Home » Issues & Poems » Issue Nineteen » a. A. GENDER BIAS BINDING


Alison Gibb

I wrote ‘a. Gender Bias Binding’ to work through ideas thrown up by my PhD research into the poetry of Gertrude Stein and the art of Marcel Duchamp. I was interested to treat partial sentences, phrases and words as readymade language objects within the space of poetry. Working with two key found text sources: POWER!: How to get it. How to use it—a 1980s guide to workplace power structures and business know-how by Michael Korda—and The Vogue Sewing Book—an encyclopedia on domestic sewing, fabrics, fashion and patterning making by Vogue Patterns—my initial aim was to produce a sequence of poems where my ‘found text’ sources could come up against each other, speak to each other, stand alone and merge together to create a unique poetic language. I chose to site my work in the conceptual framework of bias binding, a cotton or silk ribbon and a tool used to join fabric and to conceal seams, edges and hems in dressmaking. In the spirit of Stein I began by selecting fragments and partial sentences from POWER to write continuous and discontinuous lines of poetry. I decided to treat single words from The Vogue Sewing Book and repeated use of the em dash as conjunctions to join together the fragmented texts into lines of poetry. I decided to edit my poetry texts into couplets to create a visual and conceptual ‘a. Gender Bias Binding’—a poetic space of female identities operating in the seams of Power.



Recognize & live with a sense of power—your P O W E R —is at the core

of  a total loss—opening your eyes—is a delusion —&  [a. turnout] in blue silk


Understand where POWER lies—action makes more fortunes than caution  

is—a. p i e c e of advice worth remembering—in loose u n d e r t a k i n g s


Dress is a game of POWER & is a natural ally against mathematical formulae

to increase your POWER one must decrease in order to—play up to  [ score ]


Denying POWER can be fruitful—the games is (as it was then played) consists

of one pretending that one was as autonomous as a. red CHANEL lipstick  


The POWER game is not by any means a purely American institution—The British

have been putting it into words for centuries—accents are a dead give away


Ladies. Always retain a veto of POWER—the appearance of a good deal of

zest or a foreignness is essential—this is a. truth wherever you care to venture


Status features greater in British POWER games & in subtle class distinctions—

make an unremarkable office block obvious—in [ . . . . . . . . . . . ] & GIMP & PLAID


  1. productive & profitable system instills in the other person the belief that we

are all victims of the  s a m e  s y s t e m  of  t r a n s c e n d e n t a l   processes


The British POWER game is a more refined & subtle negotiation—better than a n y

o n e else the English know how to make MASSIVE pearl necklaces of themselves


Pride & a. public show of authority—are things one can’t afford to overlook—who

doesn’t suffer from the itch to show her POWER— [a. clasp fastening] & an. aspect


Know this! That the worst moment in a.  r e l a t i o n s h i p  is when one person’s

need for the other gives way to real intimacy—this  shifts the balance of P O W E R


I.E:—take the demands of women for equality in the office—in the family—in the

street—men’s first reaction is to counter-attack with smoke & private-member’s clubs


The POWER game is played in bed as fiercely as it is played elsewhere—LOVE

is an emotion—& falling in love is the best experience for any player of P O W E R


Swiftly adopt a new game-plan—for example the fellow victim pose—the trick here

is to counter any [pleats] & complaints with one’s own s u f f e r i n g s  &  s u b j e c t s


& wants—Study to master the use of  P O W E R—in its most subtle form & over a.

long period of time you are playing at being a man— playing at history—playing up


HEY NOW!!! This isn’t the time to complain bitterly—instead a. deterrent is to

shame women into not making embarrassing & difficult demands ************


Works every time—first it is necessary—to d is c o v e r  for your self what POWER

is—& the ebb  & flow—observed in every kind of human intercourse cultivates signs


This subtle form of the humiliation game is easy—observe in any office what requires

a. man to sigh a great deal—precludes a. woman—[dowel]—& imposes glass ceilings


Especially observed in British public schools—provide lessons in POWER games at an

early age—are seldom forgotten—& lifts the skirt from the table of  instinctive action


She adds to his burdens—by—bringing up her own problems—& the urban condition

& of the unfamiliar militancy of women as if by reflex wins [cologne & shoulder bags]


Of POWER is basic to all men and women—as Nietzsche observed  ‘Wherever I found

the living there I found the will to P O W E R’—pressed & polished—& dipped in gold


Is found in POWER postures of suffering—clench fists—take on the primate signals

of executive man under strain—eyes wide in herringbone wool & silk & rosy red


Cheeks—the t r i c k  here is  to  d e v e l o p  a—sense of style—a—POWER—*****

[signature] based on one’s character & a. desire to confess— [cut & sewn together]


In deep reflection—& in raised voices show that what is taking place is important

& is urgent & violent & smashing coffee cups & kicking bins & slamming doors—hard


HELPS. Edge one way & then another is to use one’s aristocracy—retains great wealth

& some POWER (not to speak of influence) yet does so by pretending to be humble &


P O W E R L E S S to indicate that one’s nerves have been strained—affect t r e m b l i n

g hands or better still a bad s t u t t e r  shows that one is—weak—to be pitied rather


Than feared—For so long that it is actually believed—the d e s i r e  for POWER keeps

most people working—P O W E R can strictly speaking be a P O W E R L E S S


Misery—to put it mildly is combative—like a ritual dance one must master the m i d

d l e c l a s s  guerrilla arts—of shuffling & scrimping in tight fitting shoes & debts


G i v e n to another—for then the recipient now owes it to the giver—& must in some

sense be assumed  &  t a k e n  &  asserted—for unless what is held on floor is lost on


The sidewalk—look neither right nor look left—be no patsy—R E M E M B E R that

playacting has become a. business asset **************************************


Pretending to act against opposition—it is not POWER—it will never be real—the

recipient afraid of losing one’s special p o s i t i o n by the same token has lost ground


Coming in—shamelessness is the key—to winning by weakness in POWER games—the

trick is to make the other person feel guilty—& to apologize for your weakness


What is given too —however attractive it may seem—is almost always a trap of

POWER —it may be cheaper than a.rise but isn’t as simple enough to satisfy a. DARN


Bit of difference—Expect POWER to be—wielded with as much savagery & contempt as

possible—as if toughness was synonymous with success—& as unfriendly so that


The most incompetent executives can progress—by giving them someone to t y r a n n i z

e—& in saying that—even the worst type of BULLIES proceed & prosper—as the


Saying goes—the tough gets smart—Americans are conditioned to expect ‘toughness’

from those in POWER—for example a nice guy with good manners is labeled a. pussy


He who cannot exercise his POWER & can give himself the substantial RISE he

deserves at any rate he expects—[a. parking space]& [a. business card] & [ a. junior] 


A. POWER operator will go to great trouble to create a showdown—faced with

this kind of POWER tactic the best response is flexibility & IGNORANCE & pink iced


Biscuits—the POWER the company can give us has its disadvantages—take

the person who  has the power to decide on salaries & on expenses –can you think of


One—it is best to make better weapons than to use brute force—if used properly this

has the advantage of making rivals forget that you are a competitor & not a. friend


To establish—where POWER lays you need to develop the moves for winning— the P O W

E R G A M E —requires action—this takes more than a button-down collar &


A. suggestive hemline—there is something about hierarchy too—whereas there is no

private sensation essential or to linear or static a view of POWER than a starched shirt


Positioning of POWER—as we shall see—pays off—a c t i n g  is  a l w a y s  more

interesting than failing to act—performing is a strategy for success like no o t h e r


Duties & functions are defined by POWER regulations—The really fierce POWER

games are played by ‘expanding’ people as opposed to ‘laddered’ people or [WOAD]


Basic moves available to the p o w e r player are comparatively limited—while

the goal of P  O W E R  is endless—the crucial division is [a. £270 cut & blow dry]


GAMES are to the ‘expanding’ people a necessity—but there are dangers REMEMBER

to maintain & always stay within the circle of POWER—& OUT of the seam allowance


Of weakness & of games of strength—P O W E R games of weakness are much under

e s t i m a t e d particularly by those who lack the steel for playing the long GAME     


More important still is the control of information—as a POWER source—instead what

is implied—is instead embellished, embroidered & dropped rather than clarified   


Eyeball-to-eyeball confrontations—quickly expose what POWER has done to you—it

is wise to think of POWER as a. c o m p e n s a t o r y—a. pay off or as a S I G N E T—  


That is appliqué onto truth is an application of POWER—for those who play the

information game should know that the information game is seldom played to set


Rules. Therefore it retains—all the POWER of a mysterious religious cult –it is the

bottom line—both sides of  t h e d i a l o g u e –[ lining & interface & SURFACE]


************************************************************************************************ ***********************************Noted, with one’s initials and dated below



Join our mailing list

Your email: