Thursday, May 16, 2013

My back pocket (feminist fashion)

Just finished Fifty Shades of Feminism, pleased to see the last word given to my good friend (though she doesn't know it yet) Caitlin Moran.

More pleased still to see that the very last word of hers, in this awesome-as multifarious treatise on women's lives and loves and losses and learnings, was 'bullshit'. Not bullshit lives, but bullshit the brave and bold and beautifully bad fingers to all those macho bulls in boys' (and silly, sexy girls') clothing over endless time who have dug their horny horns and pointy heels in to constrain and curtail our lives. The last chapter of this curtailment, on the cultural de-pubing of teenage girls to mimic porn stars, written by a concerned 'big sister' of twenty-four. You grow, girl! I say.

Yesterday, all day, I looked after under-fives with a bunch of good keen women but gave a substantial percentage of my earnings to a male-run education agency. All the long, lively day I kept my PhD (in feminist political theory) in my back pocket, where it was later joined by a tiny toy medal the size of a five-cent-piece, perfectly crafted in cardboard with purple ribbon attached. One of the youngsters had 'won' it first thing and wanted me to look after it for him for the rest of the day. I almost forgot it was there, hidden in the darkness, with the PhiD.

I don't know how many people keep their PhD's in their pockets with tiny toy medals for minimum wage, and if there are others, what their reasons might be, but my reasons have something to do with a bravery burnout, as well as a wish to find a different female, feminist fashion fit than the one I wore for more than a decade as a strident academic raging against the injustices suffered by the victims of domestic violence. Academics shouldn't rage, of course, that was part of the misfit.

As a ballet dancer in my teens I wore a different feminist fashion entirely, prancing about in a woman-centred world, winning, and not-winning, medals of my own that I showed off, or cried over, depending. Back then I knew, hardly, that tulle without pockets to hide so much as a wrinkle of skin in was a feminist fashion statement of sorts. I only found out when I missed it.

Bravery burnout (my current feminist fashion) 
Later on, injured, and told my head was too big for ballet (literally), I ate (and eliminated) my way from London to Sydney to New Zealand, wearing baggy, shapeless, pockets-a-plenty clothing to hide my twenty-something, post-ballerina body shame. Another feminist fashion statement? it's difficult to say. I got my Masters degree wearing these shapeless clothes.

 I've thrown them out now, but they came in handy for my babies...



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