Saturday, 3 December 2016

Conformity - it's just SUCH a con!


Another post brought to you by -

heart's ease - sneaking joy and beauty into a lawn near you


This is a long, rambling and rather personal story. It's going to touch on some 'female issues', so if you're a squeamish guy, you're excused. And it's going to push some buttons about feminism too, so if you're a sensitive type about that, you're excused. (Or you can stick around and voice your objections in the comment section. I'd feel like a real blogger if once in a while someone would do that.)

Oh yeah, and if you have notions about hippies being dirty and lazy, you are definitely excused. Maybe I just spent my early years with the right crowd of hippies, but they were neither dirty nor lazy, in fact they were some of the wisest, most grounded people I have ever known. Also? They smelled fabulous. Gawd I miss sandalwood soap ..




Still with me? Cool.

This begins yesterday with a shopping trip to Pembroke, about 45 minutes from here. I decided to wear jeans. In recent months, jeans have caused me some real difficulties if I wear them while sitting for long periods in the car. Even my most comfortable jeans cut me off at the middle and I can end up with really nasty discomfort in the abdominal region, as though my internal organs are slightly displaced. Like "is this an inguinal hernia?" level discomfort with some highly suspicious swelling in that area, which is where I was at by the end of the day. (In case this ever happens to you, try gentle massage of the abdomen with comfrey root tincture. Swelling disappears and everything goes back into place.)

It hurt. And shit like that is scary, right? I knew I was over reacting - because one does when something that weird is going on and there is no reliable medical care available - so I opted to take some heart's ease to calm myself down. Now normally, I like to keep my tinctures in those little dropper bottles and measure them out by the drop. But my heart's ease tincture is still in the original jar, so I use a 1/2 tsp measure and take about half of that .. well I accidentally used a tsp, not a half and I used the whole thing - that's about 4 times as much as I would normally take.

>snicker<

Yeah, I got high! Very pleasantly so, too. I learned that heart's ease works on the chakras, it started out opening the one at the top of my head, that energy then tugging on and opening the lower chakras, one at a time, like flowers. Man, it was delicious. Meanwhile, I was of course extremely relaxed, and once the energy reached the abdominal area, my belly was more relaxed than it has been in a long, long time. It was similar to experiences I've had on the acupuncture table, but I was moving around while it was going on.

I took more just before bed (although not nearly as much), as well as another massage with comfrey, just in case, and some evening primrose and yellow dock to keep everything moving in there.

Once again, in the morning as I was rising out of sleep, came the 'voice' of that flower, asking me: "why do you torment yourselves so?"

Now that's an interesting question, isn't it?

Torment? I knew what she meant. She meant the torment of worry and fear. I - like so many others - often attend to the least weird thing that goes on in my body with great worry and fear. That comes, in part, from the afore-mentioned lack of medical care. But more than that, it comes from the greater malaise that we all have, our addiction to fear. You might not think you have it, but I invite you to examine your thoughts. You will find it there, probably under the surface of what you think of as sensible precautions. It is the Western way, fear, and yes, we torment ourselves with it.

What do we fear most of all? Not fitting in. We may 'pride' ourselves on being a society that embraces diversity, but we pride ourselves on a lie. Diversity within certain norms is fine, anything outside of that and we're sticking out like sore thumbs.

Which brings me back to wearing jeans that day.

Jeans have caused me issues for decades. I actually took scissors to all the jeans I owned when I was in my 30's, just to stop myself from wearing them. In those days they seemed to be the culprit in my recurrent yeast infections and difficult periods. In my 40's, when I was cleaning rich women's houses, it was important not to alarm the homeowner by not looking like an ordinary cleaning lady so I mostly wore jeans for work; then it was hip and back pain. But in some houses, where the client was more enlightened, I was able to work in a dress; those days I was pretty much pain free.

In truth - and this is where my hippie friends come in - long dresses are where it's at for me, and as far as those Wise Women I used to hang out with, all of us. Jeans, or indeed any tight clothing, (bras!) are just not good for women's bodies. We need to flow, whether you think of it physiologically, in terms of lymph, or in Eastern terms, qi.

When I stick to long, flowing dresses (in winter I layer them) I have no back or hip pain, no abdominal pain or constipation, no yeast or other 'female' issues. I also have less anxiety, naturally enough. My creativity and intellect do better when I dress this way too. Living in a small town, where all the women keep their hair cropped short - like men - and wear clothes from Walmart - dressing the way that's best for me gets me .. looks, you know what I mean? These looks are not necessarily disapproving, but I feel like I'm sticking out. And that can be uncomfortable.

But gee whiz, the physical and therefore 'energetic' repercussions of dressing to conform to social norms are a lot worse than sticking out like a sore thumb. Yet I still find myself trying to fit in, wearing clothes that aren't good for me.

Feminism is such a fail. (In so many ways, but today we're talking clothing) We're still dressing to conform, no longer to conform to modesty of course. We dress in ways we're taught to believe will attract men (but not too much, feminists do not want to be objectified, which seems odd considering how fashion is all about bringing the attention to our tits and asses but I digress). In actuality the clothes - and makeup and hairstyles - we wear do not attract men, they just keep us spending money. And, I believe from years of going back and forth, they affect our health badly.

My old pal Siwi (Anne), the Medicine Woman, taught me that anything tight around the waist, restricting to the breasts, or even a hem above the knee, will cause restricted flow of blood, lymph and qi., and cause alternatively chills and overheating. These, in turn, will lead to issues with circulation, blood pressure and the heart, the kidneys and the joints. The women I know who still dress like hippies into our granny years are free of most of the problems faced by the rest of our sisters.

As you know, I ramble in the woods and fields. I scramble up hills. I get down on my knees in the garden. And yes, I can do all that in ankle length dresses. Most of them are sleeveless, and that means I get plenty of sun, and as I generally wear nothing underneath, I am cooler in summer than I can ever be in shorts (TMI? Sorry) In winter, layers keep me toasty warm and I am still not restricted. Granted, I still haven't tried snow-shoeing in a dress ..

I just have to keep learning this lesson over and over again, to stop caring if I look different from the other women in the damn grocery store. It's silly, right? But we all do it, in one way or another. We bite our tongues in conversation - or in our blogs - we dress or eat or read according to what is normal or acceptable.

There's good reason for that, we're humans and humans are tribal. To be outside the norms of the tribe used to mean Big Trouble for the whole tribe. We've carried that too far now though, let's face it, it troubles no one if I dress in ways that suit me. You could too, but it would take courage to ditch the office-lady look. Those women who burned their bras just went out and bought more (and breast cancer is big business, but again I digress ..)

BUT - and this is for the men, too - if your heart is taking the lead in your life, you can expect more inner battles for a while, not fewer. Your body is going to speak up too. The whole You of you has ideas that you kept caged up like a good member of whatever strata of society you inhabit. They are going to make themselves known, and you're going to have to assess them, one by one. For some, your life has revolved around rebelling for rebellion's sake, and as the heart takes the lead you might be astonished to find yourself actually more conservative than you used to be.

It's a wild ride for all of us, believe me.

My point today is, conformity to outside societal forces is a con. It keeps us from feeling what we really feel. It keeps us unhealthy; physically and emotionally (Prozac anyone?) and spiritually. And it IS a form of torment, one we've volunteered for, and for so long we don't even notice it any more.

We blame our fear or illness or emptiness on many other causes, and for each of us those causes will be different, that's the beauty of individuality. But don't overlook this possibility. Where do you conform? How are you being conned?


32 comments:

  1. I think I'll do like Gary Paxton and start running around in coveralls. Except when I wear shorts.

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    1. If you keep growing out the beard, that's going to be quite the look Ed :-)

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  2. Well, how so right you are! Since I am reverting back to my hippie ways, I find so much discomfort in clothing that restricts and activities involving people that inhibit me from being/feeling comfortable. And, yes, fear runs rampant in my mind when I/my heart isn't listened to. Being free MUST mean being me. When I allow that, I can twirl or sing anywhere without worrying about what anyone thinks. When I dont, I do feel tied up, restricted, frustrated et al. Man, I sure can do a number on myself.

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    1. Twirling, yes! What a great feeling it is to have skirts a-swirling, right?

      I was just visiting with the grandchildren, and the oldest, 8, is always just fascinated by my clothes. Being fascinating to one's granddaughters is important. They have to know that femininity & grace are for all generations, not just the young.

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  3. This is my third attempt to write a comment. Let's see if I can remember what I wrote.
    You've made me curious about knee-length dresses. I ditched office-lady look long time ago. Still employed by the same place. Never liked bras,either.
    Those people in the supermarket might be intimidated by your cool look in dresses:)

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    1. I'm glad you kept trying with the comments, I don't know why it's so persnickety.

      You don't get the same flow from knee length as full length. That flow/twirl just feels so good. Like water.

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    2. I'll give them a try, and report back with pictures probably.

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    3. Oh cool! Value Village is about to become your favourite store. You can have so much fun with layers of dresses for cheap cheap cheap.

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  4. Nice one Christine, gotta agree about women in jeans. I mean, fine if they have to / want to for practical reasons or so they don't get whistled at (unless they're +really+ tight!) but fwiw it doesn't do it for me. It's bad enough when I wear them myself (I've got some stupidly tight ones on now as it happens) but like you say that kind of restriction on a woman's body can't be healthy or a pleasant wearing experience. Hint for the ladies: it's not sexy if you look like you're constantly uncomfortable or in pain. If some men say they like it they're just morons who've been brainwashed by social norms and who have learned not to look at the +person+ underneath the Public Relations exterior. How sad to feel you have to deliberately impede your body's natural flow of movement. Why not bind your feet while you're at it?!

    Ahem... Anyway I wanted to drop in this quote which I read earlier today. It's from a lady called Martha McCaughey who wrote a book called 'The Caveman Mystique' about how modern ideas about masculinity depend on a misreading of evolutionary biology. An interviewer asked her why 'being a rugged, aggressive guy who belches in between beers and leers' is viewed as manly behaviour and she answered via an examination of changing +feminine+ behaviour:

    'The feminist philosopher Sandra Lee Bartky made an argument about women’s changing status impacting women’s bodily comportment, saying that modern Western women began to restrict and constrict their bodies more as they gained institutional and social freedoms. Bartky said that old forms of patriarchal domination have eroded or changed and that new forms of sexist inequality have sometimes taken their place. For example, women are no longer expected to be chaste or modest, or to restrict their sphere of activity to the home; but now normative femininity is centered on a woman’s body (rather than its duties and obligations). So women, who now have more formal freedoms, are now expected to restrict themselves in a tightly controlled, carefully managed feminine bodily comportment–to compensate for their increased freedoms. As for men, I would suggest, appropriating Bartky, that we now see men finding their freedom and power in a bodily comportment just the opposite of Bartky’s modern feminine woman: Men are boozing and belching their way to a lack of restrictions–to combat the increased restrictions they find in life and law.' - http://scienceblogs.com/worldsfair/2009/05/05/the-caveman-mystique-pop-darwi/

    Restriction in one sphere; relative freedom in the other... can't you be free in both?? Or maybe these kinds of 'freedom' are over-rated - belching for men and dishwashers for women... What d'you think?

    best,
    Ian

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    1. Wow .. where to begin ..

      "Why not bind your feet while you're at it?!" - why not indeed, except women do, they're called stiletto shoes. Even so called 'kitten heels' (are they still called that?), the lowest heel one can find, contorts the spine. But you know, it's the sound made by high heels that's most interesting to me, not whether women wear them to be sexy or not. Heels sound like confidence. The click of high heels coming down a hallway or sidewalk says "Make way!" not just to men but other women (perhaps especially to other women). Women striving to make their way up the ladder in business situations may dress as they do as much to intimidate each other as anything.

      I really don't know how I feel about the quote from McCaughy on Bartky. I tend to agree with Camille Paglia who believes that as a society disintegrates, sexual deviance becomes more normalized. She was talking about actual transgenderism, but I think it also applies to the way that we see women dressing like men in drag, on the one hand, with the extreme (bordering on parody) in-your-face sexuality, or on the other hand, women dressing like teenage boys. Whether that is a reaction to more formal freedoms .. I couldn't say. I rather doubt it, but that is because I don't believe women to be more free now, but less.

      Thing is, though, I don't think to the individual woman any of that equality stuff is top of mind when we choose what to wear. For the most part, *ordinary* women dress to 'look acceptable'.

      I'm calling on women to realize a couple of things here 1) restrictive clothing sucks 2) they have a choice they might not have thought of before 3) it actually feels *nice* to wear long flow-y things and I suppose 4) to do so offers other women the opportunity to do so as well.

      "Men are boozing and belching their way to a lack of restrictions–to combat the increased restrictions they find in life and law" - Oh good grief. NO, I don't really think that is it. I think it is that they no longer are required to grow up. A friend of mine once described this as - "they don't grow up, they just sort of hair over". There are no restrictions on men, legal or social, to which belching and boozing are a legitimate or mature response.

      Thanks for stopping by Ian, you always bring something interesting to the conversation.

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  5. Well I do wear skinny jeans and skirts slightly above the knee. Not all skinny jeans are comfortable and those I don't buy. I too dress for comfort but maybe not in the same way. I don’t go for fads, just what I like and feels good on me. I am not a feminist but am myself. High heels have never been my thing. As my daughter could never understand but I believe she is coming around (thankfully). I have bought some articles of clothing, only to ask myself why. If I buy something I keep the tags on until I contemplate whether I really think it was a good choice. I respect your idea of what's right for you.

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    1. Oh how I used to love my skinny jeans, so much lighter weight, right? I should have mentioned there are absolutely times I miss jeans; they're just not good for me and it took me (ha!) decades to figure that out, once and for all.

      Isn't it interesting that everyone looks to diet and exercise when they're trying to 'fix' their health but clothing rarely enters the conversation? I think just having a look at our wardrobes from that perspective, periodically, might be helpful, and if we find we have a good thing going we should stick to it. Period. I hope I wasn't coming across as (too) judgey, I was just hoping to get women thinking about things like restriction of blood and lymph. AND to point out that these long flow-y clothes are more practical than they look.

      "I am not a feminist but am myself." LOVE that line.

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  6. Christine,I would never take you as judgey and value what you have to say!Lymph and blood, lifelines! I practice dry brushing and trying to remember to do it everyday. So therefore, I keep my brush out in the bathroom. One thing I forgot to add was under wire bras. Who the hell invented those (a man probably)! You can hardly find a bra that isn't underwire.Now that's constricting and I would outlaw them if I was emperor!

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    1. Dry brushing - cool! I used to do that, I wonder why I stopped?

      Underwire scares the hell out of me. I found I could just take it out and the bra would 'work' just fine.(Not that I have owned a lot of bras in my lifetime.) Whatever happened to camisoles? Lovely things, camisoles.

      LOL - Nav, I'm judgey as all hell about some things, I just try to keep it out of my 'voice' in the blog :-)

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  7. Who isn't judgey,for that matter!😉

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  8. The following comment is from Ian M.; some sort of glitch has been preventing him from being able to post it:

    re: heels, yes good point, I forgot about that. There was a campaign over here a few months back pointing out some professions where women are forced to wear them as part of the dress code. I found it remarkable how discussions in the media got so heated, mainly from those (both men and women) who were defending the practice. Wtf? It's bad enough that we're forced to work degrading jobs in the first place without allowing us to at least be physically comfortable while we're doing them! Interesting point about the sound of them - hadn't considered that. Confidence plus the added commanding (albeit teetering) height, that sounds about right. I've heard it pointed out on the other hand that they're also the worst things to be wearing if you're trying to run away, whether from a mugger, rapist or rampaging dinosaur(!):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8tmJbaFuYM#t=3m37s

    Interesting thought about dress codes being related to acceptance of sexual deviance. I don't feel the same angst that conservatives do about the disintegration of 'traditional' gender roles and how this might cause (not merely be a symptom of) decadence or societal breakdown, but I think there's some truth to what you say about women actually being less free nowadays. Freedom in the workplace? Hahahaha. Freedom from household chores and child-rearing while professionals take half your salary to do it in your stead? Hmmm... Freedom to try your best to dress and speak and act like men (or rather the perverted masculine ideal created by this culture) and +still+ not be taken seriously? Probably a better situation in some ways than it was before, but still very compromised - and lacking a lot of earlier freedoms too.

    'For the most part, *ordinary* women dress to 'look acceptable'.' - yes, it kindof seems that way. There's a quote that goes something like 'unexamined assumptions are the real tyrants of any culture'. But then I'm wondering if long flowing dresses might also have been an unquestioned feminine ideal created in former times, possibly by evil patriarchs and not women themselves?? I guess if they feel good to wear that's a big plus point in any case...

    'There are no restrictions on men, legal or social, to which belching and boozing are a legitimate or mature response.' - I don't think she's saying it's a conscious rebellion though, in which case it would be dumb and childish for sure. Just that things have gotten so tightly regulated in the working and public world that men will grab any chance to 'hang loose', most often in their free time (for those who have some left) - hence the backlash you get against 'political correctness' from a lot of blokes if you chat to them in a 'safe space', eg: down the pub. It would be good if there could be some other kinds of response though!

    cheers,
    I


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    1. I never thought I'd hear myself defend the wearing of heels, but there are plenty of women who can run rather well in them - myself included at one time, although not now. Not to mention that they can be slipped off and used as a weapon if needs be!

      "But then I'm wondering if long flowing dresses might also have been an unquestioned feminine ideal created in former times, possibly by evil patriarchs and not women themselves??"

      LOL Ian, please. Are you convinced that all that women have ever been is under the heel of the 'evil patriarchy'. Can you hear yourself there??

      Besides, this is not - or I didn't set out for it to be - a debate on the origins of various women's clothing. We have the freedom to dress as we please in the present IF we take that freedom. THAT was my point. That we need not be constrained by conformity.

      "Just that things have gotten so tightly regulated in the working and public world" ..

      Gotten so tightly regulated? Oh and it wasn't even more so, by class structure etc. in the past? Do you seriously believe that the work place is more tightly regulated than in say, the 50's? The 20's? Do you have to call your boss at the landscaping company "sir" and tip your hat every time he addresses you? There was a time not long ago that was the case. You are giving away your inexperience here Ian. Sorry, but I do not buy this.

      "..that men will grab any chance to 'hang loose', most often in their free time (for those who have some left) - hence the backlash you get against 'political correctness' from a lot of blokes if you chat to them in a 'safe space', eg: down the pub."

      Oh my .. so working hours are much longer than they were .. when? I know an awful lot of people have to work more than one job, but it was ever thus for working stiffs. Wasn't it?

      Besides, belching and boozing are not about political correctness, but about good manners. IMO

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  9. Ian M continues:

    PS: I tracked down Bartky's 1988 essay on Foucault which talks about the restrictions on modern women in depth if you're interested:

    http://faculty.uml.edu/kluis/42.101/Bartky_FoucaultFeminityandtheModernization.pdf

    Remarkable how much of it still applies today. The bit that stood out for me was the analysis (from part III) of how women sit, stand, walk and hold themselves in a highly restrictive manner compared to the easy, open stances men adopt:

    'Woman's space is not a field in which her bodily intentionality can be freely realized but an enclosure in which she feels herself positioned and by which she is confined. The "loose woman" violates these norms: her looseness is manifest not only in her morals, but in her manner of speech and quite literally in the free and easy way she moves.' (pp.29-30)

    I always had my suspicions about you Christine ;)

    Later this is put in terms of hierarchy in a way I've noticed in my own comportment towards 'superiors' in day-to-day life:

    'Women's typical body language, a language of relative tension and constriction, is understood to be a language of subordination when it is enacted by men in male status hierarchies. In groups of men, those with higher status typically assume looser and more relaxed postures: The boss lounges comfortably behind the desk while the applicant sits tense and rigid on the edge of his seat. Higher-status individuals may touch their subordinates more than they themselves get touched; they initiate more eye contact and are smiled at by their inferiors more than they are observed to smile in return. What is announced in the comportment of superiors is confidence and ease, especially ease of access to the Other. Female constraint in posture and movement is no doubt overdetermined: The fact that women tend to sit and stand with legs, feet, and knees close or touching may well be a coded declaration of sexual circumspection in a society that still maintains a double standard, or an effort, albeit unconscious, to guard the genital area. In the latter case, a woman's tight and constricted posture must be seen as the expression of her need to ward off real or symbolic sexual attack. Whatever proportions must be assigned in the final display to fear or deference, one thing is clear: Woman's body language speaks eloquently, though silently, of her subordinate status in a hierarchy of gender.' (pp.35-6)

    I know you're not a huge fan of feminist theory, but these observations ring true to me...

    best,
    I

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    1. No I'm not a fan of feminist theory at all, and that rang like bunkum to me. Or paranoia. Or paranoid bunkum.

      "'Women's typical body language, a language of relative tension and constriction, .."

      What?? Women's typical body language is a language of relative tension and constriction?? L.O. fucking L. this is .. splutter worthy... I haven't the time or inclination to argue this as fully as it deserves. It's just wrong.

      "..is understood to be a language of subordination when it is enacted by men in male status hierarchies."

      Oh, so it's apples vs. oranges then.

      Okay, enough of arguing these silly writers' points...

      Ian, bless you, I understand you're an intellectual type and that this endless quoting of others might be done in some circles. But when you're here, I wish you would make more of an effort to comment in your own words with your own opinions from your own experiences. Even the first part of your comment, while seemingly your own words, rings of what you have read, or seen discussed elsewhere, not what you have lived.

      No offence intended.

      And none taken that you just called me a loose woman.

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  10. Arabs and Nomads of all nationalities wear loose flowing robes. Who were they subjugated to ? Oh and kilts! God bless long flowing robes and kilts. They serve to show us that not all peoples are fashion slaves, or psychobabble devotees.
    Paul

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    1. 'Who were they subjugated to ?' - good question, I've no idea really. If we're talking about the covering of womens' bodies, even faces in Muslim traditions I guess you could analyse that in terms of patriarchy. Long black robes and head-dresses are hardly the most practical thing to wear in the heat of N.Africa or the middle east! On the kilt a quick look at wiki tells me that:

      'The kilt first appeared as the great kilt, the breacan or belted plaid, during the 16th century, and is Gaelic in origin. The filleadh mòr or great kilt was a full-length garment whose upper half could be worn as a cloak draped over the shoulder, or brought up over the head. A version of the filleadh beag (philibeg), or small kilt (also known as the walking kilt), similar to the modern kilt was invented by an English Quaker from Lancashire named Thomas Rawlinson some time in the 1720s. He felt that the belted plaid was "cumbrous and unwieldy", and his solution was to separate the skirt and convert it into a distinct garment with pleats already sewn, which he himself began wearing.[1] His associate, Iain MacDonnell, chief of the MacDonnells of Inverness, also began wearing it, and when the clansmen the two employed in logging, charcoal manufacture and iron smelting saw their chief wearing the new apparel, they soon followed suit. From there its use spread "in the shortest space" amongst the Highlanders, and even amongst some of the Northern Lowlanders.[2] It has been suggested there is evidence that the philibeg with unsewn pleats was worn from the 1690s.[3]'

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilt

      See: fashion slaves throughout history ;) But I have to admit that it does provide easy access for sexual assault - although of course men aren't supposed to complain about that!

      best,
      I

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    2. Ian, I think he was referring to the robes men wore/wear in many parts of the world. Long, flowing clothing is actually much MORE practical in hot climes than tight clothing. Yes, including head dresses and face coverings. Think sand on the wind. Grit in the teeth and hair. Chafing from trousers and sweaty groins - sorry to be so graphic; I'd have thought it rather obvious but seemingly you missed that possibility.

      I'm starting to worry about you. That you leap to "!!patriarchy!!" as the root of all evil is, well, a bit of a knee jerk reaction and that the mention of kilts has you go straight to "easy access for sexual assault" .. you might want to ask yourself who has put such thoughts in your head so firmly. School? Your peers?

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    3. Oh okay, I see those practical aspects now. Wasn't thinking about men's robes as well. White saudi-style ones make intuitive sense, but wouldn't the black colour women wear in the most conservative areas absorb the heat terribly? There's also a religious emphasis on modesty and covering up to avoid 'harassment' which seems dodgy to me - a gift to paranoid husbands seeking to control their wives for example.

      I don't think you need to worry really. I know the danger of 'isms' and of going down rabbit holes where you end up viewing everything through the latest pet theory - I've been down a few in my time but usually manage to find my way back to the surface! So 'patriarchy' doesn't represent the 'root of all evil' to me, just short-hand pointing to symptoms or phenomena in society that are all intertwined with a whole nest of other roots - agriculture, industry, enclosure, city-building, child-rearing & schooling practices etc etc all playing their role in building the civilised culture we all know and love so well... I guess the 'sexual assault' aside was a bit weird, sorry about that. Put it down to an odd sense of humour if you like - no indoctrination by school or peers as far as I can remember.

      I

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  11. Kindof regretting all the effort posting that now! Oh well, will have a go point by point:

    'there are plenty of women who can run rather well in them ... Not to mention that they can be slipped off and used as a weapon if needs be!' - surely not as well as in flats though. Hadn't considered they could be weaponised - ya got me there!

    'Are you convinced that all that women have ever been is under the heel of the 'evil patriarchy'.' - Well no, I wouldn't say that's all they've ever been. There is agency and will there obviously, despite every attempt to crush it. Creativity too. It's not something I know much of anything about. I guess the question is: where do the designs come from and whose needs (or desires) do they serve? I won't deny they sometimes suit the needs of women just fine, whether flowing dresses or jeans even. On the other hand you have corsets or the hijab. Still, some women claim(ed) them for their own (good for posture, avoiding unwanted stares supposedly), but clearly the patriarchal desires are also being serviced, and that seems to be the priority at least some of the time. But if you're not interested that's fine... I was being flippant with 'evil' btw, if that wasn't clear.

    'We have the freedom to dress as we please in the present IF we take that freedom. THAT was my point. That we need not be constrained by conformity.' - that freedom comes with consequences, penalties even, doesn't it? You can't get all tattoed and pierced and expect to land a high-powered city job or to have your views taken seriously if someone interviews you on the tv, for example. Not to say that it isn't worth doing anyway, but if there are strict social penalties for that then it's not really 'freedom' in my book.

    'Gotten so tightly regulated? Oh and it wasn't even more so, by class structure etc. in the past? Do you seriously believe that the work place is more tightly regulated than in say, the 50's? The 20's? Do you have to call your boss at the landscaping company "sir" and tip your hat every time he addresses you? There was a time not long ago that was the case. You are giving away your inexperience here Ian. Sorry, but I do not buy this.' - fair points, I guess I am. Am I allowed to look at what McCaughy says in greater depth and report back?

    pt 2 will follow... (just in case I go over the limit again)
    I

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  12. I used to wonder why I never liked mini skirts, deep V neck blouses, high heels, etc. The community I lived in welcomed conservative dress code. My family circle encouraged the opposite. It was (still is) an interesting internal journey trying to make sense of the two mentalities.
    I hunched at first to hide the bumps growing on my chest, and held on to pants to cover my skinny legs. Later, I realized that a woman was considered at her prime to mate and multiply until she was 25. And she needed to show off her bodily parts in an attractive way to find a mate at a right time. So I did. I did played the game.
    After giving birth to a female child (right at the right age), now looking at the life story I have written so far, make me smile more and more every day. I couldn't run away from playing the human game, but I somehow understand how it is played. No regrets, just lessons learned as a woman. At 42, I love being a woman. It takes guts to be a woman. I am not saying this in an aggressive way. Just whispering. Long story really.
    Hi Christine. It is Zeynep :)

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    1. Zeynep! I'm always so glad when you chime in. It must have been quite the adolescence with the two cultures - Turkey, right?

      I love being a woman too. I love that we go through so many stages & changes through our lifetimes, it is as though we each get to be many different women rolled into one! :-)

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  13. Not that much actually...

    'No I'm not a fan of feminist theory at all, and that rang like bunkum to me. Or paranoia. Or paranoid bunkum.' - not interested then (or have I read you wrong?!) I thought it chimed in with what you were saying about constrictive clothing - ie: constrictive habits of movement underneath as well, but maybe not... Went looking for Marianne Hex's photographs from the 70s which Bartky uses to make her point. Some kind soul put them up on youtube if you feel like sitting through 24 mins (probably not, I'm guessing!):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScoOF2GDFrM

    Or here's a critical review if you prefer:

    http://davidcampany.com/marianne-wex-lets-take-back-our-space/

    Which brings me to:

    'Ian, bless you, I understand you're an intellectual type and that this endless quoting of others might be done in some circles. But when you're here, I wish you would make more of an effort to comment in your own words with your own opinions from your own experiences. Even the first part of your comment, while seemingly your own words, rings of what you have read, or seen discussed elsewhere, not what you have lived.' - well, yes I know I should when I can. Trouble is I'm a bit limited on the personal experience front when it comes to womens issues! I thought it only proper and respectful to seek out the views of those who +do+ have that experience (including you, which is why I'm here btw - thanks for not holding back on your opinions!). What Bartky says does fit with my observations of women in work, family friendships etc though. For many of them their whole behaviour modulates when men enter the room, especially men in socially 'superior' positions. It's not all constriction admittedly (things have changed a bit since Wex's 1970s Germany) - sometimes it goes the other way and they're all exaggerated smiles, needy eye contact, OTT gestures, providing conversational prompts, agreements and nothing else of much substance. I see the same in myself to a lesser degree - in that way I still say 'sir' and tip my cap, though I guess it's not required of me in the same way it used to be.

    'No offence intended. And none taken that you just called me a loose woman.' - None taken here either - glad to provide you with lols at least. I'm worried if you didn't take the 'loose woman' thing in the spirit it was intended though. To me the butt of the joke was the kind of person who would view any kind of deviation from uptight, constrictive social norms as 'loose'. It seemed funny to me that you got 'looks' (disapproving ones?) for wearing long, flowing dresses, when your style is probably the most 'traditional' available. Strange times indeed!

    best,
    I

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    1. You're reading something into this post that wasn't intended, and in the process missing what was. Please re-read it. Or not. If you do, you will note that I also touched on plant medicine, altered states of consciousness, physiology and the fashion industry.

      So let's put a line under this 'women's issues' as per Bartky et al. You clearly see us as victims (although you're willing to admit that is not *all* you see, it is still *mostly* what you focus on). It's tiresome and if I may be so bold, rather condescending and conformist of you.



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    2. Just responding to what stuck out for me. Liked the other parts too, just didn't have much to say about them. You said it added 'something interesting' at first. Maybe I should have known better than to take that as encouragement to continue? Or maybe you just lost interest, which is fine, and I can just keep my mouth shut or talk about something else instead.

      re: victimhood - won't disagree, I do see it a lot and not just in women fwiw. It pains me so I try to challenge it when I can and be an ally for people trying to claim greater freedom for themselves (while trying to also claim it for myself - enough of the power cringe already!). If that comes across condescending or patronising (conformist though? - what am I conforming to?) then I apologise. Dress how you want ladies, I'll respect your choices!

      Here's a line:

      -------------------------

      I

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  14. Oh, I missed this post. This is not as "smart" as the other comments. But it's real life. I don't really care much what I wear. Comfort reigns. However, I do notice the way my husband's eyes light up in certain clothes. So I try to wear those every now and then. Because I think he's great (and he thinks I'm great), and I like to see him excited because I love him dearly (and he loves me dearly).

    Anyhow, what I set out to say is that I teach my four girls that clothes don't matter really. Then, when I go to teach classes every now and then (because I mostly stay home with the kids), I dress up and put on some make-up. My two oldest were REALLY confused by this. (I teach them well. :-) )

    "I thought you said it didn't matter, Mom." So I had to explain that, to me, it didn't matter. But I had a certain goal in mind to achieve with these people, and in order to achieve that purpose of having them respect and believe me, I had to conform to their standards. I'm taken more seriously based on how I look, whether that's "right" or "wrong." (But I don't wear heels. Those are criminal. I saw my Grandma's feet and she taught me well. Perhaps, we've lost the voice of the wise women.)

    Now I'll digress a little. I'm working through Thoreau. He really comes down on materialism and aesthetics (which certain clothes are). I'm only part way through, but I think he's a little unfair. I think that some humans have the gift of "aesthetics." Like human communication is something I need or animals is something someone else needs, designing their environment/bodies is something they genuinely have a need of. So, yes, they'll spend more or wear uncomfortable clothes because it brings a sense of art/beauty/aesthetics to them. I don't get it because I have to work REALLY hard to make things look pretty and nice. I can do it, but it's not my thing. I used to think of that as superficial, those people who HAD to have/wear that stuff. I now think they probably just have higher aesthetic needs than I do. Okay. Not all of them, but many. Maybe some just wear stuff to fit in.

    Well, I'm running low on time. I'm female. I love it. I'd have loved it if I was male too. Certain clothes just are more comfortable. For me, yoga pants in winter, and short skirts in summer.

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    1. Terri - good points all through your comment! Taking up the theme of aesthetics, it strikes me that some folks, because their choice of clothing strikes that need, don't feel uncomfortable at all. I've heard women say they feel *more* comfortable in corsets. I mean, go figure, but there it is. And they might pay for it but as long as the choice was made with open eyes, I won't criticise.

      That you dress appropriately for the people you are trying to reach makes sense to me, of course. They have to be at ease or their attention won't be on what you say, but how you look. As we mature I think we learn to dress for the occasion AND for ourselves, ie you won't go so far as heels. It reminds me of when my younger son was in high school and seemingly about to follow in the path of his older, very .. rebellious brother. I told him, look, learn to speak the Vice Principal's language. When you find yourself in his office, speak it. In effect, tell him what he wants to hear. That's not lying, or being untrue to your self, it is adaptability (it worked, he didn't get into nearly as much trouble as his brother. Praise God) (Big brother learned to speak that language later and now excels in adaptability)

      Anyway, I still think it important we all do the self-check regularly, so we can catch when we are subsuming our selves in the norms, because that *can* happen. And as we all know, the trouble with normal is it always gets worse.

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    2. Yeah, I think you're right about the self-check. I thought of your post last night as I was getting ready for an obligatory Christmas party.

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