Picture: “The Baffled Knight”
Post 72 Note to blog followers: This is not my usual Buddhist post, but it is about attachment, delusion and suffering, so in a sense everything is about Buddhisim…
Post-Libbers and Equemen in Spanx
Back in the 1988 I recall a sign, “No Fat Chicks” taped on the window of a dorm room at Northeastern University, Boston. Thank goodness today, a time of post feminism, we wouldn’t see such a sign. Publicly. Probably.
Twenty four years later, April 2012 Time Magazine announces that the woman who invented Spanx undergarments (aka old-school girdles) is one of the most influential people of the year.
Years ago, back when men were men and women were broads, I was a feminist and now I am post. Actually, I was called a “women’s libber” — as in the phrase often used by my friend, Baffled American, “I believe in equal pay…but I’m no women’s libber.”
By the way, before we go any further, it is important for you to know that my friend Baffled is able to shift genders. Yes, just like shamans who can shape-shift from human to coyote, when they need to make a point. How is this possible, you may ask? Baffled claims anything is possible in this brave new era.
So–as I was saying– he, who can also be she, is glad feminism is a thing of the past. Frankly, Baffled never really understood what the problem was anyway.
She has always equated libbers with man haters and she does not want to be thought of as a man hater. Except, she says, for that cheap bastard of an ex-husband who couldn’t make enough to buy me that Lexus she needed…how could expect me to drive a two year old model…
I gently steer her from continuing this oft-repeated diatribe as I make another attempt to explain what most feminists were after back in the day. “We wanted men to be valued for more than the size of their bank accounts, and women to be valued for more than the size of their boobs.”
Baffled slips genders from she to he and says, “You got something against successful men and beautiful women?”
I start to protest, but my friend waves me off and says, with conviction, “Time for you to get over all that. You no longer need to be a libber.”
Okay, I’m ready to retire, I say, but are you sure…?
He decides that what I need is a tour of post feminist America. He wants to prove to me that, despite the women’s libbers, things are good in post-feminist America.
And I want to believe it. I really do.
He tells me I will be pleasantly surprised, that just as “you libbers” wanted, men are no longer primarily valued for their money and status. I am delighted to hear this. How wonderful that men can escape the role that restricted them to being only emotionless working stiffs. I am eager to see an example of this progress.
Baffled shows me a May 30, 2010 article in the New York Times, titled “Just Don’t Call it a Corset” in which I read that “Spanx for men has been a huge retail hit,” and that “Men’s ‘shapewear’ is the ‘next big thing’.”
The next big thing. Men in girdles! Intrigued by this new-found progress, I read on and discover that new brands like Equmen (could this be a play on the word equality?) and Sculptees “have been selling briskly.” The article quotes a fan of the products, a 43 year old software executive from Ohio who owns six Spanx crewnecks, “It enhances your figure, it fits tight, sucks you in.”
It sounds exactly like something I might have said to a woman friend. Now, at last, men and women can get sucked in together! And we can commiserate together also, as I would with the man quoted in the same New York Times article as saying “Spanx for Men is all good until you meet a chick…You gain 45 lbs when you get naked.” I feel you, bro…
At last, men and chicks are talking about what matters! I am so moved by all this, I almost start to cry. Baffled pats my shoulder–there, there– and reminds me that the poor guy can always get a tummy tuck.
We stop to have a bite to eat at Hooters. The afternoon talk show on the big screen is about bat mitzvahs at which the 14 and 15 year old girls get the “gift” of plastic surgery and breast implants to celebrate becoming a woman.
Baffled directs my attention to what she calls a “cute” You Tube video of pre-teen girls dressed in little stripper outfits, bumping and grinding through their middle school dance competition. And just a couple of weeks ago the news reported that pre-teens could now get padded bathing suit tops.
This tour of post feminist America is opening my old libber’s eyes, I think as I teeter back and forth on the five inch fire-engine-red stilettos– Baffled told me I look like a hippie in my Birkenstocks, and a hundred times more sexy. I try to tell her I’m in my 60’s and thought I could finally wear comfortable shoes. She rolls her eyes and says, “A woman should never stop trying to look sexy.”
I glance at myself in a mirror. OMG… It’s true, I’m an old bag—why didn’t I see that before! Baffled calms me down and tells me not to worry. There is a perfect solution. I can go under the knife to have the offensive old, saggy parts sliced off.
I certainly don’t wish to offend anyone with my saggy parts, so I write the check to the plastic surgeon.
Baffled comes to visit me in the hospital to assure me that this surgery isn’t crazy; this is just a little harmless nudge to my self-esteem. Besides it’s not like I would do this because I have low self-esteem. I felt great about myself before this procedure. I just want to continue to feel great about myself…
Baffled reminds me that nobody forces women to have cosmetic procedures. If a woman chooses to feel better about her body–and who is she if not her body– that’s her business. It also happens to be very good business. Baffled tells me that she heard on the Dr. Oz show that Americans spent 40-50 billion dollars last year on beauty products.
Thank God for the freedom of all these choices of products and procedures, I think. I’m about to slip under the fog of anesthesia, but not before I raise my fist in triumph and cry out, as they wheel me to the operating room, “More collagen! More collagen!”
Post-surgery, I gingerly press the TV remote instead and see a panel of middle-aged women on a talk show getting make-overs. I am feeling more confident and make the mistake of puffing out my bandaged chest which results in a searing pain in my solar plexus. I keep channel surfing through “Real Housewives of New York” who are at a Botox party, giggling and getting drunk on champagne, and the young women contestants giggling and getting drunk on beer as they compete in the wet T-shirt contest on MTV’s spring break special. Mothers and daughters having fun—heartwarming.
I push the painkiller between silicone-filled lips as puffy as a blowfish’s. It certainly is a brave new post feminist world, I say to the empty room, and I would smile only it hurts too much.
- Who’s Afraid of Post-Feminism? What It Means To Be A Feminist Today (forbes.com)
- What’s Feminism Got To Do With It? (aloftyexistence.wordpress.com)