This morning at church, one of the ladies noticed I had a knitting needle plunged through my hat. Her husband was perplexed, but she understood when I said it was to keep the hat on my head.
Once upon a time, there was a solution to this problem: Hat pins. They daintily skewer the fabric and don’t require permanent holes in felt like knitting needles do.
They still exist and can be found on various online marketplaces. But they don’t sell them anywhere in the real world, where I do still do most of my shopping.
For one thing, hats as a staple were out of fashion for, what, 80 years? Long enough that culture has forgotten most of the stuff that goes with them.
Short-haired people don’t have this issue, their hats fit more snugly. And if you have long hair you should wear it down, anyway. It’s sexier that way.
My hair is the longest it has ever been. I grew it out because I’m pushing 40 and it’s fading. I figure this is my last chance. I often wear it up because it’s distracting. It gets caught in stuff. The toddler pulls it. It blocks my vision.
How to keep my hat on when it’s chilly and windy (ya know, when you need a hat!) is a practical issue for me. It’s frustrating to know that it’s been solved but I don’t have good access to the solution.
I can’t help but think it has to do with long hair being coded Feminine. Smart women have long stayed away from everything with that label, and men don’t know or care about how women wear hats.
Hat pins are just my latest example of a lifelong struggle. It doesn’t get much ink or airtime, but I have had the conversation with many women.
Clothes are not actually designed to fit us. Women’s clothes are mostly designed by men. Many of them are impractical and absurdly expensive for it. They lack pockets. They are just tweaked versions of men’s clothes. They are flimsy and drafty.
This is probably a familiar topic to you.
Sometimes there is a company or clothing line run by a woman and a big deal is made of that. She may even be creating things specifically to fill women’s needs. But aside from hype that has a feeling of tokenism, they rarely make a dent in the market.
A big exception would be Spanx, which is interesting because it’s designed to be hidden.
We allow ourselves to be a niche market because, as long as Feminine = Weak, declaring our woman-ness is proclaiming weakness. And most of us know in our gut that our position is still too tenuous to do that.
We have thrown out the baby with the bath water, ladies.
The blurring of lines between force-fed frivolity and genuine female culture has been costly for us. Along with home making and high heels, strong women have turned away from domestic knowledge and most elements of style. Those who don’t are expected to apologize for it.
If you are butch, I love you, sister. But not all of us are happy shopping in the men’s section.
And I’m tired of pseudo-think pieces about how women can empower ourselves by improving the clothing industry.
This is all symptomatic of systemic sexism. It’s more than having pants that actually fit around the waist and the hips, with functional pockets.
It’s the same reason 80% of medicine is designed by and for men. And entertainment. And transportation.
But not only is most of the world not built for us,
We have willingly given up what we built for ourselves in exchange for entry.
What was left of it after the Witch Trials of the Middle Ages, that is.
I understand why a large number of women has always been put off by Feminism. But through coercion and force, the world of women has been demolished and thrown in the bin.
It almost feels like a dirty trick. I can run my own company and wear whatever I want. But I don’t know what to do with these leftovers, how to get these stains out or how to heal my children.
Because eating well, looking after one’s appearance and caring for others is Girl’s Stuff.
Look at what is missing in the world.
Notice any correlation?
Sometimes I am crosseyed with anger over knowledge that I’ve been told existed, historians talk about what has been lost, burned and spurned out of my culture. I am so sick of trying to play by the boys’ rules but I’m at a loss for alternatives.
Patriarchy has even absorbed Feminism. Transwomen adopting the frills of girlhood and popular talk of “empowering” stripping classes make it even harder to honestly evaluate the female identity.
And we need to have our own identity. If we content ourselves with imitation we give up our natural power.
If we want to maintain and advance the achievements of our foremothers, we have to rebuild the female identity. The time has come to stop being ashamed of the moments we reveal ourselves.
Womanhood is not weakness. The variety in our personalities shows the flaws in the stereotypes we fear. We can no longer allow them to cause us to fear ourselves.