Sunday, October 11, 2009

Feminism and Fashion

When I first met my husband, he did the normal techno savvy thing and googled me. Stunned, he read several articles that I had submitted to the university newspaper's editorial section. His first thought, he later told me, was that I was some man-hating feminist. He decided to get to know me better and discovered that feminists don't hate men.

It seems to be the consensus that feminists hate men. We degrade women who make traditional choices. None of these things are further from what real feminists are about. Feminists are people (both men and women) who strive to give women the same freedoms and choices that men have. These choices being same wages, ability to vote, ability to travel, ability to go to school, custody rights, etc. Seems pretty basic, yes? But its true that not all feminists think alike.

Take two organizations: NOW (National Organization for Women) and FFL (Feminists for Life). Both organizations promote women's rights and strive to end domestic violence. The big difference is that NOW believes in reproductive rights of women. Meaning that they believe that abortion should be a choice. FFL also believes in reproductive rights but they believe that women should be supported in not making the choice for abortion. So not all feminists agree with abortion.

Then their are some who believe that feminism should be about women entering the workforce and being the pants wearing members of the household. I think that feminism is about the ability to make choices. I used to work at a school with a stay-at-home dad. His wife made the choice (along with her husband) to work and for him to stay home. I think it should be the same choice for women as well, which is why I stay home. It just makes better economic sense for my family.

Speaking of the stay-at-home dad why aren't there more masculists? I mean if a dad wants to stay home, why not? And why is it that women can easily take maternity leave but men have to fight with their employer to receive the same amount of time? Sure the dad didn't go through anything physical, but shouldn't he stay home and help out until his wife is ready? Really there should be some equality across the board.

Speaking of choice, women seemed to be looked down upon by other women for wearing skirts or dresses or covering their heads. It's now quite normal for many clothes to be "low-cut" or show off cleavage. I was amazed to discover that many of maternity outfits show much more of my boobies than I ever wanted people to see. And oddly enough, it's really difficult for me to find maternity skirts. Oh sure, they have five hundred jeans and pants. And they do have a lot of dresses, but what I have trouble finding is skirts. Usually they're black and come down to your knees. There aren't very many maternity skirts that reach one's ankles. I find it difficult to find long skirts when I didn't need maternity clothes either.

The reason I bring this up is because I'm not a big pants person. Guys pants, as I pointed out to my husband, come in lengths. Women's pants normally don't. I'm not exactly a medium (they're usually an inch or two too long), and I'm not exactly a petite (which is about 1/2 an inch too short). I end up having to hem pants and then the cut isn't right for me either. As I said before things are "low-cut" these days or wear elastic. Fortunately, skirts don't seem to be a problem. Skirts as long as they don't show my undies or drag on the floor seem to fit better. And my whole life, I've preferred to wear a skirt or a dress because they fit better. There is no uncomfortable crotch area or too loose waist.

At my job before staying home, I worked at a day care and wore skirts to work. Not only do they make one look professional like a teacher, they also work well when it's hot. I'm not big on wearing shorts at all. I wore skirts every day. One day one of the teachers mentions that she thought that I wore a skirt for religious reasons. I was astonished. My skirts aren't all long some of them come to just below my knees or at my knees. I didn't realize that wearing a skirt labeled you as religious. I made a comment to my boss about it later and she said basically the same thing. And I said "but you know I'm Catholic." and she said that she didn't think that mattered. I just finally gave her my bit about not liking pants and having worn a dress or a skirt for most of my life. She just shrugged.

Wow!! My grandmother told me stories about not being about to wear pants, and my mom would tell you that wearing a skirt to school was totally the norm (some schools wouldn't let women wear pants). So why is wearing a skirt on a regular basis not the norm anymore? Isn't feminism supposed to be about choices? You would think the more opportunities people had the more of a variety of people we would have. But this isn't the case.

Modesty seems to be dying. The signs are everywhere. Look at little girls clothing. You can buy girls high heels and thongs now. Thongs people!!! Why does an eight year old child need a thong? I don't even wear thongs.

So as a feminist, I'm making the case for being modest and feminine. Hey, we're supposed to be able to make choices right?

check out: feelin' feminine

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