so on one of my other blogs that should probably just be declared dead (it was sewing related; I doubt I’m going to resurrect it anytime soon), I recently was asked to moderate a comment. It was some feminist telling me off for not knowing my history and how it was “patriarchal values” which put women in “purely ornamental” roles, and how when women sought power they were “mocked for their impractical dress (which men put them in)” and if “couturiers (and men) had their way, we’d still be trussed up in corsets and not working.”
I guess if I had more energy, I would attempt to go gracefully respond to her comment, on that blog, and in context. But I don’t have that much energy or time, to give her a proper response (truly a much longer blog post than I’m willing to write right now). So here’s what I did instead:
I laughed and laughed.
Ooooo my goodness.
You can re-tell history however you want, and argue it till you’re blue in the face, especially when there are no longer any eye witnesses. . .but here’s one thing I bet pretty solidly one: Basic human nature has not changed. Not from the beginning of time until present time.
You can argue politics, you can argue movements, you can argue whatever you want that makes you out to be the hero and everyone else the bad guy–after all, from the beginning of time, the winners write the histories. Why change that grand tradition now? You can argue exceptions, and you can argue extremes, and you can cloud the issues.
Here are some things that I think I see throughout all of history, unchanged by any of the above:
(a) Women want to feel pretty, much the way men want to feel strong. You can argue–some would. You can quibble over words. I would still bet you a serious chunk of change that the average full-blown feminist still spends more time on her appearance than any average male. We enjoy being ornamental. Oops.
(b) Yeppers, often times Men want power over Women. Odds that Man’s first thought for binding women is CLOTHES?! Extremely minimal. Too many other more direct routes for warfare than saying “here, honey, wear this and sit down and look pretty.” Clothes may sometimes be a symptom, but are rarely the main front. They are signs of other, deeper things, but not the cause of other, deeper things.
(c) Expensive clothes, as those made by couturiers? Not the kind of things guys want to spend money on. They spend money on clothes for women because women want it and pine after it. Not because (on average) they want to spend lots of money on CLOTHES. Having a real hard time with this whole “men made us do it” argument. How about now? NOW who’s forcing you to wear shoes with 4 inch spikes that cause serious and permanent bodily damage? “Oh, oh, male oppression! He’s making me go shoe-shopping!!” Really? REALLY? Don’t pass the buck. You wore the clothes because you wanted to. Back then? They did, too. Personal responsibility, folks. Personal responsibility.
(d) patriarchal values rarely have anything against women working. Patriarchal values want women working. Just maybe not on the things you think they should be working on. Patriarchal values do laugh at women in fancy clothes while they say they are just as tough and strong and brutal as men. Honey, if you don’t mind getting dirty, why are you wearing clean clothes? Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t.
(e) Corsets have bad rap. Same with shoes—if you don’t wear them too tight, they don’t cause damage. In fact, there’s pretty good evidence that abandoning support from the south side north has lead to considerable shoulder, neck and upper back strain, and that we’d all be happier wearing corsets. Properly laced.
(g) Fashion is always a joke, no matter the time, culture or political atmosphere. Those who have nothing better to do than worry about how people should dress are just not really either connected to the real world or representative of the whole–just of the elite who don’t have anything better to worry about than their status and mirror-glass reflection. Fashion is about Making Statements and everyone knows, Statements are Cool. Popular fashion works off of that principle in the same way as High Fashion. It’s a corollary to Jackson Pollack’s art. It doesn’t matter if it looks good, just if it’s cool. Fashion is always a sell-out to common sense. Don’t pretend otherwise.
The poor lady who was “horrified by my proclamations about feminism” would not be comforted by this post. . . humanity is often a horrifying thing. And what binds us is rarely so much the bonds which someone mindfully attempts to place upon us, but rather the bonds which we place upon ourselves. Like fashion, which has no excuse–never has, and never will.
(any views of feminism not withstanding)
(but not really)
(why are so many feminists so dang bitter and angry all the time? Is a cheerful feminist an oxymoron?)