Sunday, July 08, 2007

The real enemy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about misogyny, and feminism, and beauty, and fashion, and fat. Not necessarily in that order. I have a lot of thoughts. This may be a series.

I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly. Kind of ironic, considering I watch very little recent TV (my DVR is full of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Saved by the Bell) and rarely go to movies, but for some reason I am fascinated by it and read every issue cover to cover.

I was reading the most recent issue yesterday when something caught my attention. There was story about a movie where women were running in heels and the actor being interviewed made a comment about how hard it was for the women to keep up with the men. My thought – why should they have to?

Look at any category of fashion, and you will very quickly realize that fashion is much, much harder on women than men, and that women are much more objectified than men by clothing. Consider formal wear. Men wear suits or tuxedos. They are covered head to toe, and their shoes are comfortable. Women wear skimpy dresses that by design impede movement, not to mention breathing, and shoes that are not only uncomfortable, they are difficult to walk in (let alone run) and can actually do damage to the wearer’s feet over time.

Or consider swimwear. Men’s swimsuits are usually baggy shorts that come to the knee. Women’s swimsuits, even modest ones, are ridiculously tight and show the wearer’s entire body, with nothing left to the imagination except perhaps nipple color. Women’s swimwear is clearly not designed for swimming, it is designed to show off bodies, once again objectifying women.

Even casual clothes betray the inequity – men’s shorts are very rarely shorter than an inch or two above the knee and are normally baggy, women’s shorts run the gamut from just below the butt to knee length, but even the knee length ones are clingy.

It would be easy to blame the fashion industry, but they aren’t the real culprits. It is an industry, and like all industries, it follows the money. Women’s clothes are what they are because women keep buying them, and criticizing anyone who doesn’t follow the rules. Which brings me to my central thesis.

The central problem facing women is not men anymore. At some points in our history, men were the issue. It was men who repressed women. But now women are repressing themselves. We burned our bras and replaced them with studded bustiers, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.


Gordita said...

Once again . . . kudos on your insights. It seems to be a common phenomenon in many different minority groups. You see that sort of thing with African Americans, too . . . someone gets a college education and a grasp of proper English, and are held up by the rest of their community as a "sell-out," "trying to be white."
I was stunned the first time I drove through Native American reservation lands in the Southwest, at the poverty many Native Americans live in. And it's a choice, because they could all have a free college education if they can prove their ancestry. I later learned that many tribes have a belief of "limited good," like, if something good happens to you, then there's less good available for me. So there's this societal pressure to not steal the good that might come to the rest of the community.
I don't know that that's the motivating force for women's badness to each other . . . but it's interesting to think about.

Diane said...

You are so right on! This is exactly how I have felt for a long time - we choose to be this way and have bent to societal pressures for so long that now we practically lead ourselves right back to where we started. We want equality and to be seen as something more than an object, but we buy our underwear from stores that view us as tramps. We watch shows about Playboy bunnies all being married to the same old wrinkled pervert, and we happily wear less and less clothing because we want to be "stylish." Yes, I'm wordy here, but darnit! I agree with you!