Monday, June 02, 2008

How I became a feminist

I have a history, you know. I'm not much into feminism for deep philosophical reasons that go beyond the everyday situations. I'm cynical, practical and lazy.
When I was around 16, I was as stupid as one can be at that age. One of the sypmtoms was that I wanted to be a good girl. I received regular doses of brain bleach from my parents. Among others, I was constantly being persuaded that I should change my clothing style, that I shouldn't dress (and be, for that matter) such a tomboy, that I'm a young lady and I should behave like one.
In the views of my mother, a young lady
(1) walks slowly in tiny steps
(2) doesn't use any deodorants because young ladies don't sweat at all
(3) dresses neatly in skirts, blouses, business suits, dresses and such
(4) wears pretty shoes, such as high-heeled pumps. Narrow shoes.
(5) doesn't waste her time in useless activities, such as reading, listening to classical music, painting and going to see strange intellectual movies to the Film Studies department at the local university.

I wasn't a young lady because:
(1) I walked neither slowly nor in small steps. I found that boring and useless, especially when I walked because I wanted to get from point A to point B, not for sightseeing. And, it's more efficient to make long steps, one needs less of them
(2) I sweat a lot and without using a deodorant, I simply stink. I was the same when I was sixteen. I preferred not to stink, it complicates social life, if nothing else.*
(3) Jeans and a hoodie, thanks.
(4) I wore birks. Or sneakers. Or anything big enough for my feet. I sensed some inherent logic in that.
(5) That's insane. Just insane.

I was however a good girl who wanted to make everyone happy. Or at least I was like that until my nervous breakdown, then I changed my general opinion on the humankind. So I decided that I might give it a try and let myself be persuaded to get some clothes my mother considered pretty. Including some high heels.
I stumbled, I got blisters, I cursed, I swore. I was told that all that stuff suits me. I wasn't sure but I wanted to please mommy and daddy.

Did I mention that I have big feet? And wide? No? Well, I have big and wide feet. For whatever reason, all things high-heeled are made for someone with narrow feet. There are not many shoes that I can put on and of those, not many actually fit. I'm quite heavy* so high heels are uncomfortable to me.
In no time, my transverse arches collapsed, I got bunions and my arthritis in the little toe joints started probably at that point. It hurt, too. Not speaking of practical things - one cannot walk while wearing high heels. Maybe I looked like a young lady but I wasn't finding any pleasure in it.

After some pondering, I decided that it's not fair. That I want to have a life, life with normal things like running, jumping down half a flight of stairs, climb over railings and any things that young urbanite may need. Neither can be done in pretty clothes and shoes. Guys can wear jeans and hoodies of nondescript colours and birks - why can't I? And why guys are allowed to have all the fun when girls must behave themselves? Or should the shape of genitals determine the shape of shoes worn by the individual? No, so what the hell, then?
Obviously, there were times of doubts. Maybe the world is right and I'm wrong. After all, the other girls wear high heels and don't complain about blisters and pain so it's normal to feel normal in high heels and I'm a freak - let's give it another try... and wrap my poor innocent toes in more plaster. Maybe the other girls use better plaster, maybe there's something I'm doing wrong? Maybe I have a bad attitude and something like breathing exercise or some fashionable branch of yoga could help?
At the end I decided that I might be a freak of nature but I'll be a freak without constant foot pain and bite the world. Much later I learned that dancing in pointe shoes actually isn't as painful as the legends say. It might well be the training in foot pain I had had when I was 16. Or maybe it's some Lamarckian genetics, my father doesn't feel pain in his burnt foot either.
I started to wear ugly orthopedic sandals again. Then, cute and fashionable orthopedic sandals appeared. The world didn't come to an end when I was wearing comfy shoes so I started more experimenting: Will the world collapse when I'll go and study Oriental studies instead something ladylike, such as accounting or law? Is the Apocalypse inevitable if I buy myself an Aalto vase instead of something useful? Will the mob lynch me if I show signs of independent thinking?
The general answer showed in due time and it was one big No. The world is still the way it is even when I'm becoming a scholar in something highly un-economic while wearing flat sandals with cushioned insole.
What makes me wonder, why there are still women who topple in their pretty but apparently uncomfortable stiletto sandals instead going and doing something? Are they trying to be good girls wondering whether anyone else feels the same pain? Or have they had so much brain bleach that they don't feel the pain in their feet nor the pain of wasting their lives on wasting their joints? Or is it that they just don't care that they cannot do such normal things like run, leap and dance?

Maybe I should have posted the gross pictures of my burn healing instead of wandering into the muddy waters of philosophy.

Labels: ,