Philosophical Thoughts From a Feminist in High Heels

There are times when I wish I could be one of those women content to accept that the world is unfair and that some people are more important than others.

If I could actually believe that, life would be so much simpler.

The problem is that simple bores me and unfairness angers me, especially when it’s perpetuated by people who use inequality to meet their own need for influence, power and/or sense of security.

Even though I hate discrimination of any type, my personal experiences are limited to dealing with sexism. And lately, we seem to be moving backwards on that issue.

Women are facing more sexist attitudes than we did when I was in my twenties. At least it feels that way. Maybe because when I was younger, I attributed personal slights to my being inexperienced. But now, I’ve got a whole lot more  experience yet the attitudes and behaviors persist. And women are having to fight battles I thought we’d won years before.

Admittedly, I’ve been more passive than I should be.

Perhaps it’s because protecting myself has sometimes outweighed standing up for what’s right.  Or perhaps it’s because sexism can be so subtle that people have made an art form of camouflaging it. Or perhaps it’s because the issues are just too confusing.

Take, for example, shoes.

I recently heard that a woman who wears high heels (but not too high) is taken more seriously in the workplace than a woman who wears flats.

As someone who would sleep in high heels if it were feasible, you’d think I’d find this piece of information encouraging. Not at all.

The whole issue is absurd. The height of a woman’s shoe shouldn’t matter at all as long as she can do her job. But apparently it does. And since women have a lot more choices than men when it comes to footwear, we are also more likely to make decisions that can distract from our skills and abilities.

The same can be said for words we use to describe ourselves. Take, for example, the word feminist.

There are those people who picture a feminist as a woman who hates men, doesn’t shave her legs, dresses like a hippy and has extreme points of view about reproduction.

Umm.. no.  As a feminist, that doesn’t describe me at all.

I love men. I shave my legs. I wear make-up. I’m not an extremist on any subject, and I even let my daughter play with Barbie.

Being a feminist has nothing to do with how I dress or who I love.

It’s about taking time to question how women are being treated. It’s about ensuring that, when other factors are equal, women are given the same opportunities as men. It’s about pushing people to think about how fair they are being.

Would the salary be the same if a man had the job?  Does a woman really have the same opportunity to break into the “good old boys’ network? Is the  spouse’s employment relevant?

Ironically, as I was writing this, my daughter looked over my shoulder and asked, “What exactly is a feminist?”

“It’s someone who believes women should have the same opportunities as men,” I said.

“Duh,”  she said in a voice and manner that only 10 year-old girls  can get away with.

“Exactly,”  I said. “Duh.”

And hearing that one word come out of my daughter’s mouth put the fight right back in me.

Watch out world, this feminist in high heels is on a mission to ensure life is more fair for her daughter.

About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a theater kid in high school, a band kid at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on March 24, 2012, in My life, perspective, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I’m curious about what is behind this perception. Men have their own versions of this, for example I am sure ties score you higher than no ties at work.

    Also, HEIGHT. Simply being tall is a social and professional asset, do heels play into that?

    It’s all goofy, but there will always be some things that are advantages over other things I think. As someone who is increasingly challenged by high heels, I suppose I’ll have to start wearing a tie!

    • As I recall, the heels thing had to do with confidence.. as in women who wear heels appear more confident than women who don’t…they probably also appear my youthful as the older we get, the shorter are heels seem to get… but that’s a whole other blog.

  2. Another great blog!!!! I always look forward to your next one!!!!

  3. Thanks Betty….. maybe you be my guest blogger and write about beach access!!!!

  4. As an “OLD” woman I can’t wear heels anymore. After wearing Spike heels for years I have had many foot problems. ALready had 2 surgeries and need another for a bunion, that is stress related from high heels. I am certainly confident about myself and don’t need heels to prove it. Might be fun to wear a tie. NOT !!!!!!!!!! DUHHHHHHHH. You know I always love your blogs.

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