The incisive point Meredith makes is about how men decorate their bodies and possessions (mostly cars) in an outwards space claiming fashion, and women minimalise in a near-naked, take up as little space as possible and inhibit movement fashion.
I can certainly relate to this observation – and I think it is manifested in how men and women – and indeed boys and girls – sit / are taught to sit. I remember being posed for school photographs. In group photos, I am always placed in the front left hand corner. I think this is where my height inevitably places me. Girls were always asked to put their knees together and their right hand over the top of their left. Boys were asked to sit with their knees hip-width apart, with a fist on each knee. I’m in a grade two photo where I have obviously been confused by the instructions – or don’t know which gender I am – as I have my knees together but a fist on each knee. Otherwise, I am clearly “girl”: I’m in a pink dress with my hair in pigtails either side of exposed ears.
I also had to comment with my own observation about “Promo Girls”:
On the streets in Brisbane, there are young scantily clad women in short shorts advertising … something. I assume one of our girly bars, but I am not entirely sure. I have a little argument with myself every time I see them. My first reaction is annoyance.
Then I think: No, wait. Not their fault. Probably lucrative. Should be annoyed at … something/one else. Society! It’s society’s fault.
Sometimes, pity. Aren’t they cold? Don’t they hate it when horrid men ogle them? When women look at them disapprovingly?
Sometimes, in judgment: Hmm, if you’re going to wear that, you’ll need to walk a bit taller. Swing those hips, sass it out. No use huddling into yourself.
With eyebrows raised: I don’t know that short shorts suit your cellulite*
Then in judgment on myself: That’s not very nice, Oanh. Good on them. They’re comfortable with their bodies and they’re using society’s obsession with women’s bodies /sexual object status to their advantage. Plenty of other women will look at them disapprovingly, no need for you to do so. You can be more generous than that.
With my feminist rejoinder: But they’re perpetuating women’s oppression!
Basically, I end up with all these thoughts which probably flicker across my face (I’m terrible at masking my emotions) and these women edge away from me, so I then feel forced to give them a tentative smile, just to show that I’m, er, friendly or approve or something. Which I’m not. And I don’t.
I really do not like the Promo Girls. But I also know that it is not their fault, and that the work may be a perfectly valid and probably lucrative choice.
There is also mention by Legal Eagle of an advertisement for tailor-made suits. I agree with Legal Eagle that it is valid to exploit sex appeal but I consider it inappropriate in a workplace and it occassionally angers, and sometimes saddens, me.
I think the reason is that Promo Girls and that ad perpetuate a notion of women’s power as based predominantly on their appearance and sexual worth to men. I do not agree with that. I do not think that that is valid. But I think, so long as it exists, it’s okay for my sisters to exploit it. I’m just going to keep tying myself up in knots every time I think about it, however.
*when I wrote the comment I’d forgotten the word for cellulite…(!)