In the realm of advances and improvements, we’ve seen some of both in the recent mid-term elections, especially here in New Mexico where the whole state turned blue. We elected Deb Haaland, one of two Native women to go to Congress—she is from Laguna Pueblo— and several more women to state and local offices, including one a friend had opined would never be elected because she is “a girl and a Mexican.” As it happens, she is neither.
But I also look for changes that seem smaller, even ridiculously small, and yet may herald changed attitudes in this slow-moving country of ours.
News stories this week mentioned the declining sales at Victoria’s Secret, once the crown princess of every city mall. Can this mean—is it possible?—that we no longer want to wear push-up bras, thongs, peek-a-boo nightgowns and all the other trash the patriarchy has been pushing ever since seeing a woman’s ankle was a turn-on?
I remember going to one of these sex-wear emporiums a few years ago in search of winter pajamas—it was in a city I didn’t know, and the Victoria’s Secret was close to where I was staying.
They didn’t carry any winter pajamas. Scanning the racks, I felt embarrassed. Who would imagine flannel lined up with turquoise nylon?
Was I out of my mind, or simply aged-out? The women who were shopping all looked petty young, but that didn’t seem to be the whole story…
Remember when we were trying to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, and nearly succeeded, until a rumor erupted that women would be using men’s bathrooms? (Transgender people are fighting the same fight now, as though those dismal tile enclosures with their forbidding mechanisms were perfumed gardens of iniquity!)
And then there was the apparently-won battle called Equal Pay for Equal Work. President Obama lauded the passing of the Lily Ledbetter Act and it seemed as though somehow Equal Pay would result in the raising of the minimum wage—for everyone.
It didn’t. It was never enforced. I wonder how Ledbetter, the hard-working, risk-taking woman whose determination to contest her lower wages than those of men laboring beside her in a tire factory, feels now.
As Dr. Ford said during the recent infamous trial, she had dreaded that coming forward would only mean she was thrown under the bus.
As she was.
The patriarchy turned on her after her testimony tooth and nail.
What does this have to do with trashy underwear?
One of our more radical feminists used to infuriate people by saying that married women “sang for their supper”—to put it politely.
In other words, as long as many of us are economically dependent on men, we better buy, and wear, that push-up bra.
But the times they are a changing.