Friday, April 29, 2011

Pop Quiz

Okay, Hellions***, it's time for a pop quiz. Read the following quotes and tell me who said them:

1) Leggings are not pants. Leggings are the dickeys of dresses/skirts/long tunics & tees.
2) All flesh-colored leggings should be outlawed.
3) Grey leggings should not be allowed at the gym because they show crotch sweat like whoa.


I support all of these observations. I love leggings, but they belong under a longer shirt.

a. Stacy London of What Not to Wear
b. A sexual predator excusing his behavior
c. A commenter at and a blogger at feministe

The correct answer is "c", though I'm sure Stacy has said those things and well, you'll see after the second part of this quiz.

Part 2 of the quiz, same question: who said this?

Ok, I have to ask, how often do people really wear leggings as pants pants? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in the wild, though I’ve seen a billion leggings under dresses and tunic-length tops. I hear it complained about a lot though.

Oh I see it a lot. Sunday morning in New York is a virtual camel show.

Is this the statement of:

a. a well known feminist blogger

b. a fashion commentator

c. a character in "Mean Girls"

Yeah, it's Jill again.

Well, here's the thing about Jill: she's a privileged, educated, well off white woman living in NYC. I don't think she knows jack shit about my life or how I live it. And I don't think Jill gets that feminism is about way more than what her and her privileged little clique experience. So when Jill tells me I just don't understand her thinky thoughts and I have no sense of humor*, well, Jill, you don't get my entire fucking life. And maybe you need to step away from the red wine and Burt's Bees (she can't live without it) and see how a very large number of women live.

Do I get mentally judgey when I see other women? Yeah. Because I live in this culture and I have absorbed that I am required to judge other women based on their attractiveness to men. (I rarely get mentally judgey about what men wear. It's the patriarchy, baby!) But I am aware of this and I work very hard not to do it. I stop my judgey thoughts and replace them with this: I sincerely hope she was happy with her outfit when she left the house this morning.

Because I rarely am.

I can only imagine, based on the above, what Jill would think upon seeing me in my frequently ill fitting, sagging, pilling, old and often inappropriate outfits. Like Tuesday, when it was 80F/27C. That's hot, especially in April. So I was wearing a flowery sundress, in a soft, crinkly cotton, with an empire waist and spaghetti straps. It's like wearing nothing at all**, this dress. I did put a cardigan over it at work, but, yeah, inappropriate for a law office. Probably also inappropriate for a 35 year old woman.

But you know what? I don't have any money and I have to buy clothes for work, and walking around in the heat and rain and snow, and clothes for doing yard work and running around after nieces and for days when my hands are so stiff buttons are a fucking puzzlebox. That's what it's like to be poor, Jill. You get to be inappropriate, in public, where other people can see you. And you know it. You know those people are looking at you and thinking ZOMG! Doesn't she know what she looks like?

Yeah, I do. I just can't do a damn thing about it. And Jill, you have no idea what it's like. None at all. So stop pretending the problem is me and my inability to understand your amazing thinky thoughts, and start trying to understand, in some small way, what it's like to lose.

And I have to wonder what Jill would think about her words coming out of the mouth of a man, especially a man who sexually assaulted a woman. I mean, look at the way she was dressed!

Yeah, I just don't understand your thinky thoughts. That's the problem.

*We call that a Scott Adams, btw. Yes, that is a link to feministe. Irony, it's a funny thing.

**Stupid sexy Flanders!

***Please, please, please let me call you that!


  1. I think that one of the things that gets me is that "inappropriate" is the word being used when the speaker really means "aesthetically unappealing to me."

    In my opinion, the term "inappropriate" should be reserved for describing situations or actions that demonstrate insensitivity and jackassery. But maybe that's just me.

  2. I thought one of the goals of feminism was to redefine "inappropriate" that way. I'm sorry leggings are not aesthetically pleasing to some people (and I would personally never wear leggings as pants, but that's a choice I make for me), but that doesn't necessarily make leggings "inappropriate".

    Inappropriate is interrupting a eulogy to take a nonemergency phone call. Inappropriate is grilling a pregnant woman on her eating habits. Inappropriate is not being fat or old or poor in public. Or, at least, it shouldn't be.

  3. As you say, there's a whole other iteration to what you can actually wear on a given day because of health issues. (I am all too intimately familiar with the "these buttons were clearly designed by engineers in Dante's Inferno" feeling and need to have "easy" clothing, a point that evidently doesn't enter into these people's thoughts other than as relates to motherhood, which is the sole perspective here, other than women also work. One more strike for working moms! They're slovenly!)

    Anyway, as annoyed as I am with Jill, I am even more appalled by the fricking New York Times running this kind of crap in the first place. With many people struggling to work 2 or 3 part-time jobs, getting no benefits, etc., I do not know what planet the NYT is on, but most people can barely pull it together to be civil, neat and on time. If a person needs be comfortable at work and on their commute, so be it. The issue of "aesthetics" is kind of lost in the need to simply get a job in this economy, you know?

    So Jill and the NYT can just keep their ZOMQF thoughts on elastic waistbands and jeggings to themselves, as far as I'm concerned. I cannot imagine your commute, for instance, in business wear (ladies suit, skirt or pants style, in the summer, and frankly, since I know your size and have another friend with a similar problem, cannot imagine how you're supposed to be affording business attire for five days a week, in that size (for anyone not in the know on this, petite sizes are extremely difficult to find in actual formal business wear because hey, slender, small women are, of course, all cute, perky and Forever21 and so they don't need to look really professional, right?) Oh, and let's not forget the dry cleaning costs of all that business attire, because these are largely clothes you cannot just pop into your neighborhood laundromat's machines. Yes indeedy, out of touch with reality much? That would be Jill and the NYT's correspondent, Taffy Broddesser-Akner, who wrote the original piece. (Do I actually recall Michael Kors sweatpants at $1000 mentioned in that piece and questioning whether they are okay to wear?) Anyway, something tells me that for a lot of people in an economy like this one, wardrobe considerations may be more along the lines of "is it clean, does it have no holes or stains, and can I transition to my night job in it, without having to change clothes in the ladies room."

    And hope your readers checked out Uzza's SlutWalk post about the slippery slope of dressing wrong? Wow, even dressy like a slut is probably just... asking for it. In fact, I really think Jill should just follow Uzza's whole blog as well as yours so she gets the perspective on feminism without that taint, I mean set of blinders, that limits to the focus to wealthy feminists.

  4. Her whole "my friend and I had a bet" comment really got me. I mean, really? You're not just covering your tracks to make it seem like you just stuck your foot in your mouth accidentally, as people do? It's okay to say the wrong thing, you know? I say unfortunate things ALL THE TIME. But I also try to understand why they were hurtful, once it's pointed out to me that they were. It's not very pretty when the people who are supposed to be on your side go immediately on the defensive.

    As I said in our email last night, fashion discussions tend to bother me when I can be reminded that they often boil down to the idea: whose gaze are you dressing for? So Jill can complain all she wants about seeing women's vulva outlined in leggings (true fact: I saw the outlines of a woman's vulva just yesterday... but she was wearing jeans), but Fleur has reminded me that the question ought not to be, "Why are you dressing like that?" Instead, it ought to be, "Why am I expected to dress to your gaze?"

  5. Like I said, I am not innocent in the judgey gaze game. I do it, too. But I also know that my judgey is a function of the patriarchy and classism and ageism and a few other isms I don't even want to think about, so I make a conscious effort to stop it.

    Really, why should you or anyone else dress to my gaze, or Jill's gaze or Stacy London's gaze or anyone's gaze but their own. What Not to Wear made me sad when I watched it, because unique individuals were turned into clones, week after week. There was never any difference in how any of those women looked by the end of the episode, every single week. Hair*, makeup, shoes, clothes, all the same. They started out different and ended up the same. And that's really sad.

    Sure, some of them were sad to dress the way they dressed, like I often am, but some of them were perfectly happy to wander around in tube tops and epic dreads or bright purple berets and fishnet stockings. What was wrong with that?

    *Don't even get me started about the fact that their hair stylist has one and only one hairstyle for curly haired women. Just the one. Sucks if you don't like it.

  6. I don't really understand this.

    I am also a hater of leggings as pants (I don't mind it if they have a shirt or skirt that covers their arse/front).

    I'll own it - I consider it a visual assault to see an anatomy grade outline of another women's vagina flaps in public (the camel toe as one says). But I don't want to see men in tights either - basically, I don't want to participate in seeing people's genitals in public.

    Why does this make me privileged? I'm Australian - is there something in America where only poor people wear tights? (Because here it crosses all social lines)

  7. So that’s the second moronic feminist blogger named Jill I’m aware of. (Who can forget the “spinster aunt” at I Blame the Patriarchy?)

    OT: Neat-o layout. I’m now hoping you’re able to resize pictures as well, so the larger ones stop getting chopped off by the sidebar. ;-)

  8. Yeah I don't get fashion nonsense, either you look good or you don't in either case if that is how you want to look good for you, if not well you should fix it.

    I think men do get judged a lot for what they wear, maybe it is just my region or even my circle of associates but I am aware of women judging mens outfits pretty frequently, usually men don't though. In fact it is usually women I hear judging other womens outfits. Most men I know could care less about the clothes as long as they find the woman wearing them attractive.

  9. so...

    i have to wonder how i'd be judged on that matrix? it's literally impossible for me to get dressed without help, so i... spend 95% of my time naked.

    no, really - not to go all TMI, but i am as of this exact moment lying in my bed NAKED.

    because i can't get dressed. and even if i get help, it hurts like fucking HELL TO get dressed, so unless someone that cares is comeing over [i.e. many people are now used to, or uncaring of, the fact that i'm naked. i only get dressed to stay here on the thursdays we game here, and ONLY because my players bring their two kids. if they didn't bring the kids, i'd probably not get dressed] or if i have to go somewhere.
    and, going somewhere is either a doctor or the OTHER thursday game, and for both i wear sweats or leggings. because they're the EASIEST and LEAST PAINFUL.

    ***i don't mind being called your Hellion, so long as you don't forget i'm Your Grand High Priestess and General of All Your Armies. speaking of, i've expanded the Lizbian Army to include those named "Bethany" so long as they act like proper Liz-es, and my dad has submutted an application to be Commander of Your 1st Airforce Flight [which would be an army, if it were ground troops] and i gotta say, no nepotism, he's got 28 years in the AF and retired a Senior Master Sergeant. also, he's awesome. :D

  10. Oh, yeah, I forgot to say SIGN ME UP FOR THE HELLIONS. :D

  11. I don't like the idea of leggings as pants: I think they'd be horrendously uncomfortable. If I wear anything that sits too tightly against my skin I start sweating. Maybe other people don't have that problem? And they also seem like they'd wear out quicker than trousers. Oh, and being easily embarrassed doesn't help: if I was wearing something like tights and anyone commented, it would cause an instantly fatal embarrasment-induced aneurysm. And that'd be kinda messy for people to deal with. But loose trousers or jeans, or cargo-shorts in the summer, look okay on anyone, and they're comfortable and (let me know if I'm being privilege blind) not too expensive, so I've not worn anything else since I left school.

    I have never, in 5 years of travelling on the train, seen the outlines of genetalia through clothing in public. I suspect this is because I do not look at strangers groins. So I have trouble sympathising with people who are offended by what they saw whilst staring at other peoples pelvic area's.

    I'll admit, I also judge based on clothing, but that's a temporary first impression and is overwritten by a second impression the moment I hear them speak. And I under no circumstances let either impression affect how I treat them if I have reason to interact with them.

    Example: old bloke in a flannelette shirt and shorts on the train. First impression: "bogan". But then I overheard a bit of the conversation he was having (subject: environmentalism and conservation), and revised it to "educated hippy".

  12. Quasar;

    you've never been sitting and looked up and saw nothing but a person's pelvic region?

    i think that's what the people commenting *here* are refering to - those times when it's all but impossible to NOT see someone's groin.

    on the other hand - if one is wearing underwear, i have NO CLUE how anyone could see anything, even an outline. i guess people aren't wearing underwear under leggings?

    [like i have any room to talk! i only wear underwear if i'm going to be wearing something - skirt or leggings or similar - where NOT wearing underwear would "show" too much. :D ]

    backing up: Jill is only clueless on a few topics. this happens to be one. in most areas, she's pretty cool - she understands intersectionality and tries to not let her privilege blind her. she fails sometimes - we all do.
    but... yeah, her fashion issues get on my nerves. it's why i don't go over, anymore, to her blog - if someone links something specific, yay, but i don't seek it out.

  13. you've never been sitting and looked up and saw nothing but a person's pelvic region?

    i think that's what the people commenting *here* are refering to - those times when it's all but impossible to NOT see someone's groin."

    I'm not sure. I realise that this must occur otherwise you guys wouldn't be describing it (alternative hypothesis: you're all members of the underground society of groin-afficionado's, observing and criticisng the fashions and trends of groin wear in this modern day and age and longing for the days when the cod-piece comes back into fashion), but I honestly can't think of a time it's ever happened to me.

    So, assuming I'm not just extremely lucky, either my eyes must just sorta slide past it in a glazed, out-of-focus kind-of way, or my brain automatically represses the memory the moment I look away. Most likely the former: I avidly avoid looking at other people on the train, so my eyes drift from 'safe spot' to safe spot without focusing on what's in between.

  14. Quasar;

    except in *very* specific situations, i certainly don't seek OUT someone's groin area :D

    [one of those is obvious - the other? i used to work as a Domme; there was always the "getting dressed" period of time where we checked things like "nipples are INSIDE the corset" and "no, we can't ACTUALLY see anything under that skimpy rag you call a skirt" and even sometimes "nope, no extra lips showing". ]

    so - i guess you've got either your eyes or your brain well-trained - lucky you :D

  15. I don't really understand this.

    - that seems obvious

    I am also a hater of leggings as pants (I don't mind it if they have a shirt or skirt that covers their arse/front).

    - Are there any other rules you have for what strangers are allowed to wear in your presence?

    I'll own it - I consider it a visual assault to see an anatomy grade outline of another women's vagina flaps in public (the camel toe as one says). But I don't want to see men in tights either - basically, I don't want to participate in seeing people's genitals in public.

    - visual assault? Really? Maybe you should stop looking at vaginas. Just an idea? Are all tight pants out of the question? Can you handle going to a public pool? You must absolutely shit yourself when you see people in their togs. Maybe we could all just cover ourselves head to toe lest out horrible genitalia 'assault' you.

    Why does this make me privileged? I'm Australian - is there something in America where only poor people wear tights? (Because here it crosses all social lines)

    - Fucking Hell. Privilege 101. Google it. And it's not about "poor people" wearing tights you jerk.

    Aghhhh! I have no opinion on tights because I have this ridiculous idea that people should be able to wear whatever the fuck they want. But FUCK this debate turns people into such assholes. As a feminist I cannot understand how other feminists can say such bullshit - what happened to choice? Women can't dress how they want to now? FFS. Anyone who gets upset about a woman wearing tights is a fuckwit. I can't put it politely.


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