On a trip to Boston with a friend this past spring, she and I happened upon a second-hand clothing store with the amusing name of “Oona’s Experienced Clothing.”
This particular perspective (that of the clothing itself experiencing the world) hadn’t occurred to me before. We poked around Oona’s for a few minutes. The shop felt a little pretentious (Hipster vintage at its finest – if not its cheapest), but its name dredged an idea up from the back of my mind.
Earlier, my friend and I had been discussing the complexities of love in the modern age. Tinder had been mentioned; we’d talked about hook-up culture, and our generation’s ideas about what it meant to be sexually experienced.
Experience: To have experience of; to meet with; to feel, suffer, undergo (definition courtesy of the OED).
We were both of the opinion that our generation is tolerant of, and even values, sexually experienced women. Historian that I am, however, I can never put thoughts of the past far from my mind. Our current acceptance of sexual liberty for women has not always existed. When I read that thrift-store sign, it clicked: the word I had been expecting to read there was used, a word my mind associates with historical accounts of “unchaste” women. The difference being that while one is used, one has experiences. To describe something as used is to discard its agency.
Anytime an object or a person has something done to them, that object or person also creates and experience from that act. I hope I can live my life remembering that every thrift shop sweater has a story to tell, and every person has their own unique and personal experience of the world. Be it second-hand clothing, sexual experiences, or any other object or aspect of life, we are not means, but rather ends in and of ourselves.