Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What do you mean, "femininity is a construct"?


Poor Twisty Faster, immobilised by ankle surgery, has been reading her junk mail. It includes a catalogue from the Patagonia people, who make outdoor and mountaineering clothing. See example at left: Patagonia's 'undercover cami', in fetching pinks, for girls who like to flash a little skin as they struggle up the snow-capped peaks at umpteen degrees below.

"Descriptions of Patagonia men’s clothing," says Twisty, "stick to technical aspects (’burly shell fabric’, ’a gasket-style neck forms a streamlined seal’), but when you’re a woman scaling El Capitan, guess what? You gotta be feminine. You need an ‘irrepressible knit that keeps its feminine shape.’ You need ‘feminine quilting throughout [to add] a touch of elegance.’ You need a ‘clean, feminine fit.’ You need a ‘a contoured bodice that flows princess-style to an elegant and feminine mid-thigh hem.’"

I suppose it would be possible to find writing that makes even less sense than this, but it would take some time. What constitutes masculine quilting? Do men not have thighs, or do their thighs not have middles? Is a masculine fit a dirty fit? Since when was it possible to have a contoured flowing princess-style bodice when this is, in fact, an double oxymoron? And why would any girl want to repress her knit?

9 comments:

Ampersand Duck said...

My mother-in-law does not strike me as a particularly feminine person, but she insists upon surrounding herself with prissy furniture and bone china covered in baby animals, and recently complained that she couldn't find lacy thermals to wear on her upcoming trip to the far reaches of Scotland. When I asked her if it really mattered because no-one would know whether her thermals were frilly or not, she replied tersely that it mattered to her!!!

I guess that's a self-constructed femininity. I don't understand it, but then I'm not really a frilly-knickers type of person.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I once had a conversation with another woman with whom I agreed that wearing real stockings and a suspender belt once in a while for no reason at all except that it gave one a buzz was something that, erm, gave one a buzz. But that is about something else. I've noticed over the years that those who surround themselves with 'feminine' clothes and decor can often be quite prissy and stitched-up about actual sex. Go figure.

elsewhere said...

The example of this genre I really liked was a pink 'lady's' toolbox on sale in the local Mitre 10 catalogue just before mother's day...to make women feel more comfortable about indulging in the macho activity of odd jobs around the house?

comicstriphero said...

The example of this genre I really liked was a pink 'lady's' toolbox on sale in the local Mitre 10 catalogue just before mother's day

Man, people are so uptight!!! There are so many things to worry about and this is the kind of thing that people expend their energy on?

Maybe I need to go down to the hardware joint and let all the ladies know that my toolbox is a dull grey and my girly bits haven't fallen off as a result.

There are absolutely no 'tool box' puns to be had there, by the way, thanks.

Black Knight said...

"Fetching navy-blue singlet in masculine cotton that enphasizes the pectorals and abdominals. Pair with slimline mid thigh-length shorts that flow naturally to the calf."


Or am I being silly again?

FXH said...

Do women who mountain climb wear muffin tops and hipsters so they can show off their tramp stamp when they bend over?

shula said...

I'd love to comment, but I'm afraid my knits are just too repressed.

tigtog said...

Going by that language, I'm amazed Patagonia isn't marketing matching outdoor nail-polish as well.

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

a pink 'lady's' toolbox on sale in the local Mitre 10 catalogue

oooh yes. I saw that - what a beauty. fan-tastic. I was sorely tempted to buy that for a very dear friend. she's a dyke punk bondage mistress. she loves pink. it's something about the irony, I think :)

as for me, I like a bit of frill and thrill for when I want to be frivolous, and I like sensible for when I need to be, well, sensible.

for example, I really hate bras with extra lace on the lacy bits with lace for when I just want to do the gardening, or wear a normal t-shirt, so I don't a) fall out or b) have boobs saying "here I am wearing a lacy thing under a plain t-shirt". and most of the time, unless undies are mostly sensible, they're also mostly uncomfortable.

but then, as you say, sometimes wearing suspenders for the hell of it is fun :)