Women Who Seek to be Equal to Men


Shoes and Dress c/o Wild Doll
 One Saturday evening, while sitting across the table from my boyfriend at Bistro 29 (and wearing this dress), I found myself staring at a co-ed bathroom sign. Without thinking I blurted “I think the (second wave) feminist movement was rather backwards.” He blinked. “Think about it,” I continued. “fashion-wise, women sought to become equal with men by foregoing skirts, they broadened out their shoulders with shoulder pads, wore pants suits, some cut their hair short, all in attempts to level the playing field. They sought out more unisex fashions, which for most translated into dressing more like a man.” “But if they sought a more unisex style, how was that dressing like a man?” He asked.

Why didn’t feminists in their unisex-treat-me-like-an-equal fashions instead ask men to wear skirts? Why weren’t their skirts and accentuated waistlines good enough? Why did female fashion automatically become the thing that had to go? Why were men and their fashions automatically deemed the standard that was to be upheld? How is it in the movement’s fight to be treated equally, they instead ended up agreeing with the very thing they were trying to fight?” “How so?” “They had been told that as women, they would never make it in the workplace the same way men had... And they responded by emptying their closets, by foregoing their skirts, and dressing like a man. They believed them. They believed that as women they wouldn’t make it: but as “men” they would. It’s backwards.

“Well, men would never wear skirts to work.”
Which is a shame. Because it’s all about the skirt.” I responded.

From the 3 waves of feminism, along with the two movements that would follow: post-feminism and post-structuralism, what stands out to me the most is the skirt. 


In the first wave of feminism during WWI, many men were away at war and women in response left their homes and entered into the workforce. By entering the workforce women took on assignments traditionally held as “a man’s job” proving that gender in the workforce didn’t have to be a divide. They fought for property rights, voting rights and gender equality. They also did this in ankle grazing skirts. It wouldn’t be until the Great Depression that hemlines would be drastically raised. 





As a movement second wave feminists fought for equal footing - to no longer be the “other” in a male dominated society. They fought to change marriage rape laws, for their reproductive rights, and for equal pay in the workplace. By the 1960’s the golden age of the American Dream was fading for the white blue collar families, and women were more than ready to shed their roles as domesticated patrons of the home. During the second wave, skirt hems had risen by nearly two feet, and by the mid 1970’s, skirts for women were no longer considered “de rigeur”. Pants were an acceptable part of women’s attire. The skirt was obsolete. 


The third wave of feminism I understand to embody everything that the Spice Girls came to represent in the 1990’s: girl power, the celebration of multicultural female identity, and the return of the skirt. The skirt made it's return however, in a dizzying array of vagina grazing lengths. Samantha Jones from Sex and the City also makes the perfect poster child for the moment. Her celebration of sexuality, while still taking herself seriously as a career woman and demanding respect from others is a forefront of the movement that still continues today. For third wave feminism, the skirt - whether it is worn or not, whether it is maxi or mini, no longer seemed to matter. 



Whereas the first three waves of feminism fought for equal power, Postfeminism acknowledges that yes the power is there should they choose to have it. The CEO position is theirs to have should they choose, but the “burden of power” is heavy, and they’d much rather be able to choose when and where they’d like to have it. Postfeminism wants to wear the skirt. Postfeminism desires to be barefoot and pregnant, and baking in the kitchen; it prefers to walk a day in Anastasia Steele’s submissive heels, and not be judged or deemed 'lesser' for it.

I find myself somewhere between the third wave, and the postfeminism movement. I see nothing wrong with owning two degrees, and also being able to cook a 6 course meal (entire Thanksgiving meal cooked by yours truly, every year). Which movement of feminism do you relate to most? Do you consider yourself a feminist? 

"Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition." - Marilyn Monroe
 

8 comments

Chris said...

haha good one!
and about the organic products...I hear you! :D I'm a sucker for marketing too :/ But I'll still keep trying!! ;)
xoxo

Swarnali said...

I think, I personally relate to the third wave the most. Love this post...looking forward to more of these :)
I love that blue dress (I guess I missed the post in the past). The back is gorgeous :) The shoes in the first picture here are gorgeous as well :)

sowenswrites.com said...

Your post is so, so true. I think that a part of the problem with "postfeminism" now is that we judge other women for what their choices are. The attire of a woman, etc. should never have come into play to equalize us with men. I definitely consider myself a feminist, but I believe that as women we should be able to do and choose whatever we want to, whether that's related to attire, career, family life, and whether or not we want to be a mom, or a career mom, or not a mom at all.

I really enjoyed your post. I feel like you hit the nail on the head.

Shybiker said...

I learned about feminist theory in the early 1980s and was involved in feminist activism back then for two decades. Sexual oppression permeates everything in society, including fashion, and is surprisingly complex. The more one learns about this, the clearer things become.

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

I think similarly to you - why not wear a gorgeous skirt , have the ability to cook splendidly, and choose where you direct your power/ efforts?


xoxo,
Chic 'n Cheap Living

Movies on my Mind said...

Hmm, isn’t this the era where one needn’t declare themselves feminists? I mean, the post-war society often consists of men that were single handed raised by women; where the paterfamilias was often missing in action. Aren’t we all feminists now?

Then I hear about the case in Ohio of a man accused of kidnapping three girls for a decade; I hear about the war on women in India consisting or institutional rapes and acid attacks; I hear of women being stoned to death in Middle-East nations for alleged adultery - at which point one realises things are kind of bleak still for women across the world.

When I was 17 I read essays by Canadian radical feminist Shulamith Firestone and found her thoughts slightly unnerving, but at that age I loved reading about radical ideas. I still do because I’m British and we revel in that kind of stuff. I am older now but still think that current ideologies pertaining to feminism ought to be less Carrie Bradshaw and more Germaine Greer, but that’s just me.

I love it when you demonstrate your wide ranging intellectual faculties, Amber. Do it more often please.

NoodleBib said...

next time I come over could I see those pretty shoes? please, thank you Amber ~

Amber said...

Yes! But first, and perhaps most importantly, who are you? Hahaa

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