbol of violence, fear, and most significantly, betrayal, for the victim(s) of the abuse, as well as for much of the victim’s community. This discrepancy was also highlighted in a speech presented by former Ambassador of the UK Mission to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, who stated that “when a girl looks up to a blue helmet, she should do so not in fear, but in hope”. For many peacekeepers perpetrating sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly transactional sex, however, they “do not see themselves as abusing women”. This is largely to do with the power and privileges peacekeepers are afforded, such as ‘immunity’ – that is, a peacekeeper is granted immunity from trial or prosecution for criminal misconduct by the host nation’s judicial system. Over the years, scholarly research regarding peacekeepers’ immunity has highlighted a plethora of organisational problems within the UN, including lack of perpetrator accountability, and internal investigation or follow-up. More so, it has undoubtedly “contributed to a culture of individuals committing sexual violence knowing that they will get away with it” (Freedman). When a peacekeeper wears their uniform, they are thus imbued with the power and charged with the responsibility to properly embody and represent the values of the UN; “if [peacekeepers] don’t understand how powerful a position they are in, they will never understand what they do is actually wrong” (Elks).</p> <p>As such, unlike other traditional institutional uniforms, such as that of a soldier or a police officer, a peacekeeper’s uniform stands out as an enigma. One the one hand, peacekeepers channel the peaceful and passive organisational values of the UN by wearing the blue beret or helmet, whilst at the same time, they continue to sport the national military body uniform of their home country. Questions pertaining to the peacekeeper’s uniform arise and require further exploration: how can peacekeepers disassociate from their disciplined military personas and learnt combat skills if they continue to wear military camouflage during peacekeeping missions? Is the addition of the blue beret or helmet enough to reconfigure the body of the peacekeeper from one of violence, masculinity, and offence to that of peace, nurture, and diplomacy? Certainly, a range of factors are pertinent to an understanding of peacekeepers’ behaviour and group culture. But whether these two opposing identities can cohesively create or reconstitute a third identity using the positive skills and attributes of both juxtaposing institutions remains elusive. Nonetheless, the blue beret is a symbol of international hope, not only for vulnerable populations, but also for the world population collectively, as it represents neutral third-party member states working together to rebuild the world through non-combative means.</p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Borger, Julian. “Elite Forces Fear the Coming of the Egalitarian Beret.” <em>The Guardian</em> 19 Oct. 2000. &lt;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/oct/19/julianborger">https://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/oct/19/julianborger</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Elks, Sonia. “Haitians Say Underaged Girls Were Abused by U.N. Peacekeepers.” <em>Reuters </em>19 Dec. 2019. &lt;<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-haiti-women-peacekeepers-idUSKBN1YM27W">https://www.reuters.com/article/us-haiti-women-peacekeepers-idUSKBN1YM27W</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Escobales, Roxanne. “UN Peacekeepers 'Traded Gold and Guns with Congolese rebels'.” <em>The Guardian </em>28 Apr. 2008. &lt;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/apr/28/congo.unitednations">https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/apr/28/congo.unitednations</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Essa, Azad. “Why Do Some Peacekeepers Rape? The Full Report.” <em>Al Jazeera </em>10 Aug. 2017. &lt;<a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2017/8/10/why-do-some-peacekeepers-rape-the-full-report">https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2017/8/10/why-do-some-peacekeepers-rape-the-full-report</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Freedman, Rosa. “Why Do peacekeepers Have Immunity in Sex Abuse Cases?” <em>CNN </em>25 May 2015. &lt;<a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/22/opinions/freedman-un-peacekeepers-immunity/index.html">https://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/22/opinions/freedman-un-peacekeepers-immunity/index.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Guterres, António. <em>Address to High-Level Meeting on the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.</em> United Nations. 18 Sep. 2017. &lt;<a href="https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2017-09-18/secretary-generals-sea-address-high-level-meeting">https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2017-09-18/secretary-generals-sea-address-high-level-meeting</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Henry, Charles P. <em>Ralph Bunche: Model Negro or American Other?</em> New York: New York UP, 1999.</p> <p>Howard, Lise Morjé. <em>Power in Peacekeeping. </em>Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2019.</p> <p>Joseph, Nathan, and Nicholas Alex. "The Uniform: A Sociological Perspective." <em>American Journal of Sociology</em> 77.4 (1972): 719-730.</p> <p>Kliest, Nicole. “Why the Beret Never Goes Out of Style.” <em>TZR </em>6 April 2021. &lt;<a href="https://www.thezoereport.com/fashion/history-berets-hat-trend">https://www.thezoereport.com/fashion/history-berets-hat-trend</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Rubinstein, Robert A. "Intervention and Culture: An Anthropological Approach to Peace Operations." <em>Security Dialogue</em> 36.4 (2005): 527-544. DOI: <a href="https://doi-org.ezproxy.une.edu.au/10.1177/0967010605060454">10.1177/0967010605060454</a>.</p> <p>———. <em>Peacekeeping under Fire: Culture and Intervention</em>. Routledge, 2015.</p> <p>Rycroft, Matthew. "When a Girl Looks Up to a Blue Helmet, She Should Do So Not in Fear, But in Hope." 10 Mar. 2016. &lt;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/when-a-girl-looks-up-to-a-blue-helmet-she-should-do-so-not-in-fear-but-in-hope">https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/when-a-girl-looks-up-to-a-blue-helmet-she-should-do-so-not-in-fear-but-in-hope</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Smith, David, and Paul Lewis. "UN Peacekeepers Accused of Killing and Rape in Central African Republic." <em>The Guardian </em>12 Aug. 2015. &lt;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/11/un-peacekeepers-accused-killing-rape-central-african-republic">https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/11/un-peacekeepers-accused-killing-rape-central-african-republic</a>&gt;.</p> <p>United Nations. :United Nations Emblem and Flag." N.d. &lt;<a href="https://www.un.org/en/about-us/un-emblem-and-flag">https://www.un.org/en/about-us/un-emblem-and-flag</a>&gt;.</p> <p>United Nations Peacekeeping. “Where We Operate.” N.d. &lt;<a href="https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/where-we-operate">https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/where-we-operate</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Urquhart, Brian. <em>Ralph Bunche: An American Life</em>. New York: W.W. Norton &amp; Co. 1993.</p> <p>Zeffman, Henry. “Charity Sex Scandal: UN Staff ‘Responsible for 60,000 rapes in a Decade’.” <em>The Times </em>14 Feb. 2018. &lt;<a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/un-staff-responsible-for-60-000-rapes-in-a-decade-c627rx239">https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/un-staff-responsible-for-60-000-rapes-in-a-decade-c627rx239</a>&gt;.</p> Simona Strungaru Copyright (c) 2023 Simona Strungaru http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2969 Tue, 14 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 Planning Queen Elizabeth II’s Visit to Bondi Beach in 1954 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2965 <h1><strong>Introduction</strong></h1> <p>On Saturday 6 February 1954, on the third day of the Australian leg of their tour of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, visited Sydney’s Bondi Beach. The specially-staged Royal Surf Carnival they witnessed—comprising a spectacular parade, surf boat races, mock resuscitations and even unscheduled surf rescues—generated extensive media coverage. Attracting attention from historians (Warshaw 134; Ford 194–196), the carnival lingers in popular memory as not only a highlight of the Australian tour (Conway n.p.; Clark 8) and among the “most celebrated events in Australian surf lifesaving history” (Ford <em>et al</em>. 5) but also as “the most spectacular occasion [ever held] at Bondi Beach” (Lawrence and Sharpe 86). It is even, for some, a “highlight of the [Australian] post-war period” (Ford <em>et al</em>. 5). Despite this, the fuller history of the Queen’s visit to Bondi, including the detailed planning involved, remains unexplored.</p> <p>A small round tin medal, discovered online, offered a fresh way to approach this event. 31mm in diameter, 2mm in depth, this dual-sided, smooth-edged medal hangs from a hoop on approximately 80mm of discoloured, doubled red, white, and blue striped ribbon, fastened near its end with a tarnished brass safety pin. The obverse features a relief portrait of the youthful Queen’s face and neck in profile, her hair loosely pulled back into a low chignon, enclosed within a striped symmetrical scrolled border of curves and peaks. This is encircled with another border inscribed in raised capitals: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Royal Visit to Waverley N.S.W.” The reverse features a smooth central section encircled with the inscription (again in raised capitals), “Presented to the Children of Waverley N.S.W. 1954”, the centre inscribed, “By Waverley Municipal Council C.A. Jeppesen Mayor”.</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/brien-2.png" alt="" width="898" height="1230" /><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/brien-1.png" alt="" width="936" height="1250" /></p> <p><em>Figs. 1 &amp; 2: Medal, c.1954. Collection of the Author.</em></p> <p>Medals are often awarded in recognition of achievement and, in many cases, are worn as prominent components of military and other uniforms. They can also be made and gifted in commemoration, which was the case with this medal, one of many thousands presented in association with the tour. Made for Waverley Council, it was presented to all schoolchildren under 15 in the municipality, which included Bondi Beach. Similar medals were presented to schoolchildren by other Australian councils and States in Australia (NAA A462). This gifting was not unprecedented, with medals presented to (at least some) Australian schoolchildren to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee (<em>The Age</em> 5; Sleight 187) and the 1937 coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (“Coronation Medals” 6).</p> <p>Unable to discover any provenance for this medal aside from its (probable) presentation in 1954 and listing for sale in 2021, I pondered instead Waverley Council’s motivation in sourcing and giving these medals. As a researcher, this assisted me in surmounting the dominance of the surf carnival in the history of this event and led to an investigation of the planning around the Bondi visit.</p> <h1><strong>Planning </strong></h1> <p>Every level of government was involved in planning the event. Created within the Prime Minister’s Department, the Royal Visit Organisation 1954—staffed from early 1953, filling positions from within the Commonwealth Public Service, armed services and statutory authorities—had overall authority over arrangements (NAA 127, 134). National planning encompassed itineraries, travel arrangements, security, public relations, and protocol as well as fly and mosquito control, the royals’ laundry arrangements, and advice on correct dress (NAA: A1533; NAA: A6122; NAA: A9708, RV/DD Annex.15; NAA: A1838, 1516/11 Parts 1&amp;2; NAA: A9708, RV/CD; NAA: A9708, RV/CQ; NAA: A9708, RV/T). Planning conferences were held with State officials who developed State visit programs and then devolved organisational responsibilities to Councils and other local organisations (NAA: A9708, RV/DD Annex.2; NAA: A9708, RV/DD Annex.3).</p> <p>Once the Bondi Beach location was decided, the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia received a Royal Command to stage a surf carnival for the royals. This command was passed to the president of the Bondi club, who organised a small delegation to meet with government representatives. A thirteen-member Planning Committee, all men (“The Queen to See” 12), was appointed “with full power to act without reference to any other body” (Meagher 6). They began meeting in June 1953 and, soon after this, the carnival was announced in the Australian press. In recognition, the “memorable finale” of a Royal Command Performance before the Queen in London in November 1953 marked the royal couple’s impending tour by filling the stage with people from Commonwealth countries. This concluded with “an Australian tableau”. Alongside people dressed as cricketers, tennis players, servicemen, and Indigenous people, a girl carrying a huge bunch of bananas, and a couple in kangaroo suits were six lifesavers dressed in Bondi march-past costumes and caps, carrying the club flag (Royal Variety Charity n.p.). In deciding on a club for the finale, Bondi was “seen the epitome of the surf lifesaving movement—and Australia” (Brawley 82).</p> <p>The Planning Committee worked with representatives from the police, army, government, local council, and ambulance services as well as the media and other bodies (Meagher 6). Realising the “herculean task” (Meagher 9) ahead, the committee recruited some 170 members (again all men) and 20 women volunteers from the Bondi and North Bondi Surf Clubs to assist. This included sourcing and erecting the carnival enclosure which, at over 200 meters wide, was the largest ever at the beach. The Royal dais that would be built over the promenade needed a canvas cover to shield the royal couple from the heat or rain. Seating needed to be provided for some 10,500 paying spectators, and eventually involved 17 rows of tiered seating set across the promenade, 2,200 deckchairs on the sand in front, and, on each flank, the Bondi Surf Club’s tiered stands. Accommodations also had to be provided at selected vantage points for some 100 media representatives, with a much greater crowd of 50–60,000 expected to gather outside the enclosure. Four large tents, two at each end of the competition area, would serve as both change rooms and shady rest areas for some 2,000 competitors. Two additional large tents were needed, one at each end of the lawns behind the beach, fitted out with camp stretchers that had to be sourced for the St John Ambulance Brigade to deal with first-aid cases, most of whom were envisaged to come from the crowds due to heat stroke (Meagher 6–7).</p> <p>The committee also had to solve numerous operational issues not usually associated with running a surf carnival, such as ensuring sufficient drinking water for so many people on what might be a very hot day (“The Queen to See” 12). With only one tap in the carnival area, the organisers had to lay a water line along the entire one-kilometre length of the promenade with double taps every two to three metres. Temporary toilets also had to be sourced, erected, and serviced. Self-financing and with costs adding up, sponsors needed to be secured to provide goods and services in return for advertising. An iced water unit was, for instance, provided on the dais, without cost, by the ElectrICE Commercial Refrigeration company. The long strip of red carpet laid from where the royals would alight from their car right through the dais was donated by the manufacturer of Feltex, a very popular Australian-made wool carpet. Prominent department store, Anthony Horden’s, loaned the intricately carved chairs to be used by the Royal couple and other officials, while The Bondi Diggers Club provided chrome plated chairs for other official guests, many of whom were the crew of royal yacht, the <em>S.S. Gothic </em>(Meagher 6).</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/thumbnail-fig.-3.-brien..png" alt="" width="868" height="1234" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 3: “Feltex [Advertisement].” </em>The Australian Home Beautiful<em> Nov. 1954: 40. <a href="http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-2985285882">http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-2985285882</a>.</em></p> <p>The Ladies Committees of the Bondi and North Bondi surf clubs were tasked with organising and delivering lunch and drinks to over 400 officials, all of whom were to stay in position from early morning until the carnival concluded at 5 pm (Meagher 6). Girl members of the Bondi social clubs were to act as usherettes.</p> <p>Officials describe deciding who would meet, or even come in any close proximity to, the Queen as “most ticklish” and working with mayors and other officials a “headache” (“Socialites” 3). In Bondi, there were to be notably few officials sitting with the royal couple, but thousands of “ordinary” spectators seated around the carnival area. On her arrival, it was planned that the Queen would walk through a guard of honour of lifesavers from each Australian and New Zealand club competing in the carnival. After viewing the finals of the surf boat races, the Queen would meet the team captains and then, in a Land Rover, inspect the massed lifesavers and greet the spectators.</p> <p>Although these activities were not contentious, debate raged about the competitors’ uniforms. At this time, full-length chest-covering costumes were normally worn in march-past and other formal events, with competitors stripping down to trunks for surf races and beach events. It was, however, decided that full-length costumes would be worn for the entirety of the Queen’s visit. This generated considerable press commentary that this was ridiculous, and charges that Australians were ashamed of their lifesavers’ manly chests (“Costume Rule” 3). The president of the Bondi Life Saving Club, however, argued that they did not want the carnival spoiled by lifesavers wearing “dirty … track suits, football guernseys … old football shorts … and just about everything except proper attire” (ctd. in Jenkings 1).</p> <p>Waverley Council similarly attempted to control the appearance of the route through which the royals would travel to the beach on the day of the carnival. This included “a sequence of signs along the route” expressing “the suburb’s sentiments and loyalty” (“Queen in the Suburbs” 4; see also, “The Royal Tour” 9). Maintaining that “the greatest form of welcome will be by the participation of the residents themselves”, the Mayor sought public donations to pay for decorations (with donors’ names and amounts to be published in the local press, and these eventually met a third of the cost (“The Royal Tour” 9; Waverley Council n.p.). In January 1954, he personally appealed to those on the route to decorate their premises and, in encouragement, Council provided substantial prizes for the most suitably decorated private and commercial premises. The local Chamber of Commerce was responsible for decorating the transport and shopping hub of Bondi Junction, with many businesses arranging to import Coronation decorations from England (“Queen in the Suburbs” 4; “The Royal Tour” 9).</p> <p>With “colorful activity” providing the basis of Council’s plan (“Queen in the Suburbs” 4), careful choreography ensured that thousands of people would line the royal route through the municipality. In another direct appeal, the Mayor requested that residents mass along the roadsides, wearing appropriate rosettes or emblems and waving flags (“Queen in the Suburbs” 4; “The Royal Tour” 9). Uniformed nurses would also be released from duty to gather outside the War Memorial Hospital as the royals passed by (“Royal Visit” n.p.). At the largest greenspace on the route, Waverley Park, some 10,000 children from the municipality’s 18 schools would assemble, all in uniform and wearing the medal to be presented to them to commemorate the visit. Children would also be provided with large red, white, or blue rosettes to wave as the royals drove by. A special seating area near the park was to be set aside for the elderly and ex-servicemen (“Queen in the Suburbs” 4).</p> <h1><strong>Fostering Expectations </strong></h1> <p>As the date of the visit approached, preparation and anticipation intensified. A week before, a detailed visit schedule was published in local newspaper <em>Bondi Daily</em>. At this time, the Royal Tour Decorations Committee (comprised of Aldermen and prominent local citizens) were “erecting decorations at various focal points” throughout the municipality (“The Royal Tour” 9). On 4 February, the Planning Committee held their final meeting at the Bondi Beach clubhouse (Meagher 6). The next day, the entire beach was cleaned and graded (Wilson 40). The afternoon before the visit, the Council’s decoration competition was judged, with the winners a house alongside Waverley Park and the beachside Hotel Astra (“Royal Visit” n.p.), one of 14 Sydney hotels, and the only one in Bondi, granted permission to sell liquor with meals until the extended hour of 11.00 pm during the Royal visit (“State House” 5).</p> <p>On the day of the surf carnival, <em>The Sydney Morning Herald</em> featured a large photograph of the finishing touches being put to the official dais and seating the day before (“Stage Set” 15). In reality, there was still a flurry of activity from daybreak on the day itself (Meagher 7), with the final “tidying up and decorating still proceeding” (Meagher 7) as the first carnival event, the Senior boat race heats, began at 10.00 am (“N.Z. Surf” 15). Despite some resident anger regarding the area’s general dilapidation and how the money being spent on the visit could have been used for longstanding repairs to the Pavilion and other infrastructure (Brawley 203), most found the decorations of the beach area appealing (“Royal Visit” n.p.). Tickets to the carnival had sold out well in advance and the stands were filled hours before the Queen arrived, with many spectators wearing sundresses or shorts and others stripping down to swimsuits in the sunshine (“Royal Visit” n.p.). With Police Inspector Michael O’Neill’s collapse and death at a royal event the day before thought to be the result of heat exposure, and the thermometer reaching the high 80s°F (low 30s°C), a large parasol was sourced to be held over the Queen on the dais (Meagher 8).</p> <p>A little after 3:15 pm, the surf club’s P.A. system advised those assembled at the beach that the royal party had left Randwick Racecourse on time and were proceeding towards them (“Queen’s Visit to Races” 17), driving through cheering crowds all the way (“Sydney” 18). At Waverley Park, Council had ensured that the waiting crowds had been entertained by the Randwick-Coogee pipe band (“Royal Visit” n.p.) and spirits were high. Schoolchildren, wearing their medals, lined the footpaths, and 102-year-old Ernest Dunn, who was driven to the park in the morning by police, was provided with a seat on the roadway as well as tea and sandwiches during his long wait (“Royal Tour Highlights” 2; “Royal Visit” n.p.). The royal couple, driving by extremely slowly and waving, were given a rousing welcome.</p> <p>Their attire was carefully selected for the very warm day. The Queen wore a sunny lemon Dior-styled cap-sleeved dress, small hat and white accessories, the Duke a light-coloured suit and tie. It was observed that she wore heavier makeup as a protection against the sun and, as the carnival progressed, opened her handbag to locate her fashionable sunglasses (“Thrills” 1). The Duke also wore sunglasses and used race binoculars (Meagher 8).</p> <h1><strong>The Result</strong></h1> <p>Despite the exhaustive planning, there were some mishaps, mostly when the excitement of the “near-hysterical crowds” (Hardman n.p.) could not be contained. In Double Bay, for instance, as the royals made their way to Bondi, a (neither new nor clean) hat thrown into the car’s rear seat struck the Duke. It was reported that “a look of annoyance” clouded his face as he threw it back out onto the road. At other points, flags, nosegays, and flutter ribbons (long sticks tied with lengths of coloured paper) were thrown at, and into, the Royal car. In other places, hundreds raced out into the roadway to try to touch the Queen or the Duke. They “withstood the ordeal unflinchingly”, but the Duke was reportedly concerned about “this mass rudeness” (“Rude Mobs” 2). The most severe crowding of the day occurred as the car passed through the centre of Bondi Junction’s shopping district, where uniformed police had to jump on the Royal car’s running boards to hold off the crowds. Police also had to forcibly restrain a group of men who rushed the car as it passed the Astra Hotel. This was said to be “an ugly incident … resentment of the police action threatened to breed a riot” (“Rude Mobs” 2).</p> <p>Almost everything else met, and even exceeded, expectations. The Queen and Duke’s slow progress from Bondi Road and then, after passing under a large “Welcome to Bondi” sign, their arrival at the entrance to the dais only three minutes late and presence at the carnival went entirely to plan and are well documented in minute-by-minute detail. This includes in detailed press reports, newsreels, and a colour film, <em>The Queen in Australia</em> (1954). Their genuine enjoyment of the races was widely commented upon, evidenced in how they pointed out details to each other (Meagher 8), the number of times the Duke used his binoculars and, especially, in their reluctance to leave, eventually staying more than double the scheduled time (“Queen Delighted” 7). Sales of tickets and programs more than met the costs of mounting the event (Meagher 8–9) and the charity concert held at the beach on the night of the carnival to make the most of the crowds also raised significant funds (“Queen in the Suburbs” 4). Bondi Beach looked spectacularly beautiful and gained considerable national and international exposure (Landman 183). The Surf Life Saving Association of Australia’s president noted that the “two factors that organisation could not hope to control—weather and cooperation of spectators—fulfilled the most optimistic hopes” (Curlewis 9; Maxwell 9).</p> <h1><strong>Conclusion</strong></h1> <p>Although it has been stated that the 58-day tour was “the single biggest event ever planned in Australia” (Clark 8), focussing in on a single event reveals the detailed decentralised organisation which went into both each individual activity as well as the travel between them. It also reveals how significantly responsible bodies drew upon volunteer labour and financial contributions from residents. While many studies have discussed the warm welcome given to the monarch by Australians in 1954 (Connors 371–2, 378), a significant finding from this object-inspired research is how purposefully Waverley Council primed this public reception. The little medal discussed at the opening of this discussion was just one of many deliberate attempts to prompt a mass expression of homage and loyalty to the sovereign. It also reveals how, despite the meticulous planning and minute-by-minute scheduling, there were unprompted and impulsive behaviours, both by spectators and the royals.</p> <p>Methodologically, this investigation also suggests that seemingly unprepossessing material remnants of the past can function as portals into larger stories. In this case, while an object biography could not be written of the commemorative medal I stumbled upon, a thoughtful consideration of this object inspired an investigation of aspects of the Queen’s visit to Bondi Beach that had otherwise remained unexplored.</p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Brawley, Sean. “Lifesavers of a Nation.” 3 Feb. 2007: 82. [extract from <em>The Bondi Lifesaver: A History of an Australian Icon</em>. Sydney: ABC Books, 2007.]</p> <p>Clark, Andrew. “The Queen’s Royal Tours of Australia Remembered: Reflection.” <em>The Australian Financial Review</em> 10 Sep. 2022: 8. </p> <p>Connors, Jane. “The 1954 Royal Tour of Australia.” <em>Australian Historical Studies</em> 25 (1993): 371–82.</p> <p>Conway, Doug. “Queen’s Perennial Pride in Australia.” <em>AAP General News Wire</em> 26 Nov. 2021: n.p.</p> <p>“Coronation Medals Presented to School Children: 6000 Distributed in Rockhampton District.” <em>Morning Bulletin</em> 12 May 1937: 6.</p> <p>“Costume Rule for Queen’s Bondi Visit.” <em>Barrier Miner</em> 18 Dec. 1953: 3.</p> <p>Curlewis, Adrian. “Letter.” <em>Bondi Surfer: Official Organ of the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club</em> 2.7 (1954): 9.</p> <p>Ford, Caroline. <em>Sydney Beaches: A History</em>. Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2014.</p> <p>Ford, Caroline, Chris Giles, Danya Hodgetts, and Sean O’Connell. “Surf Lifesaving: An Australian Icon in Transition.” <em>Australian Bureau of Statistics Year Book, Australia 2007</em>. Ed. Dennis Trewin. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007. 1–12.</p> <p>Hardman, Robert. <em>Our Queen</em>. London: Hutchinson, 2011. &lt;<a href="https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/OurQueen/DySbU9r0ABgC">https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/OurQueen/DySbU9r0ABgC</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Jenkings, Frank. “Editorial.” <em>Bondi Surfer: Official Organ of the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club</em> 2.6 (1954): 1.</p> <p>Landman, Jane. “Renewing Imperial Ties: The Queen in Australia.” <em>The British Monarchy on Screen</em>. Ed. Mandy Merck. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2016. 181–204.</p> <p>Lawrence, Joan, and Alan Sharpe. <em>Pictorial History: Eastern Suburbs. </em>Alexandria: Kingsclear Books, 1999.</p> <p>Maxwell, C. Bede. “Letter.” <em>Bondi Surfer: Official Organ of the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club</em> 2.7 (1954): 9.</p> <p>Meagher, T.W. “The Royal Tour Surf Carnival Bondi Beach, February 6, 1954.” <em>Bondi Surfer: Official Organ of the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club</em> 2.7 (1954): 6–9.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A462, 825/4/6, Royal tour 1954—Medals for School children—General representations, 1954.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A1533, 1957/758B, Royal Visit, 1953–1954.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A1838, 1516/11 Part 1, Protocol—Royal Visit, 1948–1954.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A1838, 1516/11 Part 2, Protocol—Royal Visit, 1954–1966.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A6122, 1861, Government Heads of State—Royal Visit 1954—ASIO file, 1953–1958. Canberra: Australian Security Intelligence Organization.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A9708, RV/CD, Fly and Mosquito Control.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A9708, RV/CQ, Laundry and Dry Cleaning and Pressing Arrangements.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A9708, RV/DD Annexure 2, Minutes of Conferences with State Directors, 22 January 1953–14 January 1954.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A9708, RV/DD Annexure 3, State Publications.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A9708, RV/DD Annexure 15, Report by Public Relations Officer.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA): A9708, RV/T, Matters Relating to Dress.</p> <p>National Archives of Australia (NAA). <em>Royalty and Australian Society: Records Relating to The British Monarchy Held in Canberra</em>.<em> Research Guide</em>. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 1998.</p> <p>“N.Z. Surf Team in Dispute.” <em>The Sydney Morning Herald </em>6 Feb. 1954: 15.</p> <p>“Queen Delighted by Carnival.” <em>The Sun-Herald</em> 7 Feb. 1954: 7.</p> <p>“Queen in the Suburbs: Waverley.” <em>Sun</em> 21 Jan. 1954: 4.</p> <p>“Queen’s Visit to Races: Drive in Suburbs.” <em>The Daily Telegraph</em> 6 Feb. 1954: 17.</p> <p>“Royal Tour Highlights.” <em>The Mail</em> 6 Feb. 1954: 2.</p> <p>Royal Variety Charity. “Coronation Year Royal Variety Performance.” London: London Coliseum, 2 Nov. 1953. &lt;<a href="https://www.royalvarietycharity.org/royal-variety-performance/archive/detail/1953-london-coliseum">https://www.royalvarietycharity.org/royal-variety-performance/archive/detail/1953-london-coliseum</a>&gt;.</p> <p>“Royal Visit to Waverley.” Feb. 1954 [Royal Visit, 1954 (Topic File). Local Studies Collection, Waverley Library, Bondi Junction, LS VF]</p> <p>“Rude Mobs Spoil Happy Reception.” <em>The Argus</em> 8 Feb. 1954: 2.</p> <p>Sleight, Simon. <em>Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870–1914.</em> Abingdon: Routledge, 2016. </p> <p>“Socialites in for Rude Shock on Royal Tour Invitations.” <em>Daily Telegraph</em> 3 Jan. 1954: 3.</p> <p>“Stage Set for Royal Surf Carnival at Bondi.” <em>The Sydney Morning Herald </em>6 Feb. 1954: 15.</p> <p>“State House Rehearses Royal Opening.” <em>The Sydney Morning Herald</em> 27 Jan. 1954: 5.</p> <p>“Sydney.” Women’s Letters. <em>The Bulletin</em> 10 Feb. 1954: 18.</p> <p><em>The Age </em>24 Jun. 1897: 5.</p> <p><em>The Queen in Australia</em>. Dir. Colin Dean. Australian National Film Board, 1954.</p> <p>“The Queen to See Lifesavers.” <em>The Daily Telegraph</em> 24 Aug. 1953: 12.</p> <p>“The Royal Tour.” <em>Bondi Daily</em> 30 Jan. 1954: 9.</p> <p>“Thrills for the Queen at Bondi Carnival—Stayed Extra Time.” <em>The Sun-Herald</em> 7 Feb. 1954: 1.</p> <p>Warshaw, Matt. <em>The History of Surfing</em>. San Fransisco: Chronicle Books, 2010.</p> <p>Wilson, Jack. <em>Australian Surfing and Surf Lifesaving</em>. Adelaide: Rigby, 1979.</p> Donna Lee Brien Copyright (c) 2023 Donna Lee Brien http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2965 Thu, 16 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 A ‘Uniform’ for All States? https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2962 <h1><strong>Introduction</strong></h1> <p>Daffodil Day, usually held in spring, raises funds for cancer awareness and research using this symbol of hope. On that day, people who donate money to this good cause are usually given a yellow daffodil pin to wear. When I lived in Auckland, New Zealand, on the last Friday in August most people walking around the city centre proudly wore a cheerful yellow flower. So many people generously participated in this initiative that one almost felt obliged to join the cause in order to wear the ‘uniform’ – the daffodil pin – as everyone else did on that day. To donate and to wear a daffodil is the social expectation, and operating in social environment people often endeavour to meet the expectation by doing the ‘appropriate things’ defined by societies or communities. After all, who does not like to receive a beam of acceptance and appreciation from a fellow daffodil bearer in Auckland’s Queen Street?</p> <p>States in international society are no different. In some ways, states wear ‘uniforms’ while executing domestic and foreign affairs just as human beings do within their social groups. States develop the understandings of desirable behaviour from the international community with which they interact and identify. They are ‘socialised’ to act in line with the expectations of international community. These expectations are expressed in the form of international norms, a prescriptive set of ideas about the ‘appropriate behaviour for actors with a given identity’ (Finnemore and Sikkink 891). Motivated by this logic of appropriateness, states that comply with certain international norms in world politics justify and undertake actions that are considered appropriate for their identities. This essay starts with examining how international norms can be spread to different countries through the process of ‘state socialisation’ (how the countries are ‘talked into’ wearing the ‘uniform’). Second, the essay investigates the idea of ‘cultural match’: how domestic actors comply with an international norm by interpreting and manipulating it according to their local political and legal practices (how the countries wear the ‘uniform’ differently). Lastly, the essay probes the current international normative community and the liberal values embedded in major international norms (whether states would continue wearing the ‘uniform’).</p> <h1><strong>International Norms and State Socialisation: Why Do States Wear the ‘Uniforms’?</strong></h1> <p>Norm diffusion is related to the efforts of ‘norm entrepreneurs’ using various platforms to convince a critical mass of states to embrace new norms (Finnemore and Sikkink 895-896). Early studies of norm diffusion tend to emphasise nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) as norm entrepreneurs and advocates, such as Oxfam and its goal of reducing poverty and hunger worldwide (Capie 638). In other empirical research, intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) were shown to serve as ‘norm teachers,’ such as UNESCO educating developing countries the value of science policy organisations (Finnemore 581-586). Additionally, states and other international actors can also play important roles in norm diffusion. Powerful states with more communication resources sometimes enjoy advantages in creating and promoting new norms (Florini 375). For example, the United States and Western European countries have often been considered as the major proponents of free trade. Norm emergence and state socialisation in a normative community often occurs during critical historical periods, such as wars and major economic downturns, when international changes and domestic crises often coincide with each other (Ikenberry and Kupchan 292). For instance, the norm entrepreneurs of ‘responsible power/state’ can be traced back to the great powers (mainly the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union) and their management of international order at the end of WWII (see Bull). With their negotiations and series of international agreements at the Cairo, Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam Conference in the 1940s, these great powers established a post-World War international society based on the key liberal values of international peace and security, free trade, human rights, and democracy.</p> <p>Human beings are not born to know what appropriate behaviour is; we learn social norms from parents, schools, peers, and other community members. International norms are collective expectations and understanding of how state governments should approach their domestic and foreign affairs. States ‘learn’ international norms while socialising with a normative community. From a sociological perspective, socialisation summarises ‘how and to what extent diverse individuals are meshed with the requirement of collective life’ at the societal level (Long and Hadden 39). It mainly consists of the process of training and shaping newcomers by the group members and the social adjustment of novices to the normative framework and the logic of appropriateness (Long and Hadden 39). Similarly, social psychology defines socialisation as the process in which ‘social organisations influence the action and experience of individuals’ (Gold and Douvan 145). Inspired by sociology and psychology, political scientists consider socialisation to be the mechanism through which norm entrepreneurs persuade other actors (usually a norm novice) to adhere to a particular prescriptive standard (Johnston, “Social State” 16).</p> <p>Norm entrepreneurs can change novices’ behaviour by the methods of persuasion and social influence (Johnston, “Treating International Institutions” 496-506). Socialisation sometimes demands that individual actors should comply with organisational norms by changing their interests or preferences (persuasion). Norm entrepreneurs often attempt to construct an appealing cognitive frame in order to persuade the novices (either individuals or states) to change their normative preferences or adopt new norms. They tend to use language that can ‘name, interpret and dramatise’ the issues related to the emerging norm (Finnemore and Sikkink 987). As a main persuasive device, ‘framing’ can provide a singular interpretation and appropriate behavioural response for a particular situation (Payne 39). Cognitive consistency theory found in psychology has suggested the mechanism of ‘analogy’, which indicates that actors are more likely to accept new ideas that share some similarities to the extant belief or ideas that they have already accepted (see Hybel, ch. 2). Based on this understanding, norm entrepreneurs usually frame issues in a way that can associate and resonate with the shared value of the targeted novices (Payne 43). For example, Finnemore’s research shows that when it promoted the creation of state science bureaucracies in the 1960s, UNESCO associated professional science policy-making with the appropriate role of a modern state, which was well received by the post-war developing countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia (Finnemore 565-597).</p> <p>Socialisation can also emanate actors’ pro-norm behaviour through a cost-benefit calculation made with social rewards and punishments (social influence). A normative community can use the mechanism of back-patting and opprobrium to distribute social reward and punishment. Back-patting – ‘recognition, praise and normative support’ – is offered for a novice’s or member’s cooperative and pro-norm behaviour (Johnston, “Treating International Institutions” 503). In contrast, opprobrium associated with status denial and identity rejection can create social and psychological costs (Johnston 504). Both the reward and punishment grow in intensity with the number of co-operators (Johnston 504). A larger community can often create more criticism towards rule-breakers, and thus greatly increase the cost of disobedience. For instance, the lack of full commitment from major powers, such as China, the United States, and some other OECD countries, has arguably made global collective action towards mitigating climate change more difficult, as the cost of non-compliance is relatively low.</p> <p>While being in a normative environment, novice or emerging states that have not yet been socialised into the international community can respond to persuasion and social influence through the processes of identification and mimicking. Social psychology indicates that when one actor accepts persuasion or social influence based on its desire to build or maintain a ‘satisfying self-defining relationship’ to another actor, the mechanism of identification starts to work (Kelman 53). Identification among a social group can generate ‘obligatory’ behaviour, where individual states make decisions by attempting to match their perceptions of ‘who they are’ (national identity) with the expectation of the normative community (Glodgeier and Tetlock 82). After identifying with the normative community, a novice state would then mimic peer states’ pro-norm behaviour in order to be considered as a qualified member of the social group. For example, when the Chinese government was deliberating over its ratification of the <em>Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety</em> in 2003, a Ministry of Environmental Protection brief noted that China should ratify the Protocol as soon as possible because China had always been a country ‘keeping its word’ in international society, and non-ratification would largely ‘undermine China’s international image and reputation’ (Ministry of Environmental Protection of PRC). Despite the domestic industry’s disagreement with entering into the Protocol, the Chinese government’s self-identification as a ‘responsible state’ that performs its international promises and duties played an important role in China’s adoption of the international norm of biosafety.</p> <h1><strong>Domestic Salience of International Norms: How Do States Wear the ‘Uniforms’ Differently?</strong></h1> <p>Individual states do not accept international norms passively; instead, state governments often negotiate and interact with domestic actors, such as major industries and interest groups, whose actions and understandings in turn impact on how the norm is understood and implemented. This in turn feeds back to the larger normative community and creates variations of those norms. There are three main factors that can contribute to the domestic salience of an international norm. First, as the norm-takers, domestic actors can decide whether and to what extent an international norm can enter the domestic agenda and how it will be implemented in policy-making. These actors tend to favour an international norm that can justify their political and social programs and promote their interests in domestic policy debates (Cortell and Davis, “How Do International Institutions Matter?” 453). By advocating the existence and adoption of an international norm, domestic actors attempt to enhance the legitimacy and authority of their current policy or institution (Acharya, “How Ideas Spread” 248). Political elites can strengthen state legitimacy by complying with an international norm in their policy-making, and consequently obtain international approval with reputation, trust, and credibility as social benefits in the international community (Finnemore and Sikkink 903). For example, when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), only four states – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States – voted against the Declaration. They argued that their constitutional and national policies were sufficiently responsive to the type of Indigenous self-determination envisioned by UNDRIP. Nevertheless, given the opprobrium directed against these states by the international community, and their well-organised Indigenous populations, the four state leaders recognised the value of supporting UNDRIP. Subsequently all four states adopted the Declaration, but in each instance state leaders observed UNDRIP’s ‘aspirational’ rather than legal status; UNDRIP was a statement of values that these states’ policies should seek to incorporate into their domestic Indigenous law.</p> <p>Second, the various cultural, political, and institutional strategies of domestic actors can influence the effectiveness of norm empowerment. Political rhetoric and political institutions are usually created and used to promote a norm domestically. Both state and societal leaders can make the performative speech act of an international norm work and raise its importance in a national context by repeated declarations on the legitimacy and obligations brought by the norm (Cortell and Davis, “Understanding the Domestic Impact” 76). Moreover, domestic actors can also develop or modify political institutions to incorporate an international norm into the domestic bureaucratic or legal system (Cortell and Davis, “Understanding the Domestic Impact” 76). These institutions provide rules for domestic actors and articulate their rights and obligations, which transforms the international norm’s legitimacy and authority into local practices. For example, the New Zealand Government adopted a non-nuclear policy in the 1980s. This policy arose from the non-nuclear movement that was leading the development of the Raratonga Treaty (South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone) and peace and Green party movements across Europe who sought to de-nuclearise the European continent. The Lange Labour Government’s 1984 adoption of an NZ anti-nuclear policy gained impetus because of these larger norm movements, and these movements in turn recognised the normative importance of a smaller power in international relations.</p> <p>Third, the characteristics of the international norm can also impact on the likelihood that the norm will be accepted by domestic actors. A ‘cultural match’ between international norm and local values can facilitate norm diffusion to domestic level. Sociologists suggest that norm diffusion is more likely to be successful if the norm is congruent with the prior values and practices of the norm-taker (Acharya, “Asian Regional Institutions” 14). Norm diffusion tends to be more efficient when there is a high degree of cultural match such that the global norm resonates with the target country’s domestic values, beliefs or understandings, which in turn can be reflected in national discourse, as well as the legal and bureaucratic system (Checkel 87; Cortell and Davis, “Understanding the Domestic Impact” 73). With such cultural consistency, domestic actors are more likely to accept an international norm and treat it as a given or as ‘matter-of-fact’ (Cortell and Davis, “Understanding the Domestic Impact” 74). Cultural match in norm localisation explains why identical or similar international socialisation processes can lead to quite different local developments and variations of international norms. The debate between universal human rights and the ‘Asian values’ of human rights is an example where some Asian states, such as Singapore and China, prioritise citizen’s economic rights over social and political rights and embrace collective rights instead of individual rights. Cultural match can also explain why one country may easily accept a certain international norm, or some aspect of one particular norm, while rejecting others. For example, when Taiwanese and Japanese governments adapted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into their local political and legal practice, various cultural aspects of Indigenous rights have been more thoroughly implemented compared to indigenous economic and political rights (Gao et al. 60-65). In some extreme cases, the norm entrepreneurs even attempt to change the local culture of norm recipients to create a better cultural match for norm localisation. For example, when it tried to socialise India into its colonial system in the early nineteenth century, Britain successfully shaped the evolution of Indian political culture by adding British values and practices into India’s social, political, and judicial system (Ikenberry and Kupchan 307-309).</p> <h1><strong>The International Normative Community: Would States Continue Wearing ‘Uniforms’? </strong></h1> <p>International norms evolve. Not every international norm can survive and sustain. For example, while imperialism and colonial expansion, where various European states explored, conquered, settled, and exploited other parts of the world, was a widely accepted idea and practice in the nineteenth century, state sovereignty, equality, and individual rights have replaced imperialism and become the prevailing norms in international society today. The meanings of the same international norm can evolve as well. The Great Powers first established the post-war international norms of ‘state responsibility’ based on the idea of sovereign equality and non-intervention of domestic affairs. However, the 1980s saw the emergence of many international organisations, which built new standards and offered new meanings for a responsible state in international society: a responsible state must actively participate in international organisations and comply with international regimes. In the post-Cold War era, international society has paid more attention to states’ responsibility to offer global common goods and to promote the values of human rights and democracy. This shift of focus has changed the international expectation of state responsibility again to embrace collective goods and global values (Foot, “Chinese Power” 3-11).</p> <p>In addition to the nature and evolution of international norms, the unity and strength of the normative community can also affect states’ compliance with the norms. The growing size of the community group or the number of other cooperatives can amplify the effect of socialisation (Johnston, “Treating International Institutions” 503-506). In other words, individual states are often more concerned about their national image, reputation and identity regarding norm compliance when a critical mass of states have already subscribed into the international norm. How much could this critical mass be? Finnemore and Sikkink suggest that international norms reach the threshold global acceptance when the norm entrepreneurs have persuaded at least one third of all states to adopt the new norm (901). The veto record of the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) shows this impact. China, for example, has cast a UNSC veto vote 17 times as of 2022, but it has rarely excised its veto power alone (Security Council Report). For instance, though being sceptical of the notion of ‘Responsibility to Protect’, which prioritises human right over state sovereignty, China did not veto Resolution 1973 (2011) regarding the Libyan civil war. The Resolution allowed the international society to take ‘all necessary measure to protect civilians’ from a failed state government, and it received wide support among UNSC members (no negative votes from the other 14 members).</p> <p>Moreover, states are not entirely equal in terms of their ‘normative weight’. When Great Powers act as norm entrepreneurs, they can usually utilise their wealth and influence to better socialise other norm novice states. In the history of promoting biological diversity norms which are embedded in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the OECD countries, especially France, UK, Germany, and Japan, have been regarded as normative leaders. French and Japanese political leaders employed normative language (such as ‘need’ and ‘must’) in various international forums to promote the norms and to highlight their normative commitment (see e.g. Chirac; Kan).<a href="#_edn3" name="_ednref3"></a> Additionally, both governments provided financial assistance for developing countries to adopt the biodiversity norms. In the 2011 annual review of CBD, Japan reaffirmed its US$12 million contribution to assisting developing countries (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity 9). France joined Japan’s commitment by announcing a financial contribution of €1 million along, with some additional funding from Norway and Switzerland (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity 9). Today, biological diversity has been one of the most widely accepted international environmental norms, which 196 states/nations have ratified (United Nations). </p> <p>While Great Powers can make more substantial contributions to norm diffusion compared to many smaller powers with limited state capacity, Great Powers’ non-compliance with the normative ‘uniform’ can also significantly undermine the international norms’ validity and the normative community’s unity and reputation. The current normative community of climate change is hardly a unified one, as it is characterised by a low degree of consensus. Major industrial countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, have not yet reached an agreement concerning their individual responsibilities for reducing greenhouse emissions. This lack of agreement, which includes the amount of cuts, the feasibility and usefulness of such cuts, and the relative sharing of cuts across various states, is complicated by the fact that large developing countries, such as China, Brazil, and India, also hold different opinions towards climate change regimes (see Vidal <em>et al</em>.). Experts heavily criticised the major global powers, such as the European Union and the United States, for their lack of ambition in phasing out fossil fuels during the 2022 climate summit in Egypt (COP27; Ehsan <em>et al</em>.). In international trade, both China and the United States are among the leading powers because of their large trade volume, capacity, and transnational network; however, both countries have recently undermined the world trade system and norms. China took punitive measures against Australian export products after Australia’s Covid-19 inquiry request at the World Health Organisation. The United States, particularly under the Trump Administration, invoked the WTO national security exception in Article XXI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to justify its tariffs on steel and aluminium.</p> <p>Lastly, norm diffusion and socialisation can be a ‘two-way path,’ especially when the norm novice state is a powerful and influential state in the international system. In this case, the novices are not merely assimilated into the group, but can also successfully exert some influence on other group members and affect intra-group relations (Moreland 1174). As such, the novices can be both targets of socialisation and active agents who can shape the content and outcome of socialisation processes (Pu 344). The influence from the novices can create normative contestation and thus influence the norm evolution (Thies 547). In other words, novice states can influence international society and shape the international norm during the socialisation process. For example, the ‘ASEAN Way’ is a set of norms that regulate member states’ relationships within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It establishes a diplomatic and security culture characterised by informality, consultation, and dialogue, and consensus-building in decision-making processes (Caballero-Anthony). From its interaction with ASEAN, China has been socialised into the ‘ASEAN Way’ (Ba 157-159). Nevertheless, China’s relations with the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) also suggest that there exists a ‘feedback’ process between China and ARF which resulted in institutional changes in ARF to accommodate China’s response (Johnston, “The Myth of the ASEAN Way?” 291). For another example, while the Western powers generally promote the norm of ‘shared responsibility’ in global environment regimes, the emerging economies, such as the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), have responded to the normative engagement and proposed a ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities’ regime where the developing countries shoulder less international obligations. Similarly, the Western-led norm of ‘Responsibility to Protect’, which justifies international humanitarian intervention, has received much resistance from the countries that only adhere to the conventional international rules regarding state sovereignty rights and non-intervention to domestic affairs. </p> <h1><strong>Conclusion</strong></h1> <p>International norms are shared expectations about what constitutes appropriate state behaviour. They are the ‘uniforms’ for individual states to wear when operating at the international level. States comply with international norms in order to affirm their preferred national identities as well as to gain social acceptance and reputation in the normative community. When the normative community is united and sizable, states tend to receive more social pressure to consistently wear these normative uniforms – be they the Geneva Conventions or nuclear non-proliferation. Nevertheless, in the post-pandemic world where liberal values, such as individual rights and rule of law, face significant challenges and democracies are in decline, the future success of the global normative community may be at risk. Great Powers are especially responsible for the survival and sustainability of international norms. The United States under President Trump adopted a nationalist ‘America First’ security agenda: alienating traditional allies, befriending authoritarian regimes previously shunned, and rejecting multilateralism as the foundation of the post-war global order. While the West has been criticised of failing to live up to its declared values, and has suffered its own loss of confidence in the liberal model, the rising powers have offered their alternative version of the world system. Instead of merely adapting to the Western-led global norms, China has created new institutions, such as the Belt and Road Initiatives, to promote its own preferred values, and has reshaped the global order where it deems the norms undesirable (Foot, “Chinese Power in a Changing World Order” 7). Great Power participation has reshaped the landscape of global normative community, and sadly not always in positive ways. Umberto Eco lamented the disappearance of the beauty of the past in his novel <em>The Name of the Rose</em>: ‘<em>stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus</em>’ ('yesterday’s rose endures in its name, we hold empty names'; Eco 538). If the international community does not want to witness an era where global norms and universal values are reduced to nominalist symbols, it must renew and reinvigorate its commitment to global values, such as human rights and democracy. It must consider wearing these uniforms again, properly.</p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Acharya, Amitav. “How Ideas Spread: Whose Norms Matter? Norm Localisation and Institutional Change in Asian Regionalism.” <em>International Organisations</em> 58.2 (2004): 239-275.</p> <p>Acharya, Amitav. “Asian Regional Institutions and the Possibilities for Socializing the Behavior of States.” <em>Asian Development Bank Working Paper Series on Regional Economic Integration</em> 82 (June 2011).</p> <p>Ba, Alice D. “Who’s Socializing Who? Complex Engagement in Sino-ASEAN Relations.” <em>The Pacific Review</em> 19.2 (2006): 157-179.</p> <p>Hedley Bull. <em>The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics</em>. 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Hadden. “A Preconception of Socialization.” <em>Sociological Theory </em>3.1 (1985): 39-49.</p> <p>Masood, Ehsan, et al. “COP27 Climate Talks: What Succeeded, What Failed and What’s Next.” <em>Nature</em> 29 Nov. 2022. &lt;<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-03807-0">https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-03807-0</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China. <em>Shewu duoyangxing lvyue jianbao</em> 生物多样性履约简报 [Brief of Implementing Convention on Biological Diversity] 4 (2003).</p> <p>Moreland, Richard L. “Social Categorization and the Assimilation of ‘New’ Group Members.” <em>Journal of Personality and Social Psychology</em> 48.5 (1985): 1173-1190.</p> <p>Payne, Rodger A. “Persuasion, Frames and Norm Construction.” <em>European Journal of International Relations</em> 7.1 (2001): 37-61. </p> <p>Pu, Xiaoyu. “Socialisation as a Two-way Process: Emerging Powers and the Diffusion of International Norms.” <em>The Chinese Journal of International Politics</em> 5.4 (2012): 341-367.</p> <p>Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. <em>The Convention on Biological Diversity: Year in Review 2011</em>. 2011 &lt;<a href="https://www.cbd.int/doc/reports/cbd-report-2011-en.pdf">https://www.cbd.int/doc/reports/cbd-report-2011-en.pdf</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Secrity Council Report. "The Veto." 16 Dec. 2020. &lt;<a href="https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/un-security-council-working-methods/the-veto.php">https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/un-security-council-working-methods/the-veto.php</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Thies, Cameron G. “Sense and Sensibility in the Study of State Socialisation: A Reply to Kai Alderson.” <em>Review of International Studies</em> 29.4 (2003): 543-550.</p> <p>United Nations. “Convention on Biological Diversity, Key International Instrument for Sustainable Development.” &lt;<a href="https://www.un.org/en/observances/biological-diversity-day/convention">https://www.un.org/en/observances/biological-diversity-day/convention</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Vidal, John, Allegra Stratton, and Suzanne Goldenberg. “Low Targets, Goals Dropped: Copenhagen Ends in Failure.” <em>The Guardian</em>, 19 Dec. 2009. &lt;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/dec/18/copenhagen-deal">http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/dec/18/copenhagen-deal</a>&gt;.</p> Xiang Gao Copyright (c) 2023 Xiang Gao http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2962 Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 The Clothes Maketh the Cult https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2971 <h1><strong>Introduction </strong></h1> <p>Many people interpret the word ‘cult’ through specific connotations, including, but not limited to, a community of like-minded people on the edge of civilization, often led by a charismatic leader, with beliefs that are ‘other’ to societal ‘norms’. Cults are often perceived as deviant, regularly incorporating elements of crime, especially physical and sexual violence. The adoption by some cults of a special uniform or dress code has been readily picked up by popular culture and has become a key ‘defining’ characteristic of the <em>nature </em>of a cult.</p> <p>In this article, we use the semiotic framework of <em>myth</em>, as discussed by Barthes, to demonstrate how cult uniforms become semiotic myths of popular culture. Narratively, the myth of the cult communicates violence, deviance, manipulation, and brainwashing. The myth of on-screen cults has derived itself from a reflexive pop culture foundation. From popular culture inspiring cults to cults inspiring popular culture and back again, society generates its cult myth through three key mechanisms: medicalisation, deviance amplification, and convergence. This means we are at risk of misrepresenting the true <em>nature</em> of cults, creating a definition incongruent with reality.</p> <p>This article traces the history of cults, the expectations of cult behaviour, and the semiotics of uniforms to start the discussion on why society is primed to accept a confusion between nature and the semiotic messaging of “<em>what-goes-without-saying” </em>(Barthes <em>Mythologies</em> 11).</p> <h1><strong>Semiotics and Myth</strong></h1> <p>Following the basic groundwork of de Saussure in the early 1900s, semiotics is the study of signs and how we use signs to derive meaning from the external world (de Saussure). Barthes expanded on this with his series of essays in <em>Mythologies</em>, adding a layer of connotation that leads to <em>myth </em>(Barthes <em>Mythologies</em>). Connotation, as described by Barthes, is the interaction between signs, feelings, and values. The connotations assigned to objects and concepts become a system of communication that is a message, the message becomes <em>myth. </em>The myth is not defined by the object or concept, but by the way society collectively understands it and all its connotations (Barthes <em>Elements of Semiology</em> 89-91).</p> <p>For scholars like Barthes, languages and cultural artifacts lend themselves to myth because many of our concepts are vague and abstract. Because the concept is vague, it is easy to impose our own values and ideologies upon it. This also means different people can interpret the same concept in different ways (Barthes <em>Mythologies</em> 132). The concept of a cult is no exception. Cults mean different things to different people and the boundaries between cults and religious or commercial organisations are often contested. As a pop culture artifact, the meaning of <em>cults</em> has been generated through repeated exposure in different media and genres. Similarly, pop culture (tv, films, news, etc.) often has the benefit of fiction, which separates itself from the true nature of <em>cults </em>(sensu Barthes <em>Mythologies</em>)<em>. </em>Yet, through repeated exposure, we begin to share a universal meaning for the term and all the behaviours understood within the myth.</p> <p>Our repeated exposure to the signs of cults in pop culture is the combined effect of news media and fiction slowly building upon itself in a reflexive manner. We hear news reports of cults behaving in obscure ways, followed by a drama, parody, critique, or satire in a fictitious story. The audience then begins to see the repeated narrative as evidence to the true <em>nature </em>of cults. Over time the myth of the cult naturalises into the zeitgeist as concretely as any other sign, word, or symbol. Once the myth is naturalised, it is better used as a narrative device when affixed to a universally recognised symbol, such as the uniform. The uniform becomes an efficient device for communicating meaning in a short space of time.</p> <p>We argue that the concept of <em>cult</em> as myth has entered a collective understanding, and so, it is necessary to reflect on the mechanisms that drove the correlations which ultimately created the myth. Barthes’s purpose for analysing myth was “to track down, in the decorative display of <em>what-goes-without-saying, </em>the ideological abuse which, in my view, is hidden there” (Barthes <em>Mythologies</em> 11). For this reason, we must briefly look at the history of cults and their relationship with crime.</p> <h1><strong>A Brief History of Cults</strong></h1> <p>‘Cult’ derives from the Latin root, <em>cultus</em>, or cultivation, and initially referred to forms of religious worship involving special rituals and ceremonies directed towards specific figures, objects, and/or divine beings. Early to mid-twentieth century sociologists adopted and adapted the term to classify a kind of religious organisation and later to signal new forms of religious expression not previously of primary or singular interest to the scholar of religion (Campbell; Jackson and Jobling; Nelson). The consequences were such that ‘cult’ came to carry new weight in terms of its meaning and reception, and much like other analytical concepts developed an intellectual significance regarding religious innovation it had not previously possessed. Unfortunately, this was not to last.</p> <p>By the early 1990s, ‘cult’ had become a term eschewed by scholars as pejorative, value-laden, and disparaging of its supposed subject matter; a term denuded of technical and descriptive meaning and replaced by more value-neutral alternatives (Dillon and Richardson; Richardson; Chryssides and Zeller). Results from well-published surveys (Pfeifer; Olson) and our own experience in teaching related subject matter revealed predominantly negative attitudes towards the term ‘cult’, with the inverse true for the alternative descriptors. Perhaps more importantly, the surveys revealed that for the public majority, knowledge of ‘cults’ came via media reportage of particularly the sensational few, rather than from direct experience of new religions or their members more generally (Pfeifer).</p> <p>For example, the Peoples Temple, Branch Davidian, and Heaven’s Gate groups featured heavily in news and mass media. Importantly, reporting of each of the tragic events marking their demise (in 1978, 1993, and 1997 respectively) reinforced a burgeoning stereotype and escalated fears about cults in our midst. The events in Jonestown, Guyana (Peoples Temple), especially,</p> <blockquote> <p>bolstered an anticult movement of purported cult experts and deprogrammers offering to save errant family members from the same fate as those who died [there]. The anticult movement portrayed all alleged cults as inherently dangerous and subject only to internal influences. They figured the charismatic leader as so powerful that he could take captive the minds of his followers and make them do whatever he wanted. (Crockford 95)</p> </blockquote> <p>While the term ‘new religious movement’ (NRM) has been used in place of cults within the academic sphere, ‘cult’ is still used within popular culture contexts <em>precisely</em> because of the connotations it inspires, with features including charismatic leaders, deprogrammers, coercion and mind-control, deception, perversion, exploitation, deviance, religious zealotry, abuse, violence, and death. For this reason, we still use the word <em>cult</em> to mean the myth of the cult as represented by popular culture.</p> <h1><strong>Representations of Cults and Expectations of Crime </strong></h1> <p>Violence and crime can be common features of <em>some </em>cults. Most NRMs “stay within the boundaries of the law” and practice their religion peacefully (Szubin, Jensen III, and Gregg 17). Unfortunately, it is usually those cults that are engaged in violence and crime that become newsworthy, and thus shape public ‘knowledge’ about the nature of cults and drive public expectations. Two of America’s most publicised cults, Charles Manson and the Manson Family and the Peoples Temple, are synonymous with violence and crime. Prior to committing mass suicide by poison in Jonestown, the Peoples Temple accumulated many guns as well as killing Congressman Leo Ryan and members of his party. Similarly, Charles Manson and the Manson Family stockpiled weapons, participated in illegal drug use, and murdered seven people, including Hollywood actor Sharon Tate. The high-profile victims of both groups ensured ongoing widespread media attention and continuous popular culture interest in both groups. Other cults are more specifically criminal in nature: for example, the Constanzo group in Matamoros, while presenting as a cult, are also a drug gang, leading to many calling these groups narco-cults (Kail 56).</p> <p>Sexual assault and abuse are commonly associated with cults. There have been numerous media reports worldwide on the sexual abuse of (usually) women and/or children. For example, a fourteen-year-old in the Children of God group alleged that she was raped when she disobeyed a leader (Rudin 28). In 2021, the regional city of Armidale, Australia, became national news when a former soldier was arrested on charges of “manipulating a woman for a ‘cult’ like purpose” (McKinnell). The man, James Davis, styles himself as the patriarch of a group known as the ‘House of Cadifor’. Police evidence includes six signed “slavery contracts”, as well as 70 witnesses to support the allegation that Mr Davis subjected a woman to “ongoing physical, sexual and psychological abuse and degradation” as well as unpaid prostitution and enslavement (McKinnell).</p> <h1><strong>Cults and Popular Culture</strong></h1> <p>The depiction of cults in popular culture is attracting growing attention. Scholars Lynn Neal (2011) and Joseph Laycock (2013) have initiated this research and identified consistent stereotypes of 'cults’ being portrayed throughout popular media. Neal found that cults began to be featured in television shows as early as the 1950s and 1960s, continually escalating until the 1990s before dropping slightly between 2000 and 2008 (the time the research was concluded). Specifically, there were 10 episodes between 1958-1969; 19 in the 1970s, which Neal attributes to the “rise of the cult scare and intense media scrutiny of NRMs” (97); 25 in the 1980s; 72 in the 1990s; and 59 between 2000 and 2008. Such academic research has identified that popular culture is important in the formation of the public perception, and social definition, of acceptable and deviant religions (Laycock 81).</p> <p>Laycock argues that representations of cults in popular culture reinforces public narratives about cults in three important ways: medicalisation, deviance amplification, and convergence. Medicalisation refers to the depiction of individuals becoming brainwashed and deprogrammed. The medicalisation of cults can be exacerbated by the cult uniform and clinical, ritualistic behaviours.</p> <p>Deviance amplification, a term coined by Leslie Wilkins in the 1960s, is the phenomenon of ‘media hype’, where the media selects specific examples of deviant behaviour, distorting them (Wilkins), such that a handful of peripheral cases appears representative of a larger social problem (Laycock 84). Following the deviance amplification, there is then often a 'moral panic' (a term coined by Stanley Cohen in 1972) where the problem is distorted and heightened within the media. Cults are often subject to deviance amplification within the media, leading to moral panics about the ‘depraved’, sexual, criminal, and violent activities of cults preying on and brainwashing innocents.</p> <p>Convergence “is a rhetorical device associated with deviance amplification in which two or more activities are linked so as to implicitly draw a parallel between them” (Laycock 85). An example of convergence occurred when the Branch Davidians were compared to the Peoples Temple, ultimately leading the FBI “to end the siege through an aggressive ‘dynamic entry’ in part because they feared such a mass suicide” (Laycock 85). The FBI transferred responsibility for the deaths to ‘mass suicide’, which has become the common narrative of events at Waco.</p> <p>Each of the three mechanisms have an important role to play in the popular culture presentation of cults to audiences. Popular media sources, fictional or not, are incentivised to present the most diabolical cult to the audience – and this often includes the medicalised elements of brainwashing and manipulation. This presentation reinforces existing deviance amplification and moral panics around the depraved activities of cults, and in particular sexual and criminal activities. And finally, convergence acts as a 'cultural script’ where the portrayal of these types of characteristics (brainwashing, criminal or violent behaviour, etc.) is automatically associated with cults. As Laycock argues, “in this way, popular culture has a unique ability to promote convergence and, by extension, deviance amplification” (85).</p> <p>The mechanisms of medicalisation, deviance amplification and convergence are important to the semiotic linking of concepts, signs, and signifiers in the process of myth generation. In efficiently understanding the message of the myth, the viewer must have a sign they can affix to it. In the case of visual mediums this must be immediate and certain. As many of the convergent properties of cults are behavioural (acts of violence and depravity, charismatic leaders, etc.), we need a symbol that audiences can understand immediately. Uniforms achieve this with remarkable efficiency.</p> <p>Upon seeing a still, two-dimensional image of people wearing matching garb it can be made easily apparent that they are part of a cult. Religious uniforms are one of the first visual images one conjures upon hearing the word cult: “<em>for most people the word ‘cult’ conjures up ‘60s images of college students wearing flowing robes, chanting rhythmically and spouting Eastern philosophy”</em> (Salvatore cited in Petherick 577; italics in original). The impact is especially pronounced if the clothes are atypical, anachronistic, or otherwise different to the expected clothes of the context. This interpretation then becomes cemented through the actions of the characters. In <em>Rick and Morty</em>, season 1, episode 10, Morty is imprisoned with interdimensional versions of himself. Despite some morphological differences, each Morty is wearing his recognisable yellow top and blue pants. While <em>our</em> Morty’s back is turned, five hooded, robed figures in atypical garb with matching facial markings approach Morty. The audience is immediately aware that this is a cult. The comparison between the uniform of Morty and the Morty cult exemplifies the use of cult uniform in the myth of Cults. The cult is then cemented through chanting and a belief in the “One true Morty” (Harmon <em>et al</em>.).</p> <h1><strong>Semiotics, Clothes, and Uniforms</strong></h1> <p>The semiotics of clothes includes implicit, explicit, and subliminal signs. The reasons we choose to wear what we wear is governed by multiple factors both within our control and outside of it: for instance, our body shape, social networks and economic status, access to fashion and choice (Barthes <em>The Fashion System</em>; Hackett). We often choose to communicate aspects of our identity through what we wear or what we choose not to wear. Our choice of clothing communicates aspects of who we are, but also who we want to be (Hackett; Simmel; Veblen)</p> <p>Uniforms are an effective and efficient communicative device. Calefato’s classification of uniforms is not only as those used by military and working groups, but also including the strictly coded dress of subcultures. Unlike other clothes which can be weakly coded, uniforms differentiate themselves through their purposeful coded signalling system (Calefato). To scholars such as Jennifer Craik, uniforms intrigue us because they combine evident statements as well as implied and subliminal communications (Craik). Theories about identity predict that processes similar to the defining of an individual are also important to group life, whereby an individual group member's conceptualisation of their group is derived from the collective identity (Horowitz; Lauger). Collective identities are regularly emphasised as a key component in understanding how groups gain meaning and purpose (Polletta and Jasper). The identity is generally constructed and reinforced through routine socialisation and collective action.</p> <p>Uniforms are a well-known means of creating collective identities. They restrict one’s clothing choices and use boundary-setting rituals to ensure commitment to the group. In general, the more obvious the restriction, the easier it is to enforce. Demanding obvious behaviours from members, unique to the community, simultaneously generates a differentiation between the members and non-members, while enabling self-enforcement and peer-to-peer judgments of commitment. Leaders of religious movements like cults and NRMs will sometimes step back from the punitive aspects of nonconformity. Instead, it falls to the members to maintain the discipline of the collective (Kelley 109). This further leads to a sense of ownership and therefore belonging to the community.</p> <p>Uniforms are an easy outward-facing signal that allows for ready discrimination of error. Because they are often obvious and distinctive dress, they constrain and often stigmatise members. In other collective situations such as with American gangs, even dedicated members will deny their gang affiliation if it is advantageous to do so (Lauger <em>Real Gangstas</em>). While in uniform, individuals cannot hide their membership, making the sacrifice more costly. Members are forced to take one hundred percent of the ownership and participate wholly, or not at all. Through this mechanism, cults demonstrate the medicalisation of the members. Leaders may want their members to be unable to escape or deny affiliation. Similarly, their external appearances might invite persecution and therefore breed resilience, courage, and solidarity. It is, in essence, a form of manipulation (see for instance Iannaccone). Alternatively, as Melton argues, members may want to be open and proud of their organisation, as displayed through them adopting their uniforms (15).</p> <p>The uniform of cults in popular media is a principal component of medicalisation, deviance amplification, and convergence. The uniform, often robes, offers credence to the medicalisation aspect: members of cults are receiving ‘treatment’ — initially, negative treatment while being brainwashed, and then later helpful/saving treatment when being deprogrammed, providing they survive a mass suicide attempt and/or, criminal, sexual, or violent escapades. Through portraying cult members in a distinctive uniform, there is no doubt for the audience who is receiving or in need of treatment. Many of the cults portrayed on screen can easily communicate the joining of a cult by changing the characters' dress. Similarly, by simply re-dressing the character, it is communicated that the character has returned to normal, they have been saved, they are a survivor. In <em>Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt</em>, while three of the four ‘Mole women’ integrate back into society, Gretchen Chalker continues to believe in their cult; as such she never takes of her cult uniform<em>.</em> In addition, the employment of uniforms for cult members in popular culture enables an instant visual recognition of ‘us’ and ‘them’, or ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, and reinforces stereotypical notions of social order and marginalised, deviant (religious) groups (Neal 83). The clothing differences are obvious in <em>The Simpsons s</em>eason 9, episode 13,<em> “</em>Joy of Sect”: ‘Movementarian’ members, including the Simpsons, don long flowing robes. The use of cult uniform visualises their fanatical commitment to the group. It sets them apart from the rest of Springfield and society (Neal 88-89).</p> <p>The connection between uniforms and cults derives two seemingly paradoxical meanings. Firstly, it reduces the chances of the audience believing that the cult employed ‘deceptive recruiting’ techniques. As Melton argues, because of the association our society has with uniforms and cults, “it is very hard for someone to join most new religions, given their peculiar dress and worship practices, without knowing immediately its religious nature” (14). As such, within popular media, the presence of the uniform increases the culpability of those who join the cult. Contrarily, the character in uniform is a sign that the person has been manipulated and/or brainwashed. This reduces the culpability of the cult member. However, the two understandings are not necessarily exclusive. It is possible to view the cult member as a naïve victim, someone who approached the cult as an escape from their life but was subsequently manipulated into behaving criminally. This interpretation is particularly powerful because it indicates cults can prey on anyone, and that anyone could become a victim of a cult. This, in turn, heightens the moral panic surrounding cults and NRMs.</p> <p>The on-screen myth of the cult as represented by its uniform has a basis in the real-life history of NRMs. Heaven’s Gate members famously died after they imbibed fatal doses of alcohol and barbiturates to achieve their ‘final exit’. Most members were found laid out on beds covered in purple shrouds, all wearing matching black shirts, black pants, and black and white Nike shoes. The famous photos of Warren Jeffs’s polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the subject of Netflix’s <em>Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey</em>, depict multiple women in matching conservative dresses with matching hairstyles gathered around a photo of Jeffs. The image and uniform are a clear influence on the design of Unbreakable’s ‘Mole women<em>’.</em></p> <p>A prime example of the stereotype of cult uniforms is provided by the Canadian comedy program <em>The Red Green Show</em> when the character Red tells Harold “cults are full of followers, they have no independent thought, they go to these pointless meetings ... they all dress the same” (episode 165). The statement is made while the two main characters Red and Harold are standing in matching outfits.</p> <h1><strong>Blurring Nature and Myth</strong></h1> <p>Importantly, the success of these shows very much relies on audiences having a shared conception of NRMs and the myth of the cult. This is a curious combination of real and fictional knowledge of the well-publicised controversial events in history. Fictional cults frequently take widely held perspectives of actual religious movements and render them either more absurd or more frightening (Laycock 81). Moreover, the blurring of fictional and non-fictional groups serves to reinforce the sense that all popular culture cults and their real-world counterparts are the same; that they all follow a common script. In this, there is convergence between the fictional and the real. The myth of the cult bleeds from the screen into real life.</p> <p><em>The Simpsons</em>’ “The Joy of Sect” was televised in the year following the suicide of the 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate group, and the storyline in part was influenced by it. Importantly, as a piercing, satirical critique of middle-class America, the “Joy of Sect” not only parodied traditional and non-traditional religion generally (as well as the ‘cult-like’ following of mass media such as <em>Fox</em>); scholars have shown that it also parodied the ‘cult’ stereotype itself (Feltmate).</p> <p>While Heaven’s Gate influenced to a greater or lesser extent each of the TV shows highlighted thus far, it was also the case that the group incorporated into its eschatology aspects of popular culture linked primarily to science fiction. For example, group members were known to have regularly watched and discussed episodes of <em>Star Trek</em> (Hoffmann and Burke; Sconce), adopting aspects of the show’s vernacular in “attempts to relate to the public” (Gate 163). Words such as ‘away-team’, ‘prime-directive’, ‘hologram’, ‘Captain’, ‘Admiral’, and importantly ‘Red-Alert’ were adopted; the latter, often signalling code-red situations in <em>Star Trek</em> episodes, appeared on the Heaven’s Gate Website in the days just prior to their demise.</p> <p>Importantly, allusions to science fiction and <em>Star Trek</em> were incorporated into the group’s self-styled ‘uniform’ worn during their tragic ritual-suicide. Stitched into the shoulders of each of their uniforms were triangular, <em>Star Trek</em>-inspired patches featuring various celestial bodies along with a tagline signalling the common bond uniting each member: “Heaven’s Gate Away Team” (Sconce).</p> <p>Ironically, with replica patches readily for sale online, and T-shirts and hoodies featuring modified though similar Heaven’s Gate symbolism, this ‘common bond’ has been commodified in such a way as to subvert its original meaning – at least as it concerned ‘cult’ membership in the religious context. The re-integration of cult symbols into popular culture typifies the way we as a society detachedly view the behaviours of cults. The behaviour of cults is anecdotally viewed through a voyeuristic lens, potentially exacerbated by the regular portrayals of cults through parody.</p> <p>Scholars have demonstrated how popular culture has internationally impacted on criminological aspects of society. For instance, there was a noted, international increase in unrealistic expectations of jurors wanting forensic evidence during court cases after the popularity of forensic science in crime dramas (Franzen; Wise). After the arrest of James Davis in Armidale, NSW, Australia, the <em>Sydney Morning Herald</em> reported that Davis was the patriarch of the “House of Cadifor” and he was part of a “cult” (both reported in inverted commas). The article also includes an assumption from Davis's lawyer that, in discussing the women of the group, “the Crown might say ‘they’ve been brainwashed’”. Similarly, the article references the use of matching collars by the women (Mitchell). <em>Nine News</em> reported that the “ex-soldier allegedly forced tattooed, collared sex slave into prostitution”, bringing attention to the clothing as part of the coercive techniques of Davis. While the article does not designate the House of Cadifor as a cult, they include a quote from the Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough, “Mr Davis' group has cult-like qualities”, and included the keyword ‘cults’ for the article.</p> <p>Regrettably, the myth of cults and real-world behaviours of NRMs do not always align, and a false convergence is drawn between the two. Furthermore, the consistent parodying and voyeuristic nature of on-screen cults means we might be at fault of euphemising the crimes and behaviours of those deemed to be part of a ‘cult’. Anecdotally, the way Armidale locals discussed Davis was through a lens of excitement and titillation, as if watching a fictional story unfold in their own backyard. The conversations and news reporting focussed on the cult-like aspects of Davis and not the abhorrence of the alleged crimes. We must remain mindful that the cinematic semiology of cults and the myth as represented by their uniform dress and behaviours is incongruent with the nature of NRMs. However, more work needs to be done to better understand the impact of on-screen cults on real-world attitudes and beliefs.</p> <h1><strong>Conclusion</strong></h1> <p>The myth of the cult has entered a shared understanding within today’s zeitgeist, and the uniform of the cult stands at its heart as a key sign of the myth. Popular culture plays a key role in shaping this shared understanding by following the cultural script, slowly layering fact with fiction, just as fact begins to incorporate the fiction. The language of the cult as communicated through their uniforms is, we would argue, universally understood and purposeful. The ubiquitous representation of cults portrays a deviant group, often medicalised, and subject to deviance amplification and convergence. When a group of characters is presented to the audience in the same cult dress, we know what is being communicated to us. Fictional cults in popular culture continue to mirror the common list of negative features attributed to many new religious movements. Such fictional framing has come to inform media-consumer attitudes in much the same way as news media, reflecting as they do the cultural stock of knowledge from which our understandings are drawn, and which has little grounding in the direct or immediate experience of the phenomena in question. In short, the nature of NRMs has become confused with the myth of the cult. More research is needed to understand the impact of the myth of the cult. However, it is important to ensure <em>“what-goes-without-saying”</em> is not obfuscating, euphemising, or otherwise misrepresenting nature.</p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Barthes, Roland. <em>Elements of Semiology</em>. 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"How Do You Know When You’re in a Cult? The Continuing Influence of Peoples Temple and Jonestown in Contemporary Minority Religions and Popular Culture." <em>Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions </em>22.2 (2018): 93-114..</p> <p>“Cult Visit, The.” <em>The Red and Green Show. </em>S&amp;S Production. 1998.</p> <p>De Saussure, Ferdinand. "Nature of the Linguistic Sign." <em>Course in General Linguistics </em>1 (1916): 65-70.</p> <p>Dillon, Jane, and James Richardson. "The ‘Cult' Concept: A Politics of Representation Analysis." <em>SYZYGY: Journal of Alternative Religion and Culture </em>3 (1994): 185-97.</p> <p>Feltmate, David. "The Humorous Reproduction of Religious Prejudice: 'Cults' and Religious Humour in the Simpsons, South Park, and King of the Hill." <em>The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture </em>24.2 (2012): 201-16.</p> <p>Franzen, R. "CSI Effect on Potential Jurors Has Some Prosecutors Worried." <em>San Diego Union-Tribune </em>16 (2002).</p> <p>Hackett, Lisa J. "‘Biography of the Self’: Why Australian Women Wear 1950s Style Clothing." <em>Fashion, Style &amp; Popular Culture </em>9.1-2 (2022): 1-2.</p> <p>Heavens Gate. <em>How and When "Heaven's Gate" May Be Entered: An Anthology of Our Materials.</em> Mill Spring, NC: Wild Flower P, 1997.</p> <p>Hoffmann, Bill, and Cathy Burke. <em>Heaven's Gate: Cult Suicide in San Diego</em>. HarperCollins, 1997.</p> <p>Horowitz, Ruth. <em>Honor and the American Dream: Culture and Identity in a Chicano Community</em>. Rutgers UP, 1983.</p> <p>Iannaccone, Laurence R. "Why Strict Churches Are Strong." <em>American Journal of Sociology </em>99.5 (1994): 1180-211.</p> <p>Jackson, John A., and R. Jobling. "Toward an Analysis of Contemporary Cults." <em>A Sociological Yearbook of Religion in Britain</em>. Ed. David Martin. London: SCM, 1968.</p> <p>"The Joy of Sect." <em>The Simpsons</em>. Dir. S.D. Moore. Fox, 1998.</p> <p>Kail, Tony M. <em>Narco-Cults: Understanding the Use of Afro-Caribbean and Mexican Religious Cultures in the Drug Wars</em>. CRC Press, 2017.</p> <p>Kelley, Dean M. <em>Why Conservative Churches Are Growing: A Study in Sociology of Religion</em>. New York: Harper and Row, 1972.</p> <p>Lauger, Timothy R. "Gangs, Identity, and Cultural Performance." <em>Sociology Compass </em>14.4 (2020): e12772.</p> <p>———. <em>Real Gangstas: Legitimacy, Reputation, and Violence in the Intergang Environment</em>. Ithaca, NY: Rutgers UP, 2012.</p> <p>McKinnell, Jamie. "Alleged Sex 'Cult' Leader James Davis's Trial Will Hear from 70 Witnesses, Court Hears." <em>ABC News </em>2021.</p> <p>Melton, J. Gordon. <em>Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America</em>. Routledge, 2014.</p> <p>Mitchell, Georgina. "James Davis Refused Bail over ‘Holding Woman as Slave, Coercing Her into Sex Work’." <em>The Sydney Morning Herald </em>17 Mar<em>. </em>2021. &lt;<a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/james-davis-refused-bail-over-holding-woman-as-slave-coercing-her-into-sex-work-20210317-p57bn7.html">https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/james-davis-refused-bail-over-holding-woman-as-slave-coercing-her-into-sex-work-20210317-p57bn7.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Nelson, Geoffrey K. "The Spiritualist Movement and the Need for a Redefinition of Cult." <em>Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion </em>8.1 (1969): 152-60.</p> <p>Nine News. "Ex-Soldier Allegedly Forced Tattooed, Collared Sex Slave into Prostitution." <em>Nine News </em>Mar. 2021. &lt;<a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/james-davis-house-of-cadifor-alleged-slave-forced-into-sex/48738435-74cd-403d-acc9-e998f7cad08c">https://www.9news.com.au/national/james-davis-house-of-cadifor-alleged-slave-forced-into-sex/48738435-74cd-403d-acc9-e998f7cad08c</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Olson, Paul J. "The Public Perception of 'Cults' and 'New Religious Movements'." <em>Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion </em>45.1 (2006): 97-106.</p> <p>Petherick, Wayne. "Chapter 20 – Cults." <em>The Psychology of Criminal and Antisocial Behavior</em>. Eds. Wayne Petherick and Grant Sinnamon. Academic Press, 2017. 565-88.</p> <p>Pfeifer, Jeffrey E. "The Psychological Framing of Cults: Schematic Representations and Cult Evaluations." <em>Journal of Applied Social Psychology </em>22.7 (1992): 531-44.</p> <p>Polletta, Francesca, and James M. Jasper. "Collective Identity and Social Movements." <em>Annual Review of Sociology </em>27 (2001): 283-305.</p> <p>Richardson, James T. "Definitions of Cult: From Sociological-Technical to Popular-Negative." <em>Review of Religious Research </em>34.4 (1993): 348-56..</p> <p>Rudin, Marcia R. "The Cult Phenomenon: Fad or Fact." <em>NYU Rev. L. &amp; Soc. Change </em>9 (1979): 17.</p> <p>Salvatore, D. "Soul Searching: Cults Targeting an Older Pool of Recruits." <em>Ladies Home Journal, Chicago Sun Times </em>1987.</p> <p>Sconce, Jeffrey. "Star Trek, Heaven’s Gate, and Textual Transcendence." <em>Cult Television</em> (2004): 199-222.</p> <p>Simmel, Georg. "Fashion." <em>International Quarterly </em>10.1 (1904): 136.</p> <p>Szubin, Adam, Carl J. Jensen III, and Rod Gregg. "Interacting with Cults: A Policing Model." <em>FBI L. Enforcement Bull. </em>69 (2000): 16.</p> <p><em>Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt</em>. Netflix, 2020.</p> <p>Veblen, Thorstein. <em>The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions</em>. London: Allen &amp; Unwin, 1924.</p> <p>Wilkins, Leslie T. <em>Social Deviance: Social Policy, </em><em>Action</em><em> and Research</em>. Routledge, 2013.</p> <p>Wise, Jenny. "Providing the CSI Treatment: Criminal Justice Practitioners and the CSI Effect." <em>Current Issues in Criminal Justice </em>21.3 (2010): 383-99.</p> Huw Nolan, Jenny Wise, Lesley McLean Copyright (c) 2023 Huw Nolan, Lesley, Jenny http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2971 Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 The Pope’s New Clothes https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2966 <h1>Introduction</h1> <p>Since his election to the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has garnered international headlines for his environmental activism. His decision to adopt Francis as his papal name communicated to the public how his papacy would be advocating the environmental ethics associated with his namesake Saint Francis of Assisi. As part of his environmental activism and commitment to centring the socioeconomic injustices faced by the poor in public messages, Pope Francis deliberately incorporates modest, rather bare vestments into his papal uniform. He has emerged as a men’s fashion icon primarily due to his humble institutional uniform and public critiques of the wasteful consumerism commonly associated with contemporary consumer culture and the fashion industry.</p> <p>Pope Francis’s individualised approach to the papal uniform is not unique to his papacy. His selection of vestments and regalia is situated within a larger visual history of pontiffs selecting their religious uniform to brand and circulate their papal persona in public discourse and popular culture, evident through the actions of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. As the leader of the Catholic Church, the pontiff represents the institution’s brand identity. Following Naomi Klein’s analysis of institutional branding, the characteristics associated with a pontiff’s public image provide an opportunity for the Catholic Church to revitalise its image for global audiences (Klein “How Corporate”). Through a textual analysis of select media coverage of pontiffs and their approach to the papal uniform, this article discusses how Pope Francis’s religious uniform functions as a mechanism to extend the symbolic institutional power of the Catholic Church as a brand in popular culture by negotiating ideas of austerity.</p> <h1>The Institutional Politics of the Uniform as a Form of Communication</h1> <p>Fashion and clothing are important modes of communication that enable an individual to nonverbally signal their identity and belonging to various social groups, causes, and institutions (Barnard; Coghlan; Craik). An understudied but widespread element of everyday life, the uniform is a powerful signifier of the ideological and discursive formations reproduced by social institutions (Craik). Uniforms played not only an essential role for social organisation within modernity, but for Jane Tynan and Lisa Godson their materiality has significantly shaped the imagery of visual culture (8). Scholars including Jennifer Craik, William Keenan, and Q. Colville have addressed how uniforms negotiate gendered politics due to the prevalence of such garments within institutional spheres such as the military, healthcare, and religion. Influenced by Foucault’s view of the uniform as a mechanism to brand the body as under the power, authority, and control of the institution, Tynan and Godson have extended this argument to identify the relationship between uniforms, social structures, and violent practices of colonisation and imperial dominance (10-15).</p> <p>The institutional power of the uniform also extends to the papacy and the Catholic Church. In her historical analysis of papal regalia, Maureen C. Miller argues that during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the uniform may not have been viewed by large audiences, but popes were beginning to understand how their vestments were a powerful communicative tool shaping their public image. Combined with the increasing theatrically of the pontiff, Miller argues that “performative uses of clothing were significant not for the complexity of the messages they conveyed but for their strategic aim to make simple points <em>memorably </em>and to promote their diffusion” (293). Her analysis underscores how the papal uniform – and the individual way in which different pontiffs have approached donning vestments – represents a significant visual communicative history which continues to intensify in contemporary media culture.</p> <p>In a retrospective discussing papal regalia, <em>Vanity Fair </em>alluded to this extensive history. Evoking the theatricality discussed by Miller, <em>Vanity Fair </em>compared previous popes’ uniform choices to rap artists and the individuality of <em>Sex and the City </em>characters, noting that the Catholic Church’s leaders “have historically exhibited a daring sense of style over their 2,000 years in the high office” (Miller). Following Miller’s argument, Pope Francis’s approach to his papal uniform is purposefully designed to <em>memorably</em> communicative his environmental message, a core aspect of his brand identity. The message of his simple approach to the papal uniform cannot be adequately addressed without placing it within the sartorial choices of his predecessors, especially Pope Benedict XVI and his preference for communicating authority and power through opulence.</p> <h1>Approaches to the Papal Uniform since the 1960s</h1> <p>Fashion has always played a significant role in communicating the institutional power and brand identity of the Catholic Church. Beginning in the mid-1960s with the creation of the Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI, the vestments comprising the papal uniform became the subject of increased media attention. Pope Paul VI’s move towards eliminating the more ostentatious robes and accessories associated with the papacy included his “dramatic gesture” to auction a papal tiara – which <em>The New York Times</em> estimated was worth roughly $80,000 in 1964 – with proceeds donated to charities and organisations assisting the poor (“Pope Paul Donates His Jeweled Tiara to Poor of World”).</p> <p>In a sociohistorical analysis of papal fashion, <em>The Guardian</em> argued that the decision by Pope Paul VI to auction the accessories of the papal uniform that were intended to mediate the Catholic Church’s institutional power represented his mandate to appear “more in touch with the people” (Conway). Pope Paul VI’s understanding of the communicative power of the papal uniform to symbolise the institutional values of the Catholic Church’s brand identity draws parallels to Pope Francis. The strategic curation of papal vestments and accessories demonstrates that the role of institutional uniforms for practices of brand and image management is not unique to the contemporary cultural moment.</p> <p>Although Pope John Paul II was known to enjoy a fondness for Rolex watches (which <em>Teen Vogue</em> cites as an iconic papal fashion moment), the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI coincided with a drastic resurgence in the grandiose garments neglected by his predecessors (Webster). With a preference for pre-Vatican II luxurious self, velvet, and fur pieces like the cape-style mozzetta, <em>The Guardian</em> contends that Pope Benedict XVI’s papal uniform represented a shift away from the communal emphasis of Pope Paul VI towards reviving the Catholic Church’s hegemonic heritage and tradition within visual culture. <em>The Guardian</em> argues that “at a time of global economic uncertainty, and with the Church struggling to retain its flock in an increasingly secularised world, reinforcing tradition and underlining the continuity of ritual was a bold and, Benedict felt, necessary direction” (Conway). The newspaper situates Pope Benedict XVI’s sartorial preference for his papal uniform within the larger trend of couture houses like Alexander McQueen and Chanel revisiting their archives.</p> <p>Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy oversaw the Catholic Church experiencing a significant decline in global authority and symbolic power due to the continued fallout from numerous scandals, including the longstanding history of sexual abuse allegations and charges of embezzlement at the Institute for the Works of Religion, the official bank of the Vatican. Combined with his highly conservative doctrinal approach and unwillingness to adapt the church’s position on key human rights and social justice issues, including LGBQT+ acceptance within the institution, Pope Benedict XVI’s conspicuous taste and approach to the papal uniform was symbolic of his leadership. His regalia and vestments mediated an undesirable brand identity as a pontiff largely disconnected from the realities of his public.</p> <p>Pope Benedict was also reported by the press to enjoy conspicuous designer accessories, in particular his Gucci sunglasses and, most notably, allegedly preferred to wear Prada for his papal shoes. In line with his symbolic approach to the papacy, Benedict revived the wearing of red shoes by the pope (with red a signifier of martyrs’ blood). <em>Esquire </em>labelled Pope Benedict XVI as their 2007 “Accessorizer of the Year”, primarily for incorporating a signature “ornate” footwear into his institutional religious uniform (“Best Dressed Men in America”). Conversely, Pope John Paul II’s papacy signified a shift away from this aspect of the papal uniform, preferring burgundy over a blood red colouring.</p> <p>The Vatican subsequently corrected that Pope Benedict XVI’s red papal shoes were not Prada but rather commissioned specifically for him by Italian cobblers (Fetters Maloy). However, the idea that Benedict incorporated Prada shoes into the institutional papal uniform had become repeated by numerous cultural intermediaries ranging from the Associated Press to <em>Women’s Wear</em> Daily,to the extent that it is now entrenched into the popular imaginary. Upon his retirement in 2013, <em>The Cut </em>argued Pope Benedict would be primarily remembered for the “pair of bright red Prada loafers that he almost always wore beneath his robes” (Cowles). When Pope Francis arrived in Washington, D.C. for his 2015 visit to the United States, <em>USA Today </em>celebrated the event with the brazen headline, “Pope Francis arrives and he’s not the ‘Prada Pope’” (Puente). Reflecting upon his divisive legacy after his death in December 2022, <em>The Daily Beast </em>continued circulating this narrative, writing that when Benedict XVI was elected to the papacy, he donned “Prada slippers and stumbled his way through a papacy fraught with controversy” (Latza Nadeau). It is within this context of Pope Benedict’s hegemonically ornate approach to the papal uniform that Pope Francis’s modest and humble styling of his vestments registered with the public as a mechanism for branding his public image.</p> <h1>The Role of the Uniform for Pope Francis’s Brand Identity</h1> <p>For his public introduction after the 2013 papal conclave to those pilgrims gathered in St. Peters Square, Pope Francis shaped the tone, narrative, and messaging of his papacy through his unique and calculated approach to the Church’s institutional uniform. His decision to appear on the balcony wearing a basic white cassock with an unadorned crucifix around his neck exemplifies Tynan and Godson’s argument that uniforms can act as a form of “self-preservation” within the context of institutional power (18). Pope Francis is not only the pontiff, but his image and persona work to maintain the institutional brand identity of the Catholic Church (Moir). His selection and wearing of a cassock demonstrate that Pope Francis is aware of how his image and persona will be critiqued by the public and cultural intermediaries.</p> <p>Pope Francis’s first encyclical published in 2015, <em>Laudato Si’</em>, argues that the environmental crisis (which he blames on wasteful consumerism) disproportionally impacts on the planet’s most socioeconomically marginalised communities. The correlation of climate change with the injustices faced by the poor is highlighted by scholars including Bruno Latour and Anne F. MacLennan for exemplifying Pope Francis’s radical approach prioritising empathy to the papacy. Pope Francis’s uniform performs his environmental activism by signifying how discourses of sustainability and ethical consumption are core social justice issues for the Church. Through rejecting the opulent vestments for a modest white cassock and wearing sandals rather than red shoes, sartorial decisions were strategically made to communicate his symbolic approach to the papacy through the power of the uniform.</p> <p>His sartorial approach to the papal regalia comprising his religious uniform ignited extensive public conversations concerning how Pope Francis’s image – humble, modest, advocating for the poor, environmental activist – would improve the Catholic Church’s brand identity amidst numerous scandals. Fashion critic Vanessa Friedman’s discussion of Pope Francis is a potent example of the type of public commentary from cultural intermediaries that framed the symbolic power of his papal uniform for the Church’s re-branding efforts:</p> <blockquote> <p>Pope Francis hasn’t really had a chance to do anything in terms of influencing doctrine – except appear in moments broadcast to millions … they can all make their own assumption based on how he looks. There was a very clear rationale behind his decision to eschew the more fancy, ermine-trimmed red and purple robes of Pope Benedict in favour of plain white vestments; to swap the fold cross for an iron version. The choices telegraphed the importance of humility; the importance of recognizing and working with the poor; and the need, in a time of austerity, to acknowledge the suffering and deprivations of others. It was a discreet but unmistakable announcement of a new agenda, using the tools most immediately and least aggressively available. (“Pope and Circumstance”)</p> </blockquote> <p>Friedman’s analysis is particularly noteworthy because she underlines how the papal uniform has always been subject to personal interpretation based upon the brand identity of the pontiff. More significantly, she connects Pope Francis’s selection of papal regalia to his environmental politics and social justice activism. The uniform possesses greater symbolic power than Pope Francis’s actions. His uniform emphasises the frames, narratives, and discursive schemas grounding his brand identity that is then circulated by cultural intermediaries as in the example of Friedman’s analysis.</p> <p>In a feature detailing the impact of Pope Francis’s papacy on the fashion industry, <em>The New York Times </em>highlighted the cultural impact of the pontiff’s religious uniform. Italian fashion designer Silvia Venturini Fendi is cited by <em>The New York Times</em> as recognising the rise of sustainability in high fashion, making a direct association to Pope Francis’s criticism of wasteful consumerism: “we have a new pope going back to real Christianity, which lately was far from the church … . People are looking for meaning, and the real meaning of fashion is as a tool to express yourself. Sometimes fashion hides your language, but we look for meaning in materials and fabrics to allow true personality to come out” (Menkes). <em>Esquire </em>named Pope Francis their “Best Dressed Man of 2013”, an honour bestowed upon the pontiff for how his sartorial approach to the papal uniform signified the Catholic Church’s rebranding efforts. Justifying their selection over other candidates like Bradley Cooper and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, <em>Esquire </em>cites New York University professor Ann Pellegrini, who situates Pope Francis’s papal uniform as a powerful signifier of his brand identity: “the humility of his garments offers a way to visibly display his theological and material concerns for the poor. This Holy Roman emperor really does have new clothes” (Berlinger). Fendi and <em>Esquire</em>’s positioning of Pope Francis’s papal regalia as an institutional yet personal communicative tool underscores how his religious uniform performs a critical function to reshape the public narratives and discourses shaping judgements on the Catholic Church.</p> <p>Pope Francis’s celebrity status and the deliberate rejection of lavish vestments helped initiate a wider discourse on the politics of the papal uniform in media and popular culture. In 2018, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute debuted their annual fashion exhibit <em>Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination</em>, showcasing both the influence of Catholicism for numerous designers (such as Alexander McQueen and Versace) as well as the visual politics of the Church’s institutional uniform (Bolton). The debut of <em>Heavenly Bodies</em> was the focus of the 2018 Costume Institute Gala, the prestigious – and highly exclusionary – annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Rihanna attended wearing a papal-inspired Margiela bejewelled minidress with a matching jacket and mitre (Syme). Proclaimed as “Pope Rihanna” by Twitter users, her choice of embodying an opulent imagination of the papal uniform received extensive attention by the press and the public on social media (“The Most Hilarious Twitter Reactions to Rihanna’s Met Gala Look”).</p> <p><em>Teen Vogue</em> argued that Rihanna’s thematic outfit functioned as a form of activism by highlighting the gender discrimination within the organisational structure of the Catholic Church (Papisova). Despite advocating against social injustices, Pope Francis’s continued denial of women becoming priests remains one of the major criticisms of his papacy. Although Pope Francis has employed his papal vestments and regalia to perform a social justice-oriented mandate for his papacy, there are limits to the advocacy of his institutional uniform which must balance and negotiate the complex politics of the Catholic Church.</p> <h1>Conclusion</h1> <p>Papal vestments and regalia play an important communicative role in visual culture. Prior to 2018’s Met Gala, <em>Vox</em> argued that “instead of watching celebrities at the MET Gala Monday night, pay attention to what the pope wears everyday” (Burton). <em>Vox</em> highlights the symbolic power of the pontiff as an institutional figure to negotiate various trends and social shifts circulating in public discourse. <em>Heavenly Bodies</em> and the larger discussions by cultural intermediaries analysing papal fashion exemplifies how the papal uniform contributes to the symbolic power of the Catholic Church in public discourse and media culture.</p> <p>The papal vestments comprising the pontiff’s institutional uniform is a critical element of Pope Francis’s public persona, and his sartorial tactics signify a larger visual history of institutional branding through fashion. Pope Francis is an intriguing example of a celebrated public figure utilising the iconicity of his institutional uniform to mediate ideas about sustainability, environmental ethics, austerity, and consumption. However, cultural intermediaries focussing on the symbolism of such regalia shift attentions away from the Catholic Church’s institutional power and reduce opportunities to critique Pope Francis on key social justice issues, such as the treatment of women, the role of the Church in colonisation, and continued sexual abuse allegations.</p> <h2>References</h2> <p>Barnard, Malcolm. “Fashion as Communication Revisited.” <em>Popular Communication</em> 18.4 (2020): 259-271.</p> <p>Berlinger, Max. “The Best Dressed Man of 2013: Pope Francis.” <em>Esquire</em>, 27 Dec. 2013. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.esquire.com/style/mens-fashion/a26527/pope-francis-style-2013/">https://www.esquire.com/style/mens-fashion/a26527/pope-francis-style-2013/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>“Best Dressed Men in America: The Awards.” <em>Esquire</em>, 20 Aug. 2007. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.esquire.com/style/a3312/bestdressedawards0907/">https://www.esquire.com/style/a3312/bestdressedawards0907/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Bolton, Andrew. <em>Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination</em>. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018.</p> <p>Coghlan, Jo. “Dissent Dressing: The Colour and Fabric of Political Rage.” <em>M/C Journal</em> 22.1 (2019). DOI: 10.5204/mcj.1497.</p> <p>Conway, Henry. “Pope Benedict: His True Legacy is His Fashion Sense.” <em>The Guardian</em>, 3 March 2013. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/fashion-blog/2013/mar/03/pope-benedict-true-legacy-fashion-sense">https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/fashion-blog/2013/mar/03/pope-benedict-true-legacy-fashion-sense</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Cowles, Charlotte. “An Ode to Pope Benedict XVI’s Sassy Footwear.” <em>The Cut</em>, 11 Feb. 2013. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.thecut.com/2013/02/ode-to-pope-benedict-xvis-sassy-footwear.html">https://www.thecut.com/2013/02/ode-to-pope-benedict-xvis-sassy-footwear.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Craik, Jennifer. “The Cultural Politics of the Uniform.” <em>Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture</em> 7.2 (2003): 127-147.</p> <p>———. <em>Fashion: The Key Concepts</em>. Berg, 2009.</p> <p>Fetters Maloy, Ashley. “The Hidden Meanings of Pope Benedict XVI’s Ruby-Red Shoes.” <em>The Washington Post</em>, 31 Dec. 2022.</p> <p>Friedman, Vanessa. “Pope and Circumstance.” <em>Financial Times</em>, 20 Mar. 2013. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/e81f0f66-9234-11e2-851f-00144feabdc0">https://www.ft.com/content/e81f0f66-9234-11e2-851f-00144feabdc0</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Keenan, William J.F. “Dissolving Vatican Uniform Hegemony: The Marist Road to Dress Freedom.” <em>Uniform: Clothing and Discipline in the Modern World</em>. Eds. Jane Tynan and Lisa Godson. Bloomsbury, 2019. 87-106.</p> <p>Klein, Naomi. “How Corporate Branding Has Taken Over America.” <em>The Guardian</em>, 16 Jan. 2010. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jan/16/naomi-klein-branding-obama-america">https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jan/16/naomi-klein-branding-obama-america</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Latour, Bruno. “The Immense Cry Channeled by Pope Francis.” <em>Environmental Humanities</em> 8.2 (2016). 251-255.</p> <p>Latza Nadeau, Barbie. “Death of Pope Benedict XVI Raises Question of His Legacy as Protector of Predator Priests.” <em>The Daily Beast</em>, 31 Dec. 2022. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/pope-benedict-xvi-will-be-remembered-as-the-enabler-and-protector-of-predator-priests">https://www.thedailybeast.com/pope-benedict-xvi-will-be-remembered-as-the-enabler-and-protector-of-predator-priests</a>&gt;.</p> <p>MacLennan, Anne F. “Promoting Pity or Empathy? Poverty and Canadian Charitable Appeals.” <em>Advertising, Consumer Culture, and Canadian Society</em>. Ed. Kyle Asquith. Oxford: Oxford UP 2019. 225-243.</p> <p>Menkes, Suzy. “Fashion and the Power of the Pulpit.” <em>The New York Times</em>, 15 July 2013. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/fashion/16iht-frome16.html">https://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/fashion/16iht-frome16.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Miller, Julie. “From Lipstick-Red Loafers to Pontiff Bling Rings, the Most Fascinating Papal Fashion Choices.” <em>Vanity Fair</em>, 14 Mar. 2013. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/style/photos/2013/03/pope-francis-jorge-mario-bergoglio-papal-fashion">https://www.vanityfair.com/style/photos/2013/03/pope-francis-jorge-mario-bergoglio-papal-fashion</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Miller, Maureen C. “Clothing as Communication? Vestments and Views of the Papacy c. 1300.” <em>Journal of Medieval History</em> 44.3 (2018): 280-293.</p> <p>Moir, Aidan. <em>Punk, Obamacare, and a Jesuit: Branding the Iconic Ideals of Vivienne Westwood, Barack Obama, and Pope Francis</em>. 2021. PhD thesis. York University. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10315/38473/Moir_Aidan_M_2021_Phd.pdf?sequence=2&amp;isAllowed=y">https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10315/38473/Moir_Aidan_M_2021_Phd.pdf?sequence=2&amp;isAllowed=y</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Papisova, Vera. “The Catholic Church Should Learn from Rihanna’s 2018 Met Gala Look.” <em>Teen Vogue</em>, 8 May 2018. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.teenvogue.com/story/the-catholic-church-should-learn-from-rihannas-2018-met-gala-look">https://www.teenvogue.com/story/the-catholic-church-should-learn-from-rihannas-2018-met-gala-look</a>&gt;.</p> <p>“Pope Paul Donates His Jeweled Tiara to Poor of World.” <em>The New York Times</em>, 14 Nov. 1964. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1964/11/14/archives/pope-paul-donates-his-jeweled-tiara-to-poor-of-world.html">https://www.nytimes.com/1964/11/14/archives/pope-paul-donates-his-jeweled-tiara-to-poor-of-world.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Puente, Maria. “Pope Francis Arrives and He’s Not the ‘Prada Pope.’” <em>USA Today</em>, 23 Sep. 2015. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2015/09/22/pope-francis-arrives-and-hes-not-prada-pope/72634962/">https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2015/09/22/pope-francis-arrives-and-hes-not-prada-pope/72634962/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Syme, Rachel. “Pope Rihanna and Other Revelations from the Catholic-Theme 2018 Met Gala.” <em>The New Yorker</em>, 8 May 2018. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.newyorker.com/culture/on-and-off-the-avenue/pope-rihanna-and-other-revelations-from-the-catholic-themed-2018-met-gala">https://www.newyorker.com/culture/on-and-off-the-avenue/pope-rihanna-and-other-revelations-from-the-catholic-themed-2018-met-gala</a>&gt;.</p> <p>“The Most Hilarious Twitter Reactions to Rihanna’s Met Gala Look.” <em>Harper’s Bazaar</em>, 8 May 2018. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.harpersbazaar.com.sg/life/celebrities/twitter-reaction-rihanna-met-gala-look/">https://www.harpersbazaar.com.sg/life/celebrities/twitter-reaction-rihanna-met-gala-look/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Tynan, Jane, and Lisa Godson. “Understanding Uniform: An Introduction.” <em>Uniform: Clothing and Discipline in the Modern World</em>. Eds. Jane Tynan and Lisa Godson. Bloomsbury, 2019. 1-22.</p> <p>Webster, Emma Sarran. “10 Iconic Moments in Papal Fashion History to Celebrate Met Gala 2018.” <em>Teen Vogue</em>, 3 May 2018. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://www.teenvogue.com/gallery/pope-fashion-history-met-gala-2018">https://www.teenvogue.com/gallery/pope-fashion-history-met-gala-2018</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Zargani, Luisa. “Pope Francis’ Simple Style Statement.” <em>Women’s Wear Daily</em>, 21 Sep. 2015. 25 Jan. 2023 &lt;<a href="https://wwd.com/eye/people/pope-francis-simple-style-statement-10235021/">https://wwd.com/eye/people/pope-francis-simple-style-statement-10235021/</a>&gt;.</p> Aidan Moir Copyright (c) 2023 Aidan Moir http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2966 Tue, 14 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 Many Bodies, One Heart https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2908 <h1><strong>Introduction</strong></h1> <p>The Uluru Statement from the Heart (2017) offers an opportunity for the nation to cement the foundation for prosperous Indigenous futures and meaningful reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. In this article, we discuss the theme of uniformity in relation to the “From the Heart” campaign which seeks to enact the Uluru Statement by establishing a constitutionally enshrined First Nations’ Voice to Parliament via a referendum.</p> <p>It is important however that we first clarify our use of the word <em>uniform</em> as we do not wish to suggest that all supporters of the Uluru Statement from the Heart are homogenous in their views or positioning. Far from it, the campaign aims to generate support from all walks of life, and with this, it naturally conjures diverse opinions, and at times disagreement (Pearson). Whilst unification corresponds to different persons coming together to form a collective whole – and the From the Heart Campaign can certainly be characterised in this way – uniformity refers to the uncompromising stance needed to enact the reform proposed in the Statement.</p> <p>In this article, we discuss how a constitutionally enshrined First Nations’ Voice to Parliament is the heart of the Uluru Statement and how the push towards a referendum requires not just a unified and united response, but one that is uniformed in its resolve – that is unwavering, steadfast, and determined in delivering its vision of a constitutionally enshrined First Nations’ Voice to Parliament. We therefore consider how images, symbols, icons, and material objects – both digital and tangible – are used to unite the campaigns’ supporters by presenting a uniformed front that advocates for constitutional reform.</p> <h1><strong>The Heart as Uniform and Icon</strong></h1> <p>Bleiker argues that icons, particularly within the digital space, are effective means of communication due to their ability to quickly disseminate messages in succinct and memorising ways that are relevant and responsive to its users’ needs (Petray; Carlson et al. ‘They Got Filters’; Fredericks and Bradfield ‘Disrupting the Colonial’). The ability of digital media to spread messages over vast distances and in ways that compress time and space, however, also means that the icons communicated through media such as memes (Blackmore; Petray; Fredericks and Bradfield ‘Co-Designing Change’) are in danger of becoming fleeting, empty, or meaningless (Fredericks and Bradfield ‘Disrupting the Colonial’; Petray; Carlson and Frazer ‘Indigenous activism’). Bleiker (9) warns that “when images are produced and circulated with ever greater speed and reach, icons can emerge in a short period. But this very proliferation of images can also lead to a situation where icons are short-lived and soon become superseded from their original setting”.</p> <p>Due to the fluid and often fickle nature of online culture where symbols and images are quickly adopted, transformed, repurposed, disposed, and replaced, icons are most powerful when they reflect a uniformed message, for uniforms demonstrate stability, endurance, and longevity. Uniforms therefore share some affiliation with icons in their ability to transmit messages of social significance. In their sociological study of uniforms, Joseph and Alex (719) argue that</p> <blockquote> <p>the uniform is viewed as a device to resolve certain dilemmas of complex organizations – namely, to define their boundaries, to assure that members will conform to their goals, and to eliminate conflicts in the status sets of their members. The uniform serves several functions: it acts as a totem, reveals and conceals statuses, certifies legitimacy, and suppresses individuality. The interaction of these components and the acceptance or rejection of the uniform and its associated status by the wearer are described.</p> </blockquote> <p>The use of hearts during the Uluru Statement from the Heart campaign can be likened to icons that convey uniformed messages relating to the need for constitutional reform and the creation of a First Nations’ Voice to Parliament. Repeated imagery of hearts, particularly in the colours of the Aboriginal flag – black, red, and yellow – alongside images of Uluru – an unmistakable icon of Aboriginality – has the potential to provoke political and social discussion amongst those who witness them. Online media have provided fora where information and support for the campaign has been shared, creating some uniformity amongst diverse audiences (Fredericks and Bradfield ‘Seeking to be Heard’; ‘More than a thought’). Emoticons, symbols, and hashtags have formed a type of digital uniform that has congealed ideas and helped centralise messages (Grieve-Williams), in this case in relation to the importance of the constitutional enshrinement of a First Nations’ Voice to Parliament.</p> <p>A heart also describes a centralised location that drives action or is seen to represent the underlying ethos of a community, movement, or object. In terms of physiology, the heart is located at the centre of a body and sustains life by pumping blood throughout the cardiovascular system. Similarly, Uluru is physically located in Central Australia, with many considering it as symbolling the geographical and spiritual heart of the nation. Whilst Uluru will always remain a part of the sacred grounds of the Anangu People (Schultz), its iconography resonates with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples throughout the nation, acting as a beacon for Indigenous rights and sovereignty. For the Anangu People, Uluru is a site of conflict resolution and great power (Anandakugan), making it an appropriate icon of reconciliation, Makarrata, and healing relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/bradfield-1.png" alt="" width="647" height="1005" /></p> <h1><strong>Wearing Our Hearts on Our Sleeves</strong></h1> <p>Amongst other things, jewelry, art, and material objects function as communicative tools which present agreed-upon symbols and codes that represent messages that are collectively decided upon by a particular social group (Geertz; Shaw). Writing on art as a cultural system, Geertz (1488) famously observed how “it is out of participation in the general system of symbolic forms we call culture that participation in the particular we call art, which is in fact but a sector of it, is possible. A theory of art is thus at the same time a theory of culture, not an autonomous enterprise”. Langley writes on how human societies have used beads in jewelry to disseminate social information for at least 100,000 years. Throughout history, jewelry and fashion accessories have been used as visual representations of uniformity amongst activists and protestors (Gulliver). These icons aim to communicate an unwavering front which at times of protest or social upheaval often counter the icons and uniforms of opposing camps, whether the police force, military, or political rivals. The umbrella movement in Hong Kong is one visually striking example of uniformity and civil disobedience where pro-democracy messages were communicated via yellow umbrellas that contrasted the pro-establishment camp who wore blue (Radio Free Asia).</p> <p>The t-shirt for the Uluru campaign depicts an image of Uluru which visibly sits on the land but is also embedded below the surface of Country. Both parts collectively form the shape of a red heart. The shirt reads “We Support the Uluru Statement”, emitting the words “From the Heart”. This clever form of marketing invokes a sense of <em>communitas</em> amongst those who can collectively interpolate and understand its meaning (Turner). It is the shared knowledge that the statement comes “from the heart” (even though it is not written on the t-shirt) amongst those who form the collective “we” that gives the shirt a function that can be likened to a uniform. It is a visual embodiment of the Statement that seeks to “certify its legitimacy” (Joseph and Alex).</p> <p>Brooches and jewelry have also been used as means to provoke conversation and add social or political commentary during public engagements; often in satirical and/or ironic ways (Shaw). Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, for example, famously wore a brooch of a snake after being called an “unparalleled serpent” by Iraqi state media under the Saddam Hussein regime (Becker). For Albright, brooches complemented her political agenda and became part of her “diplomatic arsenal” (Becker), which she described as effective mnemic communication that helped generate greater understandings amongst the wider public (Albright). Whilst an expression of her individuality, the jewelry delivers a uniformed statement and commentary that defines boundaries, assures goals, and seeks to eliminate conflicts or ambiguity in the messages she seeks to deliver. In this respect, it functions as part of her uniform.</p> <p>Similarly, when Lady Hale, the president of the UK Supreme Court, claimed Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament was unlawful in 2019, she strategically wore a spider brooch (Cochrane and Belam). The imagery was quickly seized upon by activists who interpreted it as a symbol of the government’s dysfunction, or venomous nature, and printed the design on t-shirts. The shirts sold out in less than 24 hours and presented a uniformed front that both critiqued the government and raised money for a homeless shelter (Butchart).</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/bradfield-2.png" alt="" width="694" height="1032" /></p> <h1><strong>A Gift Worth Sharing</strong></h1> <p>The Uluru Statement was gifted to the Australian people to affirm the campaign as one <em>for</em> and <em>led</em> by the Australian public (Synott; Appleby and Davis). The decision to disseminate the outcomes of the National Convention via a poetic and concise statement, rather than a formalised petition or legal declaration, emphasises its intent to remain accessible to the public (Davis ‘The Long Road’). The fact that it was gifted to the public instead of being “presented” or “submitted” to government signifies that it is a gesture of good faith that invites the Australian people to join the movement, whilst also placing onus on the public to accept or reject the gift that is offered and placing pressure on the government to call a referendum (Mayor).</p> <p>In the spirit of the Uluru Statement’s gifting, heart icons and paraphernalia are often exchanged amongst its supporters with aim of building awareness and provoking conversation. One of the authors of this paper, Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, is known for having accumulated an extensive collection of heart objects, many of which have been gifted to her. These objects range from brooches, earrings, necklaces, and other forms of jewelry to clothes, fabrics, and novelty glasses. Although the medium varies, the heart iconography and messages remain uniform.</p> <p>The Uluru from the Heart Campaign, however, has suffered many arrhythmias, at times speeding up whilst at others becoming really slow. After the reforms were presented to the Australian Government in 2017, the then prime minister Malcom Turnbull rejected them on account that an Indigenous Voice to Parliament was undesirable, too “radical” in nature, and unlikely to pass a referendum (Wahlquist; Brennan). A media release from the government published on 26 October 2017 declared that “the Government does not believe such a radical change to our constitution’s representative institutions has any realistic prospect of being supported by a majority of Australians in a majority of States” (Prime Minister <em>et al</em>.). The chief executive of the Victorian Community Controlled Health Organisation, Jill Gallagher, has commented that many politicians were too preemptive in their dismissal of the reforms; and in doing so, prevented the public from engaging in the critical discussion that is needed before a referendum (Brennan). Public discussion is now increasing after the Albanese-led Labor government announced that a referendum will be held during their first term of their government, which was formed in 2022 (Kunc).</p> <p>Turnbull’s rejection was also premised on the notion that the Uluru Statement, and its call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament, was too uniform in its “take it or leave it” positioning, which the government was unwilling to commit to (Prime Minister <em>et al</em>.). After years of having reforms and recommendations diluted or ignored by governments, and political promises and commitments dismissed (see Fredericks for an example), the Referendum Council were unapologetic in their stance that the Statement remain untouched and unmanipulated by politicians and political agendas (Referendum Council). The proposed reforms are the manifestation of Indigenous peoples’ will and desire as expressed during the regional dialogue (Anderson, Davis, and Pearson; Davis and Williams). The Final Report of the Referendum Council reads that “it is the Council’s view that there is no practical purpose to suggesting changes to the Constitution <em>unless they are what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples want</em>” (Referendum Council, 5).</p> <p>It must be remembered that the Referendum Council was established by Malcom Turnbull in 2015, tasked with finding out what Indigenous peoples wanted to see in constitutional reform. Whilst the Turnbull government were willing to provide a <em>forum</em> in which Indigenous views on constitutional reform could be expressed, they were unwilling to honour their aspirations. After sharing deeply personal and at times traumatic stories of colonial harm and violence at the dialogues (Appleby and Davis), along with entertaining the idea of having greater input into parliamentary discussions, the flat-out rejection by the government was heartbreaking.</p> <p>Aboriginal lawyer, activist, and academic Noel Pearson spoke of the anguish caused by Malcolm Turnbull’s rejection in a Radio National interview, describing him as having “broken the hearts of the First Nations people of this country” (Brennan). Constitutional lawyer Megan Davis was with a young Indigenous law student who had participated in the regional dialogues when the interview aired (Davis ‘The Long Road’). Like many, this was the first she had heard of the Statement’s rejection. Davis recalls how “I could see her faith in the rule of law, fairness and equality – all the important characteristics of our public law system – drain from her face” (Davis, 2019). The impact of Turnbull’s rejection was described by some as “mean-spirited bastardry” (Wahlquist) and is articulated in a cartoon depicting a heart being surgically removed from Uluru (Grant). We wear heart icons as uniforms not only in support of the campaign but as a reminder of its fragility. Whilst hearts are prone to break, like all muscles it is through their tearing and growth that they become stronger.</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/bradfield-3.png" alt="" width="693" height="1124" /></p> <h1><strong>A Voice to Parliament</strong></h1> <p>The imagery of hearts aims to generate wider public recognition of the need to recognise First Nations’ peoples within Australia’s constitution via Voice, Truth, Treaty, and in that order (Davis and Williams; Fredericks and Bradfield ‘More than a Thought’; Larkin and Galloway). The need for a visible and uniformed campaign towards constitutional reform, however, is challenged when politicians including the former Indigenous Affairs minister Ken Wyatt (Anderson <em>et al</em>.) or former Greens and now independent senator Lidia Thorpe (Larkin and Maguire) question the premise that reforms such as a constitutionally enshrined First Nations’ Voice to Parliament are representative of Indigenous peoples’ will. Thorpe’s objection is based on the premise that Treaty should be sought first. Our criticism is not placed on their oppositional stance but rather on their false characterisation that it does not reflect the desire of the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as expressed through the Uluru Dialogues. Despite seven delegates walking out on the convention in protest that it would hinder Indigenous sovereignty via a treaty (Hobbs), the 13 regional dialogues conducted by the Referendum Council and led by Indigenous leaders such as Megan Davis, Pat Anderson, and numerous others, as well as delegates at Uluru, clearly expressed a near unanimous and uniformed decision to establish an Indigenous representative body that was protected by the constitutional enshrinement (Davis ‘The Long Road’; Davis and Williams; Fredericks and Bradfield ‘We Don’t Want to’). Subsequent polling has shown strong continued majority support amongst the public for a constitutionally enshrined voice (Centre for Governance and Public Policy; Ford and Blumer; Zillman, Wellauer and Brennan; Reconciliation Australia).</p> <p>Past reconciliation movements have centred around the notion of restoring relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples (Reynolds). This is problematic as colonisation in Australia was, and in many cases still is, dependent on the denial of Indigenous peoples and cultures, which was accompanied by epistemic and physical acts of violence (Moreton-Robinson; Lee, Richardson, and Ross). In 1999, then prime minister John Howard held a referendum on whether Australia should become a republic. Attached to the question was whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be recognised in the constitution’s preamble (Pearson, Davis, and Appleby ‘The Uluru Statement’). Despite this being rejected by Indigenous land councils and elected representatives, on account of its symbolism, Howard proceeded with the referendum which ultimately failed (Davis ‘The Status Quo’).</p> <p>The <em>Recognise</em> campaign ran from 2012 to 2017 and sought public awareness of questions relating to constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples. This too was rejected by Indigenous communities (Maddison). Online polling conducted by Indigenous-controlled media forum <em>IndigenousX </em>showed that only 32.3% of its respondents supported the campaign, with many criticising what they saw as a top-down approach tailored towards the appeasement of non-Indigenous sensibilities (Latimore; Fredericks and Bradfield ‘Disrupting the Colonial’). Reconciliation Australia, the organisation that led the campaign, however, stated that it was successful in generating public awareness, which increased from 30% to 75% nationally (Reconciliation Australia).</p> <h1><strong>Conclusion</strong></h1> <p>What sets the Uluru campaign apart from its predecessors such as <em>Recognise</em> is that it is a grassroots initiative that emerged out of Indigenous-led consultations and dialogues with community members and stakeholders. It was conceived with awareness of the “limitations of the political class” (Davis, ‘The Long Road’) – illustrated by the ineptitude of Turnbull and other critics – and consciously spoke to the hearts of the Australian public. To ensure that different Indigenous perspectives and interest groups were represented during the National Conference, 60% of attendees were traditional owners, 20% came from Aboriginal community organisations, and 20% were individual community members (Lee, Richardson, and Ross; Davis ‘The Long Road').</p> <p>The reforms of the Uluru Statement, including a First Nations’ Voice to Parliament, aim to create a framework and functioning mechanism that will help build and repair partnerships through which relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples can improve, whilst “gaps” across a range of social outcomes can be redressed by policies led and informed by Indigenous people in accordance with national (Coalition of Peaks) and international (Synott ‘The Universal Declaration’) charters. Whilst Indigenous views are diverse, what remains uniform amongst them is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strength and power, which has always come from their voices, “are the most powerful of all” when they are together (Davis, ‘Together Our Voices’). Despite the campaigns’ critics and setbacks, our hearts continue to beat as one and our uniformed advance towards referendum remains steadfast. </p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Albright, Madlelaine. <em>Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box</em>. Harper Collins, 2009.</p> <p>Anandakugan, Nithyani. “The Uluru Statement from The Heart: Contextualizing A First Nations Declaration.” <em>Harvard International Review</em> 41.1 (2020): 30-33. &lt;<a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/26917278">https://www.jstor.org/stable/26917278</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Anderson, Pat, Megan Davis, and Noel Pearson. “Don’t Silence Our Voice, Minister: Uluru Leaders Condemn Backward Step.” <em>The Sydney Morning Herald</em> 20 Oct. 2017. &lt;<a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/don-t-silence-our-voice-minister-uluru-leaders-condemn-backward-step-20191020-p532h0.html">https://www.smh.com.au/national/don-t-silence-our-voice-minister-uluru-leaders-condemn-backward-step-20191020-p532h0.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Appleby, Gabrielle, and Megan Davis. “The Uluru Statement and the Promises of Truth.” <em>Australian Historical Studies </em>49.4 (2018): 501–9. &lt;<a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2018.1523838">https://doi.org/10.1080/1031461X.2018.1523838</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Becker, Vivienne. “The Power of the Brooch.” <em>Financial Times</em>, 4 Nov. 2020. 15 June 2022 &lt;<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/dfb54b62-2ae0-48ec-b0af-dd8538e3c796">https://www.ft.com/content/dfb54b62-2ae0-48ec-b0af-dd8538e3c796</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Blackmore, Susan J. <em>The Meme Machine.</em> Oxford UP, 1999.</p> <p>Brennan, Bridget. "Indigenous Leaders Enraged as Advisory Board Referendum Is Rejected by Malcolm Turnbull." <em>ABC News</em> 27 Oct. 2017. &lt;<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-27/indigenous-leaders-enraged-by-pms-referendum-rejection/9090762">https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-27/indigenous-leaders-enraged-by-pms-referendum-rejection/9090762</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Butchart, Amber. “Lady Hale’s Spider and the Political History of the Brooch.” <em>Frieze</em> 3 Oct. 2019. 17 Apr. 2022 &lt;<a href="https://www.frieze.com/article/lady-hales-spider-and-political-history-brooch">https://www.frieze.com/article/lady-hales-spider-and-political-history-brooch</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Carlson, Bronwyn, Daniel Browning, Summer May Finlay, Allan Clarke, and Dale Husband. “Deterritorialising Media: Resilience and Activism.” <em>Communication Research and Practice</em> 4.1 (2018): 4-16.</p> <p>Carlson, Bronwyn, and Ryan Frazer. “‘They Got Filters’: Indigenous Social Media, the Settler Gaze, and a Politics of Hope.” <em>Social Media + Society</em> 6.2 (2020): 1-11. &lt;<a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120925261">https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120925261</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Carlson, Bronwyn, and Frazer Ryan. “Indigenous Activism and Social Media”. <em>Negotiating Digital Citizenship: Control, Contest Culture</em>. Eds. A. McCosker, S. Vivienne, and A. Johns. London: Rowman &amp; Littlefield, 2016. 115–131.</p> <p>Centre for Governance and Public Policy. “Omnipoll Australian Constitutional Values Survey 2017.” <em>Griffith University: Centre for Governance and Public Policy,</em> 30 Oct. 2017. &lt;<a href="https://news.griffith.edu.au/wpcontent/uploads/2017/10/Griffith-University-UNSW-Australian-ConstitutionalValues-Survey-Sept-2017-Results-2.pdf">https://news.griffith.edu.au/wpcontent/uploads/2017/10/Griffith-University-UNSW-Australian-ConstitutionalValues-Survey-Sept-2017-Results-2.pdf</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Coalition of Peaks. <em>New National Agreement on Closing the Gap</em>. 2020. 28 July 2020 &lt;<a href="https://coalitionofpeaks.org.au/new-national-agreement-on-closing-the-gap/">https://coalitionofpeaks.org.au/new-national-agreement-on-closing-the-gap/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Cochrane, Lauren, and Martin Belam. “Say It with a Brooch: What Message Was Lady Hale's Spider Sending?” <em>The Guardian</em>, 24 Sep. 2019. 19 Nov. 2021 &lt;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/sep/24/say-it-with-a-brooch-how-a-fashion-item-became-a-political-statement">https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/sep/24/say-it-with-a-brooch-how-a-fashion-item-became-a-political-statement</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Davis, Megan. “Some Say a Voice to Parliament Is Toothless. But Together Our Voices Are Powerful.” <em>The Guardian</em>, 13 Aug. 2020. 13 Aug. 2020 &lt;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/13/some-say-a-voice-to-parliament-is-toothless-but-together-our-voices-are-powerful">https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/13/some-say-a-voice-to-parliament-is-toothless-but-together-our-voices-are-powerful</a>&gt;.</p> <p>———. “Together Our Voices Are the Most Powerful of All.” <em>IndigenousX</em>, 17 Aug. 2020. 27 Aug. 2020 &lt;<a href="https://indigenousx.com.au/together-our-voices-are-the-most-powerful-of-all/">https://indigenousx.com.au/together-our-voices-are-the-most-powerful-of-all/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>———. “The Long Road to Uluru: Walking Together – Truth before Justice.” <em>Griffith Review</em> 60 (Apr. 2018). 15 June 2020 &lt;<a href="https://www.griffithreview.com/articles/long-road-uluru-walking-together-truth-before-justice-megan-davis/">https://www.griffithreview.com/articles/long-road-uluru-walking-together-truth-before-justice-megan-davis/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>———. “The Status Quo Ain’t Working.” <em>The Monthly</em>, 7 June 2018. 17 July 2021 &lt;<a href="https://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/megan-davis/2018/07/2018/1528335353/status-quo-ain-t-working">https://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/megan-davis/2018/07/2018/1528335353/status-quo-ain-t-working</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Davis, Megan, and George Williams. <em>Everything You Need to Know about the Uluru Statement from the Heart</em>. UNSW Press/NewSouth Publishing, 2021.</p> <p>Ford, Mazoe, and Clare Blumer. “Vote Compass: Most Australians Back Constitutional Recognition for Indigenous Australians.” <em>ABC News</em> 20 May 2016. &lt;<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-20/vote-compass-indigenousrecognition/7428030?nw=0">https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-20/vote-compass-indigenousrecognition/7428030?nw=0</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Frazer, Ryan, and Bronwyn Carlson. “Indigenous Memes and the Invention of a People.” <em>Social Media + Society </em>3.4 (2017): 1-12. &lt;<a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2056305117738993">https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2056305117738993</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Fredericks, Bronwyn. “Why I Still Hear It on the Radio and I Still See It in the Television: Treaty and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.” <em>Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues</em> 25 (2022): 1-2.</p> <p>Fredericks, Bronwyn, and Abraham Bradfield. “Designing Change: Discussing an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and Constitutional Reform in Australia.” <em>M/C Journal </em>24.4 (2021). &lt;<a href="https://doi.org/10.5204/mcj.2801">https://doi.org/10.5204/mcj.2801</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Fredericks, Bronwyn, and Abraham Bradfield. 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Here’s Why We Must Respect the Uluru Statement.” <em>The Conversation</em>, 8 July 2020. 17 May 2021 &lt;<a href="https://theconversation.com/lidia-thorpe-wants-to-shift-course-on-indigenous-recognition-heres-why-we-must-respect-the-uluru-statement-141609">https://theconversation.com/lidia-thorpe-wants-to-shift-course-on-indigenous-recognition-heres-why-we-must-respect-the-uluru-statement-141609</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Langley, Michelle. “How ‘Bling’ Makes Us Human.” <em>The Conversation</em>, 20 Aug. 2018. 23 Aug. 2022 &lt;<a href="https://theconversation.com/how-bling-makes-us-human-101094">https://theconversation.com/how-bling-makes-us-human-101094</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Lee, Emma, Benjamin J. 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This article analyses the pink uniform of the 2020 Cancer Council Tasmania’s Women’s first virtual 5K walk/run (W5K). The Women’s 5K event took take place virtually in September 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The annual event, which runs through the CBD of Launceston, a regional city in Tasmania, typically attracts around 2,000 participants and is Cancer Council Tasmania’s major annual fundraiser. Cancer Council received 798 registrations for the 2020 virtual event and raised over $120,000. Locating the W5K pink uniform within the emergence of “embodied philanthropy” (Robert), this article analyses how pink uniforms were used by virtual walkers and runners to recreate the mass affective and community spectacle of the usually in-person event. Drawing upon Vilnai-Yavert and Rafaeli’s artifacts framework, the article extends the concept of “embodied philanthropy” to outline the instrumental, symbolic and aesthetic dimensions of the pink sports charity uniform. While acknowledging the risks of “pinkwashing” in reproducing narrow gender ideals and bright-siding cancer, the article argues the pink uniform was vital in staging a meaningful and impactful virtual event.</p> <h1><strong>Sports Uniforms</strong></h1> <p>Uniforms are central to the formation and expression of collective and organisational identities (Craik; Timmons and East; Joseph and Alex). The classic sociological articulation of uniforms is that they function to define boundaries, ensure conformity, and suppress individuality. Sport provides a key space to analyse how uniforms discipline individuals and bodies but also challenge and reject rules and bodily regulations. Sport is a window to examine how uniforms involve a tension between both tradition and innovation and regulation and experimentation (Craik 139). While research has examined sport fans and team uniforms there is little research on the sport charity uniform. Much of the sociological literature on sporting uniforms focusses on male football fans. Back <em>et al</em>. point out that “the notion of “wearing the shirt” summons the “deepest level of symbolic identity and commitment” (82). For dedicated fans, wearing their team’s apparel is a potent and embodied “emblem of locality and identity” (82).</p> <p>More recent research has focussed on the ways in which sporting uniforms can be used in social movements and political protest. These include the inclusion of LGBTQI ‘rainbow’ tops in basketball (Bagley and Liao) and the ways in which Serena Williams’s clothing choices were used to challenge traditional race, class and gender assumptions in tennis (Allen). Redressing the skewed focus on uniforms among male sports fans, Sveinson, Hoeber, and Toffoletti argue that pink merchandise and clothing are cultural artifacts worn and conceptualised by female fans as representing different aspects of their identity. Their findings show that women who follow professional sports teams tend to reject “pink and pretty” offerings, as they reproduce a traditional view of femininity that delegitimatises their fan identity. This laden symbolism is critical to understanding the pink uniform of the W5K.</p> <h1><strong>Pinkification of Cancer</strong></h1> <p>One of the most well-known aspects of the pink uniform is the “pink ribbon” campaign. Ribbon wearers acknowledge that they are connected to cancer in some way; as a survivor, a friend or relative, or as advocates committed to the medical research needed to find a cure for breast (and other) cancers. Moore’s ‘ribbon culture’ identifies four main symbolic uses of the ribbon: show solidarity with a cause or group; tool for community campaigns; a token of mourning; or to display ‘self-awareness’ in the wearer.</p> <p>The emergence of the pink uniform in sports charity can be linked to the Susan G Komen foundation, one of the early pioneers of cause-related marketing and the founder of the Race for the Cure, the earliest of sports charity events (Palmer). King suggests the colour pink was chosen for race merchandise as it conveyed traditional notions of femininity and was part of the Foundation’s strategy of normalising discussion of breast cancer. The associations between pink, breast cancer, and identity categories of women (mother, sister, daughter, etc.) have been key to the fundraising success of Komen, largely because they were implicitly positioned in opposition to other health promotion campaigns (e.g., AIDS) also competing for market attention in the 1980s and 1990s. While AIDS was associated with “deviant” identities of gay men, drug users, and sex workers, breast cancer was made visible “through straight, White, married, young to middle aged women” (King 107).</p> <p>Since this time many men’s sporting leagues and events globally have partnered with breast cancer and other “pink” initiatives. In Australia, the annual ‘Pink Test’ cricket match raises money for breast cancer care nurses, while in the US NFL players wear pink socks and gloves. The proliferation of pink events and associated merchandise has led to criticisms of “pinkwashing” (Lyon and Montgomery 223), whereby corporations exploit pink branding to promote products which contribute very little – if anything at all – to cancer research, education, and advocacy efforts (Carter; Devlin and Sheehan). Sociologists like Ehrenreich and Moore have been critical of this “pinkification”, suggesting that it “bright-sides” breast cancer – by relentlessly emphasising a positive resolve – while simultaneously amplifying concerns about the illness. Rather than “awareness raising”, Moore suggests the close association of pink ribbon culture with consumer beauty and fitness products (e.g., Estee Lauder; LessBounce sports bras) reinforces narrow ideals of femininity, but also adds to the pervasive dread of breast cancer in relation to these same ideals (for example, via chemotherapy-induced hair loss and mastectomies). The following section introduces the theoretical framework. </p> <h1><strong>Embodied Philanthropy and Material Artifacts </strong></h1> <p><strong> </strong>Julie Robert’s “embodied philanthropy” provides a useful theoretical starting point for analysing the pink uniform of sports charity. Robert (1) describes embodied philanthropy as part of a cultural movement where people "pledge their bodies to raise funds for and awareness of a variety of causes". Embodied philanthropy often relies on the body to publicly display altruism and one’s own ‘will to health’. Embodied philanthropy thus offers a highly visible means of modeling “good citizenship”, particularly in practicing both care of the self and civic minded entrepreneurialism (Wade <em>et al</em>.). While embodied philanthropy draws attention to the body and its emerging role in charitable endeavours, it overlooks how material “things” such as clothes, costumes, and uniforms are integral to the embodied performances characteristic of sports charity events.</p> <p>Vilnai-Yavetz and Rafaeli’s interdisciplinary organisational artifacts framework provides a useful way to extend Robert’s focus on the body in philanthropy to include embodied artifacts such as uniforms and clothing. For this article, artifacts are conceptualised as material objects such as pink t-shirts, ribbons, and hats purposely worn for W5K participation and fundraising. Vilnai-Yavetz and Rafaeli posit three dimensions through which organisational artifacts produce meaning: 1) <em>instrumentality</em>: the “impact of an artifact on the tasks or goals of people, groups, or organisations” (12); 2) <em>aesthetics</em>: the “sensory experience an artifact elicits” (12); and 3) <em>symbolism</em>: the “meanings and associations an artifact elicits” (14). Vilnai-Yavetz and Rafaeli’s model offers a way of conceptualising the embodied role of uniform for understanding more short-term or ephemeral types of sporting community, such as the “neo-tribes” (Maffesoli) that form around fitness philanthropy events (e.g. annual fun runs). </p> <p>How then do people understand the role of the pink uniform when participating in sports charity events? What role does the pink uniform play instrumentally, aesthetically, and symbolically? Do cancer charities need to rethink their use of pink considering concerns about pinkwashing, bright-siding cancer, and reproducing constrictive gender ideals? The following section uses the findings from a wider qualitative interview-based study on motivations and experiences of participating and fundraising in the 2020 virtual W5 to help answer these questions. The interview sample comprised 12 women and one man with an age range of 32 to 75. Transcribed interviews were thematically analysed, guided by the theoretical framework. </p> <h1><strong>Recreating the ‘Sea of Pink’: Instrumental, Symbolic, and Aesthetic Dimensions of the Pink Sports Charity Uniform</strong></h1> <p>Most participants framed their virtual participation in terms of missing the in-person spectacle of the “sea of pink running through the streets” (Emily). In the context of this mass “absence” of pink, wearing and displaying artifacts such as pink T-shirts, ribbons, bandanas, hats, face paint, and dyed hair were assembled as an “informal” sports charity uniform. The following participants capture this creative use of the pink uniform:</p> <blockquote> <p>I had the pink shirt and then we had pink hats and my neighbour who’s had cancer came and she had pink on. (Grace)</p> <p>I decked myself out in pink and all the number and whatever else and yeah, I had a great time by myself. I had music going and yeah … I think I might have even had pink hair at the time. (Leah)</p> </blockquote> <p>These descriptions evoke Robert’s claim that embodied philanthropy leans heavily on the “showiness of the body for philanthropic ends” (4). However, rather than moralised displays of suffering or neoliberal models of self-responsibility, the pink uniform plays out as part of a rejection of more ‘elite’ forms of embodied philanthropy with the emphasis on ‘fun’, ‘play’, and ‘enjoyment’. The pink uniform figures as a rejection of martyr-like displays and expectations commonly observed in other forms of embodied philanthropy, with participants not expected to suffer for the cause but rather to gather, play, remember, and celebrate.</p> <p>Building on uniform as a feature of embodied philanthropy, the following section uses Vilnai-Yavetz and Rafaeli’s framework to analyse the instrumental, symbolic, and aesthetic dimensions of the W5K pink uniform. </p> <h2>Instrumental Dimensions</h2> <p>Instrumentality relates to how artifacts serve to achieve individual and organisational goals (Vilnai-Yavetz and Rafeili). Three key instrumental functions of the pink uniform can be identified in the participants’ stories. First, wearing and displaying artifacts such as pink T-shirts and hair-dye enabled participants to become producers of their own sports charity events. As Elizabeth said: “I would happily wear my t-shirt and do my own fun run”. Displaying the pink uniform enabled participants to stage their own “micro” fitness philanthropy event in the absence of the “sea of pink”. The pink uniform was central to participants and organisers being able to produce and stage individualised embodied philanthropy events without the corporeal ‘mass’ of the mass-participation event.</p> <p>Second, the pink uniform helped participants simulate the affective spectacle, ritual, and “neo-tribal” warmth (Maffesoli) of the face-to-face event. The pink uniform was key to producing a sense of ritualised ‘atmosphere’ and generating feelings of connection and solidarity. The shift to a virtual format meant greater reliance on participants producing imagery of their participation to generate a sense of online community and affective spectacle. Social media affordances, including the use of the #doitforher hashtag, were vital to creating this collective affect. Without sharing and circulating imagery of the pink uniform through social media, organisers would have struggled to host a meaningful and viable event. Chloe commented how “I felt the presence with the online kind of sharing of other people’s experiences, quite motivating and really wonderful … just being out and seeing other people in a sea of pink and doing their version of the event was quite special”.</p> <p>Third, participants used their own creative labour to craft and display pink uniforms that expressed their connection to the cause (fighting cancer) and organisation (Cancer Council). In Robert’s terms, the pink uniform transformed the body into a charitable “billboard” and “income generator”. For example, Penelope discussed how their running club made their own t-shirts for their event – complete with individual nicknames –, while Elizabeth described how they designed a stamp that featured a picture of herself wearing a Cancer Council t-Shirt to publicise the event. This echoes aforementioned claims that ‘wearing the shirt’ establishes symbolic identity and commitment. However, rather than generating feelings of allegiance to a club, the pink shirt expressed connection with the cause or organisation while also serving advocacy purposes. As Chloe said: “just getting out there in the pink top is raising awareness”. The t-shirt also operated as a communicator of “good citizenship”, implicitly enjoining others to support the cause (Palmer). Elizabeth, for instance, described wearing her pink Cancer Council T-shirt to an aged care facility where she volunteers to solicit “a couple of extra donations”, while Katie and Sandra explained how they wore pink shirts during their walk/runs as a way of gaining recognition and showing others “you’re doing that good work”. </p> <h2>Symbolic Dimensions</h2> <p>The pink charity uniform had powerful symbolic functions for participants. Participants discussed how wearing pink was linked to honouring loved ones who had died from cancer. Leah discussed how she ran her event wearing the same pink ribbon she wore at the funeral of her friend’s mother, who died from breast cancer. This aligns with Moore’s research, where ribbon wearing to signify mourning proves one of the key symbolic uses of ribbon culture.</p> <p>Zoe similarly expressed the links between wearing pink and rituals of reminiscence: “we both made sure we had some pink on … as we walked, we talked about [their friend] and her battle and why we were doing it … we were thinking of who we were walking for”. Pink was also worn by survivors of breast cancer such as Sandra who walked with her mum (also a breast cancer survivor) and friends: “we all had pink stuff. We painted pink on our faces. Walked the main road when we knew there was going to be a lot of traffic … so people could see us dressed in pink”. Sandra described “walking the streets with pink love hearts on our faces” as her most memorable moment of the event. While “pink ribbon culture” and the wider “pinkification” of cancer has been critiqued as “brightsiding” cancer and reinforcing narrow ideals of femininity (Ehrenreich; Moore), it is hard to deny the symbolic power of pink for these participants as a means to mourn, remember, and celebrate survivorship. </p> <p>The meaning of pink clothing as a gendered marker was also important in this research. While Sveinson <em>et al</em>. highlight problems that female sports fans have with pink merchandising, this was not an issue for the charity participants. There was a congruence between wearing pink and participants’ charitable identities. Despite pink being a close signifier of breast cancer fundraising (King), participants reflected on the importance of the W5K in supporting all cancers, particularly as breast cancer attracts “more donations” (Sandra) and “gets a lot of attention in the media” (Maureen). However, W5K’s pink branding did lead some participants, like Greg, to mistakenly believe the event is a “breast cancer race”, despite the target audience being all Tasmanians impacted upon by cancer.</p> <p>The feminine associations of pink – coupled with the event name – also meant some participants were unclear whether men could participate. Katie said “I love that they have the pink colouring” but it “wasn’t obvious to me that both men and women could do the walk”. Katie showed how there can be an incongruence between masculine identities and the “pink run” uniform. She commented: “my Dad was a bit reticent about wearing pink ...but he was willing to take it for the team for the day”. While Greg said he was a “metrosexual man” and “didn’t mind wearing a bit of pink”, he agreed the pink uniform created a strong impression the W5K was a “women’s only race”.</p> <p>Both Katie and Greg suggested that organisers should look to include more men wearing pink as part of promotional materials. Unlike Sveinson <em>et al</em>., who showed a tension between pink clothing and women’s fan identities, in the W5K men and women were generally comfortable wearing pink due to its higher-order symbolism as part of “fighting” cancer and “doing something good”. More widely, these findings highlight the unstable gendered meanings of pink and that rather than the pinkification of cancer simply reinforcing narrow gender ideals, it may also open possibilities, particularly for men, to express inclusive and ‘caring’ masculinities (Elliott).</p> <h2>Aesthetic Dimensions</h2> <p>The Cancer Council actively encourages fun and creativity in costumes for the W5K event. Images of this irreverent costuming and effervescent spectacle are re-circulated via social media to promote future participation. This is illustrated in the image below from Cancer Council’s Instagram account:</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/2940-other-9410-1-11-20230113.png" alt="" width="451" height="290" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 1: Instagram post by the Cancer Council</em></p> <p>While pink clothing is encouraged by the Cancer Council, individual comfort and expression is emphasised in efforts to make the event as inclusive as possible. Hence, some participants – especially ‘serious’ runners – dress in purely utilitarian modes, opting for pink running singlets, shorts, tights etc., while others embrace comically non-utilitarian styles, such as wearing tutus, feather boas, fairy wings, colourful wigs, face paint, or dyed hair. Unlike comparable events – like Nike’s women’s-only ‘She Runs the Night’ event, where all participants were required to wear identical Nike-branded pink singlets or t-shirts – the Cancer Council’s W5K encourages individual expression and creativity in clothing and adornments. In short, a kind of non-uniformity of uniform is actively promoted, <em>so long as these displays can still be captured and circulated as signifiers of support for the cause.</em></p> <p>While the aesthetics of the ‘sea of pink’ inevitability reproduce narrow gendered tropes, it also resists others, including the ‘tailored modesty, neatness, demureness’ (Craik 13) expected of women in uniform, along with burdensome cultural ideals around the ‘fit’ and ‘feminine’ body. The lighthearted, intentionally comical pinkification – while introducing ambiguities about whether the W5K is a women’s only event – does potentially make it easier for men to participate, enabling them to shake off any stereotypical assumptions related to wearing ‘unmasculine’ colours and clothing. Greg said that ‘while I don’t think I wore pink on the day … I would’ve been happy to put some pompons on, and really jazz it up!’ </p> <h1><strong>Conclusion</strong></h1> <p>Using Cancer Council Tasmania’s first virtual 5k walk-run as an empirical case-study, the article discusses creative pink adornments as a unique sports charity uniform. Locating the pink uniform within the rise of global “pink events” and initiatives, the article suggests that the pink uniform provides a new lens to examine the material role of uniforms beyond existing research in the sociology of sport and leisure. Theoretically the article positions the emergence of the pink charity uniform as part of Robert’s “embodied philanthropy”. A key theoretical argument is that while Robert’s framework helps grasp the push toward the body-as-signifier in mass participation fundraising events, it downplays the role material artifacts such as clothing play in embodied sporting performances. It is suggested that Vilnai-Yavetz and Rafaeli’s organisational artifacts model provides a useful way to attend to the extra-corporeal aspects of “embodied philanthropy”, underlining the instrumental, symbolic, and aesthetic dimensions of uniforms as artifacts. </p> <p>Empirically the article highlights three key instrumental uses of the pink uniform for W5K participants. First, the uniform enabled participants to produce their own charity event; second, it helped recreate the affective spectacle and “neo-tribal” (Maffesoli) warmth of the physical event; and third, the uniform expressed connection to the cause or organisation and turned the body into a “charitable billboard” (Robert). Symbolically, the uniform, via practices such as wearing pink ribbons, helped foster rituals of mourning and remembrance. Notwithstanding persuasive critiques of pinkwashing, participants celebrated the use of pink, though some felt it sent an ambiguous message about whether men were welcome. Nonetheless, there was little identity incongruence between wearing pink and expressing sports charity identities. These findings highlight how the gendered meaning of pink artefacts are fluid and thus challenge ideas that the pinkification of cancer simply reinforces narrow gender ideals. For example, the men interviewed show how pink artefacts may work to symbolically and materially challenge traditional gendered orthodoxies and even help men express more progressive gendered identities. Aesthetically a “non-uniformity of uniform” was promoted, with the pink uniform working as a loosely aggregated symbolic system accommodating both utilitarian and non-utilitarian styles. While many theorists have raised concerns about the pinkification of cancer – both in its insistent positivity discourses and reproducing narrow gendered ideals – the aesthetics of the pink uniform in the W5K were overwhelmingly celebrated and embraced as light-hearted and fun: as material artifacts key to a joyously inclusive and community-building spectacle.</p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Back, Les, Tim Crabbe, and John Solomos. <em>The Changing Face of Football: Racism, Identity and Multiculture in the English Game</em>. Berg, 2001.</p> <p>Bagley, Meredith M., and Judy Liao. "Blocked Out: Athletic Voices and WNBA Uniform Politics." <em>Sportswomen’s Apparel in the United States</em>. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021. 57-74.</p> <p>Carter, Meg. "Backlash against 'Pinkwashing' of Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns." <em>BMJ: British Medical Journal</em> 351 (2015).</p> <p>Craik, Jennifer. <em>Uniforms Exposed: From Conformity to Transgression</em>. Berg, 2005.</p> <p>Crawford, Garry. "The Career of the Sport Supporter: The Case of the Manchester Storm." <em>Sociology</em> 37.2 (2003): 219-237.</p> <p>Devlin, Michael, and Kim Sheehan. "A 'Crucial Catch': Examining Responses to NFL teams’ Corporate Social Responsibility Messaging on Facebook." <em>Communication &amp; Sport</em> 6.4 (2018): 477-498.</p> <p>Ehrenreich, Barbara. <em>Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America</em>. Metropolitan Books, 2009.</p> <p>Fawbert, J. "Replica Football Shirts: A Case of Incorporation of Popular Dissent?" <em>Social Science Teacher</em> 27 (1997): 9-13.</p> <p>Joseph, Nathan, and Nicholas Alex. "The Uniform: A Sociological Perspective." <em>American Journal of Sociology</em> 77.4 (1972): 719-730.</p> <p>King, Samantha. "Pink Ribbons Inc.: The Emergence of Cause-Related Marketing and the Corporatization of the Breast Cancer Movement." <em>Governing the Female Body: Gender, Health, and Networks of Power</em> (2010): 85-111.</p> <p>Lyon, Thomas P., and A. Wren Montgomery. "The Means and End of Greenwash." <em>Organization &amp; Environment</em> 28.2 (2015): 223-249.</p> <p>Moore, Sarah E.H. R<em>ibbon Culture: Charity, Compassion and Public Awareness</em>. Palgrave, 2008.</p> <p>Maffesoli, Michel. <em>The Time of the Tribes. The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society</em>. Sage, 1996.</p> <p>Palmer, C. <em>Fitness Philanthropy: Sport, Charity and Everyday Giving</em>. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020.</p> <p>Robert, J. "Practices and Rationales of Embodied Philanthropy. <em>International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing</em> 23.3 (2018): e1595.</p> <p>Shaonta’E, Allen. "Braids, Beads, Catsuits and Tutus: Serena Williams' Intersectional Resistance through Fashion." <em>Athlete Activism</em>. Routledge, 2021. 132-143.</p> <p>Sveinson, Katherine, Larena Hoeber, and Kim Toffoletti. "'If People Are Wearing Pink Stuff They’re Probably Not Real Fans': Exploring Women’s Perceptions of Sport Fan Clothing." <em>Sport Management Review</em> 22.5 (2019): 736-747.</p> <p>Timmons, Stephen, and Linda East. "Uniforms, Status and Professional Boundaries in Hospital." <em>Sociology of Health &amp; Illness</em> 33.7 (2011): 1035-1049.</p> <p>Wade, Matthew, Nicholas Hookway, Kevin Filo, and Catherine Palmer. “Embodied Philanthropy and Sir Captain Tom Moore's 'Walk for the NHS'.”<em> Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing</em> 27.3 (2022): e1747.</p> <p>Vilnai-Yavetz, Iris, and Anat Rafaeli. "Managing Artifacts to Avoid Artifact Myopia". <em>Artifacts and Organizations: Beyond Mere Symbolism</em>. Eds. Anat Rafaeli and Michael G Pratt. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006. 9–21.</p> Nicholas Hookway, Catherine Palmer, Matthew Wade, Kevin Filo Copyright (c) 2023 Nicholas Hookway, Catherine Palmer, Matthew Wade, Kevin Filo http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2940 Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 Ayo, Bisexual Check https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2967 <h1><strong>Introduction</strong></h1> <p>A 2021 listicle pronouncing “10 Things That Are Bisexual Culture” concludes that “claiming that random things are ‘bi culture’ is the most bi-culture thing of all” (Wilber n.p.). While posed as tongue-in-cheek, the assignment of status as a signifier of bisexuality to seemingly arbitrary actions and items reinforces the notion that bi people seek a distinct visual and cultural identity and struggle to make one. We consider how creators on the algorithmically driven social media platform TikTok responded to an open-ended 2019 prompt (“ayo, bisexual check”) to show off styles and accessories that project a bisexual display, and how these videos, understood collectively, contribute to the cohesion of a prototype for a bisexual social uniform.</p> <p>By <em>social uniform</em>, we refer to informally standardised clothing that identifies members of a group but lacks the bureaucratic regulation of an institutional uniform (Joseph). This lens is productive for interpreting subcultural dress norms, including those of queer identities at various scopes (e.g. Nelson, “Here”; Stines). The development of these social uniforms can allow for stronger group coherence and provide individuals with “self-esteem through conformity” with one’s group and “self-regard by conflict” with other groups (Joseph 74). There is added utility to this signalling for queer people as a means to seek community and partnership against a societal backdrop of stigmatisation (Brennan). Being able to identify who is <em>like oneself </em>at a glance lets one know when and where one is safe to outwardly present an authentic version of oneself (Huxley and Hayfield; Rostosky <em>et al</em>.; Wang and Feinstein).</p> <p>Bisexual communities notably lack such a uniform (Hayfield, <em>Bisexual</em>; Hayfield, “Invisibility”; Hayfield, “Never”; Hayfield and Wood; Huxley <em>et al</em>.). While bi people have expressed interest in having a distinct, coherent aesthetic or set of visual markers to express their bisexuality and recognise others as specifically bisexual, they have encountered obstacles towards the establishment of such a bi uniform (Madison, “Representing”; Nelson, “What”). The conception of homosexuality and heterosexuality as a binary leaves little room for the notion of bisexuality at all (Nelson, “Here”). In instances when people do attempt to stake a claim to a specifically bisexual visual identity, the result tends to be read binaristically nonetheless (Daly <em>et al</em>.; Hartman; Hayfield, <em>Bisexual</em>; Morgan and Davis-Delano; Nelson, “What”). Attempts to visually “split the middle” of established gay and straight styles have thus historically failed, with onlookers (even bisexual onlookers) either assuming the bi person in question is gay or straight (Hartman). Rosie Nelson goes so far as to contend that “the body of the bisexual is incapable of declaring itself outwardly bisexual to a monosexist society” (“Here” 87). In other words, Nelson argues that a distinctly bi visual identity—a bi social uniform—may be impossible so long as bisexuality remains invisible in broader discourses of sexual orientation and that only improved or increased representations of bisexuality in media, law, research, and culture can foment the conditions for bisexual visibility in the most literal sense (“Here”).</p> <h1><strong>TikTok’s Bisexual Displays</strong></h1> <p>Within this context of binary assumptions of gender and sexual orientation, Julie Hartman-Linck conceived the “bisexual display” (Hartman 39). By analogy with gender display as theorised by Lorber and building on Goffman’s construction of identity performance, the bisexual display refers to attempts to project a bisexual identity “using the accoutrements of gender, as well as more direct visual and verbal cues” (Hartman 43). Bisexuality is discursively erased, and even seemingly straightforward attempts to make bi identities known are often misconstrued by observers, either through ignorance (e.g., unfamiliarity with the significance of the <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20230123162030/https:/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Bisexual_Pride_Flag.svg">bi pride flag</a>) or through willful disbelief (e.g., doubt in the authenticity of bisexuality / the bisexual; see Alarie and Gaudet). Therefore, analysis of bisexual display focusses on the intended effect of the performer rather than on the actual understandings of their audiences: bisexual display offers a productive theoretical lens through which to consider how a bisexual identity is intentionally fashioned, even if attempts to fashion the bisexual identity may be misunderstood or ignored.</p> <p>Emiel Maliepaard, in his research on bisexual geographies, argues that bisexual spaces are “temporal, local and (often) unplanned” (47). We identified one such space on TikTok, an algorithmically driven video-centric social media platform. TikTok affords creators a great deal of power to respond to and remix other creators’ content, most prominently with the “use this sound” function which lets creators incorporate audio either originating from or used in another video (colloquially a TikTok) into their own (Abidin and Kaye). The memetic process of (re)using a sound with some amount of variation generates a constituency of creators and other users whose participation in the video creation and engagement process aligns with what Zulli and Zulli theorised as TikTok’s <em>imitation publics</em>: “a collection of people whose digital connectivity is constituted through the shared ritual of content imitation and replication” (1882). These imitation publics in turn may spawn these temporal, local, and unplanned spaces, including virtual bisexual spaces.</p> <p>Here, we conducted a content analysis of 50 short videos posted in 2019 with over 1,000 likes using the “ayo, bisexual check” (“ABC”) sound, which was first uploaded in late March 2019. The originator of the sound posted a video of themselves saying “ayo, bisexual check” and then showing off certain elements of clothing and reifying or countering certain stereotypes about bi identity. When other creators subsequently began to <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/music/bisexual-check-lmao-6673450637998426886">use the sound</a> and associated format to do the same, they constituted the “ABC” sound’s imitation public. While there are multiple possible ways creators might have understood the prompt of a “bisexual check” (e.g., as encouraging them to dress in a way that projects their own bisexuality; to dress in a way that projects bisexuality most legibly to other bisexual or nonbisexual people; to dress in a way that feels most comfortable to them, as a bisexual; etc.), the intention behind these videos can be understood broadly to display <em>some</em> bisexual identity. The simple and direct nature of the prompt (“bisexual check”) generates the virtual “bisexual space”, both “highly temporal and specific” (Maliepaard 59). This space both offers an open-ended venue for creators to engage with a culture of visual identity, and maximises the potential for audiences to read what transpires in the videos as demonstrative (if not constitutive) of bisexual identity. By creating these TikToks, users are not waiting for more or better bisexual representation on TikTok but instead are actively embodying it, responding to the need identified by Nelson.</p> <h1><strong>Elements of the Bisexual Check</strong></h1> <p>At the broadest level, creators in the 50 sampled videos primarily showcased discrete fashion elements or accessories, rather than entire outfits. The structure of “ABC” TikToks allowed creators to draw attention to specific pieces of clothing, jewelry, haircuts and styles, makeup looks, and ways of fashioning clothes (see fig. 1 for an example). This mode of engaging with the “bisexual check” challenge differs from the mode of engagement we saw in videos using the “ABC” sound posted after 2019; while onscreen text, closed captions, and video descriptions in TikToks posted in 2019 were primarily in English, text in videos posted in 2020 and later was mostly in Tagalog. This suggested that 2019 and post-2019 TikToks emerged from distinct and separate cultural contexts; despite using the same “ABC” sound, they represented different imitation publics. The post-2019 videos tended to show their creators posing for one or several shots without focussing on particular elements of their outfits, instead displaying their looks as a whole. The later videos offer a useful variation in memetic content and stance (Shifman), a contrast which permits us to understand the 2019 “ABC” videos as attempts to display bisexuality chiefly through discrete visual markers (e.g., fashion elements).</p> <p><em><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/lisa/picture2.png" alt="" width="224" height="473" /></em></p> <p><em>Fig. 1: A screencap from the authors’ mocked-up “ABC” TikTok in which the creator uses a fingergun to showcase their cuffed jeans.</em></p> <p>Studies of bi people in the past two decades (almost all of which have been about bi women; see Clarke et al., though see Rogers for a recent exception) have identified several ways bi subjects attempt to make their bisexuality known in the face of overwhelming invisibility. Hayfield summarised research about bi women’s fashion, documenting styles that are “funky, flamboyant, or associated with alternative looks and looking (e.g., hippie, Goth, punk, and so on) including through piercings and tattoos” (“Invisibility” 180). Hartman-Linck recorded bi women using bumper stickers, pride flags and pride flag iconography, pins, and jewelry using the pink-purple-blue bi pride flag design, as well as a general playfulness with specific gendered markers (Hartman). Madison likewise found bi people using the bi pride flag design and colours on clothes and jewelry, as well as bi-specific iconography like the <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20221229000130/https:/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c0/Bi_triangles.svg">biangles</a> (overlapping pink and blue triangles that generate a smaller purple triangle between them), interlocking Mars and Venus signs (⚤), and pun-based symbols like the “<a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20221209175518/https:/www.spreadshirt.com/shop/design/bisexuwhale+cute+bisexual+whale+pride+gift+idea+sticker-D612fa47410bef25e269b3220?sellable=Y5D8xENrdkH1Ya05JZ1m-1459-215">bisexuwhale</a>” (“Representing” 151–3).</p> <p>More recently, the Internet has been a fruitful venue for discussions among bisexuals about a visual culture (Madison, “Bisexual”); discourse among bisexual people on social media sites like Twitter and Tumblr has generated some seemingly novel styles and fashions that have been highlighted as specifically bi looks. A 2017 tweet about jeans cuffed at the ankles (see fig. 1) and baggy shirts tucked in at the waist being “bisexual culture” has been mentioned in numerous popular news articles and blogs (e.g., Cao; Wilber). A <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20200930042337/https:/www.autostraddle.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/bisexual-bob.png?resize=538%2C300">Tumblr post</a> from around the same time with images of three fictional characters sporting neck-length hairstyles cut straight at the bottoms appears to have been the genesis of the “bisexual bob”, a bob haircut worn by a bi person (usually a woman) that received similar coverage and discussion to the cuffed jeans and tucked-in shirts tweet (e.g., Locke; Vandervalk; Wilber). Other items identified in listicles as constituting “bi culture” include: being unable to sit in chairs “correctly”, dyed pink hair, puns, Converse brand shoes, plaid shirts, outer space, (excessive) use of the bi pride flag and colours, and anxiety disorders.</p> <p>Within our sample, we identified an uptake of these nascent bi fashions, with 62% of videos featuring clothing being cuffed (most frequently jeans), 36% of videos highlighting shirts tucked into pants, and 20% of videos demonstrating bi bobs. More explicit iconography like bi pride flags and colours (what Hartman-Linck referred to as “sign equipment” in her conceptualisation of bisexual display) appeared in 16% of videos, compared to more general rainbow iconography, which showed up in 20% of them (Hartman). Button-down shirts appeared in 34% of videos, and both floral print shirts and Converse shoes appeared in 18% of the total corpus. Nose piercings actively contributed to the “bisexual check” in 12% of sampled TikToks, while a full-body dress appeared in just one video (2%). We identified no instances of biangles, interlocking Mars and Venus signs, or punny sign equipment.</p> <h1><strong>Display Becoming Prototype, Prototype Becoming Uniform</strong></h1> <p>Interpreting “ABC” videos as bisexual displays on the individual level and conceptualising the community of “ABC” creators and engagers as an imitation public allows us to understand the process taking place as social identity work, “the construction of identities for groups of people” (Eschler and Menking 2). Eschler and Menking (drawing upon Donath as well as Schwalbe and Mason-Schrock) argued that for social identities (like bisexuality), certain memes can offer prototypes: “a set of minimal social cues that a person can use to infer other information about an individual’s social world” (9). Similarly, Joseph argued that for any complex of sartorial meaning, there is a minimal symbol: “the least symbol necessary to suggest a uniform” (24). By their nature, prototypes (or minimal symbols) will be limited to the fewest key elements required to demarcate a social identity.</p> <p>TikTok creators have the capacity to share their own “bisexual checks” with the “use this sound” feature or duet other creators’ videos to mirror or counter elements of the original creators’ checks in their own lives. Further, even if not posting their own “ABC” content, users have the ability to share, comment on, and like TikToks to engage with a creator’s bisexual display. Each new “ABC” video accomplishes what Rogers identified in his research on images of bi men on Instagram: they “add to a discourse and visual culture of bisexuality that both describes and prescribes the visual forms in which bisexuality appears” (366). Each contribution introduces a new, or more likely reifies an existing (if nascent) indicator of a bisexual identity.</p> <p>It is no surprise, then, that visual indicators that had already garnered some popular support within online bisexual spaces (bi bobs, cuffed jeans, tucked-in shirts) were among the most common in our sample. Still, a fashion choice having already entered the bisexual public consciousness does not solely explain why it recurred in our sample while other choices and items mentioned in listicles did not. The userbase of creators who tend to achieve virality on TikTok skews young, white, wealthy, and female (Boffone; Kennedy), so styles favoured by bi people who share at least some of these identities (e.g., white teen or twentysomething girls and women with personal or familial wealth) are likely to recur more frequently and receive increased engagement from the broader TikTok userbase, which also skews young and female (Cyca). Anecdotally, this demographic picture of TikTok mirrored our sample, suggesting that markers posited by creators and received by users were most likely to reflect the tastes and norms of young, white, and female creators. Indeed, one of the few nonwhite “ABC” creators was the only person in our sample to use the sound to argue against the core premise of the videos, contending that all one needed to be bisexual was attraction to people of multiple genders rather than any of the specific visual markers posed by others in the sample. While a universal “bisexual check” is suggested by the sparse wording of the challenge, the resulting videos nonetheless demonstrate a specific racially, temporally, and culturally positioned understanding of bi identity. Just because anyone has the capacity to contribute their own vision of the “bisexual check” does not mean that all “ABC” videos will land with equal frequency on users’ For You Page feeds (TikTok’s “homepage” where videos are algorithmically delivered to users; see Simpson and Semaan), nor enjoy the same volume of attention from TikTok’s userbase.</p> <p>Eschler and Menking consider the prototype to be “the least common denominator” (9), meaning that users will take the few most common elements shared amongst the “ABC” videos as symbols of a bisexual style. That the top “ABC” videos (those we sampled) heavily skew young, white, and female means that a bi uniform emerges from elements favoured by users sharing those demographics. Our mode of investigating this sound’s videos (moving systematically through all the videos using the “ABC” sound from most liked to less liked) does not contravene the affordances of TikTok’s platform but is somewhat outside of the app’s environment of expected use (Light et al.), which we understand to be either scrolling through the user’s For You Page or receiving and viewing TikToks messaged privately by friends. Still, users in these settings served two or more “ABC” videos are likely to consciously or unconsciously begin to identify the prototypical elements of a bisexual look as being those shared across multiple videos: the most frequently recurring markers creators choose to share as part of their bisexual displays reify existing styles already identified as “bi looks” or introduce new ones to the viewer.</p> <p>Through the continuous and repeated proposal of bisexual looks, the prototype emerges for a bisexual uniform. These accoutrements (cuffed sleeves and pantlegs, especially on jeans, bi bob haircuts, tucked-in shirts) point towards a bi uniform that is put-together and favours clothes like jeans and button-down shirts that are commonly worn across genders. That a bisexual uniform that may be comfortably worn by members of any gender follows logically from the necessity for a bi look that is both shaped by and liable to be worn by bisexuals, who may be of any gender. Further, this bi uniform emphasises alterations that may be undertaken on items commonly already held rather than distinct new pieces that must first be acquired. This may be one reason that creators favoured these styles, rather than more blatant sign equipment like pins or shirts with bi iconography on them: they were simply more likely to have jeans in their closet than a biangles T-shirt.</p> <p>The creators in our sample, regardless of the specific accoutrements displayed, answered Nelson’s call for increased and better bisexual representation, building one of many possible images for how bi people can fashion themselves (“Here”). The “ABC” imitation public’s collagic vision of a bisexual uniform may, in the future, be adapted, rejected, or serve as inspiration for others in the endlessly cyclical process of identity formation and reinforcement.</p> <h1><strong>Conclusion</strong></h1> <p>We have sought to understand what TikTok users have accomplished through the creation of and engagement with “ABC” videos, both specifically (i.e., what are the predominant visual indicators across the most popular videos) and generally (i.e., what processes are taking place and how they contribute towards the establishment of a bisexual social uniform). Creators are unlikely to have set out with a larger project of developing a bi uniform in mind when posting their 15-second “ayo, bisexual check” videos, but as part of one of TikTok’s innumerable imitation publics, their personal bisexual displays nonetheless offer prototypes for what a bisexual uniform could be. Any single “ABC” video is an example of a creator using TikTok’s affordances to respond individually to an open-ended prompt, but taken collectively, a consensus about the least common denominators for a bisexual uniform begins to emerge. Whether this online effort to cohere bisexual style results in bi people being able to identify one another (and/or be identified by nonbisexuals) remains to be seen, but we hope this article provides both a useful record of styles favoured by bisexuals on TikTok in 2019 and a productive explanation of the way individual posts in TikTok’s ecosystem of imitation publics may begin to constitute a social uniform for a community whose members have historically lacked one.</p> <h2><strong>Acknowledgments</strong></h2> <p>Thanks to Elizabeth Fetterolf, Amy Giacomucci, Trevor Harty, and the editors and reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. 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Social conventions and parliamentary rules largely shape how politicians dress. Clothing is about power, especially if we think about clothing as uniforms. Uniforms of judges and police are easily recognised as symbols of power. Similarly, the business suit of a politician is recognised as a form of authority. But what if you are a female politician: what do you wear to work or in public? Why do we expect politicians to wear suits and ties? While we do expect a certain level of behaviour of our political leaders, why does the professionalised suit and tie signal this? And what happens if a politician challenges this convention? Female politicians, and largely any women in a position of power in the public sphere, are judged when they don’t conform to the social conventions of appropriate dress. Arguably, male politicians are largely not examined for their suit preferences (unless you are Paul Keating wearing <a href="https://www.afr.com/life-and-luxury/fashion-and-style/how-paul-keating-s-favourite-tailor-is-revolutionising-its-power-suits-20210804-p58fu3">Zenga suits</a> or Anthony Albanese during an <a href="https://www.news.com.au/national/federal-election/experts-explain-how-anthony-albaneses-makeover-impacted-his-campaign/news-story/b9ca8463394f5789d04c7ba69a68eed9">election make-over</a>), so why are female politicians’ clothes so scrutinised and framed as reflective of their abilities or character? </p> <p>This article interrogates the political uniform and its gendered contestations. It does so via the ways female politicians are challenging gender norms and power relations in how they dress in public, political, and parliamentary contexts. It considers how rules and conventions around political clothing are political in themselves, through a discussion on how female politicians and political figures choose to adhere to or break these rules. Rules about what dress is worn by parliamentarians are often archaic, often drawn from rules set by parliaments largely made up of men. But even with more women sitting in parliaments, dress rules still reflect a very masculine idea of what is appropriate.</p> <p>Dress standards in the Australian federal parliament are described as a “matter for individual judgement”, however the Speaker of the House of Representatives can make rulings on members’ attire. In 1983, the Speaker ruled dress was to be neat, clean, and decent. In 1999, the Speaker considered dress to be “formal” and “similar to that generally accepted in business and professional circles”. This was articulated by the Speaker to be “good trousers, a jacket, collar and tie for men and a similar standard of formality for women”. In 2005, the Speaker reinforced this ruling that dress should be “formal” in keeping with business and professional standards, adding there was no “dignity of the House for Members to arrive in casual or sportswear” (“Dress”).</p> <p>Clothes with “printed slogans” are not considered acceptable and result in a warning from the Speaker for Australian MPs to “dress more appropriately”. Previous dress rulings also include that members should not remove their jackets in parliament, “tailored safari suits without a tie were acceptable, members could wear hats in parliament but had to remove them while entering or leaving the chamber and while speaking”. The safari suit rule likely refers to the former Foreign Affairs Minister <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/keating-20061120-gdorm4.html">Gareth Evans’s</a> wearing of the garment during the 1980s and 1990s.</p> <p>The Speaker can also rule on what a member of the federal parliament can’t do. While in parliament, members can’t smoke, can’t read a newspaper, can’t distribute apples, may not climb over seats, and can’t hit or kick their desks. Members of parliament can however use their mobile phones for text messaging, and laptops can be used for emails (“Dress”). These examples suggest an almost old-fashioned type of school rules juxtaposed with modern sensibilities, positing the ad-hoc nature of parliamentary rules, with dress rules further evidence of this.</p> <p>While a business suit is considered the orthodoxy of the political uniform for male politicians, this largely governs rules about what female politicians wear. The business suit, the quasi-political uniform for male MPs, is implicit and has social consensus. The suit, which covers the body, is comprised of trousers to the ankle, well cut in muted colours of blue, grey, brown, and black, with contrasting shirts, often white or light colours, ties that may have a splash of colour, often demonstrating allegiances or political persuasions, mostly red or blue, as in the case of Labor and Liberal or Republicans and Democrats. The conventions of the suit are largely proscribed onto women, who wear a female version of the male suit, with some leeway in colour and pattern. Dress for female MPs should be modest, as with the suit, covering much of the body, and especially have a modest neckline and be at least knee length. In the American Congress, the dress code requires “men to wear suit jackets and ties ... and women are not supposed to wear sleeveless tops or dresses without a sweater or jacket” (Zengerle). In 2017, this prompted US Congresswomen to wear sleeveless dresses as a “right to bare arms” (Deutch and Karl). In these two Australian and American examples of a masculine parliamentary wear it is reasonable to suppose a seeming universality about politicians’ dress codes.</p> <p>But who decides what is the correct mode of political uniform? Sartorial rules about what are acceptable clothing choices are usually made by the dominant group, and this is the case when it comes to what politicians wear. Some rules about what is worn in parliament are archaic to our minds today, such as the British parliament law from 1313 which outlaws the wearing of armour and weaponry inside the chamber. More modern rulings from the UK include the banning of hats in the House of Commons (although not the Lords), and women being permitted handbags, but not men (Simm). This last rule reveals how clothing and its performance is gendered, as does the Australian parliament rule that a “Member may keep his hands in his pockets while speaking” (“Dress”), which assumes the speaker is likely a man wearing trousers.</p> <h1><strong>Political Dress as Uniform</strong></h1> <p>While political dress may be considered as a dress ‘code’ it can also be understood as a uniform because the dress reflects their job as public, political representatives. When dress code is considered as a uniform, homogenisation of dress occurs. Uniformity, somewhat ironically, can emphasise transgressions, as Jennifer Craik explains: “cultural transgression is a means of simultaneously undermining and reinforcing rules of uniforms since an effective transgressive performance relies on shared understandings of normative meanings, designated codes of conduct and connotations” (Craik 210). Codified work wear usually comes under the umbrella of uniforms. Official uniforms are the most obvious type of uniforms, clearly denoting the organisation of the wearer. Military, police, nurses, firefighters, and post-office workers often have recognisable uniforms. These uniforms are often accompanied by a set of rules that govern the “proper” wearing of these items. Uniforms rules do not just govern how the clothing is worn, they also govern the conduct of the person wearing the uniform. For example, a police officer in uniform, whether or not on duty, is expected to maintain certain codes of behaviour as well as dress standards. Yet dress, as Craik notes, can also be transgressive, allowing the wearer to challenge the underpinning conventions of the dress codes. Both Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to name just two, leveraged social understandings of uniforms when they used their clothing to communicate political messages. Fashion as political communication or as ‘fashion politics’ is not a new phenomenon (Oh 374).</p> <p>Jennifer Craik argues that there are two other types of uniform; the unofficial and the quasi-uniform (17). Unofficial uniforms are generally adopted in lieu of official uniforms. They generally arise organically from group members and function in similar ways to official uniforms, and they tend to be identical in appearance, even if hierarchical. Examples of these include the yellow hi-vis jackets worn by the French <em>Gilets Jaunes</em> during the 2018 protests against rising costs of living and economic injustice (Coghlan). Quasi-uniforms work slightly differently. They exist where official and unofficial rules govern the wearing of clothes that are beyond the normal social rules of clothing. For example, the business suit is generally considered appropriate attire for those working in a conservative corporate environment: some workplaces restrict skirt, trouser, and jacket colours to navy, grey, or black, accompanied by a white shirt or blouse.</p> <p>In this way we can consider parliamentary dress to be a form of “quasi-uniform”, governed by both official and unofficial workplaces rules, but discretionary as to what the person chooses to wear in order to abide by these rules, which as described above are policed by the parliamentary Speaker. In the Australian House of Representatives, official rules are laid down in the policy “Dress and Conduct in the Chamber” which allows that “the standard of dress in the Chamber is a matter for the individual judgement of each Member, [but] the ultimate discretion rests with the Speaker” (“Dress”). Clothing rules within parliamentary chambers may establish order but also may seem counter-intuitive to the notions of democracy and free speech. However, when they are subverted, these rules can make clothing statements seem even more stark. Jennifer Craik argues that “wearing a uniform properly ... is more important that the items of clothing and decoration themselves” (4) and it is this very notion that makes transgressive use of the uniform so powerful. As noted by Coghlan, what we wear is a powerful tool of political struggle. French revolutionaries rejected the quasi-uniforms of the French nobility and their “gold-braided coat, white silk stockings, lace stock, plumed hat and sword” (Fairchilds 423), and replaced it with the wearing of the tricolour <a href="https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/mans-bicorne-hat-with-tricolor-cockade-120853">cockade</a>, a badge of red, blue, and white ribbons which signalled wearers as revolutionaries. Uniforms in this sense can be understood to reinforce social hierarchies and demonstrate forms of power and control.</p> <p>Coghlan also reminds us that the quasi-uniform of women’s bloomers in the 1850s, often referred to as “reform dress”, challenged gender norms and demonstrated women’s agency. The wearing of pants by women came to “symbolize the movement for women’s rights” (Ladd Nelson 24). The wearing of quasi-political uniforms by those seeking social change has a long history, from the historical examples already noted to the Khadi Movement led by Gandhi’s “own sartorial choices of transformation from that of an Englishman to that of one representing India” (Jain), to the wearing of sharecropper overalls by African American civil rights activists to Washington to hear Martin Luther King in 1963, to the Aboriginal Long March to Freedom in 1988, the Tibetan Freedom Movement in 2008, and the 2017 Washington Pink Pussy Hat March, just to name a few (Coghlan). Here shared dress uniforms signal political allegiance, operating not that differently from the shared meanings of the old-school tie or tie in the colour of political membership.</p> <h1><strong>Political Fashion </strong></h1> <p>Clothing has been used by queens, female diplomats, and first ladies as signs of power. For members of early royal households, “rank, wealth, magnificence, and personal virtue was embodied in dress, and, as such, dress was inherently political, richly materialising the qualities associated with the wearer” (Griffey 15). Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), in order to subvert views that she was unfit to rule because of her sex, presented herself as a virgin to prove she was “morally worthy of holding the traditionally masculine office of monarch” (Howey 2009). To do this she dressed in ways projecting her virtue, meaning her thousands of gowns not only asserted her wealth, they asserted her power as each gown featured images and symbols visually reinforcing her standing as the Virgin Queen (Otnes and Maclaren 40). Not just images and symbols, but colour is an important part of political uniforms. Just as Queen Elizabeth I’s choice of white was an important communication tool to claim her right to rule, Queen Victoria used colour to indicate status and emotion, exclusively wearing black mourning clothes for the 41 years of her widowhood and thus “creating a solemn and pious image of the Queen” (Agnew). Dress as a sign of wealth is one aspect of these sartorial choices, the other is dress as a sign of power.</p> <p>Today, argues Mansel, royal dress is as much political as it is performative, embedded with a “transforming power” (Mansel xiiv). With the “right dress”, be it court dress, national dress, military or civil uniform, royals can encourage loyalty, satisfy vanity, impress the outside world, and help local industries (Mansel xiv). For Queen Elizabeth II, her uniform rendered her visible as The Queen; a brand rather than the person. Her clothes were not just “style choices”; they were “steeped with meaning and influence” that denoted her role as ambassador and figurehead (Atkinson). Her wardrobe of public uniforms was her “communication”, saying she was “prepared, reliable and traditional” (Atkinson). Queen Elizabeth’s other public uniform was that of the “tweed-skirted persona whose image served as cultural shorthand for conservative and correct manner and mode” (Otnes and Maclaren 19). For her royal tours, the foreign dress of Queen Elizabeth was carefully planned with a key “understanding of the political semantics of fashion … with garments and accessories … pay[ing] homage to the key symbols of the host countries” (Otnes and Maclaren 49).</p> <p>Madeline Albright, former US Secretary of State, engaged in sartorial diplomacy not with fashion but with jewellery, specifically pins (Albright). She is quoted as saying</p> <blockquote> <p>on good days, when I wanted to project prosperity and happiness, I'd put on suns, ladybugs, flowers, and hot-air balloons that signified high hopes. On bad days, I'd reach for spiders and carnivorous animals. If the progress was slower than I liked during a meeting in the Middle East, I'd wear a snail pin. And when I was dealing with crabby people, I put on a crab. Other ambassadors started to notice, and whenever they asked me what I was up to on any given day, I would tell them, “Read my pins”. (Burack)</p> </blockquote> <p>Two American first ladies, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Michelle Obama, demonstrate how their fashion acted as a political uniform to challenge the ideal notions of American womanhood that for generations were embedded in the first lady (Rall <em>et al</em>.). While modern first ladies are now more political in their championing of causes and play an important role in presidential election, there are lingering expectations that the first lady be the mother of the nation (Caroli).</p> <p>First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s eclectic style challenged the more conservative tone set by prior Republican first ladies, notably Barbara Bush. Rodham Clinton is a feminist and lawyer more interested in policy that the domesticity of White House functions and décor. Her fashion reflects her “independence, individuality and agency”, providing a powerful message to American women (Rall <em>et al</em>. 274). This was not that much of a shift from her appearance as the wife of a Southern Governor who wouldn’t wear makeup and kept her maiden name (Anderson and Sheeler 26). More recently, as Democratic Presidential nominee, Rodham Clinton again used fashion to tell voters that a woman could wear a suit and become president. Rodham Clinton’s political fashion acted to contest the gender stereotypes about who could sit in the White House (Oh 374). Again, the pantsuit was not new for Rodham Clinton; “when I ran for Senate in 2000 and President in 2008, I basically had a uniform: a simple pantsuit, often black” (Mejia). Rodham Clinton says the “benefit to having a uniform is finding an easy way to fit in … to do what male politicians do and wear more or less the same thing every day”. As a woman running for president in 2016, the <a href="https://slate.com/human-interest/2016/11/hillary-clinton-supporters-wore-pantsuits-to-the-polls.html">pantsuit</a> acted as a “visual cue” that she was “different from the men but also familiar” (Mejia).</p> <p>Similarly, First Lady Michelle Obama adopted a political uniform to situate her role in American society. Gender but also race and class played a role in shaping her performance (Guerrero). As the first black First Lady, in the context of post-9/11 America which pushed a “Buy American” retail campaign, and perhaps in response to the novelty of a black First Lady, Obama expressed her political fashion by returning the First Lady narrative back to the confines of family and domesticity (Dillaway and Paré). To do this, she “presented a middle-class casualness by wearing mass retail items from popular chain stores and the use of emerging American designers for her formal political appearances” (Rall <em>et al</em>. 274).</p> <p>Although the number of women elected into politics has been increasing, gender stereotypes remain, and female representation in politics still remains low in most countries (Oh 376). Hyland argues that female politicians are subject to</p> <blockquote> <p>more intense scrutiny over their appearance … they are held to higher standards for their professional dress and expected to embody a number of paradoxes — powerful yet demure, covered-up but not too prim. They’re also expected to keep up with trends in a way that their male counterparts are not. Sexism can too easily encroach upon critiques of what they wear.</p> </blockquote> <p>How female politicians dress is often more reported than their political or parliamentary contributions. This was the case for Australia’s first female Prime Minister <a href="https://www.goulburnpost.com.au/story/1374234/gallery-julia-gillards-political-life-in-pictures/">Julia Gillard</a>. Jansens’s 2019 research well demonstrates the media preoccupation with political women’s fashion in a number of ways, be it the colours they choose to wear, how their clothing reveals their bodies, and judgements about the professionalism of their sartorial choices and the number of times certain items of clothing are worn. Jansens provides a number of informative examples noting the media’s obsession with Gillard’s choices of jackets that were re-worn and tops that showed her cleavage. One <em>Australian Financial Review</em> columnist reported,</p> <blockquote> <p>I don’t think it’s appropriate for a Prime Minister to be showing her cleavage in Parliament. It’s not something I want to see. It is inappropriate to be in Parliament, it is disrespectful to yourself and to the Australian community and to the parliament to present yourself in a manner that is unprofessional. (Jansens)</p> </blockquote> <p>The media preoccupation with female politicians’ clothing is noted elsewhere. In the 2012 Korean presidential election, Geun-hye Park became the first female president of Korea, yet media reports focussed largely on Park’s fashion: a 2013 newspaper published a four-page analysis titled “Park Geun-hye Fashion Project”. Another media outlet published a review of the 409 formal function outfits worn by Park (Oh 378). The larger focus, however, remains on Park’s choice to wear a <a href="https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2012/09/04/features/During-election-season-clothes-make-the-politician/2958902.html">suit</a>, referred to as her “combat uniform” (Cho), for her daily parliamentary and political duties. This led Oh to argue that Korean female politicians, including Park, wear a “male suit as a means for benefit and survival”; however, with such media scrutiny “female politicians are left under constant surveillance” (382).</p> <p>As Jansens argues, clothing can act as a “communicative barrier between the body and society”, and a narrative that focusses on how clothes fit and look “illustrates women’s bodies as exceptional to the uniform of the political sphere, which is a masculine aesthetic” (212). Drawing on Entwistle, Jansens maintains that the the uniform “serves the purpose in policing the boundaries of sexual difference”, with “uniforms of gender, such as the suit, enabl[ing] the repetitious production of gender”. In this context, female politicians are in a double bind. Gillard, for example, in changing her aesthetic illustrates the “false dichotomy, or the ‘double bind’ of women’s competency and femininity that women can be presented with regarding their agency to conform, or their agency to deviate from the masculine aesthetic norm” (Jansens 212). This was likely also the experience of Jeannette Rankin, with media reports focusing on Rankin’s “looks and “personal habits,” and headlines such “Congresswoman Rankin Real Girl; Likes Nice Gowns and Tidy Hair” (“Masquerading”).</p> <p>In this article, however, the focus is not on the media preoccupation with female politicians’ political fashion; rather, it is on how female politicians, rather than conforming to masculine aesthetic norms of wearing suit-like attire, are increasingly contesting the political uniform and in doing so are challenging social and political boundaries As Yangzom puts it, how the “embodiment of dress itself alters political space and civic discourse is imperative to understanding how resistance is performed in creating social change” (623). This is a necessary socio-political activity because the “way the media talks about women affects the way women are perceived in society. If women’s appearances are consistently highlighted in the media, inequality of opportunity will follow from this inequality of treatment” (Jansens 215).</p> <h1><strong>Contesting the Political Uniform </strong></h1> <p>Breaking fashion norms, or as Entwistle argues, “bodies which flout the conventions of their culture and go without the appropriate clothes are subversive of the most basic social codes and risk exclusion, scorn and ridicule” (7), hence the price may be high to pay for a public figure. American Vice-President Kamala Harris’s penchant for comfy sneakers earned her the nickname “the Converse candidate”. Her choice to wear sneakers rather than a more conventional low-heel shoe didn’t necessarily bring about a backlash; rather, it framed her youthful image (possibly to contrast against Trump and Biden) and posited a “hit the ground running” approach (Hyland). Or, as Devaney puts it, “laced up and ready to win … [Harris] knew her classic American trainers signalled a can-do attitude and a sense of purpose”.</p> <p>Increasingly, political women, rather than being the subject of social judgments about their clothing, are actively using their dressed bodies to challenge and contest a range of political discourses. What a woman wears is a “language through which she can send any number of pointed messages” (Weiss). In 2021, US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/14/aoc-defends-tax-the-rich-dress-met-gala">‘Tax the rich’</a> dress to the Met Gala. The dress was designed by social activist designers Brother Vellies and loaned to Ocasio-Cortez to attend the $30,000 ticket event. For Ocasio-Cortez, who has an Instagram following of more than eight million people, the dress is “about having a real conversation about fairness and equity in our system, and I think this conversation is particularly relevant as we debate the budget” (“Alexandria”). For Badham, “in the blood-spattered garments of fighting class war” the “backlash to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s … dress was instant and glorious”.</p> <p>At the same event, Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney wore an <a href="https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/a37581930/met-gala-attendees-political-statements/">‘Equal Rights for Women’</a> suffragette-themed floor length dress in the suffragette colours of purple, white, and gold. Maloney posted that she has “long used fashion as a force 4 change” (Chamlee). US Senator Kyrsten Sinema is known for her “eccentric hipster” look when sitting in the chamber, complete with “colourful wigs, funky glasses, gold knee-high boots, and a <a href="https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/04/kyrsten-sinema-ring-message.html">ring</a> that reads ‘Fuck off”’ (Hyland). Simena has been called a “Prada Socialist” and a “fashion revolutionary” (Cauterucci). Similarly, UK politician Harriet Harmen received backlash for wearing a <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-2019-whats-the-proper-way-for-politicians-to-dress-126968">t-shirt</a> which read “This is what a feminist looks like” when meeting PM David Cameron (Pilote and Montreuil). While these may be exceptions rather than the rule, the agency demonstrated by these politicians speaks to the patriarchal nature of masculine political environments and the conventions and rules that maintain gendered institutions, such as parliaments.</p> <p>When US Vice-President Kamala Harris was sworn in, she was “not only … the first woman, Black woman, and South Asian-American woman elected to the position, but also … the first to take the oath of office wearing something other than a suit and tie”, instead wearing a feminised suit consisting of a <a href="https://www.thezoereport.com/p/kamala-harris-inauguration-outfit-spotlights-2-emerging-black-american-designers-58163183">purple dress and coat</a> designed by African-American designer Christopher John Rogers (Naer). Harris is often photographed wearing Converse sneakers, as already noted, and <a href="https://www.thezoereport.com/p/kamala-harris-shoe-choices-keep-going-viral-heres-why-37827474">Timberland</a> work boots, which for Naer is “quietly rebellious” because with them “Harris subverts expectations that women in politics should appear in certain clothing (sleek heels, for instance) in order to compete with men — who are, most often, in flats”. For Elan, the Vice-President’s sneakers may be a “small sartorial detail, but it is linked to the larger cultural moment in which we live. Sneakers are a form of footwear finding their way into many women’s closets as part of a larger challenge to outmoded concepts of femininity” as well as a nod to her multiracial heritage where the “progenitors of sneaker culture were predominantly kids of colour”. Her dress style can act to disrupt more than just gender meanings; it can be extended to examine class and race.</p> <p>In 2022, referencing the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 2021 Met dress, Claudia Perkins, the wife of Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt, wore a “white, full-length dress covered in red and black text” that read “coal kills” and “gas kills”, with slick, long black <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CiMzoQMPC8I/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;ig_rid=d6855ffa-8170-40e5-8db8-6b5935ea4b24">gloves</a>. Bandt wore a “simple tux with a matching pocket square of the same statement fabric” to the federal parliament Midwinter Ball. Joining Perkins was Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, wearing an “hourglass white <a href="https://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/news/canberra-midwinter-ball-dresses-2022/image-gallery/a692970d41627fa8c23f6dc9ed3f9bda">dress</a> with a statement on the back in black letters” that read: “end gas and coal”. The trim on the bottom was also covered in the same text. Hanson-Young posted on social media that the “dress is made from a 50-year-old damask table cloth, and the lettering is made from a fast fashion handbag that had fallen apart” (Bliszczyk). Federal MP Nicolle Flint posted a video on Twitter asking a political commentator what a woman in politics should wear. One commentator had taken aim at Flint’s sartorial choices which he described “pearl earrings and a pearly smile” and a “vast wardrobe of blazers, coats and tight, black, ankle-freezing trousers and stiletto heels”. Ending the video, Flint removes her black coat to reveal a “grey bin <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-27/liberal-nicolle-flint-wears-garbage-bag-to-protest-sexism/12497238">bag</a> cinched with a black belt” (Norman).</p> <p>In 2018, Québec politician Catherine Dorian was criticised for wearing casual clothes, including Dr Marten boots, in parliament, and again in 2019 when Dorian wore an orange <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-2019-whats-the-proper-way-for-politicians-to-dress-126968">hoodie</a> in the parliamentary chamber. The claim was that Dorian “did not respect decorum” (Pilote and Montreuil). Dorian’s response was “it’s supposed to be the people’s house, so why can’t we look like normal people” (Parrillo). Yet the Québec parliament only has dress rules for men — jacket, shirt and ties — and has no specifics for female attire, meaning a female politician can wear Dr Martens or a hoodie, or meaning that the orthodoxy is that only men will sit in the chamber. The issue of the hoodie, somewhat like Kamala Harris’s wearing of sneakers, is also a class and age issue. For Jo Turney, the hoodie is a “symbol of social disobedience” (23). The garment is mass-produced, ordinary, and democratic, as it can be worn by anyone. It is also a sign of “criminality, anti-social behaviour and out of control youth”.</p> <p>If the media are going to focus on what female politicians are wearing rather than their political actions, it is unsurprising some will use that platform to make social and political comments on issues relating to gender, but also to age, class, and policies. While this may maintain a focus on their sartorial choices, it does remind us of the double bind female politicians are in. With parliamentary rules and social conventions enamoured with the idea of a ‘suit and tie’ being the appropriate uniform for political figures, instances when this ‘rule’ is transgressed will risk public ridicule and social backlash. However, in instances were political women have chosen to wear garments that are not the conventional political uniform of the suit and tie, i.e. a dress or t-shirt with a political slogan, or a hoodie or sneakers reflecting youth, class, or race, they are challenging the customs of what a politician should look like. Politicians today are both men and women, different ages, abilities, sexualities, ethnicities, religions, and demographics. To narrowly suppose what a politician is by what they wear narrows public thinking about a person’s contribution or potential contribution to public life. While patriarchal social conventions and parliamentary rules stay in place, the political sphere is weaker for it.</p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Agnew, Molly. “Victorian Mourning Dress.” <em>Eternal Goddess</em> 27 Nov. 2020. 12 Dec. 2022 &lt;<a href="https://www.eternalgoddess.co.uk/posts/esbvxua79pcgcwyjp6iczrdfgw4vm5">https://www.eternalgoddess.co.uk/posts/esbvxua79pcgcwyjp6iczrdfgw4vm5</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Albright, Madeleine. <em>Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box</em>. 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She’s a Fashion Revolutionary.” <em>Slate</em> 31 Jan. 2019. &lt;<a href="https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/01/kyrsten-sinema-fashion-boots.html">https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/01/kyrsten-sinema-fashion-boots.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Chamlee, Virginia. “The New York Democrat Also Wore a Bag Emblazoned with ‘ERA YES’, an Endorsement of the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment.” <em>People</em> 14 Sep. 2021. <a href="https://people.com/style/congresswoman-carolyn-maloney-wears-suffragette-themed-met-gala-dress">https://people.com/style/congresswoman-carolyn-maloney-wears-suffragette-themed-met-gala-dress</a>.</p> <p>Cho, Jae-eun. “During Election Season, Clothes Make the Politicians.” <em>Korea JoongAng Daily</em> 4 Sep. 2012. &lt;<a href="https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2012/09/04/features/During-election-season-clothes-make-the-politician/2958902.html">https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2012/09/04/features/During-election-season-clothes-make-the-politician/2958902.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Coghlan, Jo. “Dissent Dressing: The Colour and Fabric of Political Rage.” <em>M/C Journal</em> 22.1 (2019). &lt;<a href="https://doi.org/10.5204/mcj.1497">https://doi.org/10.5204/mcj.1497</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Craik, Jennifer. <em>Uniforms Exposed: From Conformity to Transgression</em>. Oxford: Berg, 2005.</p> <p>Deutch, Gabby, and Emily Karl. “Congresswomen Protest the ‘Right to Bare Arms’.” <em>CNN </em>14 Jul. 2017. &lt;<a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/14/politics/capitol-dress-code-protest/index.html">https://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/14/politics/capitol-dress-code-protest/index.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Devaney, Susan. “How Kamala and Her Converse Rewrote the Rule Book on Political Style.” <em>British Vogue</em> 13 Nov. 2020. &lt;<a href="https://www.vogue.co.uk/news/article/kamala-harris-sneakers-fashion">https://www.vogue.co.uk/news/article/kamala-harris-sneakers-fashion</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Dillaway, Heather, and Elizabeth Paré. “Locating Mothers: How Cultural Debates about Stay-at-Home versus Working Mothers Define Women and Home.” <em>Journal of Family Issues</em> 29.4 (2008): 437–64.</p> <p>“Dress and Conduct in the Chamber”. Parliament of Australia, 11 Nov. 2022. &lt;<a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/House_of_Representatives/Powers_practice_and_procedure/Practice7/HTML/Chapter5/Dress_and_conduct_in_the_Chamber">https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/House_of_Representatives/ Powers_practice_and_procedure/Practice7/HTML/Chapter5/Dress_and_conduct_in_the_Chamber</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Elan, Priya. “Kamala Harris: What Her Sneakers Mean”. <em>The Guardian</em> 4 Sep. 2020. &lt;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/sep/03/kamala-harris-what-her-sneakers-mean">https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/sep/03/kamala-harris-what-her-sneakers-mean</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Entwistle, Joanne. <em>The Fashioned Body: Fashion, Dress, and Modern Social Theory. </em>Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000.</p> <p>Fairchilds, Cissie. “Fashion and Freedom in the French Revolution.” <em>Continuity and Change</em> 15.3 (2000): 419-33.</p> <p>Griffey, Erin. Introduction. <em>Sartorial Politics in Early Modern Europe</em><em>: Fashioning Women. </em>Ed. Erin Griffey. Amsterdam UP, 2019: 15-32.</p> <p>Guerrero, Lisa. “(M)other-in-Chief: Michelle Obama and the Ideal of Republican womanhood.” <em>New Femininities</em>. Eds. Rosalind Gill and Christina Scharff. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011: 68–82.</p> <p>Howey, Catherine. “Dressing a Virgin Queen: Court Women, Dress, and Fashioning the Image of England’s Queen Elizabeth I.” <em>Early Modern Women</em> 4 (2009): 201-208.</p> <p>Hyland, Veronique. “Women in US Politics Have Learnt to Stop Worrying and Embrace Fashion.” <em>Financial Times</em> 17 Mar. 2022. &lt;<a href="https://www.ft.com/stream/c5436241-52d7-4e6d-973e-2bcacc8866ae">https://www.ft.com/stream/c5436241-52d7-4e6d-973e-2bcacc8866ae</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Jain, E. “Khadi: A Cloth and Beyond.” Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal &amp; Gandhi Research Foundation, 2018. &lt;<a href="https://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/khadi-a-cloth-and-beyond.html">https://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/khadi-a-cloth-and-beyond.html</a>&gt;</p> <p>Jansens, Freya. “Suit of Power: Fashion, Politics, and Hegemonic Masculinity in Australia.” <em>Australian Journal of Political Science</em> 52.2 (2019): 202-218. &lt;<a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2019.1567677">https://doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2019.1567677</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Ladd Nelson, Jennifer. “Dress Reform and the Bloomer.” <em>Journal of American and Comparative Cultures</em> 23.1 (2002): 21-25.</p> <p>Mansel, Philip. <em>Dressed to Rule: Royal and Court Costume from Louis XIV to Elizabeth II</em>. New Haven: Yale UP, 2005.</p> <p>“Masquerading as Miss Rankin.” US House of Representatives: History, Arts and Archives. 22 Mar. 2017. &lt;<a href="https://history.house.gov/Blog/2017/March/3-27-Masquerading-Rankin/">https://history.house.gov/Blog/2017/March/3-27-Masquerading-Rankin/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Mejia, Zameena. “4 Powerful Reasons Hillary Clinton Always Wears Her Famous Pantsuits.” <em>CNBC </em>14 Sep. 2017. &lt;<a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/14/hillary-clinton-discusses-why-she-wears-pantsuits-in-what-happened.html">https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/14/hillary-clinton-discusses-why-she-wears-pantsuits-in-what-happened.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Naer, Danielle. “The 2 Shoe Styles That Kamala Harris Wears on Repeat Might Surprise You.” <em>The Zoe Report </em>8 Oct. 2020. &lt;<a href="https://www.thezoereport.com/p/kamala-harris-shoe-choices-keep-going-viral-heres-why-37827474">https://www.thezoereport.com/p/kamala-harris-shoe-choices-keep-going-viral-heres-why-37827474</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Norman, Jane. “Liberal MP Nicolle Flint Wears a Bin Bag to Call Out 'Sexist Rubbish' after Column Describes Her Clothing Choices.” <em>ABC News</em> 27 July 2020. &lt;<a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-27/liberal-nicolle-flint-wears-garbage-bag-to-protest-sexism/12497238">https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-27/liberal-nicolle-flint-wears-garbage-bag-to-protest-sexism/12497238</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Oh, Youri. “Fashion in Politics: What Makes Korean Female Politicians Wear ‘the Suit’ NNot ‘a Dress’?” <em>International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education</em> 12:3 (2019): 374-384.</p> <p>Otnes, Celi, and Pauline Maclaren. <em>Royal Fever: The British Monarch in Consumer Culture</em>. Oakland: U of California P, 2015.</p> <p>Parrillo, Felicia. “What Not to Wear: Quebec National Assembly to Review Dress Code.” <em>Global News </em>5 Dec. 2018. &lt;<a href="https://globalnews.ca/news/4732876/what-not-to-wear-quebec-national-assembly-review-dress-code/">https://globalnews.ca/news/4732876/what-not-to-wear-quebec-national-assembly-review-dress-code/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Pilote, Anne-Marie, and Arnaud Montreuil. “It’s 2019: What’s the Proper Way for Politicians to Dress?” <em>The Conversation</em> 15 Nov. 2019<strong>. &lt;</strong><a href="https://theconversation.com/its-2019-whats-the-proper-way-for-politicians-to-dress-126968">https://theconversation.com/its-2019-whats-the-proper-way-for-politicians-to-dress-126968</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Rall, Denise, Jo Coghlan, Lisa Hackett, and Annita Boyd. “‘Dressing Up’: Two Democratic First Ladies: Fashion as Political Performance in America.” <em>Australasian Journal of Popular Culture</em> 7.2 (2018): 273–287.</p> <p>Simm, Pippa. “What Not to Wear in Parliament.” <em>BBC News</em> 23 Dec. 2015. &lt;<a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-33700928">https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-33700928</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Turney, Joanne. <em>Fashion Crimes: Dressing for Deviance</em>. Bloomsbury, 2019. &lt;<a href="https://www.bloomsburycollections.com/book/fashion-crimes-dressing-for-deviance/">https://www.bloomsburycollections.com/book/fashion-crimes-dressing-for-deviance/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Weiss, Joanna. “Pearls and Chucks: How Kamala Harris Is Changing Fashion in Politics.” <em>WBUR</em> 20 Jan. 2021. &lt;<a href="https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2021/01/20/vice-president-harris-style-vogue-inauguration-joanna-weiss">https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2021/01/20/vice-president-harris-style-vogue-inauguration-joanna-weiss</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Yangzom, Dicky. “Clothing and Social Movements: Tibet and the Politics of Dress.” <em>Social Movement Studies</em> 15.6 (2016): 622-33. </p> <p>Zengerle, Patricia. “For Women at the U.S. Congress: The Right to Bare Arms?” <em>Reuters </em>14 Jul. 2017. &lt;<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-dresscode-idUSKBN19Y2BV">https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-dresscode-idUSKBN19Y2BV</a>&gt;.</p> Jo Coghlan, Lisa J Hackett Copyright (c) 2023 Jo Coghlan, Lisa J Hackett http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2963 Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000 The Mutability of Uniform https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2968 <p>The word ‘uniform’ can be a noun, adjective, or verb. As a noun it relates to prescribed dress, often in occupational settings. As an adjective it relates the sameness between objects and thoughts. As a verb it means to make the same. Underlying each grammatical usage is the concept sameness, to align thoughts, ideas, and physicality. In society where heightened individualism is a key characteristic, the persistence of ‘uniform-ness’ is an intriguing area of research. This issue of <em>M/C Journal</em> embraces the range of meanings that word uniform encompasses, and examines how they present in our culture(s) and how they are represented in the media.</p> <p>In the opening to their book <em>Uniform: Clothing and Discipline in the Modern World, </em>Jane Tynan and Lisa Godson argue that “as state, society, and nation converged towards the end of the nineteenth century uniform became part of a modern culture increasingly concerned with regulating time, space, and bodies” (Tynan and Godson 6). The modern state demanded uniformity of ideas and thought, underpinned by the rationalism that dominated the enlightenment. To dress in a uniform was to transform the body into that rational, uniform being. At the same time uniformity “suppresses individuality”, controlling social interaction (Joseph and Alex 723-24), and centralising the organisation or state in our social lives.</p> <p>As an item of dress, uniforms are distinctive. Yet they only become distinctive when they become different from everyday dress, such as spurs on Cavalry officers who have no horses or wigs on lawyers when everyone else has dispensed with them (Hobsbawm 4). Dress in general is governed by unwritten social rules, perhaps none so pervasive as being required to dress to your gender. The history of uniform reveals that occupational dress often demarked the appropriate gender for the job. Early military uniforms were masculine, nanny uniforms feminine. Uniform explicates status of both the wearer and the non-wearer, who then becomes the ‘other’, the outsider or the non-conformer. The dichotomy between wearer and non-wearer is not so clear, however, as the power of the uniform also provides the means through which the non-conformer can subvert its meanings through incorrect wearing of the uniform. Similarly, too, we see others subverting uniform social norms to make their political points or for political gain. As Jennifer Craik states, “there is a constant play between the intended symbolisms of uniforms … and the informal codes of wearing and denoting uniforms” (Craik 7).</p> <p>As one of “modernity’s practices; [uniforms represent] resistance to tradition and the embrace of rationality” (Tynan and Godson 1-2). Yet, as the twentieth century progressed, we can see uniforms and uniformity of thought being co-opted to create ‘tradition’ and ‘ritual’ particularly around the state (see Cannadine; Hobsbawn). Concurrently, formal occupational dress for many workers entered a decline near the beginning of the twentieth century (Williams-Mitchell 101), yet other forms of uniform arose. A tendency arose towards what Jennifer Craik calls the ‘quasi-uniform’, those “modes of dress that are consensually imposed as appropriate” (17), for example the business suit, a wedding dress or gym wear. This mode of uniform shifts the dynamic from a top-down directive (such as that in an institution or by government) to a more democratic one, where the general populace seemingly consents to, and socially police.</p> <p>With the advent of film, television, and later the Internet, the access to information has led to what some argue as the homogenisation of culture, albeit one that is dominated by particular western cultures. This too can be seen in international diplomacy. First the League of Nations, and then the United Nations, standardised international dialogue between countries. Uniform processes were put in place, with institutions such as the International Court playing a pivotal role. The English language came to dominate, with over 67 countries counting it as an official language, and many others having it in common use. This was arguably as a result of its primacy in both media and diplomatic communications, creating a uniform language which paradoxically retains its localised character. Although this too may be dissipating as this primacy is being challenged through the reinvigoration of languages from former colonies, from Irish to the Indigenous Australian languages, and the growing populations speaking Spanish and Chinese. Diversity too is being demanded in our media and politics, through more balanced and nuanced representations of people.</p> <p>Uniforms are often products of their time, and in their physical form can appear as from another era, staying static while fashion swiftly moves on. The butler or the chauffeur can look like a relic from a previous age. So too can uniform ways of thinking. The recent changing of state school uniform polices in Australia from gendered to gender-neutral clothing reflects how uniforms can be slow to catch up to social norms of women wearing trousers and shorts for sport, leisure, and work. This reflects not only the clothing, but the institutional beliefs that underpinned uniform policy.</p> <p>In reflection of the ways that uniform has changed, for this edition we have chosen to present the feature article followed by the articles in chronological order. The feature article addresses much of the shift in uniforms. This is followed by ten articles which explore several different types of uniform, both physical and metaphysical, revealing how uniforms have changed in society in the last 125 years.</p> <p>This issue’s feature article takes up the theme of how a dress code has developed into an imposed uniform in parliaments, and how female politicians have challenged the gender norms embedded in these codes. Taking a longitudinal view, “Parliamentary Dress: Gendered Contestation of the Political Uniform” by Jo Coghlan and Lisa J. Hackett first situates the development of parliamentary dress in its historical context that assumes masculine attire. It then highlights how female politicians have used these codes to both signal their adherence to norms and their rejection of the same norms. It further examines the ways that prominent female politicians have subverted the parliamentary uniform to make political statements.</p> <p>Our first article, “The Inculcative Power of Australian Cadet Corps Uniforms in the 1900s and 1910s” by Nathan Wise and Lisa J. Hackett, takes us to the start of the twentieth century and examines how military uniforms entered the classroom in the years leading up to, and during, the First World War. It notes how cadet programmes were part of a wider social movement that sought to instil middle-class values throughout society. By donning uniforms, it was believed, boys would also ‘wear’ the ideology prescribed within them. It also served as a signifier to wider society of the status of these boys and the future possibility of service to their country.</p> <p>The experience of the First World War and the mass-uniforming of the population provided a blue-print for the organisation of labour during wartime. Trends that were established during the First World War developed further, perhaps driven by the social and political upheavals of the inter-war years; the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, the rise of Fascism. Among this was the continuation of the idea that schoolboys undertake Army cadet programmes as part of their education. Some schools had continued this after the First World War, whilst others would introduce it at the start of the war. Liam Barnsdale’s article “Trooping the (School) Colour: Australian School Cadet Uniforms and Masculine Identities during the Second World War” examines how the cadet programmes within schools increased in popularity during the war period. Central to this was the debate over uniforming boys in appropriate uniforms. As Barnsdale points out, Australia had no official uniform for use by cadets. Instead, individual schools designed their own uniforms, which often revealed the ideology of the school rather than the armed forces. The result was that in Australia cadet uniforms were diverse in their offerings.</p> <p>Founded in the dying days of the Second World War, uniformity of political ideals was encapsulated in the fledging United Nations. Replacing the League of Nations which was founded to maintain world peace, the United Nations has proven to be more effective and long-lasting than its predecessor. The central mission of peacekeeping brought about a new form of military uniform, the distinctive blue berets worn by the United Nations Peace Keepers. Simone Strungaru’s article “The Blue Beret: Representations and Symbolism of UN Peacekeeper’s Uniforms” examines the history of the distinctive uniform. Here Strungaru reveals the rich symbolism that the blue beret leverages in forging a distinctive identity for the men and women who wear it.</p> <p>The centrality of military uniforms in historical state events, such as wars, have meant that their iconography has often been linked to the grand ceremonies of state. David Cannadine argued in 1983 that ceremonies surrounding the British royal family have become “so well stage managed” that the British (and arguably Australians) believe they are good at tradition and ritual (Cannadine 160). The next article in our volume examines the careful management of a royal visit to an Australian beach.</p> <p>Donna Lee Brien’s article “Planning Queen Elizabeth II’s Visit to Bondi Beach in 1954: An Object-Inspired History” examines the material remnants of uniform and how it provides a gateway to historical knowledge. Brien’s examination starts with a commemorative medal handed out to school children as part of the royal visit to Bondi Beach. This medal deliberately ties the school uniform to royalty through the use of a signifier usually worn as a military achievement. This tangible connection allows the organisers to assign royalist identities to the school uniform. Brien’s article further extrapolates how other uniforms, such as those worn by Surf Life Savers, Nurses, and a Pipe Band were used in a carefully orchestrated display of royal pageantry at the beach. A pageantry that was uniquely Imperial and Australian all at once.</p> <p>Xiang Gao’s article “A ‘Uniform’ for all States? International Norm Diffusion and Localisation” takes up how norms within different countries have evolved, arguing that such norms become a type of ‘national uniform’. While states adhere to international norms such as those enshrined in the United Nations, they also have to negotiate with domestic actors and the ideals held by them. Thus, norms have to adapt to local sensibilities. The ability of a state to define its own norms on the international stage is affected by its relative positioning in international relations and diplomacy. Gao argues that more powerful states have increased capacity to define and challenge normative behaviour than smaller powers. The results of this can be seen through international treaties: for example, climate change negotiations.</p> <p>Uniformness and uniforms are not just the apparatus of the state, they also exist to identify members of groups that hold themselves apart from society. From subcultural uniforms to religious cults denoting their affiliation to a power beyond the mortal realm, uniforms have been utilised to exclude both the wearer from society and outsiders from the group. In their article “The Clothes Maketh the Cult: The Myth of the Cult and Pop Culture”, Huw Nolan, Jenny Wise, and Lesley McLean examine how the cult ‘uniform’ is used in popular culture as a device to denote cults as ‘the other’.</p> <p>Pope Francis uses his uniform as a way of challenging international norms when it comes to environmental issues, as argued in Aidan Moir’s article: “The Pope’s New Clothes: The Brand Politics of the Papal Uniform in Popular Culture”. Pope Francis, Moir argues, has deliberately chosen modest religious vestments to signify his environmental ethics and his emulation of his namesake, St Francis of Assisi. This uniform also marks a shift away from the more ornate vestments preferred by his predecessor, Pope Benedict. Moir also notes how each pope has personalised their uniform through the use of accessories, noting both John Paul II and Benedict conspicuously wearing accessories from established brand names such as Prada or Rolex. Pope Francis’s aesthetic rejects these items of conspicuous consumption, creating a humbler appearance, reducing the distance between the Catholic leader and his flock.</p> <p>Uniformity does not necessarily mean homogeneity, but rather, as Fredericks and Bradfield argue, a collective whole that can work together. Their article, “‘Uniting Hearts’: The Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Need for a Uniformed Front for a Constitutionally Enshrined First Nations’ Voice to Parliament” also introduces to our discussion how digital icons, a unique feature of contemporary life, become virtual uniforms, signalling the ideological position of the communicator. The ‘Uluru heart’ icon can be both worn physically and shared online to denote support for the Uluru Statement. The simple use of a recognisable symbol communicates identity and allows for widespread dissemination of support for the Uluru Statement.</p> <p>Nicholas Hookway continues the discussion on the use of uniform to denote support for social causes in his article “‘I decked myself out in pink’: Examining the Role of the Pink Uniform in a Virtual Sports Charity Event”. This article also demonstrates the mutability of the uniform: by adhering to the colour pink, individuals have a wide scope of clothing choices, accessories, makeup, and hair colour, etc., to choose from. Examining the pink uniform through the concept of embodied philanthropy, Hookway demonstrates how sports participants are able to create their own uniform, creating a community among themselves.</p> <p>This article also shows how a uniform can be created that allows for high levels of individualisation, a significant change to the reformers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This lack of ‘uniformity’ within the uniform appears to have had little negative effect on the wearer’s sense of purpose or unity. The article also shows how, despite pink’s association with femininity, men were prepared to wear the uniform colour to show their support of the cause. The association of the colour with cancer replaces other sociological meanings in this context.</p> <p>The final article in this issue offers a look at how attempts to create a social uniform can be foiled through the lack of a distinctive character, despite the availability of distinct iconography. In “Ayo, Bisexual Check: Bi Bobs, Cuffed Jeans, and Prototypes for a Bisexual Uniform on TikTok”, Collin Knopp-Schwyn examines the difficulties of establishing a uniform when the intended audience struggles to understands its meaning. Despite this, the author locates where the online bisexual community have developed a distinct style that promises the become a prototype for a recognisable bisexual uniform.</p> <p>The articles in this issue provide a comprehensive investigation into various facets of what uniform means both historically and contemporarily. A discernible shift away from highly regimented styles to distinct looks has occurred as society integrates the twin desires of inclusivity and individuality with the long held social need to be part of a recognisable group.</p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Cannadine, David. "The Context, Performance and Meaning of Ritual: The British Monarchy and the 'Invention of Tradition', c. 1820–1977." <em>The Invention of Tradition</em>. Eds. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger. Canto ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. 101-64.</p> <p>Craik, Jennifer. <em>Uniforms Exposed</em>. Oxford: Berg, 2005.</p> <p>Hobsbawm, Eric. "Introduction: Inventing Traditions." <em>The Invention of Tradition</em>. Eds. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger. Canto ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. 1-14.</p> <p>Joseph, Nathan, and Nicholas Alex. "The Uniform: A Sociological Perspective." <em>The American Journal of Sociology </em>77.4 (1972): 719-30.</p> <p>Tynan, Jane, and Lisa Godson. "Understanding Uniform: An Introduction." <em>Uniform: Clothing and Discipline in the Modern World</em>. Eds. Jane Tynan and Lisa Godson. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.</p> <p>Williams-Mitchell, Christobel. <em>Dressed for the Job: The Story of Occupational Costume</em>. Poole, Dorset: Blandford Press, 1982.</p> Lisa J Hackett, Jo Coghlan Copyright (c) 2023 Lisa J Hackett, Jo Coghlan http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2968 Wed, 15 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0000