Fashion as embodied resistance: The case of Jewish ultraorthodox female entrepreneurs

Varda Wasserman, Avital Baikovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Drawing on the qualitative research of Jewish ultraorthodox female fashion entrepreneurs (JUFFE) in Israel, we examine how women's body regulations are collectively negotiated, challenged, and resisted. Our paper shows that, through the disruption of religious clothing and hairstyling, JUFFEs have challenged the patriarchal expectations of women's ideal type in their authoritative society and triggered various changes that allowed for the construction of alternative forms of femininity. Our contributions are twofold: First, we advance the understanding of the body as a site of resistance by exposing the analytical constituents of embodied resistance, namely, the forms of femininity constructed through embodied resistance, which demands are challenged, which types of modesty are resisted, which bodily means are used in women's resistance acts, and the implications of the resistance. By deepening our understanding of the constitutive resources of embodied resistance, we offer a more nuanced and detailed analysis of the various embodied ways and means through which women of religious communities may prompt changes regarding women's visibility and economic status. Second, we broaden the conceptualization of resistance's outcomes in authoritarian regimes by demonstrating how alternative religious femininities are constructed through the collective power of fashion. We present two manifestations of femininity: femininity as a marker of diversity (individualized femininity) and femininity as a marker of economic status (affluent femininity)—both deviate from the one prescribed by their leadership and community. We demonstrate how entrepreneurs' subversive messages are diffused through their clientele's bodies as the carriers of their subversive messages.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Work and Organization
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Gender, Work & Organization published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • embodiment
  • fashion as resistance
  • female entrepreneurs
  • religious women
  • resistance

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