The use of participant quotations during the fashion show further limited participant confidentiality. The recorded quotations did not identify the speakers and were not played when they were on the runway, and the quotations shared on Instagram only identified participants by their first name. Nevertheless, the audience could have connected participants to quotations because some quotations referenced the outfit that they wore during the fashion show. In other cases, audience members would know participants (they could invite friends and family to attend the show) and would be able to discern their voices in the recordings. The images posted on Instagram also featured aspects of the outfits participants donned in the show and in certain cases showed participants’ faces. Although participants consented to the absence of anonymity during the fashion show and in its subsequent images, these public artistic mediums prevented me from sharing certain findings.
Participants were uncomfortable sharing stories in the fashion show that they considered intimate and/or that negatively depicted family members or colleagues. By eliminating these stories, I was unable to disseminate crucial interview findings about fashion and masculinity. For example, one participant, who is transgender, explained the role of underwear in his life:
"Underwear is important, particularly if I'm packing [wearing a phallic object to give the appearance of a penis] which is my normal way to be. I don't want to feel like my dick is going to fall out of my pant leg and that I'm going to have to think about it all day because it isn’t in the right place."
This quotation troubles the relationship between sex and gender and suggests an important relationship between wearing men’s underwear and creating a male identity. However, the participant deemed “packing” too personal an experience to share in a public setting, especially with his family and coworkers in the audience. Research ethics requires researchers to avoid causing harm to participants (ORB, EISENHAUER & WYNADEN, 2001). However, arts research often exposes participants to types of harm beyond natures and levels that ethics committees typically consider acceptable because participants are vulnerable when they share their stories through the display of art (COX et al., 2014). Participants were given a list of quotations to approve for use in the fashion show; however, I eliminated quotations that I suspected might cause harm before the list was provided to them. I reasoned that even suggesting the inclusion of intimate stories might cause distress and discomfort, outweighing the benefits of sharing these stories with the participant for consideration let alone publicly.
I also had to eliminate quotations that negatively represented participants, such as those depicting them as sexist or homophobic, from the list shown to them for inclusion in the show. For example, one participant did not like to wear shoes that “clip clop, like high heels” because it made him “feel feminine, and I don't like that.” This quotation reveals that the repudiation of femininity structures many men’s fashion practices, but showing it to the participant could have made him feel attacked for his position or preference. I therefore faced a dilemma: I had a duty to prevent harm to participants who agreed to be in the fashion show and I also had a commitment to feminist methodology that locates men in the context of hegemonic masculinity and patriarchy (PEASE, 2013). As a feminist researching male rugby players, SCHACHT (1997) argued that challenging interviewees’ sexist comments would have made them uncomfortable and ended the interviews. He therefore remained silent when participants made sexist statements because doing so elicited these comments and provided knowledge to challenge sexism. While I used SCHACHT’s strategy during the interviews, he was nonetheless able to share sexist remarks in print publications because his participants had anonymity whereas mine did not have this same protection in the fashion show. PINI and PEASE (2013), however, suggest that SCHACHT’s silence in the interviews provided tacit support for his participants’ sexist practices. In my case, I would be doubling my support of sexism: remaining silent during the interviews and the fashion show.