* * * *I want to thank Gertie for the chance to do the first reader Op-Ed. There are so many great comments on every one of Gertie’s posts that this is really an honor!
A while back, Gertie posted a series of patterns that seemed, to her, designed to “anchor” women to domesticity – remember the dress with the oven mitt actually attached? “Woman, don’t think of going so far from the stove that you wouldn’t need an oven mitt attached to you!” the pattern seemed to say to Gertie. I have to admit, I was a little taken aback by her response. I had a completely different feeling for the chic shirtdresses with matching aprons, and with dresses that feature so prominently the tools of domesticity. I thought, how cool! These are some patterns that take domesticity seriously, and think women should be dressed well no matter what they are doing.
The truth is, the various women’s movements have always had mixed feelings about what domesticity means for feminism. Does feminism mean women should be more like men and compete in a “man’s world” or should feminism mean traditional women’s work should be given a more valued place in society? I think the post-feminist movement of the late 20th century has answered a resounding “both.”
Indeed, women’s worlds never could be defined so neatly as “at work,” or “at home,” and some of these patterns Gertie posted reflect that on a practical level. A woman wearing a chic sheath dress with a matching apron does not think she’s going to “just be home” all day. A woman in a well-cut shirtdress could make her kids breakfast in the morning without worrying about getting grease stains on her dress, whip off her apron and go to a meeting with a local politician, serve on community board, or run a business from her home. Even if she “just” stays home, a woman wearing a nice outfit says to her kids and spouse, the people she interacts with on a daily basis, and herself that she thinks being at home is just as important as being at work.
Elizabethe is a wannabe home sewist and recently Ph.D'd historian. She works from home as a freelance copywriter when her two little boys decide to nap.
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Many thanks to Elizabethe for kicking off Gertie's Op-Ed Column! Want to contribute? I'd be delighted! I'm looking for readers to write op-ed posts on the discussion topics we cover here: feminism, body image, pop culture, and how this all relates to sewing and vintage style. The goal of this column is to provide diversity and balance to the views already expressed here. Take issue with something I've written? Want to bring up a debate of your own? Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to propose an op-ed post.