Monday, July 13, 2009

Running in Heels, or Why I Hate Shopping for Pants

This will be a short bit of a rant, because I doubt that I will be able to articulate why this bugged me on a feminist level in any sort of a meaningful way. If you happen to be reading, and think you can help me make this clearer, please feel free to comment!

I am on an endless quest for pants. Not just any pants, and not jeans, though that is the cliché. I spend ridiculous amounts of time looking for dress pants that I can wear to the office, and that I can wear, more specifically, with flats. While I work in an office, I also spend a good chunk of my work days walking. As a victim advocate, I am constantly running back and forth between the office, the county courthouse, the city courthouse, the police station, the hospital, and various other sites where one might find a crime victim. This means, that while heels supposedly look more polished and professional, they are never very practical, and they cause a great deal of back pain, foot pain, blistering, and general discomfort. I know that this is not just a problem isolated to those of us who work in offices, as when I waited tables, and later slung coffee, I still needed dress pants to fit the dress codes, but couldn't be working in heels.

Given that a good deal of women in the world must work in pants, and that many of us can't work in heels, why is it so difficult to find pants that aren't a good three to six inches longer than our legs? I am a small woman; I am 5'4", but even the pants that fit on my little frame are much, much too long. And then, top that with the fact that many stores carry a tall line of clothing, or have long cuts (which are inches longer than "regular," which is still inches longer my legs), meaning that these super long legged pants are not even the longest out there. All pants that I come into contact these days seem to be designed to be worn with heels. Or to be worn only by supermodels, and, to be fair, tall, skinny gals need pants, too.

But why can't I find pants that I don't need to hem? I remember reading Susan Faludi's Backlash with utter amazement when it came to the chapters on fashion. Faludi said (and cited studies, if I remember correctly) that showed women's apparel needs were drastically different than what was being offered by clothing retailers. Women wanted practical clothing, and they were given micro-minis and pouffy cocktail dresses. For those who are constantly yelling about letting the market correct itself, it seems that occasionally, the market is far more interested in imposing its own ideas of what people ought want to buy, and in this case, what women should be wearing.

There are petite offerings, but so far, unless I want to go to a store specifically for petite women (and the clothes in those shops are too old for me; I feel like I'm trying on a costume), I have to purchase my clothes online. That means, I can't try them on, and I have to do quite a bit of guesswork, crossing my fingers that when my pants arrive they are the color promised onscreen, and that they actually fit. It's terribly frustrating.

I said this would be short. It was not. Neither is the inseam on my pants.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Healthcare Reform

While healthcare reform legislation is moving forward, opponents in the house and senate are gearing up to make the legislation as meaningless as possible, especially for women.

According to this article, while President Obama insists that he still wants reform completed by August, he seems not to believe that his role is one of leading reform.

Despite a lack of consensus over cost, funding and whether to provide a "public" government insurance plan that would compete with private companies, Obama's Health and Human Services secretary said Sunday that the White House will not micromanage Congress. Any plan to overhaul the system "needs to be owned by the House and the Senate," Kathleen Sebelius told CNN's State of the Union.

Like the analysts mentioned in the article, I really question this kind of strategy. Though Pres. Obama states that his job is to inspire confidence in the American people regarding this reform, polls show the majority of Americans support for universal healthcare, with some polls putting that support at 72%. It seems clear that President Obama ought focus his energies on the house and senate, and even some in his own party, when embarking on a campaign to inspire confidence in healthcare reform. And if he is truly concerned about support from American citizens, he might inspire confidence in me if he started standing up for the reproductive rights of women. Cara puts it succinctly:

[I]t would be an enormous tragedy to finally have health care reform passed, only for access to vital services to be kept out of the deal — leaving some who will need to switch to a government plan for cost reasons with less coverage than they had before...And lastly, because we can’t expect elected officials to follow the poll numbers if they don’t even know about them. The pressure that they usually end up feeling comes from anti-choicers because, well, unfortunatley anti-choicers are really good at that sort of thing. This time around, they absolutely need to hear it from us, too.

I'll repeat my call to action from yesterday's post. Please, please, look up your representatives, and speak up! You can find your reps here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cruel and Unusual

So... I've only posted things every now and again, and it is well within the realm of possibility that no one checks on this page at all, BUT, I don't mind throwing posts out into the ethos. Here goes:

I've been reading quite a bit recently about the horrific conditions under which incarcerated women give birth in the United States. Several articles, both in the mainstream media and on blogs, have come out to shed light on this issue, and I'd like to join the chorus. Shackling a woman when she gives birth is a clear violation of the Eight Amendment, and should not be tolerated. Women who have undergone childbirth in these conditions detain the practice as humiliating, and in some cases it causes injury. The following is taken from the linked article, on RH Reality Check.

Consider the case of Shawanna Nelson.

When Nelson was six months pregnant, she was incarcerated in Arkansas for passing bad checks. She went into labor during her short sentence. A correctional officer shackled her legs to opposite sides of the bed that transported her to a delivery room, removing them briefly during a nurse's examination. Nelson was re-shackled immediately after giving birth to her nine-pound son.

"She suffered both mental anguish and injury to her back, intense pain because she couldn't move or adjust her position through her birth process," said Dana Sussman, legal fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Nelson later had surgery to treat symptoms resulting from the delivery of her son, according to The Arkansas Times.

Please take the time to contact your representatives, and tell them that this is unacceptable.