Sunday, October 26, 2014

Shoes (this is not about shoes)

I have found the holy-grail - a pair of shoes which are both seriously comfortable (ie heavy walking for hours-on-end, day-after-day and feet-still-feel-great kind of comfortable) AND cute (as in I can wear them with girly summer-dresses and feel properly, Disney-princess-esque feminine.)  My initial reaction to this find was to feel overwhelmed and practically disbelieving that something genuinely desirable existed in a shop, within my price-range, in my size, and was found in a single afternoon of the hideous activity that is shopping.  My next reaction was to feel somewhat concerned to discover that perhaps I am as shoe-obsessed as any other girl - I'm just a lot more demanding.  But then it struck me - being demanding is the point.  Being as demanding as possible might indeed by the very definition of feminism.

The history of feminism (and indeed all activism) is the history of a select group of people being more demanding than the rest.  Activists are the people who are never satisfied, not content to accept the status quo just because it is the status quo.  They are the people who instead imagine how the world could be, should be, and then demand that this better world be brought into being.  They have a radar for inequality, for oppression, and they cannot allow such injustice to continue.  Not when something can be done.  Not when a better way is possible.  Not when they can demand change.

I tend to think of myself as an in-activist - I was born with that radar, but I'm not presently actually doing a lot to fight for the causes I believe in.  My excuse right now is that I'm rather exhausted fighting the cause of getting my just-turned-one-year-old (!) to sleep and eat and learn and be happy, but that's really not fair - I was utterly lazy before he came along.  I call myself political, but mostly it's all in my head.

But take me to the shops and that demanding nature comes out in full force.  I have often said that I might be more interested in capitalism if it actually lived up to the promise of offering me the things I want.  Instead what the glorious free-market produces is cheaply-made, lowest-common-denominator-pleasing, obsolescence-fuelled CRAP.  And the majority not only accept it, they lap it up.  They imagine this shit actually satisfies their desires, and learn nothing from the fact that they are continually having to consume more, more, more to meet their cravings.  Maybe if everyone were as demanding as me we'd all stop buying the crap, the shops would go bust from having to meet our demands, and the whole hideous system would at last come crashing down?  Maybe not.  In any case, I'm not going to pretend that being a grumpy shopper counts as my contribution to activism.

But back to shoes (this is really not about shoes.)  While contemplating all this, it occurred to me that shoes are definitely a feminist issue.  There are the jokes about all women (all proper women) being addicted to shoe-shopping, and then there are the jokes about 'women who wear comfortable shoes'.  As with every other aspect of our appearance and behaviour, women are policed by our culture to stay within some very strict boundaries.  We should have a dear little obsession with pretty shoes - to stop us thinking or talking about anything too serious - and if we don't, then we're clearly man-hating, un-feminine (imagine!) women who don't deserve to have our voices heard by any self-respecting man.  And I notice - if we're not allowed to wear 'comfortable shoes', then we must be meant to wear un-comfortable shoes.  Our footwear is meant to be painful and to restrict our ability to WALK - because we are women.

I think the patriarchy might still be in operation.  And I think I'll just keep right on being a demanding woman (in some very nice, very comfortable shoes.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Biding time (not yet moth-balled)

Having a shitty job in my teen years and early 20s was fine.  Like living in a filthy share-house, suffering a hideous public hang-over, or indulging in a regrettable one-night-stand, these jobs were simply a right-of-passage, all part of the shaky beginnings of independence.  But still having a shitty job in my mid-30s is getting beyond reasonable.  And it's entirely my own fault.

I've never had a lot of ambition.  Let's be honest - I'm just bloody lazy.  I guess I've always achieved enough to get by without putting in too much actual grind; armed with an immunity to caring about the yard-sticks of others, the bare minimum effort always seemed to be enough.

But here I am as a result: earning less than I could; doing work I find demeaning; surrounded by people I can't respect.  And I'm starting to be embarrassed by this.  I'm clever, I'm educated, I'm married to an impressive enough individual yet claiming to be a feisty-independent-feminist type who can't be measured by her husband's success - and I have nothing to show for myself.  If I'd at least created something artistic on the side I could point to that as my 'achievement' in life... but I can barely manage to keep this blog alive.

But I'm still young enough to have hope.  I'm aware that at present I'm somewhat forced to be treading-water career-wise while the little one is still so little.  (And no, the lad does not count as an 'achievement' - any idiot can have a baby... indeed, many idiots do.)  In a few years we should have our little family completed, and be ready to move onto greener (and greyer) pastures abroad to pursue our dreams.  Meanwhile we're in the twilight years of caring for babies; the chrysalis stage before we emerge back out in the world... as beautiful butterflies?... well maybe moths anyway.  We'll have to avoid light-bulbs... or perhaps I'm taking the metaphor a little far.

Okay, here is the plan.  Hunker down in my cocoon, ignore the day-job as much as possible for my sanity (writing blog-posts at my desk is a good start), and look forward to a more fruitful and satisfying lifestyle in the just-discernible future.  Looking forward to seeing you out there then. :)