Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pink, fluffy and totally feminist

by Laura Pedersen

The pink cashmere sweater has the unfortunate responsibility of typifying my understanding of the word 'feminine'. Up until recently, I saddled this article of clothing with conveying what pearls, pumps, and pantyhose manage to do just as well. This sweater I imagined to be some subtly form-fitted article, perhaps with rhinestone buttons, gracing the front of an hourglass cut of cotton candy fuzz. For a while, the poor thing was also subject to my deep derision. Feminist shouldn't garb themselves in frivolity, I reasoned. If you're going out in the world to battle stereotypes, wear something that reflects the power-woman image you're crusading for; at the very least, an androgynous t-shirt, power pants, and a Rosie the Riveter bandanna.
Some deeper reflection, though, has brought me to a place of reconciliation with the pink cashmere sweater.

The feminist movement, the feminism for which I work, calls for a society in which neither the sucrose sweater nor the power suit is considered the proper uniform of a lady. The feminist movement for which I work means that a woman wearing a pink cashmere sweater is taken just as seriously as a woman with Hilary's wardrobe.

Clothing will always be read as a representation of the wearer. Feminism wants to be sure that feminine garb is not assumed to represent weak or undesirable qualities in the wearer. It's not about living in androgyny (which looks suspiciously like the male wardrobe, actually: pants, t-shirt, sneakers), but living respectfully with the differences.

I plan to swear my own pink sweater with pride.


At December 10, 2008 at 10:15 AM , Anonymous Sophia said...

This is something I've thought about a lot... how "androgynous" wardrobes of women trying to break free of female steryotypes sometimes just have them looking like they're trying to blend in with the men around them to be accepted, and that is obviously the wrong idea. I love pink and fuzzy and "girly" things, but I'm also in a pretty male dominated major and love it as well. Women need to be proud wearing pantsuits or sweaters with ribbons and pearls. Great post!

At December 10, 2008 at 4:17 PM , Blogger Roscoe said...

ya, more pantsuits...woo, go women, equal rights. I agree.

*feels bad that maybe he only wants women to wear pantsuits cause he finds them hot...*

In all seriousness though, it seems that all too much focus is going to arguing on the grounds that woman should or shouldn't (or whatever) wear pansuits (or whatever) rather than arguing about it's irrelevancy (well, that isn't to say no one here hasn't said it's irrelevant). the only thing that matters is in the tailoring. There are just some aspects of your body that can fasionably be accented, and that's really all that matters, well, and the obvious fact that one is happy with what they are wearing.

That being said, what is worth discussing is whether dressing sexy (read: to accentuate certain aspects of the body) should be kept for certain times. Obviously, there is a quick tension with women wearing shirts that "accentuate their breasts" and then justifying it because men "wear tight shirts so if I can't you're being sexist". However, it seems that the analogy does not quite hold when you consider that it isn't "appropriate" for a guy to wear something to work that accentuates their, well, penis and testicles (lawl). And again, maybe I'm biased because if someone that I found attractive was wearing a tight pantsuit would distract me all day, but there seems to be some objectivity to physical attraction to tight clothing. So my question, then, is: Can there be unintentional attraction of women by men (or whatever combination) be 1) suppressed or 2) allowed, without the fear of being labeled sexist, in the workplace to allow for women to wear whatever they want, or is it just reasonable (and hence not sexist) for people at the workplace to dress conservatively because the hard truth is that people will always be attracted to each other and sometimes productivity is lowered? Or perhaps an even further question to those who want to go further than feminism, does our capitalist system create some divide between workplace and non-workplace situations that necessarily try to de-humanize us into machines that are judged by productivity (keep in mind this is only a question about the current labor market, not capitalism as a whole; ie. one could still treat material inputs as materials of production, just not treat humans as inputs, rather manipulators of that input at all levels of expertise and training)? my two.


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