Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vintage Fashion: Reaction to a Girls Gone Wild Culture?


Inspired by our earlier discussion about vintage sewing and gender politics, I've been reading a very interesting book called Female Chauvinist Pigs: the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy.

Levy outlines what she refers to as our current "raunch culture:" a culture in which women are just as eager to participate in the objectification of women as men are. Cases in point: Girls Gone Wild (videos in which girls on spring break excitedly flash the camera while drunk), cardio striptease classes, grown women wearing baby tees adorned with the Playboy bunny, and so on. Just a couple weeks ago, there was a post on Jezebel.com about a new line of girls' t-shirts from Hollister, which have "sassy" slogans such as "the twins are quite a handful." (Written across the breasts, of course. Get it? Twins? Handful? Ugh.)

Levy is befuddled that women seem to think that participating in raunch culture is fun and harmless, as well as a strategy for empowerment. She asserts the intriguing argument that unresolved issues of the feminist movement of the seventies (aka the "porn wars") led to this current state of confusion.

So. What does this have to do with vintage sewing? A lot, I think. I started to wonder if a return to vintage fashions signifies, in some ways, a return to a sense of propriety. In other words, by wearing 50's fashions (which can be sexy but aren't overtly sexual) am I displaying my unwillingness to participate in raunch culture?

Or is dressing vintage just another side of the same coin? Think about it: girls who wear the Playboy symbol on clothing and jewelry most likely think that they come across as sassy and fun-loving. But the danger is that they are ignoring the very real oppressive history of this symbol. (After all, as Levy points out, Hugh Hefner chose the bunny as his trademark because the sweet, uncomplicated animal represented the ideal woman to him.) But are those who enjoy vintage fashions ignoring the very real roots of those girdled, dark times for women?

And lord knows, images of the 50's can be as sexualized as they come: just do a Google search for "fifties housewife," and you'll see what I mean. (An instance is the "sexy 1950's housewife costume" you can buy here, spatula included.)

In any case, I do think there's an idea here. That by eschewing Hollister and sewing my own clothes (from vintage patterns or otherwise), I can forge my own path and not feel represented by logos or brands that stand for things I find abhorrent.

Anyway, I know you ladies will have brilliant and diverse insights on this. Let's hear them, please!

37 comments:

  1. Firstly, can I say I have been following your blog for a few weeks now and it's gorgeous. Well done.
    Yes, I agree with the premise of the book, it IS rife in our society that woman think that empowerment means pandering to the lowest common denominator. It's as if 'out-ladding the lads' is seen as a feminist statement, which I don't think it is. I DO think that the return to vintage clothing IS a reaction to this and not (as some may posit), a need to return to 'old fashioned' values of housewifery.
    Clothes back then were feminine but without the need to draw attention to the obvious and I think this is part of the appeal.

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  2. I can't imagine ever flashing someone for girls gone wild, Mardigras, or otherwise, and I think that's pretty gross. Still, I do think it's important and empowering for women to take charge of their own sexuality rather than living by the old saying "lie back and think of England." For a modern woman, I think that vintage style is a good compmromise because it is seen today as attractive and feminine but not objectifying.

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  3. I think the book's premise is sound, but I don't think it has much to do with vintage sewing. After all, vintage clothing and patterns have been cool with one crowd or another since the mid-80s. (Cool enough that by the mid-90s, vintage became incredibly expensive!) That's a long time for something to be consistently popular, and I don't think any explanation of the day is really valid.

    I think if there is a real rise (and not just an apparent one because everyone's online and talking about) that it's because of two things:

    1. a general rise in sewing, which is certainly going on. Vintage patterns are just drafted so much better than modern ones -- most people I've known seem to end up moving towards vintage and european patterns if they sew for any length of time.

    2. Mad Men, which has finally pushed mid-century stuff into the general popular culture. While I've always known lots people who wore vintage, now it seems like *everyone* is interested in it.

    Really that's all I think it is. I doubt many people are sewing/buying/wearing vintage with any thought about making a statement of any kind. Surely some people are, but I doubt it's got much to do with it trending right now.

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  4. There is a fantastic book called DIY lo-fi culture by Amy Spencer, which comments on the rise of 90s bands creating and distributing their own music independently, and the reasons behind this cultural change. I think it parallels well with this discussion! Sewing and vintage fashion is a way of straying from the more common 'girls gone wild culture' and signifies that a lot of women are not content with this cultural experience put before them. By buying vintage, making our own clothes, determining what WE perceive as beauty and fashion we are creating our own alternative culture and participating in that instead. For this reason, i think that we are truely embracing the spirit of DIY.! x

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  5. I'm not sure I have anything intelligent to add, but I wanted to thank you Gertie for bringing this up, and thank your readers for their thoughtful input. Interesting discussion and well put with "raunch" culture. I'd never thought of it that way. I'm going to see if my local library has the book by Levy.

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  6. I just finished university and, wow. Getting attention from guys is the driving force in many twentysomething girls' lives. And now, to get that attention, you have to be willing to flash the "twins" or show up to a club in little more than an elastic band.

    I won't wear a bejewelled bra with a playboy pendant around my neck. So thanks, Gertie, for giving me some inspiration (I'm about 1/2 way through the gathered skirt!)

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  7. I loved this post. My husband and I have been talking ourselves blue in the face about this issue. We have a daughter and I worry all the time about where our culture is leading us. Every time, I turn on the radio or watch the tv (which is very rare) I'm just assaulted but the objectification of women. I find it quite alarming because it seems that the trend is accelerating. It scares me to see the blatant disregard for the beauty and respect of that which is Woman.

    I think that there is a correlation into making vintage fashions and going against what most of society is finding 'normal' right now. Its true that some vintage fashions can be seen as sexual in their own right but I also believe that it's not so much about the fashions but wanting to go back to a time when women seemed to respect themselves more and their roles in society. I don't mean to say we need to all go back to being barefoot in the kitchen but it seems that there is a trend lately of women wanting to get back to that basic theme. Of not wanting to compete with men anymore to climb the corporate ladder but feeling like the 'home' is being neglected and trying to find a way to get back to that while still having it all. (ie. rise in homeschooling, the craft movement, homemaking and the like).

    I think many women are starting to realize that it's ok to want to stay home and take care of their families but they still want to be taken seriously as an important member of society. I might be rambling but hopefully you can get my drift. I think it’s so important that there are people in society like us who can keep the balance because I fear of it tipping completely over to the next side everyday.

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  8. Hello Gertie!

    What a refreshing post. I have felt this way for a long time. It makes me sad to see women degrade themselves physically and sexually by being easy and provocotive, believing that this is true freedom and liberty.

    What a lot of women do not realize is that we have incredible power in our modesty. When we throw modesty out the window we throw that power, integrity, and mystery out with it. Nowadays the word "modesty" has such negative connotations (prairie dresses and jumpers come to mind) but I think women in our culture would be wise to reclaim the word and make it into something lovely and feminine again.

    Another great book on this is Carolyn McCully's "Radical Womanhood". A friend and I have been reading through this together---whew! Good stuff.

    Thanks for the post!
    ~Bess

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  9. What a great post!

    I haven't read this book (yet), but my impression is that the problem with "raunch culture" is that young women are participating in patriarchal, demeaning, male-oriented constructions of female sexuality. And it's being disguised as "empowering," though it has little to do with women's desires and everything to do with performing for men.

    I totally see the value in that argument, though it makes me a little uncomfortable because it sounds a lot like the sort of anti-sex rhetoric that alienated a lot of young women from second wave feminism (e.g. the "porn wars").

    But anyway, it seems to me that it isn't a new problem, just a symptom of a very old one: women defining themselves and their sexuality SOLELY in terms of male desire. In this case, an overblown, cartoonish version of male desire.

    Maybe the most important thing is that, no matter how you choose to present yourself, that it's done with awareness and understanding. I don't think you can disentangle male desire from most women's identities, but you can definitely understand the role it plays.

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  10. Quite an American subject today, for many reasons my point of view wouldn't be very relevant, even if I remember reading an interview of Levy when the book was published and finding it interesting.
    One thing I can say, though: The girls and women I see going against mainstream trend, even if it refers to an oppressive era, generally have a point of view about feminist issues, which is not always the case with the ones following the trend, be it über-sexy or not.

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  11. Sarai said: "...my impression is that the problem with "raunch culture" is that young women are participating in patriarchal, demeaning, male-oriented constructions of female sexuality. And it's being disguised as "empowering," though it has little to do with women's desires and everything to do with performing for men...."

    This is exactly how I feel as well, only I couldn't say it so well. To me it seems the opposite of feminist or having a sense of self-worth and personal dignity.

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  12. We'll know that men and women are equal when Girls Gone Wild doesn't exist any more. Those silly girls would never think of getting attention that way, it would embarrass them...but that's for the future. I love making vintage styles fit modern lifestyles. The styles empower women more than tight tshirts do.

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  13. Gertie, thank you for the great blog, and the great discussions! All the points I see here are valid, but I also think it can just come down to taste. Do I want to look like common and cheap, or do I want to look like a (SMOKIN' HOT) lady?
    Carlotta, you say this is an American topic; I'd be very interested in hearing an opinion from another country.
    -Sandra

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  14. Have so many thoughts but can't articulate... Am loving reading from others though! Great stuff!

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  15. To a point, dressing vintage for me does have a slight element of eschewing modern culture, and it's not about mini skirts or deep, deep v-neck tees. For me it is about the problem I see in popular society's values and (non-)standards.

    But mostly, just like in the last post, it is about this woman doing and dressing however she wants. I don't want my outfit to be politicized, I don't want to represent anyone, I just want to dress in the way I enjoy without it carrying some psychological meaning.

    I agree with one of the first comments that it is important for every woman not to be afraid of expressing and taking charge of their sexuality. Maybe younger generations go about it in the wrong way, though - instead of 'flaunting what you got', know how keeping something covered can be sexier and more thrilling than all the bits that you're exposing.

    But again, it's up to the individual to decide what they like and what they want to do, but to quote Sarai, "that it's done with awareness and understanding."

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  16. I love this post. Not only am I an anthropologist by training and a stitcher by calling, but I started my first business--a children's clothing line--for exactly this reason: I feel so strongly that the ideals we're communicating with how we dress our girls would, if spoken aloud, horrify all of us. Vintage styles and shapes seem to appeal to a part of us that we don't think about often, a subconscious desire to find a more subtle way to signal our participation in the culture around us. Its current popularity might be an overt response to programs like Mad Men, as one commenter points out, which have given vintage a little more of a mass acceptance, but I think the underlying motivator is closer to the thesis presented in the book you mention. Vintage's popularity began with edgier crowds--think of the comeback of Rockabilly--and now has moved into the mainstream, as have so many other ideas that seem to act as a cultural response. Then they become watered down and fade. My real question is: where will we find ourselves as the vintage/retro trend peaks, and what implicit messages will we be sending by then?

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  17. I started sewing again because I wasn't finding the type of clothes that I really wanted to wear in stores. There's also an economic component to that as well for me. It's much less expensive to whip up a skirt than drive to the mall and buy a mass produced one for $60. It also makes me feel good to create something with my hands.

    It also kind of made me sad that I didn't have or wasn't practicing the same skills as my grandmother like sewing, embroidery, crafting, cooking and baking. I take pride in doing those things well now and I feel like I'm carrying on a tradition that was on it's way to dying out. It's my way of rejecting the things that I don't like about our culture and going my own way. It's pretty cool to see other people doing the same.

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  18. Great post Gertie. I agree with Levy's thesis. It concerns me greatly that young women either feel empowered by or are blissly unaware of the deeply symbolism of things like playboy t-shirts, pole dancing and raunchy images on their facebooks. To my mind it is a pretty toxic environment for young women. Interestingly I recently saw some children's pencil cases with the playboy symbol on them. What mother buys her primary schooler a pencil case like this?

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  19. I read some articles from this book for school, and my best friend is a gender studies major and she loves it!

    Personally I do not agree with the postfeminist and raunch culture premise that flaunting yourself to get attention from men is empowering. This behaviour still implies that performing to some kind of sexualised idea of how an 'ideal' woman should behave and gaining male approval is central to female empowerment.
    These women may feel 'empowered', because feeling like they fit in and gaining approval from others makes them feel good. But what they may not realise is that they are simply perpetuating this ideal of the 'raunchy' woman, and while they continue to do so they prevent the recognition of diverse sexualities, body types and perceptions of what is 'sexy' becoming mainstream and celebrated.

    To me, vintage culture and sewing is about rejecting mainstream clothing labels, and recycling ideas and fashions from the past to create a style that is perfectly individual and removed from the cookie cutter fashions we see around us.

    I understand the argument about vintage fashions promoting a return to repressive values of the past, but the way I see it and see other vintage bloggers using it, it's about promoting diversity, individuality, resourcefulness and creativity.

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  20. As a young woman (23)I feel a lot of women my find it hard to feel both sexy and be feminist at the same time. The "gone wild" is some girls way of doing it if they flash their tits its their choice and they are being sexually aggressive being feminist and men will look at them. Unfortunately this I feel this is very self destructive and looses that first feminist feeling fast and soon becomes just flashing for men’s pleasure.

    I think vintage and well and other "different" styles of dressing are coming more popular as women want to dress for themselves and make themselves feel nice (in the case of me I simply love a pretty dress) and then if none or only a few men like it its just as self fulling as if every man is drooling.

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  21. There's a similar discussion going on at "Wearing History".

    Here's a relevant excerpt from my comment there:

    "I do find it a bit alarming when young women want to adopt fashions that promote their own objectification, such as "pinup" looks. Call me an old-school feminist, but these girls don't even know how hard their great-grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers struggled to become something *more* than just a pretty face. They don't see anything wrong with just wanting to be admired for how they look...and that's just sad, because while it's fun to look great, it's not the only thing we're capable of. We are worth so much more than that."

    I agree with what some others have said about preserving skills, as well. Our mothers and grandmothers sewed, cooked, cleaned, canned, gardened, butchered, raised animals etc. but with the advent of "modern conveniences" many skills have ceased to be taught. We are becoming a society of helpless people who have no idea of how to be self-sufficient in some of the simplest ways.

    I wear vintage in part because I think dresses were prettier back then, and in part because I am a somewhat modest person. I'm also reaching "a certain age" where I find it inappropriate to dress like a 20 year old. I find it very hard to find contemporary clothing that I want to wear, without it looking too young, too old, or too sexy for work.

    I agree that what you *don't* show can be sexier than what you *do* show. I wonder if the fashion trends will ever swing back to less revealing, tight clothing?

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  22. I have nothing intelligent to add to a very interesting and complex discussion about raunch culture and empowering girls. I have 4 daughters and they are all grown and mostly married with children. I am so glad that they are not high school/college age in these times. It was tough when they were teens but it seems girls' behavior is getting more outrageous all the time. Is it an attempt to outdo boys who have traditionally been seen as cool or adventurous for doing outrageous things? Is it that what is outrageous seems to be getting more and more shocking all the time - like someone keeps raising the bar for outrageous-ness? I don't know and to think about it just makes my head and my heart both hurt too much.
    Just an example from my dd#4's schoolteacher experience - they needed to call the police to escort a student home because the child came to class high on something (this is grade 6 or 7 and calling the police for drug use at school is standard procedure) But the police said they couldn't come because they were handling an incident at the Catholic middle school across the street. It appears that at lunch time, it had become a sort of ritual game, that all the boys lined up at the back of the school yard to get "BJ's" from the girls who would kneel in front of them in a row. Can you imagine that? When I was in grade 8 I wouldn't even hold hands with a boy!! All of these kids were way underage and that's why the police had to come and bring each of the kids home and explain it to their parents so charges could be filed if they wanted to. And not only that, but this was the second episode of this particular activity. My heart breaks for the girls that think it is cool or fun to be used this way. And how frightening it must be to participate unwillingly, knowing it goes against your better judgment, but feeling that you have no choice. It makes me cry just to think of it. These kids come from an average or maybe better than average income level neighbourhood. I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not.
    My other comment is that I thought HH chose the bunny because of the idea that bunnies procreate at a fast rate and are fairly promiscuous - have others heard the expression "fxxxs like a bunny"? That was always my understanding of the bunny logo which means I would have removed any logo like that before I'd allow my kids to wear the garment.

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  23. I think nancy brought up a very relevant point when she wrote, "I do find it a bit alarming when young women want to adopt fashions that promote their own objectification, such as "pinup" looks."
    I don't think that we should really be using the same category for clothes that refer directly to Playboy bunnies, for example, as for clothes from the 50s that potentially would have been worn by housewives or by working women. In any case, the contemporary trend for "vintage" clothes, I think, recontextualizes these fashions and turns them into something completely different - wearing a full-skirted 50's dress in the year 2009, for example, cannot be seen simply as a throwback to an era of greater oppression of women. On the other hand, I think something as like a tiny pink Playboy bunny t-shirt is explicitly referring to perpetuating its original signification: promiscuity, submissiveness, objectification of female sexuality, etc.
    True vintage fashions can be reappropriated and repurposed by contemporary culture in a way that, say, a vintage Playboy bunny outfit never could be.

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  24. So when's your book coming out, Gertie?

    Great to have these discussions about gender politics, which don't seem to happen much in the world of online sewing/vintage.

    The Mad Men phenomenon - Since people have been raving about Mad Men, I have not read one single woman saying anything like 'Yeah, gee things were rough/tricky/complicated/stifling for those women.' I thought that was one of the things clearly and thoughtfully depicted in the show! Has it gone over the heads of modern day women? They certainly seem more interested in the clothes than anything else.

    It makes me feel that women are showing a lack of respect for the struggles that have been fought for them, and even a lack of self-respect. Could you imagine, say, African American men watching a popular a show set in the 1950s and only posting online about how great the clothes were?

    Have a backbone, ladies!

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  25. Wow, thanks for your input, everyone! Great comments all around.

    Sarai, I feel your discomfort about the "anti-sex" vibe here. As I was reading Levy's first chapter, I felt a bit like I was being scolded by a matronly aunt or something! I think the danger is that while laying these concerns out, one can start to sound a bit like an sex-negative prude. It's a delicate balance.

    Ethel, love your thoughts about Mad Men. In fact, I would love to write a post about this. More to come!

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  26. I've really enjoyed reading this discussion and the older one about vintage fashion and gender politics. Can I suggest another modern trend that fans of vintage clothes might be reacting against? It is 'throwaway culture' or whatever you like to call it - the way you can buy items of clothing (or indeed lots of other things) for astonishingly low prices, the kind of prices that make it cheaper to replace something when it wears out rather than repair it. As several other people have pointed out, sewing vintage patterns is a way of connecting with the skills of the past, and through those skills, with the women who would have had those skills, sewn those patterns, worn those styles. Perhaps we also like to connect with the attitude of that past, when even mass-produced clothing was generally of a higher quality and cost more relative to other household goods than it does now, and was therefore less disposable and more cherished.

    Along with many of the others commenters, I like vintage first and foremost because I find the styles and fabrics beautiful and flattering. But when it comes to more intellectual justification, rejecting raunch culture would be quite far down my list of reasons. I like buying vintage clothes and sewing vintage patterns because I feel like I am doing my bit to resist the temptations of a throwaway culture. By no means do I resist it entirely; I still buy jeans and T-shirts from high street shops because I need them and that's where they're cheapest (and I like wearing modern clothes too). I'm aware that I'm rather a fairweather/champagne eco-warrior: we all know that sewing your own clothes can be more expensive than buying ready-made and certainly requires the luxury of time! And I can buy more expensive Fairtrade cotton clothes, or 'vintage' rather than just second-hand, because I'm lucky enough to be able to afford to pick beautiful, ethical clothes from any era, and pay a premium for them, rather than being forced by financial constraints to buy second-hand or super-cheap low-quality clothing.

    Sorry for the ramble. To sum up, I think my interest in vintage style has a lot more to do with environmental politics than gender politics or a reaction to raunch culture. I wonder if you and the other readers of your blog have any thoughts on this?

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  27. Hanna, great point! I've been working on a post about our modern era of "disposable clothing" and I would love to include some of your thoughts. More to come!

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  28. I just wanted to say that Sarai said some of the things I was thinking much more elequently. I think it's important to understand the difference between becomfortable with sexuality and making oneself sexually available to any and everyone.

    And this is not limited to men. I have seen lesbian clubs that are meat markets, too.

    I am especially shocked by Grandma Connie's story, though. I just can't wrap my head around how something like that could reach that point, and how many failsafes should be in the way.

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  29. Walk into a store that caters even to children's fashions and into the little girls' section and you'll see why I sew vintage for my niece. It's not just the sexualization of women that seems to be popular in today's world, but children, especially little girls, too. Dressing my seventeen-month-old niece in clothing that is too short, too tight, too revealing, and has inappropriate slogans across it isn't something that either her parents or I find appealing.

    So I turn towards sewing. Most of the modern patterns, at least, are age appropriate, etc, but I love vintage. Or, to put it better, I love *timeless* vintage. Little girls' dresses haven't changed much in the last fifty years. I've made dresses for Evie that wouldn't have been considered out of place when mother was a child. Heck, some of them wouldn't merit a raised eyebrow when my grandmother was small. But they're prettier and a heck of a lot more modest than what I can buy at the store. And there's the added advantage that I can make them *washable*, which is important with a young child. (Most dresses that we'd let her wear seem to be made from satin and tulle... dry clean only)

    I also have the satisfaction of knowing that they're well-made.

    Honestly, I was forced to go back to sewing when it became apparent that the lymphedema in my legs wouldn't allow me to buy pants off the rack. I make all my own now just to get something that fits. I need almost bellbottomish wide legs to accommodate the swelling and, if necessary, the bandaging. I just kinda took a pants pattern and modified it to suit my needs.

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  30. Oh! One more thing... I find myself gravitating towards so-called "heirloom" sewing patterns. You know, things with hand embroidery, pintucks, knife pleats, etc. I think they're prettier. And if you want to know a neat trick that I figured out for getting pintucks and knife pleats straight, contact me.... (Isn't something I've seen in a book or anything, it's a cheat I figured out myself)

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  32. Clearly Hugh Heffner has ever met an actual bunny - I have two, and they are absolute terrors! lovely, cuddly, adorable terrors, btu still! :)

    I have just found your blog and I am finding it so inspiring and fun to read. The perfect mix of actual sewing, musings and your own life. And it makes my fingers itch to sew! I'm mostly a knitter but I'm trying to get more confidence and skills with sewing so that, as you say, I can form my own path and wear what is ME, not what some manufacturer thoguht was me, but some days it's rough going!

    Apropos of the actual blog post, maybe it's like feminism: it's about choice. If someone genuinely gets pleasure FOR THEMSELVES out of wearing playboy (not because they think that's what makes them a 'good' woman) then I'm sort of ok with that. It's more complicated than that, obviously, but still. But I want the ability to be able to choose something different, and for that to be a valid choice, whatever that different thing is.

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  33. Sweet Tea in a Mason JarNovember 20, 2009 at 4:36 PM

    I have to say, I have been more than appalled at the clothes being pawned in the local malls. And I'm even more appalled at the fact that women I know are wearing these outfits to attract "a good man" who will be their prince in shining armor! What???? Seriously, you expect to get anyone who can think with his brain and not his pants in those clothes?? Why should he be "good" to you? You just blatantly offered him everything you had. Gave it up freely for the pickin's of any Tom, Dick & Harry. And you want him to respect you in the morning or even next month.... What's the saying? "Drive it like you stole it". Meaning you don't take care of something you didn't have to invest in. Anywho.
    I started really thinking about sewing and wearing more vintage style fashions when I became pregnant with my first child.
    I wanted to start wearing dresses/skirts a majority of the time and wear jeans/pants for occasions when skirts are immodest (horseback riding, basketball, baseball etc.) I want to do this so my daughter, who will be watching and mimicking me, will know how to respect her beautiful difference from the gender of men. I want her to know that being female is a beautiful thing, it is graceful and should required admiration and respect from the onlooker, not tongues hanging out of mouths. What better way to subtly describe that to her but by wearing the graceful, somewhat modest fashions of a vintage era?
    I guess I just want her to know that she isn't equal with the male gender. She can't be. She is female, a completely different gender with different thought patterns and body parts, capable of doing so many things with ease that the male gender finds tough to accomplish (becoming pregnant, giving birth, the mothering instinct, crying at a movie, feeling empathy, following a map... any psychology class will tell you that there is a real physical difference between the male and female brains/emotions.)I don't want her thinking that being female is a curse because she can't "be one of the guys."
    One gender cannot be "better" than the other or even on the same playing field. It cannot be a concrete truth that the beach is more beautiful than the mountains. They are both beautiful in their own right. Just like male & female: they both are uniquely special and incomparable.
    Besides, what better way to encourage my husband to be that man his family needs than to bask in my own femininity? It's good for him to know his role in our lives as well.
    My thinking is that it would make it more difficult for him to walk away from someone who relies on him for certain things, like needing him to move furniture and open pickle jars. Of course I'm capable of it. I do it when he is TDY and he has came home and expressed a feeling of uselessness in our family because of my independence and unwillingness to allow him a unique niche in our family as our strong hero. He wants to be special just like I do.

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  34. ... know I'm a little late contributing to this discussion but there is one reason I sew vintage that I wanted to share: vintage is ladylike. By this I mean that I can celebrate my feminine gender, figure, person without wearing something embarassingly exhibitive nor something unacceptably outdated. I live in jeans, sadly. Neither my job nor my hobbies lend themselves to wearing dresses (modern or otherwise) but when I go out occasionally, I like to wear something of classic sophistication. Vintage provides just the right combination of timeless fashion sense coupled with something that shows off that I am female. I like that; but I don't like showing off too much... a little self-respect is required, ladies! :) That's what separates those who are ladylike from those who are self-deprecating. THAT is the difference, in my opinion.

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  35. Oh Sweet Tea! I love what you said about your husband having a special niche in your family as the strong hero. That is exactly what I do, you put it so gracefully.

    I think one of the things we've forgotten in our quest to be Super Feminists is that men want to be strong, they want to be powerful, the need to be needed. If they aren't getting that at home, where will they find it? I think to a certain extent men can only define themselves by the spaces we women leave for them.

    Maybe that is really the root of men's historical oppression of women. Fear. The need to define themselves.

    My hard-working farmer's wife/ celebrated biologist/ hairy legged feminist of a Mother-in-law used to habitually rail against my Father-in-Law for refusing to teach her how to use the chainsaw. She would go on about how he dis-empowered her, how he "patronized" her by telling her that if something needed to be chopped up, he would do it because it is a dangerous tool.
    I pointed out to her that he saw his handling of a dangerous job as a service he alone could render the family, that he wasn't implying she couldn't do it but that it was something he enjoyed doing for her. I pointed out that her pushing to use the chainsaw might be dis-empowering for him. She hasn't brought it up since.

    (though maybe she hasn't brought it up again in my hearing because she thinks I'm some priss who won't get her hands dirty)

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  36. I know this is a really old post but this is actually something my husband and I were talking about the other day.
    He suggested that women were the problem and that our disapproval of these "sluts/skanks/girls with a bad reputation" is the problem. Maybe they are just comfortable with their sexuality and want to be seen as sexual creatures and the prudes are the ones that turn this act into objectification.
    Me being one of those prudish types told him that no, he's wrong (not wanting to admit that some of what he's saying may be right).

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  37. I did a study in grade 10 for history where i looked at the correlation between clothing and the expectations and rights of women over time. i think it's very interesting that many (males or females?) say that equality means we are 'allowed' to be as sexual as we want. i too see it as another form of oppression because we're not gaining respect and value by it at all. one of my phrases is "our mothers worked so hard to get us out of the kitchen and we've just jumped into bed".

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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