Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Want to stir up Facebook? Try women's clothes!

My Twitter feed is tied to my Facebook page. Generally my friends respond to a fairly high percentage of my tweets. But last week I tweeted about swimwear for little girls and started a long and, at times, intense conversation!
It strikes me that it is much easier to discuss an issue like sexism when we deal with seemingly inconsequential matters, like clothing. I'm very pleased that my last post, talking about sexism and rape, got some comments (Thanks to Wes and Rachel!). But I wonder if talking about sexism and clothing might be a less daunting topic?
So, let's talk about it!
I'm a feminist, and I'm soon to be a first time mother of a little girl. I'm thrilled to be having a daughter, and I confess that I have already bought very girly clothes for her. I plan to give her headbands, and cute shoes, and a purse if she wants one. I have a whole box of dress up clothes and a fabulous doll house that I hope she will enjoy one day.
I know I can walk the line of teaching her to be feminine without teaching her to be weak. But that's a pretty thin line. Especially given that I'll be battling most of American culture and media...


  1. So I admit, this is the first time that I read your blog, (great friend, huh?)but this topic intrigued me. I am not a feminist, far from it. Most feminists in fact anger me. No offense. I personally don't think that it has anything to do with being a strong and independent woman. I think more of the issue is being a strong and independent person. I want my son to grow up and think that he can do anything he wants just as much as I want my daughter to. In fact, in the corporate world, being a white male is harder these days that being anything else. My son wants to take dance classes and my daughter is a fierce basketball player. He will probably wear his pirate shirts to dance, and she always has some sort of sparkle or bling on, even on the courts or field hockey field.
    As for clothes, yes, I do have a problem with the clothes being too "hoochie" as we call it. I don't think that you have to show your stuff, especially at a young age. But, for that matter, I think that many women show too much skin. There are moms at the pool in the summer that have no business in a bikini and don't wear anything but halter tops. However, who am I to say what makes them feel comfortable? You won't find me in anything but baggy clothes. I miss the days of grunge and flannel, but that is how I am comfortable. However, I almost always wear purple and most of my hats are pink. I don't think it makes me any less feminine when I am wearing a baggy sweatshirt than a fitted dress. (Not that anyone wants to see me in a fitted dress.)
    As for the media, I battle what my kids watch, but it is mostly because I can't stand the sassy attitudes on tv. Happily, my kids both think Justin Beiber is ridiculous and that Tom and Jerry is high comedy. So far, at this age, they haven't really asked for trendy clothes or the latest styles. But, Bill and I aren't really that into that stuff anyway. They really do take their cues from us.
    I think that setting limits, but letting them choose their own style is the best thing. My son doesn't like it when his shoes match. He always has 3 or 4 pairs of crocs so he has options. My daughter likes to wear dresses, but only on days that she is playing on the playground where she hangs upside down. Neither of them match their socks and Halloween is always in season. I do know kids their ages that are super concerned with style and brands, but so are their parents. I think that the less you stress about it, the less they will stress about it. There are bigger battles to fight than clothes.
    Just one mom's opinion. It might change when we hit the teenage years.

  2. "We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters"
    -Gloria Steinman
    "I can do something traditionally feminine, without being traditionally feminine"
    -Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

    I like these quotes a lot. Its a mentality I like to keep around when I occasionally work with kids. A girl shouldn't have to feel she needs to be a tomboy to be a "insert male steroptype job here", And it is important to teach kids of both genders that their gender shouldn't limit their opportunities or dreams.

    PS I love your feminism posts, even if I don't always comment :)

  3. I think you both make good points! I call myself a feminist because I believe men and women are equal and ought to be treated that way. So I understand that white men do have some struggles in our culture. I just think women, both globally and in America, still have more problems than men.
    I HATE the sassy TV attitudes! Dale and I are determined to keep the TV off as long as possible.
    And I love the Steinem quote. Let's hear it for raising Clementine as a strong independent person who is also a woman!