but you see in dealing with me, the relatives didn’t know that they were dealing with a staunch character. and i tell you, if there’s anything worse than a staunch woman… S-T-A-U-N-C-H. there’s nothing worse, i’m telling you… they don’t weaken. no matter what… but they didn’t know that. well, how were they to know?
you dressed for battle, edie, one of the maysles brothers asks her. this is either an observation or an inquiry, the inflection is inconclusive. it could be either. i cannot tell which.
you dressed for battle.
i would like to talk about how, upon seeing this…
i was struck by the realization of precisely just to what extent the pantsuits operate as armor.
perhaps this should not have been surprising.
the clothes that women wear are weaponized in a way that the clothes men wear simply are not. because our bodies are politicized in a way that the bodies of men are not.
fact ‘o life.
metamoment: much as when i wrote about women and admin, this is a conversation wherein, simply in trying to have it, i fear sounding shrill. because, as a woman, i assume my natural register is shrill. worse, i fear i may, at times, even stray into strident- god forbid!
because this is the limited buffet of registers from which it feels i have the opportunity to choose. please note: that– that right there?- that is a part of the problem.
this is the limited buffet of registers from which it feels i have the opportunity to choose.
as women, there are so many ways in which we are raised to circumscribe ourselves.
i do not even need yo help! i’mma do it all myself.
gosh, doesn’t that suck?
ever wonder why we do this?
i’d argue that like most things in life, there is no one simple answer but infinite reasons, rooted in culture, upbringing, media, life, and on and on. but, because my work focuses on media and culture, that is where we are gonna go.
last week, HRC gave a speech at an award ceremony where her work with the children’s defense fund was honored.
it was her first official public appearance since her concession speech and it didn’t go unnoticed that she appeared not to be wearing make-up. (something she did quite often as secretary of state.)
i would point out one word in particular…
in its defense, stern is neither shrill nor strident. and yet… this word is significant.
the word significant, in and of itself, is a word which has nearly lost all meaning for me since my nemesis mister wolf blizter used it 909991919182989429812490120947920479029 times on election night. but i’mma try and reclaim it because the daily mail repeats “stern” or a variation such a ludicrous number of times in a characteristically short article that its use truly does appear significant.
let’s take a look:
notice how we ooze from her “sterner look” to her “sterner approach” to her being a “sterner minded woman.”
notice how strong is the implication there that she is defined by her looks. (and her grandchildren.)
notice also the enormity of the amount of work implied in the alternative…
well, that sounds like fun doesn’t it?
actually, no. it sounds like a lot of work.
and it is! as the daily mail helpfully reveals in a breakdown of all of the things one must do to one’s self in order to be a cuddly, glam, perfectly coiffed, highly finished, friendly, polished yet approachable woman.
of the leggings picture, the daily mail reported this:
what the mail fails to note is that her hair is clearly still set from its styling on the 9th. so “a far more relaxed look” still includes professional hair styling.
the event on the 16th did not.
the way this is spun is that “hillary is so tortured by her loss that she has given up.”
experts being this one person who does other famous people’s hair.
the mail makes only the fleetingest hint that perhaps this could represent a form of freedom.
perhaps, all along, she was not necessarily doing what she wanted (wearing leggings! letting her hair air-dry!) but what she felt she must.
and, as the mail‘s article shows, that is an exhausting and expensive performance.
the mail isn’t trying to get us all to ditch our make-up… at least not today (though, taken collectively, their reporting is a pendulum which swings wildly between “free yoself!” and “barefaced, even angelina is a tired, exhausted hag!”).
but this article does seem a warning, a shot across the bow. because there is that word again:
“a sterner minded woman.”
it shouldn’t be such a bad thing, but it appears here, obviously, as a slur.
the day before the election,janet reno died. and i was saddened to realize that what i remembered most about her was how much the media made fun of her looks. i was also startled to realize she had been the first female attorney general.
there must always be a first. and how hard that must be. to have to look cuddly, glam, perfectly coiffed, highly finished, friendly, polished yet approachable when you just want to do your job and get shit done. or to put up with the criticism when you eschew all that and, in contrast, appear “stern” or “unladylike” or “shrill” or “strident.” or like a bitch.
i want to be none of those things. can we tell those words to bugger off?
it’s nearly 2017. time for something new. let us be staunch.
staunch characters, staunch women, they don’t weaken. no matter what.