Friday, June 18, 2004

Coming up man-sized

I think most people have heard of the economic theory that bases itself on the seams on girls’ skirts. Just to recapture; the idea is that in good times, women will wear shorter dresses and when money is tight (on a worldwide basis), skirts will get closer to the ground, probably to depress people more. The classic example is the 60’s which spawned the mini and the downfall and oil crisis of the 70’s that had long knitted skirts all over the place.
The other day, I heard another theory that works from women’s clothes or, in this case, the ideal that clothes are made to accentuate. It described about how the focus on different parts of the woman’s body shifted along with the general political opinion. In a liberal society focus would be on parts that don’t have a direct influence on women’s fertility, like breasts. However, when the needle turned towards conservative, people would start to look a bit more on the hips and bum, because wide hips are childbearing hips and in a conservative society, women are there to bear children.
You see this in Victorian times with their corsets and you see it just after WWII with things like Christian Dior’s New Look. You also see it right now, though, when you don’t hear as much about, say, Pamela’s breasts (and, yes, I realize that’s also because they’re old news) as you do about J.Lo or Kylie’s derrières.

You probably shouldn’t read too much into this sort of simplification of reality, but apart from the obvious turn towards more conservative values that has taken place in the wake of September 11th, I sometimes think it’s as if the way we perceive women has also changed a lot (I’m sure the way we look at men has changed too, but maybe I tend to not notice as much). In general, I think a sort (mild) misogyny is being accepted a lot more than just 5 years ago. You see and hear crude generalisations of women and it’s more ok to insinuate that all women do things the same particularly feminine way and that way is crap. We’re cranky all the time, we’re stupid, we’re not funny, we listen to crap music, we make crap music, we write crap books, make crap movies, watch crap movies and, by the way, we’re infesting the educational system with our crap values and if there is a rise in crime, that’s our fault, too, because all the female kindergarten teachers aren’t teaching the boys how to be masculine.
Furthermore, we have other women turning on us with Mommy-ism, explaining how we are terrible people for not dedicating ourselves completely to the hausfrau-role when we have children, completely forgetting that the housewife existed for something like two seconds in history, and she was miserable in both of them. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a fair enough choice to want to be at home with your children; what ticks me off is when women who don't choose this way of life are regarded as bad mothers and/or less feminine.

I don’t actually have a point or a Germaine Greer-approved solution (I wouldn’t want one, either) and I realize that I’m deducting a lot out of J.Lo’s arse. Maybe I should just concentrate on keeping my skirt on the knee and thus doing my bit for stability. And then again, no. I think stability is overrated anyway. Call it a mood swing.