Thursday, June 17, 2010

Feminism and Shoes

There is shoe/clothing obsession comes up often in the girl power meme.  Sex and the City is only the most popular example.   The idea seems to be: we are here, we are powerful, and we like shoes.  The writers are trying to sell you the powerful woman while retaining a bit of realism, that women like to accessorize; they are trying not to apologize for fashion fetishes.  

This annoys me to no end, but it wasn't until today that I pieced together exactly why.  

While sitting with the twins and watching Barbie and The Three Musketeers—Terremoto loves the dancing and the fencing—I braced for the part when one of the aspiring girl Musketeers, the fashionista one, delivers her 'Make my day' line of, "Don't mess with the dress."   My mind jumped to something that Michael Drury said in a book, now out of print,  something along the lines of toilets need to be cleaned but should not be the center of your life.  I couldn't find that quote this afternoon, but this one will do:
Life comes as daily usage even to heads of state and great artists; they too must have clean socks and a cup of coffee, and sometimes must provide it for themselves.  But menial necessities are not a reason to be living, and energies tied down to such service are blinded from perceiving even that they are tied. 
There is no need to make heavy weather of keeping house, or even raising children, and only a mind otherwise unengaged would whip up a storm around it.  A wife does not need to be a career woman, but she needs to be a whole person with brains and hands.  One is born female, but being a woman is a personal accomplishment. 
The shoes/clothes shtick hits me the same way as the previous house cleaning obsessions.  It is important to look good, to care about your appearance.  We must shop, and groom.  Fashion can be artistic.  Sometimes we exchange tips and notes.  Fashion should not, however, be a focus of our lives.  It is like cleaning toilets.  It has to be done and done competently (and unlike cleaning toilets, we enjoy it) but frankly shouldn’t command more focus that that.   

Modern day women think that anything in the life administration strata is hack work that is beneath a power woman.  Leaving fashion in that category weakened women in their eyes.  So since feminists couldn't get us to give up fashion (they certainly tried), they had to elevate it to Something Important.  Some are rehabilitating the love of fashion as just one of those woman things--good because it is female.  (Yes, this begs a question about feminist view of motherhood.  See next post.)  Hence shoe obsessions and ‘don’t mess with the dress’ meme becoming par for the course in the modern tales of power women.  

But it is all a house built on sand.  Elevating life admin to a higher status does as much damage to our lives as degrading life admin to something too base to do.  It is just different damage.     

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