I walked out of my high school history class one day because I was tired of learning about men and the wars they started and the countries they “discovered” by taking them from other people when they weren’t paying attention. If that’s “discovery,” then my sister discovered my clothes every week when we shared a room growing up together.
Even at the ripe old age of 16, I knew that if women made up half the population, they surely must have contributed something more to the world than birthing babies, tending to men’s battle wounds, and dressing up purty in whorehouses. But the Texas educational system surely did not want me to find out what those contributions were ‘cuz I might get uppity and refuse to bring my future husband a future beer.
Fast forward to today when I decide to take a break from digging up crabgrass in my yard, so I turn on the Discovery Channel, only to find a marathon about extraterrestials and how they may be behind most of the bright scientific and artistic minds throughout the ages… and every example of those bright scientific and artistic minds was male. This contrasts nicely with a printout on my desk right now from WomenRockScience.tumblr.com that highlights women who made remarkable scientific discoveries only to have them co-opted by men who decided he who has the testicles gets to win the Nobel Prize.
Other than men taking credit where none is due and men controlling the media for millenia, is there any other reason women don’t show up as history makers? I think there is: uncomfortable clothing.
Throughout history, women were in so much fashion-related pain, it was hard to remember where they lived, much less take over a government or develop a plan for landing on the moon. Yes, I realize that in the past men also occasionally dressed uncomfortably but most of the painful outfits and accessories are saved for women. Think bustle so large women couldn’t sit down, corset laced so tightly that the act of breathing was as challenging as sucking a strawberry through a straw, girdle, hoop skirt, skinny jeans so tight it took a stick of butter to get them zipped, crinoline cage (that’s right, cage), thong panty, and 6″ stiletto heel (or as I call them, training stilts.)
Yes, it’s true that women have often chosen these stupid options for themselves, but most were invented by men and the media helped perpetuate the myth that the only way women could be considered feminine was to also be weak and unable to get from point A to point B without stabbing pain, likely heart attack, or scaring the horses. Even today in our so-called enlightened and more gender-equivalent society, the thing most women do when returning home from work or a social event is to strip off the Spanx and breathe and kick off the heels and slip into an actual shoe meant for walking.
If the members of one gender have been brainwashed to think that they must be uncomfortable at all times in order to be considered attractive and socially acceptable, they aren’t going to accomplish as much as if they were wearing, say, sweat pants and sneakers. There’s a reason Wendy Davis didn’t wear heels to deliver her filibuster in Texas: She knew that women with barking dogs don’t get anywhere.
The next time you go shopping for something pretty, ask yourself, “Can I run up the stairs of the Capitol building in this? Will I be so preoccupied by the pain it causes that within a few hours I’ll be dying to go home and put on my robe? Will it scare the horses or will it scare the men with whom I can now compete on an even and more comfortable playing field?”