Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pretty Lady's Position on High Heels

Teetering and unstable, darlings, is always counterproductive. Even if it were not for an ancient injury, which makes high heels an exceedingly unwise option for Pretty Lady, she would largely eschew them by virtue of the fact that she lives in New York. If one lives in New York and has not the resources to take cabs everywhere one goes, even one block, the wearing of high heels is an indicator of either madness or masochism. Pretty Lady wears Furry Boots in winter, and Fetching Sandals or Funky Walkers in summer.

This does not mean that she does not enjoy the wondrously Dominant feeling of towering over the masses, on the rare occasions when she finds and dons a pair of heels which are both comfortable and appropriate to the occasion. Indeed, during one distressing bout with plantar fasciitis, a certain pair of high-heeled boots was instrumental to both her physical and emotional recovery from her hobbled state.

Thus, Pretty Lady is sorry to say that she must take her Nemesis to task once again, upon issues both trivial and grand, incisively as these issues are couched.

Look, claiming to love your high heels because they appeal to you in some comprehensively objective, lofty aesthetic sense, separated by a million brilliant intellectual miles from the culture of femininity that spawned’em, is a cop out....Women whose continued existence depends on capitulation to the feminine directive will get no argument from me. I often use “survival skill” as a synonym for femininity. The structure of patriarchy, which places anyone with a vagina in a continuum of femininity whether they like it or not, is such that the daily opportunities for self-deception and self-betrayal are mucho, relentless, and — with a frequency that depends on class, skin color, and proximity to domineering male godbags, drunks, and pervs — often unavoidable.
Pretty Lady says, hmph.

Once upon a time, when she was young and foolish, Pretty Lady met the Frenchman, in a café, for a trial coffee (as per the Rules.) Her initial impression of him was that he would do. (Lest this sound like an underwhelming recommendation, let it be known that Pretty Lady's impression of 99.8% of males she has encountered in this lifetime is that they Won't Do, for her at any rate. She is not judging these gentlemen in any way; she is simply persnickety.)

She almost fled, however, when he näively announced that he was looking for a 'feminine' woman.

If Pretty Lady had been just a wee bit younger, she would have leapt down his throat. "What do you mean by that?" she would have declared, aggressively. "Do you mean that you want a woman who is passive, agreeable, namby-pamby, and helpless? You think you're such hot shit? You want someone with no brain and no opinions, who will defer to your dominant masculinity in everything? Up yours, asshole!"

Thus might have spoken the Young Pretty Lady. And she would have missed out on a quite staggeringly enormous amount of fun.

Thankfully, the slightly older Pretty Lady decided to chalk his conversational faux pas up to cultural differences, and suspend judgment until she got to know him better. Also, he called later that week and invited her skiing, all expenses paid.

Gradually, as she chatted with the Frenchman on ski lifts, and in top-flight restaurants, and over bottles of exquisite claret in the penthouse overlooking downtown San Francisco, she came to understand what he meant by 'feminine.' He meant 'feminine.' Graceful, courteous, kind, nurturing, unflappable, engaging, adventurous, versatile, easygoing, expressive, charming, and lovely, in other words. The notion of passivity, stupidity or helpless dependency as attached to these characteristics had never even occurred to him.

In fact, as time went by, it became clear that although the Frenchman may have initially been attracted by Pretty Lady's prettiness (though even this is in doubt. He confessed, years later, that he couldn't make out the photograph terribly well on his monitor), what kept him around, and what nearly drove him to distraction when Pretty Lady decided, regretfully, that he wouldn't quite do after all, were her characteristics of (she blushes to admit) brilliance, creativity, initiative, confidence, independence, and leadership.

For example, when she performed a spontaneous solo thrash-belly-breakdance at a club in San Francisco, he chortlingly embraced her in a state of high excitement, declaring, "I was very proud to be your man this evening." When she cheerfully discussed art, politics, economics and religion at his friend's bungalow in Nice, he stated, "You outshone those other pathetic little women by an order of magnitude." When she picked up and moved to another country, in order to think things through, he threw a few tantrums, then decided that this was a splendid idea, and invited her motorcycling around the world.

It is most important to understand that if Pretty Lady had succumbed to psychological passivity, helplessness, or dependency at any point, this relationship would have been toast much sooner, and not in a good way. Pretty Lady's rock-solid internal confidence and self-esteem were what carried the day. Her proof of this was when the Frenchman came to her, hat in hand, bearing the physiological signs of extreme distress, and declared, "You know when you said that you are an extraordinary person, completely unique, and that if I don't love you exactly the way you are, then somebody else will? WELL, IT'S TRUE."

So there.

You see, my dearest most misguided Twisty, 'femininity' is neither a negative, nor a characteristic defined solely by its opposite. It is also only incidentally and superficially associated with aesthetics. True femininity is a positive force of grace and power which may well be inborn, but which must also be nurtured with all the powers of discipline and intellect at one's disposal, in order to make us capable of moving mountains and healing the world. Mere brute aggression quails and capitulates at the slightest whisper of mature feminine nature.

Also, indulging one's genuine aesthetic attractions for the shiny, the lacy and the hyperbolically flowery can be an almost indecent amount of fun. ;-)


Anonymous said...

I married a girly-girl, but helpless, passive, etc., she is not. I wouldn't really want it any other way, although it can be the source of many a spat. We both have a lot to learn about that whole Biblical thing - submit to one another, love as Christ loved the church, etc.
But I would never want a submissive woman who needs me to do her thinking for her. She's my helpmate, my partner, and that's how it should be.

Anonymous said...

I have never understood the animosity from feminist women towards women who do not buy into the pantsuit, short-haired ideal that many feminists cultivate. I have heard more than one catty comment from the Birkenstock wing towards the nubile redhead over in Contracts simply because her hair is mid-back length and she wears skirts. This woman often wears what I call the "uniform" of corporate America, dark blue shirt, black skirt and black jacket with modest heels - and is frequently insulted behind her back because she won't wear cargo fatigue pants and ugly Ho Chi Minh sandals with no makeup and steel-frame John Lennon glasses.

Why is it any of their business how a woman dresses? If you prefer the Chairman Mao aesthetic, wonderful. If you want to look like Catherine Zeta Jones, it should be your concern, and only yours. Feminists always yell "keep your laws off my body", and it would be refreshing for them to follow their own dictates.

Is this behavior the whole "pretty girl vs. ugly girl" thing writ large? It's curious to me that the primary spokeswoman for the leftist movement, Susan Sarandon - built her career on playing smoldering sexpots and even in her sixties still has a certain sultriness to her that allows her to remain in the casting pool where many of her similarly aged fellow actresses are now retired, involuntarily. Still, I don't see vitriolic screeds on the blogosphere when she wears heels to a premiere, or a short skirt on Letterman.

Some of these people would do well to realize they are their own worst enemy.


Anonymous said...

I think you could throw a group of women in a work place dressed identically and they'd still be ripping eachother's throats out.
(I'm not exactly sure of the reason but that's because I'm a man...)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, as always. While trying to envision what exactly a "slam-belly-break dance" looked like, I realized that this may very well be how I dance at rockabilly shows.

I'm nobody's idea of a militant feminist, but I was looking forward to the social experiment of raising my daughter with no gender role expectations, most especially because she is, quite honestly, going to be breathtaking when she grows up. She has already shown very clearly that yes, she is going to be a girly girl, and that yes, she is also going to prefer playing with the boys, and perhaps a bit frustrated when they won't play dress-up or dolls with her. Because although she spends most of her days in exhuberant and often daredevil physical activity, she *is* a girl, and feminine at heart. She's fascinated by makeup, dress-up, anything fluffy or shiny or sparkly. She stomps around the house in my pink kitten heels, and eschews my Docs. It's awesome, because at this point in her childhood she is equally engaged by rhinestones and tarantulas. I hope she never buys into the myth that she can have one or the other, but not both.

Anonymous said...

As for women in the workplace---yup. We can't help ourselves. Or at least, we can't until we grow up and stop viewing everything with a vagina as a potential rival and therefore needing to size her up and crow when we find imperfection, and most of us never, ever grow up that much.

Pretty Lady said...

Crom, Invid, Mitzibel--it is, tragically, too true that women can be ridiculously competitive in the most self-destructive ways. I believe that this is because we are territorial, not hierarchical; thus the struggles never end, because no order of precedence is ever established. In fact, if any female demonstrates a decided flair which appears to to give her an unfair advantage over others, this is considered grounds for universal condemnation by the female mafia.

This sort of behavior is not specific to feminists, anti-feminists, non-feminists, or no-opinion females. The only dividing line, as Mitzibel so correctly points out, is maturity.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend with three women in his house. (I won't call them wives because they don't like that title, and it's hardly a government sanctioned relationship.) I've heard a lot of women rant about what pathetic push-overs polygynous women must be, but that is the opposite of my experience. I have nothing but respect for these women, because they are strong, independent, and capable, yet have managed to learn to live peacefully--even lovingly--under the same roof.

belledame222 said...

"You can never have too many hats, gloves, or nemeses," is my new motto.

thanks for this...

The Aardvark said...

Shown up by only ONE order of magnitude?

You must have had an off day.

So happy to have you back!

Pretty Lady said...

You must have had an off day.

Well, I'm a lot less witty in French. ;-)

Kel-Bell said...

I followed this thread over at Twisty's, and must say, I do not disagree with you.

I believe the comment I left over there was something along the lines of

"Twisty Faster and Eddie Izzard debate high heels and lipstick on the next Oprah."

My point being, the heels themselves are not the problem. It's the intent of the wearer and watcher that counts.

Intent is everything.

But I think its good to talk about it, because a lot of young women get sucked into the whole cosmo glamor thing for all the wrong reasons.

Pretty Lady said...

It's the intent of the wearer and watcher that counts.

Darling, my contention is that since it is never possible to exercise the smallest smidgen of control over the intention, if not the reaction, of the watcher, then one must only ascertain that one's own intention is to sartorially express the maximum truth about oneself, in any particular moment.

If Pretty Lady feels gypsy-ish today, she joyfully dons the gypsy aesthetic. If she feels serious, pragmatic and outdoorsy, she pulls on the Ulu boots, jeans and Ecuadoran hooded sweater. It is extremely simple, infinitely enjoyable, and only fraught with sociopolitical complications if Pretty Lady herself chooses to burden herself with such.


Arielle said...

Territorial and not hierarchical

Never thought of it that way before, but I'd say you're correct.

Unknown said...

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