Heels, and Conservative Feminism

I wore heels the other day. The occasion was a lunch, and wearing heels felt right, mainly because I figured I’d be seated most of the time, but also wanted to check whether I could still walk in them. I could, and now don’t have to try again for another year or so.

I am clearly not alone having deep thoughts about footwear: Sali Hughes just wrote a piece about ditching heels in the Guardian. Her conclusions are similar to mine: heels, not necessary anymore. Also, we shall not ever in this world wear Crocs. All this seems reasonable and straightforward.

Sali and I have company. I have been trying to order some limited edition Birkenstocks online, and have had no luck so far – and my attempts already pan over a couple of months (actually, the pandemic). The whole Europe is buying Birkenstocks, and Bottega’s It-shoe du jour seems to be a chunky boot rather than a vertiginous heel with a sorry excuse of a strap that’s somehow supposed to hold the sole attached to one’s foot.

Similarly friends are reporting about changes in their underwear habits. Complicated, underwired bras with bells and whistles, confusingly labelled sexy many moons back, have been ditched in favour of more unrestrictive situations. Many admit to not wearing a bra at all when working from home.

This is fascinating, because it is directly linked to us not having to wear certain types of professional or social uniforms. What flies off first? Uncomfortable, restrictive pieces of clothing.

But it wouldn’t be 2020 without attempts at putting women back in tight girdles – figuratively speaking, at least. Justice Ginsburg has not yet been laid to rest as her successor was announced last night. Ultra -conservative Amy Coney Barrett is likely up for a confirmation vote in the coming weeks, unless there will be some unexpected lucky strike which there won’t be.

It might be a shit time to be alive for everybody, except political commentators. There isn’t a happenstance in the world these days without its very own social media altercation. RBG’s death just before the US election of course was going to be a catalyst for chaos. Few countries are as divided on women’s right to their own reproductive organs as the United States, and a no-brainer for winning conservative votes is to promise to install as many anti-abortion Supreme Court Judges as possible so as to secure the reversal of Roe v. Wade at their soonest convenience.

Comments and analyses about Coney Barrett are aplenty, and I read some. Many say it’s her juridic credentials that should count, not her beliefs and religion. Maybe in a normal world. But the US Supreme Court does not exist primarily to legislate, but to act as an extension of the government, cementing its political decisions into law.
(This begs the question why the justices continue to be appointed for life, as they clearly serve as politicians on the bench these days.)

Appointing a woman to the bench is maybe seen as a clever trompe l’oeil – a woman is a woman is a woman: who can tell a difference between them anyway? Who cares if the appointee is part of a religious real-life sect straight out of Handmaid’s Tale? Not Ross Douthat of the New York Times, who in a recent column consoled mourning feminists that by basing the country’s laws on batshit crazy, out of date Bible interpretations and calling it conservative feminism, the bitter loss of losing RBG could seem sweeter, because hey, feminism!

And what he precisely meant by conservative feminists is that they acknowledge how “feminism’s victories were somewhat unbalanced, that they were kinder to professional ambition than to other human aspirations, and that the society they forged has lost its equilibrium not just in work-life balance but also in other areas — sex and romance and marriage and child rearing, with the sexes increasingly alienated from one another and too many children desired but never born.

I accept some women’s arguments against woman’s right to her own body. I do not understand such viewpoint, but I accept it.
I have much more trouble accepting that word ‘feminism’ should ornate the description of an ultra-conservative originalist, whose own community until very recently called men the ‘leaders’ and women ‘handmaids’, just because she is a woman. Being a woman des not make a person feminist. In fairness, Douthat also makes the point of questioning the existence (and survival) of conservative feminism.

Again, his is just one opinion in the vast ocean of self-proclaimed certainties, but the piece strikes a chord in that it suggests a nation-wide, possibly international, rethinking of feminism following Coney Barrett’s likely appointment.

History is already going backwards at an impressive speed, so the time might be ripe for us to give a standing ovation to the new feminist hero who will overturn abortion legislation, as Erika Bachiochi opined in Politico.

On a plus side it is good to (still) be able to read opinions that are different from mine. And I do acknowledge that feminism, like all socio-political movements is in constant, evolving flux, and people will have to be able and allowed to critically assess it.

But I do have my red line and limit with defining feminism, much like I have with Crocs.
Reversing women’s rights in any way can never be called feminism.

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