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Are women's clothes deliberately designed to put us at a physical disadvantage?

(20 Posts)
MaMight Sun 06-Sep-09 11:14:28

Serious question.

I saw an ordinary, fairly wealthy, middle aged couple at the airport.
He wore: Jeans; flat, sturdy, comfortable shoes; shirt; jumper; jacket.
She wore: Short, cotton shift dress; heels; pretty but not terribly warm bollero jacket thing; handbag (no pockets in clothes).

Now, if a visitor to our planet were to be given basic details about us and asked to design practical body coverings for travel, he would come up with man clothes, not woman clothes.

What she was wearing was in no way remarkable and she looked nice, but it stuck me how completely ridiculous women's clothes are.

Similarly, we had a last minute trip to the swimming pool yesterday. Dh and I threw on our swimming costumes. Gues which one of us had to nip to the bathroom to shave off some bloody pubic hair? FFS! I wear an ordinary, boring, M&S swimming cozzie and I have to remove my pubic hair to go swimming!

Okay, I don't have to, but you just do, don't you?

Where are my baggy shorts for maximum sun coverage and sensible, practical comfort? Why does my costume have to reveal every lump and bump? Why dont I get pockets?

I realise there are choices and that no one has to wear shift dresses or high heels or have long hair (getting in my eyes, sticking to my lip balm as soon as the wind blows grrr).

It just seems very unfair that good and positive and smiled-upon clothing choices for men are so comfortable and forgiving and practical, while the same is not true of women. I can wear my flip flops, jeans and hoodie, but I don't look great doing so.

Also, no man ever felt obliged to smear colourful paints on his face before hitting the pub for a pint wih his mates. Yes, I know I don't have to either, and most often I don't.

I'm starting to feel more than a bit cross about it. What do you think?

LaurieFairyCake Sun 06-Sep-09 11:17:51

consider reading 'the beauty myth' by naomi wolf smile

or 'the whole woman' by germaine greer if you want to get properly furious wink

MaMight Sun 06-Sep-09 11:19:59

Oh! They are both on my list but my library doesn't have them. Will resort to putting them on my Christmas list I think.

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 06-Sep-09 11:38:33

I've thought this for years but depiste reading The Beauty Myth still get torn about what I wear. When blokes don't.
I still wear frumpy clothes because of lack of time and money and the feeling I look hideous but its now bothering me.
Ridiculous isn't it.

High heels are the maddest things. Designed to fuck up your back and stop you running away. And don't get me strated on women starving themsleves or having plastic surgery or injecting crap into their faces angry

GeekIsGood Sun 06-Sep-09 11:39:08

Definitely agree. Why are women's clothes almost always designed to cling to the body when men get away with baggy t shirts and jeans.

And high heels - so that we can't run away?! hmm

GeekIsGood Sun 06-Sep-09 11:40:06

X-posted Riven! I guess you don't like heels either.

janeite Sun 06-Sep-09 11:43:44

Oh the pockets thing is such a pain. I am always losing my keys at work because I pop them down somewhere and then forget. Maybe a bum bag is the answer?!

Overall though, women do get much more variety than men - even if it is often a pain.

EyeballsintheSky Sun 06-Sep-09 11:43:51

I never ever ever wear heels and at 5' 2" I 'should' according to all and sundry. But hmm, birkies and Wrangler boots vs tottery, foot achingly torturous heels? Not a chance.

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 06-Sep-09 11:44:06

dreadful things. It makes a woman so un-mobile. I don't think they look nice either.
And tight uncomfortable clothes.
And why do we shave our body hair off and men don't?

southeastastra Sun 06-Sep-09 11:45:06

i like boys clothes myself grin live in jeans with pockets and trainers most of the time.

i once rejected a job as women had to wear skirts. was so mad about that.

SoupDragon Sun 06-Sep-09 11:45:40

[shrug] I always wear practical clothes to travel in.

TrillianAstra Sun 06-Sep-09 11:45:53

OTOH I like that we have an a amazing amount of choice in what we wear. The variations in colour, fabric, and shape are much greater than for men's clothes.

AnyFuleKno Sun 06-Sep-09 11:46:20

When I go swimming I wear shorts to avoid the shaving debacle - but then I am also quite fat. I have read both the Naomi Wolf book and the Germaine Greer book. I found they made me angry but also quite guilty for wanting to wear nice clothes and makeup.

SoupDragon Sun 06-Sep-09 11:47:13

Almost sounds like you're writing an article about it... wink

AnyFuleKno Sun 06-Sep-09 11:47:51

Should add - shorts over a swimming costume - not naked top half like a man (shudder)

MaMight Sun 06-Sep-09 11:53:21

Lol Soupy. Journalist Spotting Paranoia On Mumsnet Causes Massive Fall In House Prices.

RubberDuck Sun 06-Sep-09 13:23:52

Totally agree that women's clothing is impractical, but I'm not sure that it puts at us a physical disadvantage (any more than we already have, anyway) - more of a psychological disadvantage due to social conditioning.

Heels in particular can make an awesome weapon - scraped down a shin, or even slipped off and aim the pointy bit at a nice vulnerable eye. Yes, they're hard to run in, but again, if you can slip them off easily to run then there's not much of a delay.

I have recently started learning a martial art and one week we had to train in normal clothes rather than our training gear - it was definitely odd, but found it much more of a psychological disadvantage than a physical disadvantage even with heels on - my balance was different, but I could still kick/pivot/strike. There is no earthly reason why you're more vulnerable in a floaty skirt than you would be in jeans. BUT it was hard to get into the mindset of being someone who could fight in more feminine clothing, for some reason.

There's a great thread on a martial arts board I sometimes read called Nice Martial Artists Wear Skirts! which explores how gender conditioning kicks in when wearing more feminine clothing and how to train yourself out of that mindset.

HelenaBonhamCarter Sun 06-Sep-09 16:45:54

I just sent back a coat because I couldn't move my arms in it.

I think we just need to refuse to wear silly impractical stuff.

I've known a lot of women who looked brilliant in very practical, almost masculine type clothes. It depends how you wear it.

I can't stand wearing ickle pretty stuff. It does make me feel very, erm, weak.

gallery Sun 06-Sep-09 21:59:54

it so depends....sometimes I want to wear clothes with pockets- where can i slip a tampon into so it is handy? But yes, I agree I have raged about women's jackets with no pockets etc. Interestingly, I recently went on a commumications course(not that it had any impact as you can tell) where they advised men not to stand there with their hand in their pocket pointing at their dick. Hmm I thought, good reason for women not to have to bother with pockets- at least we are not at risk here...

mathanxiety Mon 07-Sep-09 00:41:48

I hate high heels; they are designed to make your rear end stick out and look more attractive for men, hate tights, hate jackets and pants and you name it without pockets or with only tiny pockets, especially interior pockets. And what is going on with those ginormous handbags full of all your earthly belongings I see being lugged around? I bought two nice swimming skirts and also two boyshort style tankini bottoms plus nice long tankini tops in the US, enough to keep me going for a long, long time. The boyshorts look a little retro, and I suffer no more panic at the pool when I remember too late I didn't
The huge difference between clothes for teenage boys and teenage girls bothers and saddens me. Seems like girls are expected to be on parade constantly even when dressed, and much colder than boys in winter, with light fabrics, flimsy shoes.

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