At last! I found love in a strip mall in Dallas.
The undisguised non-subtext of the week here at I Blame the Patriarchy has been Radical Feminists Tell Femininity To Kiss Their Entire Ass. If you grow weary of the topic, be of good cheer; I am lately returned, uncharred, from the icy purgatorial fires of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, and will soon resume my post as Austin’s premier public restroom blogger. But until then, I cannot resist this succulent morsel, recently tendered by commenter al on the Helen Mirren post:
I see a lot of defending a woman’s right to wear skirts and heels around the blogosphere lately. I’ve yet to have a hairy second-waver confiscate my lone skirt and lip balm, but I’m on the lookout.
While the chuckles die down, it seems as good a time as any to dilate the argument that femininity cannot lurk absolutely in an article of clothing. Femininity is in fact an assemblage of behaviors. No mere garment, unless it is constructed of razor blades, is objectively oppressive to the wearer . I, for one — a post-menopausal hot-flashist extraordinaire facing a global-warmingly augmented Central Texas summer — expect for the next six months rarely to be seen sauntering around town in aught but a few free-flowin’ swathes of gauzy, life-preserving linen filaments . This doesn’t mean I’m a collaborator; it just means I’m not suicidal. Give me an updraft or give me death.
What constitutes femininity, I assert in my skirt, is not the general architecture of the habiliments with which you drape your ass, but the practice of patriarchally defined affectations that constrain the practitioner to slobber, at the expense of her own authentic identity, all over male fantasy.
Which principle compels me to opine that the backlash against the radical feminist view of crippling sexbot footwear as a tool of the patriarchy is asinine. Wearing high heels — which, unlike (most — see below) skirts, disable the wearer and exist exclusively to titillate men — is a capitulation. Can a feminist wear stiletto heels to the Patriarchy-Blaming Convention in Bali? Sure. Can she call it a politically neutral act? Sure. Will anyone from whose eyes the scales have fallen believe her? Fuck no.
1. Which is not to say that certain duds (corsets, pencil skirts), designed specifically to impair, are not oppressive within a cultural context of misogyny. Or to assert that violent oppression of a second party is not implicit; it is almost impossible, in the US at least, to find clothes that are not manufactured by slave labor in some Asian hell-hole. It might also be noted that raiment fabricated from animal skins may hardly be construed as anything but oppressive to the entities who have been, in fact, skinned.
2. It will surprise few readers that I strenuously disagree with Wikipedia’s weird and prissy admonition that linen “must be ironed often.”