Copycats

I’ve just finished reading this really great article by James Allworth, called “It’s Not Women Who Should Lean In; It’s Men Who Should Step Back.” Allworth gives his take on Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, which discusses the obstacles women face when trying to work towards positions of leadership, and what women (and men) can do to overcome those obstacles. While I personally haven’t read Lean In, Allworth’s article really resonated with me.

I’ve spoken before about how progress towards gender equality means more than just women doing the same thing as men do. It means more than just women copying men. By copying men, we’re still giving men the authority to set the standard. The whole point of feminism is to give women the power to shape the standard as well…so, maybe we shouldn’t just emulate the men when it comes to being successful.

I don’t disagree with the notion of women feeling more confident in their own abilities and being advocates for themselves. I think that in order to make progress towards gender equality, women do need to advocate for themselves. But, why do we assume that women are under-performing when it comes to being confident in our abilities?

There are a couple of examples from Lean In that Allworth mentions in his article. There’s one example of a group of medical students, where the female students gave themselves lower performance scores than the men on performing surgeries. There’s another mention of how employers tend to promote men based on potential, but they promote women based on past accomplishments. The point of these examples is to show women, to push women, to be more confident, more assertive. To be as aggressive as men for asking for promotions. For having the same level of confidence as men–after all, we are more qualified than them.

But, has anyone stopped to consider that maybe the right example to follow isn’t the men’s, but the women’s? Sure, female medical students rated themselves lower than the male students…but maybe the male students shouldn’t have given themselves the higher scores. Why did the female medical students give themselves lower scores? Maybe because they took more into consideration than their male peers; maybe because they had higher standards than their male peers. Doesn’t it make more sense for men to follow the example set by women? To be more critical and discerning of their own work and their own abilities? To hold themselves to higher standards? To try to give themselves a truly fair score rather than being biased towards their own abilities?

I’ve always felt that the feminist movement tended to get one-sided at times. Feminism often veers into the territory of showing women how they can better play the game, rather than changing the game and the rules altogether. After all, the game and the rules were established by men. Maybe we should rewrite the game so that the rules are established by both men and women. Instead of copying the men and copying how they’ve attained their leadership positions, we need to advocate for men to emulate the way women navigate their careers and their lives. Maybe men shouldn’t be such workaholics; maybe women should advocate that the path to a fuller life isn’t by slaving away at the office but by having a better balance between work and family life. Maybe women shouldn’t try to adopt the over-confidence of men; maybe men shouldn’t be overconfident and instead be more discerning over what they truly can do. Maybe us women aren’t under-performing. Maybe we’re the ones who are doing it right, and the men just haven’t caught on yet. Maybe we’re the example that men need to follow, and not vice versa. Maybe, like I’ve said before, it’s not us that should always be keeping up with the men and playing by their rules. Maybe it’s time that men started keeping up with us. Maybe it’s time that men started playing by our rules.

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The blues

Cool tones

 

 

It feels a little silly, talking about clothes in light of what’s been happening around the country. I’d like to encourage you to do whatever you can to help–whether it’s donating money, donating blood, or just being there for someone who needs to talk about it and get through it. The small things add up.

I recently started wearing ballet flats again. I took a ballet flat hiatus for a couple years, though I’d worn them all throughout high school and college. I honestly think that sleek sneakers give an outfit a more current, cooler feel, while still being really comfortable, so I often opt for sneakers over ballet flats. But, sometimes flats really do complete an outfit better than sneakers do. I love a good pointed toe flat–it’s comfortable and classy.

Since fall is in full swing (although the weather might say otherwise), I’m all about adding in richer hues into my wardrobe. Burgundy and navy are my favorites, and they all pair well with–surprise surprise–black. I’m not sure who said you couldn’t pair navy and black, but you totally can. In the words of the wise Taylor Swift, “I do it all the time.” Plaid button down shirts are an easy way to add a fall touch to your look–and if there is a nip in the air, add a biker jacket. I love this jacket in gray suede because it’s a familiar silhouette with a different material and color–you often see biker jackets in black leather. The gray suede adds an unexpected touch.

To be or not to be….like one of the guys

I’m a huge fan of DC comics. Show Arrow and Comic Batman are my favorites. (What can I say? I like the broody types.) I recently came across an article picking apart and analyzing the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker. In general, it’s pretty widely acknowledged that both the movie and comic relationships between these two characters are unhealthy and abusive (though the movie relationship is less so). However, there is some debate over whether Harley Quinn can be viewed as a feminist icon because, as a villain, she fights Batman and other heroes just as well as the other male villains.

I think this is crap. I’m not trying to discount Harley Quinn’s abilities–but her villain abilities alone, in spite of all her other character traits (most notably, her obsession/addiction to the Joker), is not enough to make her a feminist icon. Just because Harley Quinn can fight like her male counterparts, doesn’t automatically mean this is a step forward for women. While I’m intrigued by the character of Harley Quinn, I don’t think she is a feminist icon, and I don’t think other women should view her as such. She’s interesting, she’s multifaceted, she’s tragic, she’s compelling….but she is not a feminist icon.

I won’t go into the reasons why I think Harley Quinn isn’t a feminist icon. That’s another post for another day, though I’m sure the reasons why I don’t believe she’s a feminist icon aren’t all that groundbreaking and are already known by others, especially DC fans.

The fact that Harley Quinn can hold her own in a fight and be in the same league as other male villains doesn’t make her a feminist icon. Feminism is equality–but when we say a that a character or a person is a feminist icon or a champion for feminism just because they can do the exact same thing as a man–all that does is continue to play into the idea that men set the standard, that men are the example. Which, paradoxically, is anti-feminist.

I sometimes wonder if we need to re-evaluate our understanding of how to achieve equality between the genders.

When we talk about equality between the genders, we generally look at it as women having the freedom to do all the same things men can easily do (and take for granted). It started out as having the ability to get an education. To vote. To work. To work in the same fields. To have the same pay. All of which I completely agree with. Why wouldn’t you want to have all those same opportunities that men have?

Where some of this gets a little muddled is in less concrete aspects. For instance, there is a double standard where if a man has multiple romantic/sexual partners, he’s often celebrated by how much he “scored”–at least among his male friends (not necessarily by women). On the other hand, if a woman does the same thing, she’s viewed negatively. It’s like that lyric in Christina Aguilera’s song “Can’t Hold Us Down.” So, in this sense, does equality mean women having the freedom to have as many romantic/sexual partners as she wants without the negative labels, just as men have? In this case, I don’t think we can define equality using this standard–because these sorts of actions should not be a standard. It’s not something to celebrate. Like, all men have the freedom to act like fuckboys, and we want that freedom too? This is all down to personal preference, but women having this kind of behavior should not alone be considered a win for feminism. An actual win for feminism would be fewer men acting like fuckboys, and more men being respectful towards women. Or, if you prefer the open relationship type thing, also more men being respectful and honest with their partners.

In terms of rights like legal rights, equal pay, equal career opportunities–the standard of equality is the one set by men–because there’s no other standard. Men have had plenty of opportunities that women have not. So, naturally, for men and women to be equal, women should have the same education, career, and financial opportunities as men. It doesn’t make sense to decrease the opportunities granted by men–because what good would that do? But when it comes to things like social conventions, things that aren’t as easily defined–I don’t think we should always define equality as just doing what men do and being able to keep up with them. I mean, it’s one thing to want to have the freedom to express yourself and live your life in whatever way you choose–and that in itself is a vital part of the feminist movement–but I think there should be more emphasis placed on men also being influenced and doing what women do. We often celebrate women who are tough, who can fight, who are strong-willed and independent–because they demonstrate characteristics that are typically associated with men, and because these characteristics show that women are not dependent on men to live a good life and make an impact on society. Which makes sense, because men historically didn’t really need to depend on women for economic opportunities and such. And so, it’s a good thing when women can be independent. It shows progress.

But, how often do we celebrate men who are more gentle-mannered or soft-spoken or emotionally intelligent? Those are characteristics typically associated with women, and having a man display these characteristics would also be a form of gender equality–yet we rarely talk about this. Just like it’s good for women to feel free to be tough and independent, it’s also good for men to feel free to be emotional and sensitive. While it’s great for women to learn to be aggressive, to ask for promotions, to learn to fight or be good at math….it’s also great for men to learn to be a little more patient, to learn to take a deep breath and listen or learn ballet. I think lately, what I’m seeing as “wins for feminism” are women doing things that men have typically done. Which is awesome, for the most part. But an equally important “win for feminism” would be men doing things that women have typically done. Men taking on household duties, or choosing to be a stay-at-home parent during the first few months/years of their children’s lives–while their wife/partner works and takes home an income. (Side note: This is actually what my parents did. My mom worked, my dad stayed home, and it was the best thing ever. My dad is amazing dad…he made sure I knew how to read before I started kindergarten. Seriously, men can do just as great as job as women at being full-time parents. None of this “it’s a woman’s nature” and “men are helpless when it comes to child-rearing and household” bullshit. We’re all human. We all have brains. We can all do it.) Or men choosing to be nurses, or teachers–two fields that are incredibly important and rewarding, yet have always been associated with women. If it’s viewed as progressive when women feel empowered to be engineers or join a male-dominated career field, why can’t it also be progressive when men feel free and empowered to join a female-dominated career field? Equality isn’t just women working their way up to the level where men are. It’s also men working their way up to the level where women are. It’s not about viewing certain fields as “tough” or “girly.” It’s about choosing what’s best for you, and having the ability and opportunity to do so. I think it’s really easy to get caught up in thinking that feminism is all about tough women being able to keep up with the men. But we shouldn’t forget that, just as often, men need to be able keep up with us. That’s equality.

 

A little flare

Flare

 

I didn’t actually warm up to wearing flares again (not since my junior high/high school days) until I saw some pictures on Pinterest of flares being styled in ways that looked a lot more modern and less 70s. I then bought a pair of flares and wore them, and immediately remembered why I still prefer skinnies. At 5’1, I have to make some kind of hemming alteration to flares, no matter what. If I find a pair I love but they have a 35-inch inseam, the jeans will lose their flare and the cut will change if I get them hemmed. So flares have to be just the right length or not much longer if I want to keep the cut the same. And, I have to have specific pairs to wear with different heel heights. Ugh, the struggle.

If you’re up for the struggle, or if you are of normal height–this is my favorite way to style flares. It looks effortless, chic, and a little undone. The oversize sweater makes this look cozy and perfect for fall, and adding a flare jean dresses up the look (and gives a different feel than a pair of skinny jeans would–though skinny jeans are equally great to wear with an oversize sweater). While high-school me would wear flares with torn-up Converse sneakers and would let the back hems of my flare jeans drag and rip as I walked all over them, current me only prefers flares with heels. Heels really are the best shoe to wear with flares–the combination makes your legs look like they go on for days. I’m honestly not a huge fan of wearing flares with any kind of flat shoe–if you’re wearing flats, a skinny, boyfriend, straight, or girlfriend jean is the way to go. So, pair your flares with a nice heeled boot or stiletto–or a marriage of the two, like this Louboutin pair. Add a bag that’s a little less structured and more utilitarian, like this leather messenger, and complete the look with my favorite accessory: a ring that looks like glamorous brass knuckles.

She-wolf

Getting down to business
If you see me in person (or even in pictures), you’re not likely to get intimidated. I stand at a whopping 5’1, and my RBF isn’t always on point. (On some days, I am actually cheerful. Sometimes.) So, this is a look that’s easy to put together but goes a long way–and it’s perfect for days when I mean business. Start with my favorite base–black skinny jeans–and add a simple black top. When in doubt, I always go head-to-toe black. Not sure what to wear? Head-to-toe black. Feeling bloated and blah? Head-to-toe black. Big date/important function? Head-to-toe black. I don’t care what Anna Wintour says; head-to-toe black is the simplest way to look super chic. Pair the look with some edgy statement shoes, like these Valentino Rockstud stilettos. Add a vampy dark lipstick and throw on a trench coat (I guess the look isn’t entirely head-to-toe black). Then strut like you don’t give a single fuck.

 

Fall is coming

Deep red

Abercrombie Fitch plaid top / River Island tan jacket / Citizens of Humanity skinny jeans / Christian Louboutin black booties / Prada tote bag / Silver ring / La Perla sunglasses

It’s no secret that fall is my favorite season. Halloween, pumpkin spice everything, crisp cool air….I love it all. While I definitely wear black year-round, when fall rolls around, I’m finally able to pull out my favorite wardrobe piece: my black skinny jeans. I love black skinny jeans. (I may or may not have several pairs in different variations. It’s not excessive if you wear them all!) Black skinny jeans instantly make any outfit edgier, classier, and just more put together. They’re the easiest way to look chic. My favorite pair happens to be this one by Citizens. The fabric is super soft and stretchy, but holds its shape throughout the day. They legit feel like leggings. In winter, I’m usually an all-black-everything-everyday girl. But during fall, I love pairing black skinny jeans with warmer, richer hues, like this burgundy plaid shirt and tan suede jacket. (Also, in fall, I’m a huge sucker for plaid.) Add some sky-high stiletto booties (’cause if you’re having a shit day, at least you look good), a snake ring (admit it, you secretly like Taylor’s new song), and oversize sunglasses to hide your RBF.