A quest to make sense of it all. Or a sense to make a quest of it all.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?"*

Yesterday while enjoying an afternoon run in the park with some good friends, I relayed an anecdote about a guy I recently had a first and only date with. The guy was more than a little creepy, and I made a joke about having to get out of there fast before I wound up with my feet in his freezer. (Hey, I never claimed to have tasteful humor; except around parents. Don't worry, your mom will love me. 'Cause she loves errbody, knowumsayin? Heh heh.) Anyway, the joke was met with appropriate snorts and winded chuckles, but I furrowed my brow for just a second as I filed away a troubling, involuntary thought to be chewed on later: that the second the words jumped off my lips, I immediately thought, "I haven't even had my first spring pedicure yet. My feet are not pretty enough to be seen!" Yes. As if my attacker would look at my off-season feet and be like, "Oh, wow, lady. Nice OPI polish, but ever heard of cuticle cream? I don't even know if I wanna do this now." I came back later to graze on this fresh patch of mental crabgrass and found that that twinge of uglyfoot-guilt was still there. Just for the teeeeeensiest fraction of a second, it was there. I didn't want anyone to see my feet, be it a suitor I liked, or my family doctor, OR the guy who (hypothetically) was only interested in getting said feet into a freezer. My brain is clearly a victim of the patriarchy. I'm not going to wonder too hard why I'm using a cow as a metaphor for my train of thought, but from there, it lifted its head, caught of whiff of something interesting, and slowly ambled over to...pokeweed salad. Which can be deadly when consumed incorrectly. That is to say, I got to thinking about femininity. Particularly the idea of inherent femininity vs feminine markers. What is femininity? Is it something I should want? I'm pretty sure I wasn't born with it, but that it developed early on thanks to the culture in which I was raised. Same thoughts for masculinity: does it come with the package, so to speak? Or is it learned? Is my own femininity something I should try to shake, or something I should exploit to get what I want, seeing's how the system itself is flawed and just by owning a uterus, I'm already going to have to fight harder for the same respect, job, dollar, and deal on a new car that a man gets with a fraction of the effort? What determines my femininity, and, in a flawed system, am I wrong for using it to my advantage, to rock the infantilization with which I'm still largely treated in this rural South until the right moment when I can unsheath my claws (cat reference!) and claim what I want? Why does it matter whether I'm a lioness or a big-balled lion? I just want some of the wildebeest. Whatever that means.

And then I read more about the history of foot-binding. After legitimately choking up with real tears at some of the pictures and recollections of women whose feet still only measure four inches in length because some man decided it was cute and girly for a woman to break her own bones...

I'm getting off the computer for awhile.

*Quote- Gloria Steinem


Anonymous said...

I had a really long comment written and when I tried to publish it, Blogger was all, "F, FAIL! Sry!" And when I hit the back button it was all gone. I'll do my best to hit the high points.

I think our outward appearance is an expression of our inward selves, and is (god, I hope) becoming less and less dictated by what men and patriarchy-promoting fashion mags dictate. So if you want a pedicure, get it, but don't be embarrassed if your foot doesn't look like it could grace the cover ofVogue.

I agree with the theory that gender is a social construct, and refer back to appearance as a means of self-expression, not as an expression of gender. I see the lines between feminine and masculine being blurred increasingly within today's youth. I predict that in 50 years the idea of gender will be a tiny detail.

I think I wrote more, but that's the gist.

sarah saint said...

Do you think there's such a thing as inherent femininity/masculinity? What about "feminine" traits like being more affectionate, more parental (I can't think of another word for "maternal" that's gender-neutral)? Is that sort of thing a social construct, or is it legit because women are the ones who actually have to carry humans in us for nine months and it behooves us to be extra protective of/caring toward them?

I'll bet you've already guessed that I've been sniffing around at Mead's classic studies of the Tchambuli of Papua New Guinea.

slugsuit said...

I say Yes. Get your feet done.
"looking good, get your feet done?"

slugsuit said...
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slugsuit said...
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sarah saint said...

Haha! Thanks, mumsey.