Apr 04 2010

The case for flip-flops and flowing robes

When I got a spam for “men in wedding dresses” this morning I thought, hell yeah! I sure do wanna see some men in wedding dresses. I bet men look even more asinine in wedding dresses than women do. And who doesn’t want to look at something asinine first thing on Sunday morning?

Men universally look asinine in women’s clothes, yeah? The reason for this, and for mild funniness in other low forms of humor, is incongruity. Nothing says “I submit to my species’ disdain and surrender forthwith any claims to my own humanity” quite like a wedding dress. Women’s clothes are designed, according to a rigorous standard of misogyny, to communicate that the wearer is totally up for self-abasement. Men, on the other hand, are required by law not to be totally up for self-abasement. Therefore, in accordance with the laws of patriarchy, comedy and gender, a dude in a wedding dress is improbable and unnatural, thus causing the observer to laugh or retch or curl a cynical lip.

A propos of stupid shit women have to do to conform to stringent sex-class requirements: the other day I was sprawling around Jo’s, quaffing (as is consistent with my nature, ego, and nationality) a single, iced Americano in a double-sized cup, when I witnessed a particularly painful women’s-clothing-related tableau. Staggering up the sidewalk came a young woman, about 6 months pregnant, whose ugly, feminine raiment suggested that she had attired herself to appease an employer. Her get-up’s distinguishing feature was the pair of 3-inch heels strapped to her feet. The gait was lurching, the ankles were wobbling, and every step looked to be her last. Any passing student of abnormal kinesiology who happened to be conducting a study on the effects of the slope of South Congress Ave on pregnant ladies wearing high heels would have signed her up on the spot. I could almost hear the bunions sprouting.

The scene was grim. But will it astonish you to learn that nobody, including this internet feminist, thought anything of it? Even though the woman bore an uncanny resemblance to a flapping, oil-drenched gull tangled in plastic six-pack rings? Nobody sprang to her aid. Nobody handed her a helpful copy of The Dialectic of Sex. Nobody alerted Amnesty International. Nobody so much as wiped a tear from the eye.

I mention this because the spectacle of any other creature so deformed by man-made encumbrances would have generated a swirling vortex of soft-hearted do-gooders offering to drive it to the vet, foster it, nurse it back to health, release it back into the wild, and document the whole enterprise on YouTube.

However, people sitting around in coffee shacks, and elsewhere, are conditioned not to see the humanitarian crisis unfolding before them whenever women totter past enmeshed in plastic six-pack rings. It is a universally agreed-upon fact that suffering indignity is consistent with women’s essential nature. Women look natural in stupid clothes because women, as is stated in the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women, are biologically and culturally constrained to subsist as degraded masochists.

If you want to gauge the stupidity quotient of a given article of women’s clothing, just picture it on a dude. Picture it on Barack Obama, or Obi Wan Kenobi.

Obi Wan in a pencil skirt with a Birkin bag and Louboutin pumps, some pout-plumper, and a spritz of Beyoncé’s new perfume “Heat.” Stupid?

The turtle in the video, deformed by a plastic milk-jug ring, was named for film star Mae West, whose artificially-induced hourglass shape was totallay hottt!!!

Speaking of corsets, here is one of those odd niche/historical/tribute websites, this one documenting corsetieres, women who came to your door selling Spirella corsets. And here is a little Wikipedia (i.e. unverified) history of the practice of using undergarments to squish the crap out of your torso.

Bride-man photo pilfered from this website.


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  1. rootlesscosmo

    A comment on men in drag from Bavardess, a New Zealand-based historian:


  2. Jay

    As I understand it, heels were first used to prevent boots from slipping through stirrups. Hence, they implied you were a member of the landed gentry. High heels are used by short women (including one of my daughters) and some men to look taller. High heels are a biomechanical nightmare which nevertheless are worn by a lot of women, most of who walk very awkwardly with them. Personally, I prefer going barefoot.

  3. Sarah

    A friend of mine, while pregnant and walking about a grocery store in heels, was accosted by an old lady, who came up to her and sneered at her footwear, saying, “You know, you’re hurting the baby.”

    The old lady was not concerned with my friend’s feet. NO, she was concerned for the FETUS. Because ladies are baby-factories, and of course should sacrifice their health (and also, it would seem their p2k-compliant footwear?) for their babies.

    It could just be that this old lady was a bit off her rocker, since I fail to see how heels can hurt a fetus, but I’ll bet you a double tall latte that any non-Twisty coffee-shack-goer who did express concern about the 3-inchers on the knocked-up chick was more concerned for the fetus in the event of a fall than the woman herself.

  4. Comrade PhysioProf

    I was sprawling around Jo’s, quaffing (as is consistent with my nature, ego, and nationality) a single, iced Americano in a double-sized cup[.]

    You’re Italian!?

  5. Jill


    E cosi elegante!

  6. SargassoSea

    “Any passing student of abnormal kinesiology…”

    Just: Brava!

  7. Comrade PhysioProf

    La mia citazione è impeccabile.

  8. Pinko Punko

    The baby could have been Jesus, Sarah, so the lady in the store couldn’t be too careful.

  9. ashley

    I saw a lady in stilettos, like real 5 inchers out with her Nigel and kids, she was holding their infant while she walked in em. I was like, dude, all it’s gonna take is one funky grate you miss and you really will be hurting that kid. my dad goes “just what you need for when you have kids, honey, five inch heels” as she passed. I didn’t know whether to laugh or sock him on the arm.

  10. egalite

    In fairness a woman dressed as Obi-Wan would look pretty goofy too.

  11. Notorious Ph.D.

    I made an exception to the high-heels rule because I love me some boots. Seriously. Boots make me feel like I can kick the patriarchy’s ass — except for the heel part. Then, a month ago, here in my Exotic Research destination, I discovered women wearing boots with a flexible, FLAT sole. These boots WERE made for walking! I immediately bought a pair, and couldn’t be happier.

    Watch out, Patriarchy. Your ass is mine.

  12. tinfoil hattie

    I was like, dude, all it’s gonna take is one funky grate you miss and you really will be hurting that kid.

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

    When I was pregnant and working for The Man, I did get a raised eyebrow from the company owner’s secretary because I wore Birkenstocks with my loathsome maternity dresses. It wasn’t professional, you know? I said, “too bad.”

  13. Comrade Svilova

    Re: wedding dresses as one of the ultimate symbols of compliance — don’t forget that you’re supposed to diet intensely for months to prepare for the “big day” so you can fit into your dress. Nevermind that it’s more logical to make the dress (the object) fit you (the subject).

  14. Jill

    In fairness a woman dressed as Obi-Wan would look pretty goofy too.

    In fairness? Dude, there is no fairness on Savage Death Island. Only justice! Yee-haw!

  15. awhirlinlondon

    Jill, you are on a glorious roll. Thank you. Ditto commenters. That anecdote hurts my heart.

    You wrote that no-one, including you “thought anything of it” although you clearly did. Was it really only in hindsight? Surely not.

    Here is what I’d like to know: What do you, Jill, and you glorious commenters feel/think/ and most importantly, do, when looking at a woman and thinking, NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO. You don’t have to do this. In this particular case, unless one is a pole-dancer or a prostitute, one is not required to wear the 5 inch heels. But there are so many other such situations that one sees.

    I live in London. (Doubtlessly I’d see what I’m about to describe in the US as well, but this is where I live and am seeing it here. I don’t mean to single out the UK.) With respect to the 5-inch heel thing, I see young women that I want to collar and drag aside all the time. And aside from picking one or two up off of the sidewalk when they’ve fallen over and once getting one of them home, I have done nothing.

    What I see is young women, teetering around in the 5-inch heels in which most of them can’t walk, skirts cut so high, tops cut so low, breasts (see the local corsetry) worn so high, squished together and presented as if on a tray and oh, so, so, so drunk. And so fucking vulnerable. Between the shoes that are meant to say—and yet, in fact guarantee– “I am prey and I can’t run away,” in addition to the drunkenness– I’m scared out of my mind for them.

    Yes, I believe that they should be able to dress however they want and get as drunk as they want without worrying about being raped or assaulted. Yes, yes, yes. I do not blame them in the slightest, including with respect to their massive conformity with the beauty/sex-imperative which I work on escaping all the time but am not remotely free of. Yes, I feel like an old woman – and although I’m ok with this, maybe this is what stops me in that I worry that there’s not a chance in these situations that they’d hear me?– I want to haul each and every one of them aside and say 1. You don’t have to do this. Seriously. Boys will think you’re “pretty” (boys will want to fuck you) even if you don’t dress this way. (YOU try talking to them otherwise. Seriously. If that’s how they’re dressed, you need to speak to them (to start with at least) in terms that they understand and value. 2. Prosecuting rape cases, here as elsewhere, is virtually impossible particularly if you can be shown to have been drunk. 3. Please, please, darlings, please know your value as human beings. You don’t have to do this.

    Maybe one could start some sort of “Guardian Angel” feminist intervention in the evenings in cities like these that would include both protection and uplift. Wouldn’t that be heaven?

    But I’m at a serious loss. I’d like to think that maybe I could intrude w/r/t the woman you saw, Jill, but I know that unless I was introduced to her, or could manage to introduce myself to her (have been able to do that once in a while) I would have done nothing.

    What I’ve just realized: This is why one of the reasons I love being a teacher, no matter the subject or place. I get to influence women because I’m allowed to hold forth both in the classroom and one-on-one. Failed feminist, excessively vulnerable to the beauty imperative, doing stupid things all the time: I do. And have done.

    How does one do it with strangers, please?

  16. janicen

    Many years ago, when I was struggling to climb the corporate ladder, never understanding why my superior work ethic and abilities weren’t enough to skyrocket me into the executive suite, I dressed in tailored clothing and the requisite 3 inch heels. In my third month of pregnancy I got up from my cubicle and my lower back screamed in pain. I took those shoes off and spent the rest of the day padding around the office in my pantyhose clad feet and never wore heels again. The day I shed those heels was also the day my “career” plateaued, but I’ve never regretted the decision. I’m far better off without either of those crippling influences.

  17. Bradybunchhater

    Yeah I totally agree that most dresses are just ways to let people know that you’re a compliant woman, but some dresses are really comfortable. why wear a suit in 90 degree weather when you could wear a non-fitted, longer than crotch length sundress? I’m all for making these a unisex clothing because, like sweatpants, sometimes wearing them in lieu of any other clothing is a huge relief.

  18. Alonzo Riley

    I wonder if there isn’t an alternate explanation for high-heels that’s quite the opposite from marking women as vulnerable and rapable. High-heels might be seen as an adaptation, a defense within patriarchal rape culture. Prey species self-handicap in order to demonstrate strength, health, and aptitude. They deliberately perform wasteful behavior to tell predators they shouldn’t waste energy chasing/attempting to kill them. (The classic example is “stotting” in Gazelles. When a group of gazelles spots a predator hunting them, they do not immediately flee but stot by jumping straight up in the air, again and again. This energy might be needed to evade, but the lion or cheetah recognizes that they should not give chase when prey is so vigorous.) Contrary to looking unstable, women are expected to walk well in spite of their self-handicap. Culture does not want to see women falling over, and those that do are ridiculed. Runway models are expected to be commanding, potent, and powerful despite their precarious, teetering position. It’s almost like women might be trying to say, “Hello rapist! I am so fit that you should not exert resources trying to rape me. Don’t even waste your time.”

  19. BadKitty

    I never knew how much I’d enjoy wearing a uniform. I am free from the patriarchal bullshit of “dressing for success” and now dress purely for function. Uni-sex scrubs, all cotton underwear and a sports bra (I sweat like a horse at work and flattening out my breasts makes it tougher for the male dementia residents to grab them), no jewelry (too easy for residents to grab) and sturdy, flat, comfy shoes. I went a step further and cut off most of my hair because it was too hot. My wardrobe is now identical to all of the men at work and my body couldn’t be happier.

  20. lawbitch

    Open a can of whoop ass on the patriarchy in your ropers, blamers!

  21. Isabel

    Young women today are more influenced than ever by the media (Sex in the City etc) that portrays women as being obsessed with shoes, even spending all their hard-earned money on them and not caring and other ridiculous bullshit. Not to mention “feminist” bloggers (encouraged by our very own CPP) on science blogs that worship “hot shoes” which are always high-heeled, and that recently printed a letter from an adoring young fan who just got her first pair of heels, thanks to her “hot” on-line hero. This is WORSE than it was a few decades ago!

    In other words, there is a lot we could do when it comes to speaking out and applying our own peer pressure, without confronting or blaming young women themselves.

  22. Jill

    Comparing women to gazelles? Really? Since when is H. sapiens a prey species? This argument is extra dumb, even for a joke.

  23. Valerie

    Wow, from what part of crazy do you all live in? No offense meant, of course because we all live on crazy ego man round rock. It’s just that I have never seen a pregnant woman wearing high heels. That’s complete nonsense!
    Most women I know don’t wear heels. It could be because I’m from an icy cold land where you will literally lose your toes if you go out in anything < faux fur lined heavy boots. MN.
    I am going to float that question around the office tomorrow and see if anyone there has seen a pregnant women wearing heels. And I'll ask what, if anything, did they say or do about it. I'll get back to you with my report.
    Back to you in the studio, Twisty.

  24. kristyn

    Alonzo, that is so ridiculous. It had better be a joke.

    See, it COULD be true, as crazy and absurd as it is, if not for the fact that … well, try to imagine it here … women get raped. In real life. They really do.

    Women get raped whether they are wearing high heels or hobnailed boots, but from a person who has worn both — the latter is much more practical when it comes to running, kicking rapists, or both.

    By your logic, a woman wearing hobnailed boots is STILL more rape-proof, as she telegraphs to aggressors, ”Don’t try to rape me, as I can run away and, if I so choose, also drive your scrotum back into your body cavity so hard your eardrums break.”

  25. ashley


    There’s not a lot you can do. I avoid laughing or staring even when it begs, but if you were to say something it would most likely not be received well by someone who’s determined to stagger down the street on those stilts. You’d need a revolution. *hem* Twistolution.

  26. ashley

    I lied. sometimes if the super dragged out woman looks in my direction I give her the “really?” look-not bitchy, just woman to woman reality check. This is 2010, we have options and playing Barbie isn’t the best one. It’s not sisterly, but women who go out of their way to participate in demeaning behaviors are lowering the common denominator for all women, not just themselves. I’m not blaming victims, like prostituted women, but I do think women have a responsibility to each other to at least try to raise that denominator, because there are women at the bottom hurting from how low it goes.

  27. rootlesscosmo

    @awhirlinlondon: no answers from this quarter, but you do sound like a good teacher.

  28. mearl

    In related news, last month I spent a weekend working for a long-time client (disabled adult). To my surprise, my services were needed not because my client’s parents were going out on the town, but because his mom was laid up after surgery. BUNION SURGERY.

    She was there all weekend with me and her son, so we yacked at length about the whole bunion thing. She had developed them on both feet, and left them for a long enough time that ALL of her toes had started to curl and one was crossing over her big toe. The bunions themselves were incredibly painful, as was the resulting foot deformity, as was the surgery (it included steel pins in four toes and two months’ recovery time).

    She explained that when she was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, she and her friends would wear heels EVERYWHERE. To the mall. To church. To school. To the bar. At home, if guests were coming over. On dates. To the store. She observed that girls/women these days actually have choices, that young girls aren’t expected to dress in girdles, pencil skirts, and heels like they used to be. I started to disagree but then thought hey, there is some truth to that: Ugg boots (as much as I hate them, they’re a sight better than Manolo Blahniks), “ballet flats,” flat boots, trainers, Converse runners, sandals, flip flops, etc. are all considered mainstream-stylish and are worn by females for whom “feminism” is a filthy word.

    However, when it comes to weddings/dates/dressy occasions/the bar (ESPECIALLY the bar), an overwhelming percentage of the female population seems to lose their marbles, and out come the stupid shoes.

    I’ve gotten in fights with female friends who defend their “choice” to wear heels. I’ve seen girls fall over in the street because they can’t walk in their shoes after a few drinks (happened again just the other night, actually). I’ve listened to the moaning and groaning of friends after a night of walking from one venue to another if they decided to wear painful shoes and I didn’t, and I told them they could pay for their own taxi in lieu of the 10-minute walk if they felt like it (and they didn’t).

    It’s not like I live an idiocy-free life, either: I cave to social expectations and wear heels sometimes, maybe once a year for two hours before I realise what a moronic move it was and curse the stupidity that guarantees me at least three days’ worth of sore back and aching hamstrings.

    I’ve read a ton about heels and vaguely recall reading a quote from one doctor for a nursing home in the States who said that, due to the popularity of high heels from the 1930s on, he ended up removing a whackload of bunions and treating a whackload of women with permanent back and leg problems as a result of an adulthood spent conforming to the trend. The thing I read that scared me the most was the doctor’s comment that he was floored because of how often he had to REMOVE COMPLETELY DISFIGURED AND GANGRENOUS TOES. He saw a spike in heel-related disfigurements en masse, and confirmed it with the stories of these women who said they wore heels all day every day for decades.

    Does wearing high heels make it harder to run from a rapist? Yes, but this is probably not the biggest issue for women. I’d say “avoidance of disfigurement” is a better reason to toss the torture sticks.

  29. Isabel

    I’d say “avoidance of disfigurement”

    Do you even have to go that far? How about “avoidance of discomfort”?

    For crying out loud, why can’t women be comfortable and pain free when they walk? Why is that too much to ask? That our entire foot touches the ground?

    There has to be some way uncomfortable, unnatural and painful footwear can be exempted from job requirements. I’ve thought about this before. It’s not a reasonable request from an employer.

    One thing that stuck with me from a Chinese culture course I took long ago as an undergrad, was that the elderly women who had had bound feet were ridiculed when the practice was outlawed. This seem so sad and cruel, after what they went through. But maybe it’s necessary. Better than standing by politely while “it’s okay to be feminine” “manipulating men makes you powerful” quasi-feminists extol the virtues of “hot” shoes. Fuck them!

    Yet I am the only person to argue the issue with the hot-shoes “science” blogger. Everyone else (all educated people) seems to think it is cute.

    I’m tired of hearing the excuse that the patriarchy makes women do things.

    There, I said it.

    I’ve suffered for not going along, and I’m from a working class background. And I actually survived. Face it – at least part of the problem is that women are lazy (like all human beings) and don’t want to do the hard work of standing up for themselves.

  30. shopstewardess

    One of the big problems with women crippling their feet by wearing bad shoes (and it doesn’t just have to be high heels, pointed toes are the cause of bunions whether the heels are high or not) is that in old age women with painful feet can’t keep themselves fit, can’t move around as well, can’t balance so well. They end up unable to look after themselves much sooner than would otherwise be the case, and are more likely to have more miserable years before dying.

    That also imposes more miserable years on those – usually women, often their daughters or daughters in law – who have to look after them. And it’s one of those things that creeps up on people so that they don’t realise what they’ve done until it’s too late. I see my mother’s faults probably too clearly, but crippling her feet in old age has fortunately not been one of them.

    Ugg boots are not really boots, just a superior sort of sheepskin slipper, ridiculously expensive and ridiculously comfortable. They were first taken up by surfers: spending a day balancing on a surfboard is hard work on the feet, as the muscles are constantly flexing and gripping and also often cold. They were then popularised by models, who can at least have some comfort between putting on stupid shoes for work assignments. Women wearing Uggs on the street are probably aping models (bad) as seen off-duty in the gossip rags (bad) snapped by papparazzi (bad) but are doing themselves less harm than if they aped the models’ on-duty shoes. Although Uggs aren’t actually designed for as walking shoes, so are still not ideal as proper street wear, even disregarding their looks.

  31. Comrade PhysioProf

    I’m tired of hearing the excuse that the patriarchy makes women do things.

    There, I said it.

    I’ve suffered for not going along, and I’m from a working class background. And I actually survived. Face it – at least part of the problem is that women are lazy (like all human beings) and don’t want to do the hard work of standing up for themselves.

    Yeah, Isabel, it’s all the fault of those other women, the lazy rich bitches, not the diligent working-class paragons of virtue like you.

  32. Jill

    I believe Isabel is merely complaining, like all radical feminists do sooner or later (out loud or under our breath) that she’s tired of being the only one on her block who ‘gets’ it. Yesterday I asked my mother why everyone in the family rolls their eyes and tries to shut me up whenever I mention anything negative about the practice of femininity. She said it’s stuff they all know already, but they just don’t want to think about, so would I mind not being the party pooper at every goddam gathering? And I was all like, shit, it would be nice if at least my own family would put forth a little effort once in a while. But no. They don’t. And it’s a bummer. But the work of an Internet feminist is lonely, and we just have to suck it up and keep typing (when it isn’t too much trouble).

  33. shopstewardess

    I’m guilty, Jill. I read awhirlinlondon’s comment about outreach work to the high-heeled, and thought, yes there’s a church group in Plymouth, UK which hands out flip-flops late at night to girls whose alcohol intake hasn’t outflanked the pain, and maybe a feminist group could do the same in London. But then apathy and fear reasserted themselves.

    In the day job I do manage the occasional equal pay and treatment victory for my members. It’s not enough, but it’s something.

  34. CassieC

    Bridal dresses will never cease to confuse me. Not once in my existence, not even as a wee thing, was I inclined to look at one and think “cor! I could see myself romantically wearing one of these on the “happiest day of my life ™!”

    If I ever get married, (1) it’ll be for paperwork reasons, (2) I KEEP MY NAME! IT’S MY NAME!, (3) I better be able to eat tomato sauce with my pasta and drink bloody Marys at my wedding dinner without stressing out about spots on white fabric. Seriously: bridal dresses, they do not look fun to party in.

    And the same goes for high heels and other garb worn ostensibly for partying, as poignantly described by awhirlinlondon above (she didn’t mention the freezing rain, but that’s part of it: hordes of young women wearing nothing waiting on sidewalks outside trendy clubs in utterly inclement weather. For “fun.”) Good party clothes should allow for lots of comfortable movement and the occasional ketchup accident.

  35. Hector B.

    Was the pregnant high heels wearer 4′-10″ or so? Because I’ve noticed the shortest women at work habitually wearing heels, while most women co-workers, irrespective of job function, are not.

    While I accept that Birkenstock-wearers know their bodies best, for me they are not comfortable. I wore them on vacation once where we did a lot of walking on hard surfaces — their hard cork footbeds transmitted the shock of every footstep right to my knees. I do have Birkenstock sandals with synthetic soles, which are delightful.

    Even the women in my family who never wear heels, and who seek out the widest available, most comfortable shoes get bunions after fifty or so. This is bad news for my sister, who has been known to shop in the boys’ department to find shoes that fit her feet.

  36. JBT

    Alonzo is a frequently seen, doltish troll on feminist websites. Stotting behavior may be useful to gazelles, but let them try it in 3 inch heels. How well would it work then, o mansplainer? What’s that you say? Various mammalian behaviors can be used to justify the patriarchal status quo, but it is not allowed in reverse? My, my. I don’t know how these types cope with the fact that reality does not conform to their World of Patriarchal Ideology. Heels are an actual, bona fide handicap, not a survival mechanism in the great patriarchal narrative of phony-baloney (Lest I be remiss, what is the Platonic form of phony-baloney?).

    It is hard not to feel the pain, as Gail Dines puts it, of “capitulation” to patriarchy by young women and even by young women who call themselves feminists. Even so, I think we must not lose sight of the fact that patriarchy is monumental. It’s enforcement of gender codes is in nearly every advertisement, every book, every movie, every damn thing – to the point that it is mostly unconscious. Patriarchy is so monolithic that it does not have difficulty convincing women that it IS reality, no matter SES or any number of other variables. I was a child of the seventies, when 2nd wave feminism brought women some wiggle-room to reject patriarchal mores. It seems to me that the environment for women now is pernicious in a new and virulently wounding way. Again, Gail Dines uses the term, “Stepford Sluts,” to describe the condition of young women. This behavior is what is now normalized; indeed, it is tragic. I find it helpful to attack patriarchy at its sources of propaganda, but sadly, I fear this generation may be lost. Still, I find little of use in being angry at those who were sold the patriarchal lie. Fight the good fight:


    (This came out when I was in high school, heh! The speed-freak toothpick look was big in the 80’s hair bands, too. Wow! I feel 20 years younger after listening to that!)

  37. Vibrating_Liz

    Bunions aren’t just caused by tight or high-heeled shoes. Over-pronation of the ankles, flat arches, tight achilles tendons, weak posterior tibialis muscles–these can all cause weight to shift to the medial foot resulting in bunions and thick calluses on the big toe, in any shoe that isn’t specifically designed to be corrective. To some extent poor alignment can be corrected with specific stretching and strengthening exercises, but once the ligaments are shot there’s no going back.

  38. Pinko Punko

    I love the Goob more than anything in the world but I appear to only have a certain amount of sway in the local environment when it comes to WHAT A CUTE EASTER DRESS etc. The moment the topics are broached it seems that we might solve the energy crisis if only we could harness the eye rolling. Something about the manufacture of tiny clothes requires ruffling, butterfly/heart embroidery and the use of certain dyes. Oddly, there are another class of tiny clothes that do not appear to be encumbered by the same number of manufacturing bottlenecks. It is a mystery.


  39. Isabel

    “Still, I find little of use in being angry at those who were sold the patriarchal lie.”

    I am talking (and I thought I made this clear above) about our peers such as “feminist” science bloggers who are promoting “it’s okay to be feminine and wear heels and manipulate men” versions of feminism and actively (intentionally) influencing younger women. Do you really think it is “useless” to challenge these so-called feminists?

    “Yeah, Isabel, it’s all the fault of those other women, the lazy rich bitches, not the diligent working-class paragons of virtue like you.”

    I wasn’t talking about your blogger girlfriend, Physioprof, I was referring to the comments upthread that seemed to suggest that only privileged women could challenge the patriarchy.

    Jill, thanks for understanding and not kicking me off for being a “bad blamer”.

  40. egalite

    Stotting behavior may be useful to gazelles, but let them try it in 3 inch heels. How well would it work then, o mansplainer? What’s that you say? Various mammalian behaviors can be used to justify the patriarchal status quo, but it is not allowed in reverse?

    That, and even if you take it seriously as science it’s still wrong. In the biological world, male/female reproductive competition and predator/prey survival competition are two totally different things genetically. Behaviors like stotting decrease desirability as prey for other species and as a result increase desirability as a mate for members of the same species. This runs opposite to the proposed explanation which is, as you say, ridiculous.

    The extent to which any of this extrapolates to a brainy critter like H. Sapiens is debatable at best anyway.

  41. JBT

    Um, no, I would not dignify wishful thinking with the term, “science.”


    There is always the troublesome detail that humans and gazelles (or any of the fauna used as an example by ev-psych and its ilk) do not occupy the same ecological niche. Behaviors that look similar can have widely divergent functions and interpretations. Indeed, stotting has been cited as an example of altruistic sacrifice. Yes, I’m sure predators pursue the easiest prey – the young, old or infirm – if they can, but if these are not readily accessible, the fool jumping up and down at the front looks like dinner. Maybe the reason that stotting individuals are more frequently selected for mating is to preserve this altruistic instinct for the good of the whole. Naturally, when the manly mind-set discusses the issue, it is about display and derring-doo and entitlement to sex. Never mentioned is the fact that most gazelle/antelope species are endangered because their principal predator, humanity, does not give a shit about stotting or its motives.

  42. ash

    Outreach work. That is a tough one. High heels are TOTPs, but I can’t imagine getting a response other than defensiveness if I were to stop a heel-wearing stranger on the street and tell her so.

    I’m reminded of a time back in my early teens. I was sitting on the bench waiting for a train, with my compact mirror out, applying lipstick. A strange woman approached me; she appeared to me to be middle-aged (probably about 27, ha), and far from beauty2K compliant. She yelled at me and asked me why I was putting that shit on my face, because women are naturally beautiful, and it was men who were ugly and needed makeup.

    That was about 20 years ago. If I met that woman now, I would probably ask her out for a beer, but at the time, all I remember feeling was: crazy lady, very pissed off at me, I must be stupid, etc.

    Who knows, maybe it did plant a seed.

    I would really have a hard time approaching a stranger about her high heels, though. I’ve had so many woman rationalize why they wear them, even claiming they are actually comfortable! That it is hard to imagine any other response other than fuck off. Rugged individualism being what it is and all.

  43. mearl

    Interestingly, Kay Lee Hagan wrote an essay where she put forth the idea that humans are the only species in which the male appears to be the natural predator of the female.

  44. Isabel

    “Outreach work… I can’t imagine getting a response other than defensiveness if I were to stop a heel-wearing stranger on the street and tell her so.”

    This is always a bad idea. It’s both tacky and offensive whether it’s a meat-eater, fur-wearer, or heel-wearer. It’s also a poor outreach technique.

    But arguing with high heel proponents who write on the subject is a different story. Isn’t being polite about their twisted (not Twisted of course)”version” of feminism just a way of being nice girls?

    I remember learning in art school about feminists who, after one of the major museum biennial exhibitions included 0% female artists, stormed the place and scattered bloody tampons throughout the galleries. Things changed quickly after that. Where is that spirit? And it wasn’t the young women who did this. We can’t keep passing the buck.

    It would seem a good place to start are these supposed employers (never had one myself) who require women to work in heels. This seems like low-hanging fruit, as it’s painful, dangerous and unhealthy. Maybe we need a “Rosa Parks” who just goes to work in comfortable shoes one day and refuses to go home,or something. Aren’t there any feminist lawyers who can help plan this out? I’m having a meltdown here! We need to do something.

    I naively asked my Chinese Culture prof why the women went along with foot-binding (he did not encourage questions or any participation so I just blurted it out one day). He just paused, looked at me and asked “Why do women wear high heels?” which left me speechless, and went back to his lecture. My male prof decades ago was more enlightened than many modern, educated women?

    This generation may be lost, JBT, but we are not, so what are we doing about it? Is it our fault that they are lost? The strewn-tampon stories really inspired me at the time. Are we creating our own inspirational stories? I have lots of ideas, but after my experience of being marginalized when I criticized the blogs recently I feel discouraged. No one can do it alone.

    (I’m not blaming I’m asking).

    I guess that’s my comment quota for this thread. Thanks for letting me get this festering blaming off my chest!

  45. tinfoil hattie

    I hear you, Isabel – and Jill. My friends and family-of-origin are tired, tired, TIRED of hearing me going on and on and on about patriarchy, “femininity,” rape culture, genital mutilation, suppression of women worldwide, etc. I am just no fun at parties anymore.

    Yet I can’t “un-know” what I now know, thanks largely to this blog. When I was a younger onion (oh, 3 years ago or so) I used to read this blog and think, “This woman is crazy. But I feel strangely compelled to read her.”

    Ha-ha, joke was on me. Jill is one of the most sane bloggers out here. I went from “oh, who cares if women wear high heels?” and “Maybe some women really do like to suck on men’s penises” to being the bitter, mirthless meanie feminist I am today.

    And Comrade Physioprof, I invite you to check your privilege and not try to shut down women who are speaking their truth. I’m tired of being a lonely internet feminist also.

  46. Jezebella

    Isabel, alas, the Guerrilla Girls’ protests about all-male, all-pale biennials did not cause things in the art world to “change quickly after that.” There was one Whitney Biennial, in 1994, that was diverse of gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, and since then, it’s been mostly pale and mostly male. See the Guerrilla Girls’ website for more on the work they’re doing in response to galleries’ and museums’ over-representation of white dudes.

  47. Kelsey B.

    Pinko Punko: A little off topic, but since you mentioned it, every time I see a little girl whose parents have forced her to wear tights, I want to scream. I’ll see kids in nylons in JULY, when no sane person walks around in more than bike shorts and a tee. Tights are uncomfortable to me, an adult that chooses* to wear them. I can’t even imagine what they feel like to a tiny tot. Jeez Louise.

    *Insofar as one is able to “choose” anything that is largely compulsory, i.e. femininity.

  48. Kelsey B.

    Jezebella: I initially read that as “Whitey Biennial,” for some strange reason.

  49. octopod

    Jill, while I agree with your general point, I have to disagree with your “Since when is H. sapiens a prey species?” We spent most of our evolution as a prey species for the various big cats that lived in the same biomes as we did — a lot of early human skulls have been found with two big holes in the forehead that line right up with the fangs of lions/sabertooth cats/what-have-you.

    Applying Zahavi’s handicap principle (the peacock’s tail) to human sexual-availability signals is a whole other ball of wax. Also: sexual availability signals, intra-species “predation”, and regular predation are three entirely different phenomena, and should not be conflated. Careful there.

  50. mearl

    Correction: Kay LEIGH Hagan. Same middle name and spelling as mine, how could I forget?

  51. Alonzo Riley

    JBT: I may be doltish, but I’m certainly nowhere near so notorious or intentionally trollish. I think I’ve posted here maybe 3-4 times.

    Anyway, I was just watching America the Beautiful. The film follows an insanely young supermodel (13) as she rises through glitz and glamour and a man’s attempt to think through female beauty performance. On the runway, this incredibly young supermodel wears high heels but looks not frail but intimidating and powerful. She does not look vulnerable. The impression is that she is probably surrounded by a strong support system, a team of lawyers, and layers of watchful eyes. Beautiful people have lots of friends, right? All by herself in the dark alley she would be rape bait, but we live in a densely populated culture and anyone from the sociopath to the casual harasser must contend with that. Many symbols of status are there to show that we rely on a system of cooperation, so we make ourselves vulnerable on purpose, pointedly. The ties men wear around their necks are not-so-subtle symbols of a leash and make it easy to be choked or controlled. Expensive clothes fall apart easily. Eye-glasses are a symbol of visual deficiency but also intellect. Fatness in some cultures marks immobility, the need for servants, and . If these symbols actually affirm status positions, high heels may be a handicap used to signal greater strength, power, and prestige. After all, in order for a status symbol to be reliable it must be costly, which makes it hard to be faked.

    And obviously this is all just how social games are played WITHIN a patriarchal system.

    Kristyn said: “Women get raped whether they are wearing high heels or hobnailed boots”. Yes they do. And gazelles who stot still get eaten. So what do they gain by performing like this? It separates the strong from the weak, because even the weak must stot, and then get picked out by the cheetah. Humans are different because not all females must perform by wearing high heels. Alternative versions of femininity are available. The question I have is simply what signal is sent when performed. There seems to be a double message somewhere that I’m trying to think through.

  52. JBT


    I don’t believe you understood what I am saying. Probably, it is the limits of internet communication. I thought that I made it clear that I don’t blame anyone for being angry; I support any activity against patriarchy and am directly engaged in it myself. You perceive criticism where there is none.

    Again, my point is that patriarchy is not necessarily about choice. Women don’t just wake up one morning and decide to embrace patriarchal beliefs. Patriarchy is a monolithic source of indoctrination. In fact, I suspect the actual ideas of feminism are known to relatively few women these days – but all know the cartoon feminist of the airwaves, or the prevailing view of the society on women who don’t know their places. Gender codes are normalized under patriarchy – it is all that women ever see. I am not surprised that this has the effect it does; namely, that even ‘feminist’ women accept the appearances that have been normalized for them since birth. Don’t get me wrong; I am outraged, too. Nonetheless, I believe in consciousness-raising, as we used to call it. It remains true, however, that feminist interpretation has a much more difficult time of being published or broadcast (or even tolerated for that matter), by design.

    I’m afraid I do not know this ‘feminist’ science blogger whom you reference, but I am familiar with being flamed or shunned on sites for expressing feminist opinions. There is one surefire way to know despair: be a feminist. But, I do know that I have to take what action I can, where I am, right now. You are not alone. I suspect that there were readers, who absolutely agreed with your interpretation, who were afraid to post. Sometimes, using the codes of science language, i.e., “Goffman interprets high heels as a device which produces canting-the appearance of vulnerability and instability-in the female. Nearly all portrayals of women in the media shows them in canted poses, blah, blah,” but this is not always a successful technique. What I see most is that women’s voices are simply ignored, or there is a pile-on onto one woman to set an example. I know exactly what you’re talking about and you have my support. There is little of healthy mentality in the patriarchal world, and some people are so driven by poisonous issues that their sheer mean-spirited-ness can invade entire blogs. Maybe it makes me a lesser feminist, but sometimes, I just have to withdraw (or limit myself to IBTP and my own blog where I’ll be posting feminist media studies, etc., when I get all the kinks worked out). I surely wish I had an army of battle-hardened feminists to back me up, too. I have found that, as an Israeli, there are many feminists who simply refuse to speak to me or to my girlfriend, period. As with all people, feminists are not perfect, either.

  53. zrusilla


    A toilet paper wedding dress: truth in advertising for the patriarchy.

  54. wiggles

    One thing that stuck with me from a Chinese culture course I took long ago as an undergrad, was that the elderly women who had had bound feet were ridiculed when the practice was outlawed. This seem so sad and cruel, after what they went through. But maybe it’s necessary. Better than standing by politely while “it’s okay to be feminine” “manipulating men makes you powerful” quasi-feminists extol the virtues of “hot” shoes. Fuck them!

    The problem is that those old ladies didn’t do that to themselves. The previous generation repeatedly broke and molded their feet when they were babies and there was no undoing the damage.

    I think there is something to beauty standards being a display of vulnerability, but it’s not to deter rapists. It’s to display wealth or class status. If your feet or torso are intentionally deformed, it’s like wearing a sandwich sign that reads “I’m so well-to-do, I can afford to be hobbled. What a pretty prize I am.” Vulnerability is a cornerstone of femininity.


    I’ve seen guys around town in dresses, especially in the 1990s. They didn’t even look particularly feminine. They just wore these no-frills canvas utilitarian type dresses with lots of convenient pockets. Or they’d go all out like Kurt Cobain and wear those puffed-sleeved gingham farm girl numbers. I was more essentialist back then so it surprised me that I didn’t notice they were in dresses until I was interacting with them for a couple minutes. They never gave up their comfy shoes though.

    That’s sort of the same spirit as that “wedding dresses for men” site. The guys on that site aren’t feminized except for the dresses. The site says it’s for trans* men, but don’t those guys usually at least shave their beards?

  55. JBT

    Oh, Alonzo, I have seen your moniker spread far and wide. Funny, almost every post a man makes on a feminist blog contains an extreme whirlwind of condescension to accompany its exponentially expanding cloud of bullshit. I call it fellating for attention. Of course, you guys always like to pretend you want to learn something while sucking away. The pattern is almost always the same: man appears in the Coat of Many Ev-Psych-Promise-Keeper Colors and says, “OK, feminists, splain me this!” Man is referred to resources, even the very responses to his post, but man cannot be bothered. Man only wishes to make himself appealing to other men at the expense of women, so it is never long before the face of “Teach me!” becomes the zombie face of putrescent patriarchy. If someone else wants to waste time talking to you, that’s their business. I would rather spend my time talking to women or to those vastly few in number men who get it: the rewards for fellating patriarchy are genocide, ecocide, slavery and untold misery for most people on the face of the earth. Toodles! I will not allow you to hinder me further.

  56. Shelby

    I have a theory that the blokes who think it’s hilarious to dress in traditionally feminine clothing are the ones who have a screaming desire to stick it up their best friend’s/team mate’s coight.

  57. Jezebella

    Kelsey, you are not alone. Many, many have called the Whitney Biennial the Whitey Biennial instead. It’s a bastion of the pale and male.

  58. Laughingrat

    Humans are different because they are self-aware beingscapable of making conscious decisions, and whose behaviors are due largely to acculturation rather than brute instinct.

    Fixed that for you, Alonzo.

    Also: if wandering into a feminist blog and making comments which categorize women’s motivations, thought processes, and behaviors with those of brute beasts is not trolling, I don’t know what is.

  59. Valerie

    Hello again,
    I asked some women in the office if they had ever seen a pregnant woman wearing high heels and most of them said no with a horrified look. Thank goodness.
    There are a few big P supporters though. But I know them by their Loreal lip enhancer gloss and their many giggles around the office men. ~Throw up under my desk~

    “Coat of many ev-Psych-Promise-Keeper Colors”
    I LMFAO at that one. Thanks JTB.

  60. Pinko Punko


    I was joking to someone about hipsters trying to put their babies (of all flavors) into skinny jeans. Tights are the same deal- they only serve to indicate the the small person is almost a doll and they must be extremely difficult to put on at that. I wish for them to be pooped on with extreme prejudice.

  61. Danielle


    “All by herself in the dark alley she would be rape bait…”

    Rape bait? BAIT? Your word choice alone reveals your lack of comprehension, the general unworthiness of your argument notwithstanding.

    But I’m sure you just meant that as a “figure of speech,” of course.

  62. goblinbee

    Brute beasts?

    Which ones would those be?

  63. awhirlinlondon

    Summer dresses!! I love them! I wish it were summer all the time anyway but particularly because of the clothing summer invites. Comfortable, light, airy. If men had any sense, they’d wear them too.

    Tights. Godawful things. While still stuck working in corporate America, I got into my car after work every day and immediately pulled the damn nylons off. Misery-inducing bastards. Another reason to love summer. No nylons!

  64. Rikibeth

    Obi Wan in a pencil skirt with a Birkin bag and Louboutin pumps, some pout-plumper, and a spritz of Beyoncé’s new perfume “Heat.” Stupid?

    Here, as a connoisseur of genderfuckery, I must speak up in Obi-Wan’s defense. Did nobody see Shallow Grave, in which, at one point, Ewan McGregor dresses up in a little black dress, with earrings and a goodly frosting of blue eye shadow, apparently just out of a spirit of exuberance brought on by new-found wealth? He looked HOT.

    I am conveniently disregarding the fact that he wasn’t REALLY Obi-Wan the way that Alec Guinness was. Alec Guinness as a suffragette in Kind Hearts and Coronets did, sadly, look pretty stupid.

  65. Amananta

    The difficulty with trying to help these young “Stepford sluts”, an apt moniker, I’m afraid, is that they often will turn on you and attack you viciously, no matter how gently or compassionately or logically you try to point out the reality around them. There’s a younger woman I practically fell in love with over the past year, for example, whom I have had to stop speaking to in order to preserve my own sanity, because the “my Nigelism” and virulent hatred of feminism she espouses and the way she attacks me whenever I dare try to point out anything and the constant “men are more oppressed than women!” lines and the sounding more like the MRAs than the MRAs are, just finally became too much. She’s intelligent, creative, charming, witty, and appallingly anti-feminist. Of course, she says her position is the real feminist one. It’s heartbreaking. What can one do? I can’t even get through to one reasonable intelligent person.

  66. Laughingrat

    Goblinbee, please use a dictionary if you don’t understand what “brute” means in that context. If you wanna support a troll who has repeatedly used crappy evpsych mansplanations to support women’s subjugation, and compared women to animals who operate on an instinctive rather than self-aware, conscious level, feel free. I can’t stop you.

  67. feral

    MRA theses such as the one proposed by Alonzo always affirm their ultimate belief: that women are stupid/inferior. Evolutionary psychology: for fuck’s sake–evolution doesn’t occur within a cultural vacuum. If high heels and lethal weapons both constitute survival mechanisms, then women (naturally, of course!) give up guns for heels. Silly creatures. Men, 1,000; women, 0. They structure their very arguments to keep it that way.

  68. goblinbee

    Laughingrat: “…and compared women to animals who operate on an instinctive rather than self-aware, conscious level…”

    The species-ism is stanking up the place.

    Humans are animals. We do things on an instinctive level, and we have feelings about those things we do. Who says non-human animals are any different?

  69. Jane Q Public

    Alonzo= BORING. Reading Alonzo’s post is like taking two Ambien and washing them down with a fifth of Makers Mark. I made it in a few sentences then realized to continue I’d need to prop my eyelids open with toothpicks to see it though to the end.


  70. nails

    Oh jesus lord no. Isabel has breached IBTP.


    I do not like racism.

    I know the shoe blogger. Isabel is talking about Isis the Scientist, who makes posts about feminism from time to time, in addition to stuff about race, science, and shoes. I think the shoe thing is stupid too, but anyone who has taken a casual stroll through her blog knows how much shit is flung at her daily, and how she has lived feminism by being a woman of color in science. The misogynist hysteria Isis puts up with is extreme. She does not need anything more put on her plate. It would be one thing to respectfully bring it up w/Isis (as other people have before), it is quite another to try and make an us vs. them situation on IBTP. I think we are all supposed to talk shit about isis and question CPP’s cred (because they are friends), or head over to Isis’s blog to say she isn’t a feminist. Or something. I refuse to do that. This whole thing is petty and stupid.

  71. Isabel

    Okay one more quick post:

    Thanks for your responses everyone. I feel better now-total meltdown averted. (I sort of wish sometimes we could use smiley faces on this site. I would put one here)

    Jezebella, I thought about the Guerrilla Girls’ too but I was sure the event I had learned about was older. After much googling, (and the discovery of an entire genre of art involving tampons) I came across an interview with Lucy Lippard that included a description of the 1970 protest.


    scroll about halfway down to the Q that starts “In 1970…”

    I also came across some good news: The most recent Witney Biennial is >50% women artists!


  72. Isabel

    I am not going to get into an argument with Nails, who is cherry-picking my old comments out of context (creepy), but I would like to put out that Isis (who I intentionally did not name) is far from a radical feminist, is a WHITE Latina, and from a comfortable background, and is a successful and financially comfortable scientist.

    “it is quite another to try and make an us vs. them situation on IBTP”

    which is why I did not name her. The annoying post I referred to was very recent, why don’t you link that? She will only post emails from people who first go on and on about how much they worship her. She insists at being addressed as Goddess and always mentions how hot she is. It’s some kind of shtick. She calls her readers Little Muffins. So the Little Muffin whose email she printed went on and on about how much she admired the Goddess, and thanks to her she just got her first heels. Isis has banned me, mocked me and thrives on the attention she gets with her blog. Again, I did not name her, and did not name CPP because they are friends, I was specific, he encourages the shoe promotion specifically, posting his own shoe pics in mock response etc.

    Nice way to twist things Nails. Maybe I’ll investigate you now.

  73. nails

    It took exactly one google to find that post, and I knew it wouldn’t take any more. Linking to your post, in its entirety, is the opposite of cherry picking. I post on scienceblogs too, you know. I see you show up to talk in the same way on other race threads. Hell, you did that TODAY, in the the “I am racist” thread that is in the most active section of science blogs. It doesn’t take a genius to notice that your name is the same on posts that say the same racist crap.

    I don’t really care about your drama with Isis. Anyone can read your posts in this thread and see what they say.

  74. Isabel


    hopefully my other (actually on-topic) post got held up because of the two links?


    This action of yours is an ugly turn of events. Naming Isis, calling me a racist – what is your motive here? Are you trying to say because I do not toe the liberal “party line” as everybody who has paid any attention to my posts here on IBTP knows already, I should be shunned and my opinions ignored? And exactly what was racist about either post you linked to or mentioned?

    For example, on the thread today I was countering the assertion someone made (as evidence of racism) that Canadian immigrants are not treated like the Latino immigrants are. I simply pointed out that in fact, the nearly one million white French-Canadian immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th century were treated exactly the same way, maybe worse since there were no PC filters back then. Mocked, marginalized into shitty jobs, blamed for bringing down average IQ points in several states – the whole package. Why does pointing that out make me a racist, and how does it de-legitimize my posts here?

    Same goes for all white ethnic groups. Right up to the present. I grew up hearing Polish and Italian jokes and how stupid all (extremely pale-skinned btw) Slavic people were. My point has always been that things are more complex than is usually presented regarding racism, and that the fact that the current crop of poor immigrants tend to be darker skinned is not necessarily the reason they are treated badly.

  75. Inverarity

    And the Irish! Don’t forget about my oppressed Irish ancestors!

    (Sorry, I just really wanted to fill in that bingo square.)

  76. nails

    Showing up to threads about oppression of non white people to point that out repeatedly (or about how hard it is for white people who do not have white privilege) is racist. Just like it is sexist for dudes to show up to feminist threads and go “but what about the men?!?!?!?!” repeatedly.

  77. Isabel

    My very short comment (#147) on the thread in question simply pointed out that the earlier comment about acceptance of Canadian immigrants was wrong. Again, why is that “racist”? We are talking about my own family. So screw you.

    Once again, Nails, how is this relevant to the discussion here?

  78. Jezebella

    Seriously, y’all, can you take it outside? Blog commenter wars are really boring.

  79. Jill

    hopefully my other (actually on-topic) post got held up because of the two links?


    Missing comments, and anxious inquiries about them, are addressed in the FAQ.

  80. Jill

    Seriously, y’all, can you take it outside? Blog commenter wars are really boring.

    Having read these recent “you’re a racist”/”no I’m not!” comments, I have to say I’m with Jezebella. However, as blog owner I get the last word, so here it is: when you find yourself defending the honkys in a pro-honky world, it’s time to shut the old pie-hole, in real life hopefully, but definitely on this blog. Sure, there are infinite delicate nuances and dreadful grey areas in the cut-throat world of oppression-spotting, yadda yadda, but mostly these are beyond the scope of a general patriarchy-blaming blog (or any other impromptu amateur political discussion). This point is addressed in the FAQ, too.

  81. Hector B.

    Mention of tights and summer dresses reminds me of an engineer classmate of mine, years ago, who often wore dresses and nylon stockings to school, even though jeans were the universal choice of both men and women students at that time.

    But the influence of the patriarchy went only so far — she never shaved her legs. I would feel sorry for her leg hairs, twisted and trapped under the netting as they were, only a few of them able to poke their heads out through the mesh.

  82. Isabel

    Huh? My comments that are being dragged out for discussion were not even made on this blog. What kind of McCarthyist bullshit is going on here?

    And why is bringing class into a discussion of race “racist” but bringing race into a discussion of sexism “totally cool”?

    Really Jill? You agree with Nails, that it is okay to make invisible one million French Canadian immigrants because they are “honkies” and anyone who speaks up for them when someone is trying to erase their history should be followed around the internet and harrassed?

    If that is what you are saying, screw you too.

  83. Isabel

    Really Jill, are you sure you read the comments carefully? Nails just came out of nowhere and started accusing me of being a racist based on comments I made elsewhere. Of course I defended myself, and of course I agree with Jezebella, I even said so! I kept asking Nails what her point was, and what it had to do with the discussion here. And your “final word” is to tell me to shut my piehole????

  84. JBT

    Given men’s addiction to power, control and domination, in all matters large and small, I see their appropriation of their own enforced system of women’s dress as a power play (unfortunately, I was diverted upstream when I stepped in a pile of ev-psych and racist/not racist dog shit. You know, I just had to jump around for a while, desperately trying to scrape my shoes, hoping that I can get it all off without having to throw the shoes away).

    Men often resentfully accuse women of having power we won’t acknowledge. Whine! I think that in some symbolic way, men believe they can obtain some of this ‘power'(what they’re all about, after all), by wearing women’s clothes. Men are disturbed to think there is some form of power floating around over which they have no control – and they want it ALL. In the male imagination, women have a chthonic connection to the deeps and men wantss it, yesss, my presssscious! What men suppress, they also desire. I think this mentality is, in part, what drove the witch-burnings or the suppression of African religion in slaves. There can be no power which is not directed and controlled by men, even if the attribution of power is their own daft idiocy. Like the slave owners behind locked gates, men fear, unutterably, being overwhelmed or inundated (so much of men’s mythology centers on cataclysmic flooding, so that when the land appears, men are in charge).

    It always strikes me how angry are men who think women can’t be controlled, e.g., watch any anti-abortion man mouth off. The anger is weirdly palpable, far beyond the provocation, but they also sound, with the timbre of their voices stretched to the maximum, very afraid. Indeed, I have been told by ‘cross-dressers’ that they are the ‘real men.’ Oooh! They braved a symbol of what they construct to be “women’s power.” Still, it must offer them some odd kind of solace, even though it does not free us from their envy and hatred. Men just cannot be happy until everyone suffers as they do. They fear/fantasize that somewhere, sometime, women/slaves/gays/etc. cavort madly and happily at women’s own behest, in an ecstatic unity with Nature. Oh, yes, patriarchy hates nature as well. It is not completely at the mercy of men. Nature is the Female, described as capricious, willful, and worst of all, powerful. Is this not how men see us, and our clothing, too, apparently? Men are freaks!

  85. Kiuku

    Wedding dresses look surprisingly like wedding cakes. They look like cakes. I never understood how you could dress yourself up as a cake and legally claim yourself to a man. Outlawing marriage AND prostitution would show the Patriarchy for what it is. Women can’t make money without men. It’s designed that way. It’s not natural. Through my research I’ve discovered that there is something wrong with men, biologically, as subspecies. They aren’t humans. They are males. They are possible unnatural. There is just something wrong with them.

    At times at work I’ll see a woman in a skirt, and the difference between whether she is a sex object, or “dressed for success” is the heels. Men sneer. It’s so stupid. Men actually do things to get the women in my office to wear dresses, and I’m the only one who notices, primarily because I DONT” WEAR THEM. This is how culture says women should dress. There are so many conflicting messages and women get these messages sent home to them on the street by the way people outwardly treat them. But inwardly no men consider actual women to be respectable as an individual no matter what she is wearing.

  86. Isabel

    Don’t worry Jezebella and JBT, I won’t be boring you or sullying your boots anymore – I certainly wouldn’t want to hang with a bunch of uptight KGB-style feminists anyway. What fun is that? And what would be the point? And I will never deny the suffering of my own people in order to fit in or because some blog owner tells me to shut my pie-hole (god I hate that annoying expression).


    My thoughts and expression of my ideas shall remain free. It’s all any of us has. The main lesson I have learned in the “liberal” blogosphere is this: the repression of our times does not depend on “conservatives”. I already suspected as much, of course, but I’m always the optimist.

  87. Comrade PhysioProf

    Huh? My comments that are being dragged out for discussion were not even made on this blog. What kind of McCarthyist bullshit is going on here?

    The thing I love most about you, Isabel, is that you are able to make this statement with a straight face in the context of being upbraided for using the comments of IBTP to attempt to stir up trouble for Isis the Scientist, who has never to my knowledge shown her face here at IBTP even one single time, ever. Don’t ever change!

  88. Taybeh Chaser

    1. Brilliant post up there, JBT.

    2. I wear heeled boots sometimes. I am short and look somewhat younger than I am. Yes, they give me a feeling of power–albeit a false one–a feeling I could stomp on anyone in my way, that comes from being temporarily tall, feeling like I look “sophisticated” rather than “cute” (what an annoying way to describe a grown woman).

    Of course I know exactly where I can place the blame for the little voice in my head that says, “Without heels you don’t look like a grown-up, short young women get even less respect, people see you as a little girl, etc”–and for the depressing knowledge that the little voice is probably telling the truth.

  89. nails

    I brought it up because the theme is the same.

    “I’m tired of hearing the excuse that the patriarchy makes women do things.”

    This is right in line with your attitude towards black kids. Its putting the blame in absolutely the wrong place.

  90. kristyn

    Jesus Christ, you guys. This is getting really out of hand. Have an argument if you want, but maybe not on Jill’s blog.

    Also, Jay, heels on riding boots are much lower than most if not all heels worn by women today. They are typically an inch to an inch and a half tall, and do indeed prevent the foot from sliding through the stirrup; most riding schools and many stables stipulate ”no flat shoes” for anyone who wishes to get on a horse.

    However, high heels are not horseback wear. Not only do they make it impossible to put one’s heel down and stretch one’s lower leg against the horse’s side — thereby ruining one’s stability in the saddle, they also put one in a precariously unstable situation on the ground.

    I’ve ridden professionally in the past, and you could not pay me any sum of money to even handle a horse while wearing high heels.
    So, while it may hold a small amount of water, your defense of patriarchal fashion norms is largely null.

  91. kristyn

    Oh, also, the ”heels as symbols of status” thing doesn’t hold water either.

    For one thing, we are not living in the eighteenth century any more. Bustles and plump bodies were signs of status back then, but have now gone out of style; one wonders why (or doesn’t, if one is familiar with feminist theory).

    For another, although I am certainly not representative of most people who ride horseback, much less for a job, I for one was poor as dirt when I rode horses. Poor as in, publicly regarded as hailing from ”wrong side of the tracks”; living in a trailer; receiving government assistance and handouts from local establishments; walking instead of driving; getting all of my equipment secondhand from rich people who were giving it away.
    High-class horse farms just know cheap and easy labor when they can exploit it, I mean, when they see it.

    Seriously, though, money meant so little to those people that they would give anything away. I got virtually all of my equipment and apparel that way, up to and including a thousand-dollar-or-more dressage saddle. All either handed off or scrounged out of the trash. Someone even gave me a HORSE, a fancy and well-bred but small and quirky horse, that they didn’t want any more. In fact, not once but twice. Such behavior boggles the mind.
    Now ends this particular vein of class commentary from this blamer on this radical feminist blog.

  92. veganrampage

    About a decade ago I slithered by way of the back door into a “feminist” institution of higher learning whose initials are Smith College. Being a somewhat older jaded hag I foresaw trouble a comin’ inre one Romanian visiting Prof amidst the young women, and the potential for gross sexual misconduct being clear, made my misgivings known though I filed no formal complaint. I simply stated to the proper person that I was sure that trouble was a brewin’.

    A rain of shit and hell fire came down round my head. Against their own policy said school retaliated against me and much worse gave the Romanian a 2 year contract. 16 formal complaints later and at least one RAPE later the sick fuck was lead off campus in handcuffs and twas reported to me by my spies that the Theater Department Profs and Class Dean, once so convinced of my recklessness and insanity in said matter, were astounded and mutterings to the effect of “she was right” were heard. Cold, cold comfort indeed. Which brings me to my point about wedding dresses and white dresses and “femininity.”

    Right before graduation, and I did graduate despite the Dean of my Class threatening to bring “sex”* charges against me in my very last semester, there is an event called Ivy Day. All we pure virginal ladies(Dykes, Queers, Lesbians and LUGS-Lesbians Until Graduation) were to dress in white and parade around in our white purity dresses, while some retained the honor of actually wearing large boas of living ivy. We could not have look more stupidier! This was anathema to the way %99 of us dressed, acted, lived the rest of our lives. It was some weird ass hold-over from the 19th century. HATE.

    Needless,I was not down with this jive ass plan, nor was my friend and theater cohort Claire. I planned my ensemble; a white straight jacket with neat white slacks, and Claire was to wear a an actual white wedding dress from a second hand store, but horribly bloodied up as if she had been attacked by say, some crazed Romanian rapist. (They had to let one march if one wore white, ya follow me fella?) Alas, alack and damn it all to hell, the plan never came to fruition as both Claire and I drank such copious amounts of wine the night before we were desperately hung over and too fucked up to fuck up Ivy Day. The very well photographed and parental unit attended Ivy Day, where young women climbed back into the closet after 4 years of freedom by the hundreds. O, the regrets one has in life!

    *Sex charge- I was a lesbian therefore I hated all men, thus I hated the Romanian rapist. (I was one of the few non lesbians at Smith, but I do hate many men. My two best/oldest friends are men, but no one cared about facts.) I guessed this piece of idiocy as I often do by pondering who is the most stupidiest person I know and what is the most stupidiest thing could they have said.
    The Romanian rapist got a great recommendation from the then chair of the theater department and is now still teaching at a college in the south where there are of course young women. Gloria Steinem sits on the board of Smith College. I doubt she knows what a vortex of E-ville it can be there.

  93. kristyn

    veganrampage, that is not a funny story, it is a tragic one. But it is wicked funny the way you tell it.

    Strange how the P always sees things the way it wants to see them. Lesbians are always straight girls in disguise, rapists are always innocent, and women are always wrong.

    And strange how the rapists always get away with it, regardless of how much trumpeting and fanfare surrounds any particular ”capture” of one. They always turn back up somewhere else, like cockroaches you thought you’d exterminated but scuttle back out of your kitchen drawer a few days later.

    Justice is never served. But your ideas of subversive dress are so excellent that at least one bisexual-by-birth, queer-by-virtue-of-hating-almost-every-man, cough, me, will wear a suit tomorrow in solidarity for or with you.

  94. Alonzo Riley

    What’s more boring than blog commenter wars are commentators complaining about blog commenter wars. What about the men!!?! Sheezus.

  95. polly

    You will no doubt be pleased to hear that in blighty high heels ARE officially recognised as a health hazard by the police.


  96. mearl

    Polly, I gotta tell ya, was I ever happy to read that 30,000 pounds wasn’t JUST going to flip flops, but also to condoms, rape alarms, and free safety info. I have two things to say to people who can’t walk in their own damn shoes, drunk OR sober:

    1) Why don’t you bring your own flip flops to the bar?
    2) Why don’t just stop wearing heels? They’re bad for you! They totally give you bunions!

    I know, I know, bunions again. I already know that heels don’t ALWAYS cause bunions, and that bunions are caused by heredity and other things, but I threw my head back in hideous laughter when I saw THIS in my local newspaper last week:


    And today, when I signed out of msn hotmail and my browser went straight to msn today (the canadian version), there was a scintillating article on WHAT MEN THINK OF YOUR FASHION CHOICES. Of course, I couldn’t resist reading it. Listed in the final points of this fine scholarly article was the following fashion “tip” from some unnamed, unspecified men:

    -flats may get you around, but heels are sexy.


    Scared the hell out of my sleeping roommates, I did.

  97. speedbudget

    My sister is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in feet and ankles. When she described what exactly happens in bunion surgery…OWIE. I still do wear heels on occasion, but I get twinges of OMG WHAT IF THIS IS THE TIME THAT PUSHES ME OVER THE EDGE?

    I think I only really have to worry about hammer toes, which are their own nightmare of surgery.

  98. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Of all people, it was my father who cautioned me against wearing heels. From painful experience, he knew that wearing bad shoes is the path to misery. A course, he was also the one who told me I had to make up my own mind in the voting booth.

    In a lot of ways he was the essence of Patriarchy. But he was also an inherently practical fella who dispensed reams of good advices.

  99. allhellsloose

    Pregnant and high heels but why? So to conform to what? High heels are an invention.

    And older member of the community was wrong to just mention the fetus but use a bit of common sense!

  100. Occasional lurker

    Thanks, veganrampage; I too attended a women’s college with a history of tenuring known sexual harassers and worse. I just read my alma mater’s annual report, and was disgusted, though not particularly surprised, to see a large photograph of one such prof who recently started a scholarship fund. It would be nice to think that this is some sort of attempt to make up for his revolting past behavior, but somehow, I doubt it.

    Re: wedding dresses — when my folks got married (early sixties) it was not unusual for the woman to wear a suit instead of a big, gauzy Bridezilla dress. And that was not exactly a right-thinking era. When will some women get a clue that what’s being pushed as “traditional” is made-up, reactionary BS?

  101. ack, phooey

    Men, men, men, men. Most of the comments here are by men, and they are not the people I want to hear from.

  102. Jezebella

    My mom’s 1967 wedding dress was also a sort of faux-Chanel white suit. No princess-poufs in sight. So, yeah, “traditional” wedding dresses are BS, as are the “traditional” diamond solitaire engagement ring. It’s all advertising.

  103. Miss Andrist

    Hmm. Compelled to weigh in with my personal experiences in PatriarchyVille with male entitlement and expectations regarding my appearance.

    See, I am solicited frequently by p0rnulated d00ds on various social networking sites. It’s not worth my time to consider they might NOT be horny fucknozzles hoping to use me for their sexual gratification to the maximum possible extent. Hopeful, that I will exceed their sexual gratification expectations, put on the little black dress I’m wearing in That Picture, get in my car, and meet them at their hotel / apartment / parents’ basement / etc. And ideally I will arrive drunk enough / rolling / thoughtfully slipped myself a roofie, etc so all they have to do is press play to gain access and use me for a meatsock.

    Because pretty much every single one of them? Greets me with a remark expressing their approval of my aesthetic qualities / assessment that I am sexually satisfactory to them. In other words, complete strangers ping me out of nowhere because they see me as “online” to inform me that I’m beautiful / hot / sexay (choose 1). They expect compliments and flattery (affirmation of commodity value) aimed at my primary characteristic (appearance) will please me. Maybe enough that I’ll put out.

    Except, this thing here -> my appearance has no impact on me. I can’t feel it, I can’t see it. Unlike a limb, organ or my general health, if I were a cubist nightmare, nothing in my life would be different. Other than d00ds leaving me alone, I mean.

    No, a non-male’s appearance is about THEM, what they see and the judging process to which they are entitled to subject and grade any and every non-male. It’s a pass/fail thing and we are expected to be eager to receive their opinion.

    Complete random strangers. They could drop dead for all I care – and if I don’t care whether they live or die, why the fiddly fuck would I care what they think of phantom characteristics they say I have? Being accosted with their uninvited op-ed is without a doubt the most ginormous demonstration of unbridled narcissism mathematically possible to wedge into a first impression. If strange men must randomly solicit me with flattery, PICK ANY OTHER TRAIT – my major, my cool page template, for fuck’s sake my penmanship, just don’t tell me I look good unless you want to be asked what the fuck that has to do with anything anywhere, least of all you.

    On the rare occaision I even reply to any of these d00dly d00ds, I do so expressly for the unconventional entertainment value I find in consistently disappointing them with strictly platonic chat about feminism, programming, and my pet bunny Scissors. Ha.

    Males who seek out Teh Hawtness don’t differentiate a real live Womenthing from the Pornthing of their PornReality, and that’s how you work the Pornthing. Whenever you wanna rub one out, pull her out, press play and be gratified.

    …And I wear combat boots when I don’t wear Chuckies. I have a pair of heels for job interviews, which have no backs so I can kick them off at every opportunity, because they mandate four preventative bandaids against their phenomenal blistering powers. If I want to dress up, I put on my combat boots and my little black dress, which is actually a cotton nightie with the power to work like a dress when paired with standard undergarments. Because it pleases me to do so. I win!

  104. speedbudget

    “Traditional” wedding dresses are straight out of Victorian England. So that should tell you something.

  105. mayadevi

    This is why I wear salwar kameez, which to me are the ideal clothing. They are tailored to you, not the other way around, they are adaptable to cold or hot weather, they can be worn by women of any age, they are more comfy than jeans, they are the right mix of dressy and casual to go almost anywhere. If anyone accuses me of cultural appropriation(I am white, though desi by marriage) they can kiss my pasty white ass. Western women’s clothing sucks.

  106. Jezebella

    I have often admired the salwar kameez as looking comfortable in most weather, and of course they are made with fantastic fabrics. The “cultural appropriation” you mentioned is what has stopped me from wearing them on my own personal pasty white ass, because I fear I will look ridiculous.

  107. Kiuku

    Clothing should provide a function and be comfortable, above all things. It displays status. They say high heels make a come back, and especially debilitating high heels become popular during times of economic hardship (meaning women are even worse off than usual).

    What’s kind of interesting is that wedding dresses, and dresses from the victorian, edwardian, and also modern dresses make women look like insects. Women in modern art also mimic the shape of insects, by exaggerating the waist and crossing the legs.

    I think maybe we just need some insecticide around here.

  108. short blamer

    I am years too late but I had to pipe in. I am otherwise non p2k compliant to the point of strangers giving me unwanted and unsolicited appearance advice, but I do wear heels in the form of men’s elevator shoes. This is because I am four foot ten and despise the way the entire world towers over me to gross extremes. Adding a few inches doesn’t solve this problem, but it makes it slightly less extreme. From what I have observed and heard, p2k compliant women of more average height wear heels so they can be the height of every man’s wet dream, ie a woman who is paid to shut up and wear the ultimate in feminine idiocy, ie a model. It doesn’t matter if they are in pain or can’t run from an attacker if they can better resemble the fashion models that our society holds up as the paragon to which all women must aspire rather than actually have a life. I blame the p, and the misogynist gay men in the fashion industry who worships at the p ‘s engorged bits while laughing at women all the way to the bank.

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