My mom told me a story recently about when she was a senior in high school in the Bronx, and there was a snowstorm during a transit strike the week she had her English Regents exam. She walked five miles to school in the snow and when she got there, a male teacher made a comment about her not being allowed to take her test because she was wearing pants instead of a skirt. My mom wasn’t permitted to wear pants to school until she was in college, and even then she usually didn’t because she went straight to work from school and was required to wear a skirt at her job. When she told me this, I’m embarrassed to say I was kind of shocked. I’m 34 years old, and my mother’s story reminds me that my own relationship to pants as a women’s clothing item is a privilege.
What did it mean for women to wear pantsuits on Election Day? “Pantsuit feminism” is a powerful concept in certain ways that my age may allow me to not think about—pantsuits, as an extension of pants worn by women in nonprofessional settings, are emblematic of women entering traditionally male professional spheres as men’s equals. Pantsuits were surely symbols of feminist progress for certain women. Women were, for example, barred from wearing pants on the Senate floor until 1993. Hillary Clinton was the first woman to wear trousers in an official First Lady portrait. The image of the pantsuit recalls for me the 80s “working women” of movies and TV shows like Working Girl and Designing Women—those satirized more recently in Amy Schumer’s hilarious comedy sketch “80s Ladies.” A woman poet friend of mine recently joked on Facebook that jeans are “modern-day corsets,” and that she prefers the comfort of leggings. We’ve come so far as women, in little ways like these that we don’t even realize. With a new year upon us, I’m afraid of where 2017 and beyond will bring us, or leave us behind.
“Pantsuit feminism,” empowering as it may be for some, of course prioritizes the concerns and experiences of certain privileged groups—white, cisgender, upper-class women like Hillary Clinton herself “leaning in” to climb to ranks of high-power jobs—and leaves behind many women of color, working class women, and other less privileged groups. Did wearing a pantsuit on Election Day mean pledging allegiance to this problematic strain of feminism?
Editors’ Note: During the second presidential debate, some commenters noted that Melania Trump’s shocking pink, high-necked blouse was a style well known to fashion historians as the “pussy bow.” In fact, as Jezebel pointed out, the $1,100 Gucci top Melania wore was “literally marketed” as a pussy bow shirt. The Internet was abuzz: what could it mean? Was it, as feminist artist and pussy-bow entrepreneur Christen Clifford—whose own PussyBow scarves are printed with an image taken from inside her own vagina—tweeted, a sign that Melania is a feminist “double agent” planning to vote for Hillary? New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd entertained the possibility in yesterday’s column, but ultimately appeared to dismiss it. The Internet relaxed.
This morning, however, everything changed. The WEIRD SISTER editors were awakened from our innocent slumber by aggressive knocking on our clubhouse door. By the time we had crawled out of our sleeping bags, peeled off the cucumber face masks and slices of cold pizza that get stuck to us at the end of every sleepover party, emptied our matching menstrual cups into the toilet, and staggered to the door, there was no one there. Under our doormat, we discovered a flash drive containing incontrovertible evidence of the very Vast Feminist Conspiracy that Clifford had described—and Clifford herself was part of it! Our journalistic integrity prevents us from revealing our sources, so the world may never know if the documents excerpted below are State Department emails liberated by Slovenian hackers or some steamy slash fiction dreamed up by a genius high-school junior during civics class. But now that we have this information, how can we possibly keep it from our readers? Feast your eyes, then, on the most shocking (pink) October surprise of all:
50 SHADES OF PUSSYBOW: EXCERPTS FROM THE SECRET ARCHIVES OF A VAST FEMINIST CONSPIRACY
Molly McArdle spoke to fifty people across the industry about diversity in publishing, and the results are in Brooklyn magazine. From Tony Tulathimutte: “You will be tokenized. Even when you get to write about your own experience of being a minority in America—you know, even that can be turned against you. Are you going to be used later on as leverage against an accusation of racism? Will you then be seen as a collaborator? In most cases the answer is yes.”
You guys, did you realize that Hillary Clinton is the Courtney Love of the 2016 Democratic primaries? And that that makes Bernie Sanders Kurt Cobain?! Read on & I’ll show you two infographics that totally prove it. Plus, they’ll help you registered Dems out there decide how to cast your vote!
“… I discovered the Riot Grrrl movement, and that really changed everything for me. Girls were picking and choosing pieces of ‘female’ fashion and twisting them: lipstick and baby doll dresses paired with dirty Converse and a skateboard; a cute pageboy haircut and a child’s barrette with hairy armpits and a guitar. I stopped seeing makeup, shaved legs, and dresses as the enemy. They aren’t imperatives of being female; they’re part of a costume that people of any gender can choose to wear or not.”–Beth Ditto