What do you know, my marriage (to a person of the opposite sex) actually changed today – mostly, in that I no longer feel vaguely guilty about having taken advantage of a privilege that not all of my friends have. I can live with that – and now we can celebrate our 22nd anniversary next week with light hearts and clear consciences.
On a completely different topic… It’s a truism, among feminists, that men have all the advantages in clothing: they have pockets in everything, their trousers come in lengths as well as widths without having to be specially ordered online, and most of all they have “default outfits” so that it’s possible to dress for work in clothing that won’t be noticed as too ornamental, not ornamental enough, unsexed, inappropriately sexy for work or any of the myriad other contradictory criteria women are inevitably judged by.
Every one of those words in the above paragraph is true except for one: the word “all”. There are benefits women’s clothing has, that aren’t available to men in this society, and the hot weather we’re getting in this city reminds me of that.
For one thing, we have a lot more flexibility. In a ‘business casual’ work environment, I can wear clothing that are nearly exact replicas of what the guys wear (except for being more expensive, having fewer fit options, and having useless pockets or none) but I can also wear skirts, dresses, or even skorts. I can come to work in an outfit that is basically pajamas – knitting leggings and a long knit top – and with maybe a belt or jewelry can appear professionally dressed, in an outfit that doesn’t bind or cramp anywhere. On a hot day I can wear a knit dress that hangs from my shoulders, isn’t tight anywhere, and stops just above my knees, and no one will say I’m dressed inappropriately.
In a dressier environment, I can wear things that the guys can only get away with when they go casual: I can wear a fine-knit t-shirt to a job interview (which is about the more formally I ever dress) with a jacket over it, and no one will think it’s sloppy. I can wear sandals to the office – not just any sandals, but at least I have dressy and work-proper ones available to me. Men don’t. at least with current styles.
I’m not minimizing the problems with women’s clothing. Not having pockets annoys the fuck out of me – or only having ones too small to actually keep anything in. I was pissed off recently when I went shopping for pants in a store that carried clothing for both men and women, and found that they had different lengths for men right there in the store, whereas women had to order tall or petite sizes on line – and men had several lengths available, not only three. Worst of all is the way designers seem to be convinced that fashion trumps all other considerations in women’s clothing, even including professionalism in clothes that are designed specifically for work, so that at the moment I can’t find pants that aren’t skin tight. I noticed the other day that a new pair of cargo pants were tighter in the thigh than plain khakis made a few years ago by the very same manufacturer – even though the whole purpose of cargo pants is to be loose and have lots of pockets.
I’m just saying that our current system of clothing that’s rigidly separated by intended gender hurts men too. Why shouldn’t they be able to wear comfortable clothing to work, no matter what the temperature is?