Archives for October 2019

Women’s World: Hat Pins and Feminine Erasure

Lipstick

I’m gonna fix my lips then tear your argument to shreds!

This morning at church, one of the ladies noticed I had a knitting needle plunged through my hat. Her husband was perplexed, but she understood when I said it was to keep the hat on my head.

Once upon a time, there was a solution to this problem: Hat pins. They daintily skewer the fabric and don’t require permanent holes in felt like knitting needles do.

Hat Pins

They were also good for stabbing!

They still exist and can be found on various online marketplaces. But they don’t sell them anywhere in the real world, where I do still do most of my shopping.

For one thing, hats as a staple were out of fashion for, what, 80 years? Long enough that culture has forgotten most of the stuff that goes with them.

Short-haired people don’t have this issue, their hats fit more snugly. And if you have long hair you should wear it down, anyway. It’s sexier that way.

My hair is the longest it has ever been. I grew it out because I’m pushing 40 and it’s fading. I figure this is my last chance. I often wear it up because it’s distracting. It gets caught in stuff. The toddler pulls it. It blocks my vision.

How to keep my hat on when it’s chilly and windy (ya know, when you need a hat!) is a practical issue for me. It’s frustrating to know that it’s been solved but I don’t have good access to the solution.

I can’t help but think it has to do with long hair being coded Feminine. Smart women have long stayed away from everything with that label, and men don’t know or care about how women wear hats.

Hat pins are just my latest example of a lifelong struggle. It doesn’t get much ink or airtime, but I have had the conversation with many women.

Clothes are not actually designed to fit us. Women’s clothes are mostly designed by men. Many of them are impractical and absurdly expensive for it. They lack pockets. They are just tweaked versions of men’s clothes. They are flimsy and drafty.

This is probably a familiar topic to you.

Sometimes there is a company or clothing line run by a woman and a big deal is made of that. She may even be creating things specifically to fill women’s needs. But aside from hype that has a feeling of tokenism, they rarely make a dent in the market.

A big exception would be Spanx, which is interesting because it’s designed to be hidden.

We allow ourselves to be a niche market because, as long as Feminine = Weak, declaring our woman-ness is proclaiming weakness. And most of us know in our gut that our position is still too tenuous to do that.

We have thrown out the baby with the bath water, ladies.

Too Small

What? My stomach is naturally flat! It’s a curse!

The blurring of lines between force-fed frivolity and genuine female culture has been costly for us. Along with home making and high heels, strong women have turned away from domestic knowledge and most elements of style. Those who don’t are expected to apologize for it.

If you are butch, I love you, sister. But not all of us are happy shopping in the men’s section.

And I’m tired of pseudo-think pieces about how women can empower ourselves by improving the clothing industry.

This is all symptomatic of systemic sexism. It’s more than having pants that actually fit around the waist and the hips, with functional pockets.

It’s the same reason 80% of medicine is designed by and for men. And entertainment. And transportation.

But not only is most of the world not built for us,

We have willingly given up what we built for ourselves in exchange for entry.

What was left of it after the Witch Trials of the Middle Ages, that is.

I understand why a large number of women has always been put off by Feminism. But through coercion and force, the world of women has been demolished and thrown in the bin.

It almost feels like a dirty trick. I can run my own company and wear whatever I want. But I don’t know what to do with these leftovers, how to get these stains out or how to heal my children.

Precious Baby

Don’t worry, Junior, we’ll see what WebMD says!

Because eating well, looking after one’s appearance and caring for others is Girl’s Stuff.

Look at what is missing in the world.

Notice any correlation?

Sometimes I am cross-eyed with anger over knowledge that I’ve been told existed, historians talk about what has been lost, burned and spurned out of my culture. I am so sick of trying to play by the boys’ rules but I’m at a loss for alternatives.

Patriarchy has even absorbed Feminism. Transwomen adopting the frills of girlhood and popular talk of “empowering” stripping classes make it even harder to honestly evaluate the female identity.

And we need to have our own identity. If we content ourselves with imitation we give up our natural power.

If we want to maintain and advance the achievements of our foremothers, we have to rebuild the female identity. The time has come to stop being ashamed of the moments we reveal ourselves.

Womanhood is not weakness. The variety in our personalities shows the flaws in the stereotypes we fear. We can no longer allow them to cause us to fear ourselves.

Why You Are Turning Into Your (Grand)Mother – Consequences of Consistent Mate Selection

Humans select animals with traits we like, and breed them together to create more animals with those traits. This is common practice everywhere, it’s how we get “breeds” of anything – dogs, cats, horses, bovine.

Hilda Reaps

I am both mistress and subject!

It’s also done with plants. Controlling the reproduction of flora and fauna is a big part of agriculture.

I’m simply saying that we do it to ourselves, too.

No One is Born Blank

And I’m not the first one to ponder this. Gordon Allport founded the study of personality 100 years ago. His work is the garden in which all others bloom, such as the Meyers-Briggs and Big Five systems.

Some personality theories address the cause of temperament, and some don’t. Dr Hans Eysenck, founder of the “3 Factor Model,” critic of Freud and stalwart advocate for science (“I always felt that a scientist owes the world only one thing, and that is the truth …. if the truth contradicts deeply held beliefs, that is too bad,”) believes personality derives from the brain. Much of your brain structure is down to genetics.

However, the brain turns out to be much more malleable in adult life than was previously believed. Think of temperament as your personal baseline.

Kiss A Cowboy

I just love dirty fingernails, what can I say?

Gentlemen Prefer Hourglass Figures

Over time we have selected mates with desirable qualities, whatever those happened to be in our time and place. Many personal quirks have enjoyed crosstemporal trendiness, and a few physical traits seem to be beloved across the world.

According to the National Institute of Health, “Beyond matching on similarly, little is known about why we choose who we choose.”

Men have gotten taller while women have been selected for petiteness. The average erect penis is 1/3 larger than the average vagina…. What sense does that make in Nature?? Small wonder so many straight women experience painful intercourse!

What About Personality?

What Am I Doing

What the fuck am I doing??

Domesticated animals are also bred for temperament. I see no reason humans should not be affected similarly.

And I believe many of these traits can lie dormant until triggered by outside forces.

As a kid my idol was Idgie Threadgoode and these days I’m genuinely interested in what Martha Stewart has to say. I still love the outdoors but also a good Clean & Organize.

I did not learn to enjoy domesticity so much as attain a different understanding through what felt like osmosis.

I find my fingers itching to sew, to bake, to turn the dirt and create in all kinds of small ways. But like a purebred hound raised as a pet, I have instinct but no real training.

There’s a feeling of emptiness where domestic culture should be. I blame the Cult of Youth where each generation is encouraged to ignore the knowledge of their elders. And I blame the intergenerational breakdown in my family. My mother can’t teach what she was never taught.

And, frankly, I blame Feminism. With its rejection of the womanly in favor of beating the boys at their own game.

Instinct Vs. Intellect

All of this has been very difficult for me to admit – That I was feeling this way at all, let alone that I have no real idea what I’m doing. I have always shied away from “girly” things because dimples and freckles are bad enough. I thought maybe if I swaggered around like a man, people would take me more seriously.

Surprise

Surprise! You can’t identify out of womanhood!

And if I didn’t find myself in the position of Lady of the House, I doubt that these thoughts would be bubbling up.

I lack positive associations and role models for these traits. I’m conflicted about it all, to say the least. But I have to ask myself, Where is it coming from?

Science Gets Weird

Scientists are just beginning to understand that our lifestyle leaves its mark not just on our bodies, but on our genes. Epigenetics is the fascinating idea that the genes you pass on are directly effected by your behavior.

Then there’s the weird concept of genetic memory. People have been found to have aversions that reflect experiences of their direct ancestors. So, what if dozens of generations of your ancestors lived pretty much the same lifestyle? Hypothetically, you could have strong temperamental leanings for that lifestyle, even if you had never done any of it.

Scientific American says, “Everything from perceptual phenomena to intuitive physics to social exchange rules comes with the brain. These things are not learned; they are innately structured.”

Is Philosophy Genetic?

None of this rules out free will. Just because we have an inkling to pursue something doesn’t mean we have to. Or that we can’t find success doing something else. And some people will have stronger expression of any given attribute than others. Just like any physical trait you can think of.

Bored Operator

Another double standard rooted in unconscious bias? How boring!

I wonder if our stubborn refusal to accept the mind as an outgrowth of the body is causing us to overlook a potentially very fruitful field of psychology. If we have genetic code for our minds as well as our bodies, understanding this could lead to amazing shortcuts in treatments and development.

This idea is not controversial when searching for the genetic components of cancer, diabetes or autism.

Knowing what environments could trigger certain traits could bring a whole new vibrancy to education.

But to consciously harness the power of selection for good –

(This is NOT an endorsement of Eugenics! Traits are just traits, people don’t need Official Help finding partners, and race is not a real thing 😁)

– We have to accept that we are animals, too. Not holding my breath on that one.