Eleganza Fashions for Men, 1973 advertisement.
Is Vivienne Westwood’s 1995 Penis Shoe:
A. A brilliant take on CFMP (Come Fuck Me Pumps).
B. An ironic wink at various dick myths, e.g. that you can tell the size of a man’s penis by his shoe size and/or that black men have bigger dicks.
C. Holding up a warped mirror to those who say that men design high heels to disempower women because these are shoes designed by a woman that give other women power/penises.
D. The ultimate cover image for a chick-lit book hoping to cross over to Franzenland.
E. Commentary on the fact that on March 16, 1995, Mississippi officially abolished slavery by ratifying the 13th amendment.
F. This guy’s take:
No other item of attire has such a positive phallic identity as the high heel. Women endure masochistic foot distress and deformation, knowing the sexual effects high heels and pointed shoes convey. The phallicism of the heel itself makes it appear as though the woman has taken possession of the male’s genital powers by standing on it. In fact a significant number of women and girls are known to use the high thin heels and pointed toes of their shoes to masturbate.
G. A branding opportunity for Westwood’s other penis objets, such as necklaces and keyrings
H. What I secretly hope Taylor Swift might wear dressed up as a scary penis witch for Halloween.
The caption says “Relax. When the ‘Libs’ call us names like that, it really means they think we’re rugged, masculine, virile. Like these new Hush Puppies.”
Here’s the thing—I would so totally wear these shoes. Actually before I zoomed in and read the text, I though they were aimed at Libbers! Like, “Throw off your high heels, womyn, and wear these to the march!”
Gail Collins and Stacy Schiff discussed the Mama Grizzly phenomenon (movement?) in the Times yesterday. Naturally, they took some time to talk about those traitors, young women.
Every time I go on a speaking tour I get questions from sad middle-aged women who want to know why their daughters all insist they aren’t feminists. They might be planning to devote their lives to healing fistula victims in Somalia, but they won’t let anyone call them feminists because they think it means being anti-man, or wearing unattractive shoes.
THIS MAKES ME SO ALL CAPS! I have been hearing this from older feminists for twenty years. And seriously, Gail Collins, you have women who are feminist enough to come and see you speak, and to have raised daughters who are off healing fistula victims, but they weren’t able to convince their own children that being a feminist doesn’t mean being anti-man or wearing unattractive shoes? I’m getting a whiff of something I will politely call exaggeration here.
Statements like this tend to get lots of aggrieved responses from young feminists saying, “But we are here!”—which is true but which closes the conversation into a territory war over recognition and leaves out the people we should be talking to—the women who do not identify as feminists.
Painting a picture of non-feminists as morons who think it’s about hating men or wardrobe changes does two things—first, it neatly sidesteps the fact that a lot of young feminists actually have been criticized by older feminists for the way they dress! For real! Also criticized for: who they date, voting for Barack Obama, thinking strippers aren’t necessarily the enemy, listening to hip hop, getting married, and not subscribing to Ms.
But secondly and far more importantly, it ignores the very valid critiques of feminism made by a lot of non-feminists who object to feminism’s racism, transphobia, ableism, homophobia, and continued denial of same. It ignores the fact that there are women all over the world fighting for gender justice without calling themselves feminists. It ignores the fact that feminism has done a terrible job of making itself known as a force for liberation—the force that gave (American)women pants!—and instead mostly expends its energy on feeling aggrieved about not getting its due.
I love Gail Collins but we are talking about someone here who wrote a book called When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present that doesn’t even talk about womanism. It also has a 20-page index that doesn’t include “race” as a topic.
It does, however, have 8 entries under “shoes.”
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