I blame the patriarchy

Jamie Huff turned me on to a blog called I Blame the Patriarchy, which you may have noticed over in the right menu bar. It's one of the few blogs on the list that isn't done by someone I know, and although I don't always agree with what it says, it's always funny and angry and feminist--a great combination that I find consistently satisfying.

So in the spirit of that blog, I'd like to blame the patriarchy for outfits.

I struggle with outfits. I announced the other morning that I was going to make a chart of the clothing I wear on a daily basis so that I don't accidentally wear the same thing to class two days in a row. I'm so uninvolved with what I wear that I often can't remember when I last wore something. And because, as you all know from my rant about clothes last fall, my preferred clothing is pajamas (all day, every day, all summer), I routinely have to go to Biffle in the morning wearing some combination of things and say, "Is this an outfit?"

He pointed out that he doesn't wear outfits. He has pants and shirts, and he puts them together in any number of combinations. And it doesn't matter if he wears the same pants two days in a row because they're nondescript enough that no one would care.

Here's the thing: with one exception, men don't wear outfits, and that is because outfits are a tool of the patriarchy. The one exception is suits. And suits are really the anti-outfit, because if you are a man, you can wear a suit every single day. You don't have to stand in front of your closet thinking, "Okay, the black flowy pants only go with the red shirt and the pink shirt, and I think I wore the pink shirt two days ago, and the red shirt needs to be drycleaned, so I can't wear the black pants today, but if I wear the gray pants I have to wear the grown-up shoes, and I'm going to be walking all over campus, so that's no good..." People, I do not have enough time for this nonsense!

I realize that I could buy a couple of suits and be set, but suits are so constricting. I've begun to recognize that this is how second wave feminists begin wearing muu-muus and caftans. I feel bad now for making fun of all the muu-muu and caftan-wearing I've witnessed over the years. Any day now, I will show up on campus in a muu-muu, and that will be the end of it.

I'll be defying the patriarchy, but I'll be sooooo unattractive!


Kevin O'Mara said...

This is not me being a jerk and trying to rile things up, this is me asking an honest question, or asking for further explanation. How are 'outfits' a tool of the patriarchy?

I see what you're saying, that women have outfits and men don't, but I'm failing to see the cause and effect in this situation.

Please enlighten me.

A. said...

I didn't read this blog, but Mary said that it had something to do with the fact that Women have "outfits" and Men don't...

WELL!!!!! Women get all of the cool sneakers! Guys shoes are really boring. (however I just found the sneakers that the Japanese Olympic Fencing team wore..very cool).

That's always bugged me. I try to have funky "kid" shoes, but the man's holdin' me down...and his hand are all rough from working an 8 hour shift in the coal mines.


Don't ya come back from the mines empty handed!

If ya do, then don't come through my door!

Don't you forget that we've all been branded!

So, protect yourself from the mighty Sloar!

Anonymous said...

"I'll be defying the patriarchy, but I'll be sooooo unattractive!"


May i quote this on my LiveJournal?

If 'yes':

How shall i attribute it?

If 'no':

Aw, rats.


The Dad said...

Yea Alison

Wait. Men have outfits, too.
It usually involves choosing a shirt that... Hmmm... It involves choosing pants that...
Yeah, your right, men don't have outfits.

Hey, everything goes with black pants.

The Dad

Alison said...

Kevin: The short(ish) answer: our culture is full of sexist double standards which generally (although not always) shortchange women. Women are encouraged to spend more time, energy, and money on beauty/body image than men do, and that's time, energy, and money that could probably be better spent in some other way. Looks like patriarchy to me.

BUT I'm not planning to pull together a feminist militia to destroy all outfits.

And yes, Gridgey, you and Braided Ben suffer because men's shoes aren't as cool as women's shoes. But that's because you're transgressive men.

Alison said...

Oh, and cutepurplegirl, you're welcome to quote me on your LiveJournal. I guess you can attribute the quote to Alison of Baxter Sez. (Is that how these things are done?)

Anonymous said...

cutepurplegirl says:

Thanks, Alison! I just wanted to know if you wanted your words attributed to your real-life persona or on-line persona, and/or if you wish to make a distinction between the two.

(Personally, i like to keep my LiveJournal persona and real-life identity separate, except in friends-only posts. I'm paranoid (read,"introverted") that way. =) )

Would you like me to link back to this blog when i post your quote?

Anonymous said...

a) your post was funny and true
b)one way to avoid this is to create an interchangeable, monochromatic business wardrobe of pieces that all go with each other. (that's what "simplify your life books" recommend). By two pairs of comfortable shoes of the same height that go with everything, too. (Or, alternately, buying funky shoes that make every day "special") You know--outfits and muumuus are only two poles on a continuum (sp?).

eliza McGraw said...

Blazer, t-shirt/button down, jeans, and boots. Vaguely androgynous, but it works for me for all but the most dress-up of occasions.

And what is up, D. To simplify your life, stop reading those books! Love Eliza

jims said...

Alison, I hope you also noticed that Twisty on I Blame the Patriarchy just did an entry about BUST that may have summed up the entire conversation Dr. Curtis and I had about it a couple of weeks ago.

Also, when I first saw the questioning of how outfits could be a tool of patriarchy I thought I might have to break out a flow chart.

femme fortis said...

I liked the outfit you wore to Women Rock Alison.

Pam said...

Boy, I hate outfits too. There was a good post at femalescience professor recently that talked about wardrobe differences for men and women in academia - and the bottomline was that there were few expectations for men, and lots for women - and that women's course evaluations often included comments about her clothes, etc. Craziness.

But your post made me laugh too - I'm always having to think "did I wear this yesterday?" - I used to worry more about it than I do now, but I still think about it.

Conseula said...

Not a muumuu! Outfits are the fault of the patriarchy. I really like outfits, though. We won't talk about how I participate in my own oppression. Seriously, though, all you need for our job is several pairs of black pants and some shirts you like. As for shoes, all mine are some version of the mary jane. That makes it easier.

(ps--I got a blog. It's all your fault. http://www.afrogeekmom.blogspot.com)

Slittle said...

I JUST got a chance to read this today, and as someone who has just entered the workforce, I totally agree with you. Something else I've noticed, however obvious it is, women's dress shoes are oppressive (at least the stylish, non-dumpy looking ones are). They are painful, they limit your mobility, and THEY'RE DANGEROUS. Our floors here at EL are so slippery; I'm just waiting to bust my ass on them one day!

Screw professionalism and bring on the muu-muus and flipflops!

P.S. On a happier note, the dress code has been suspended until after the election :o)

Anonymous said...

I love your last comment, which says something to the effect of 'I'll be defying patriarchy, but I'll be soooo unattractive.' And while I laughed, I have to question, who defines what is attractive? is that not a patriarchal concept? sorry, just playing devils advocate....

~a student