philosophy

Eye Spy Spy Clothing!

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What better femme fatale to feature for spy clothing than Emma Peel from the 1960s TV show The Avengers! Contrary to what most people think about the good ole’ days though, there were a lot of risque and scandalous clothing before now. The Avengers was not at all what you’d call sexploitation, but it was around the time when women unilaterally didn’t get all up and arms about women’s rights and equality. That was up until the women’s liberation movement of second wave feminism came along in the late 60s and early 70s. Before all that, men easily got away with using women’s bodies to sell movies and to make women believe that their powers reside in their sexuality. Women have brains as much as breasts, muscles as much as… men-struation? Yes, oh so sexy.

Setting aside geeky alliteration, here are some things I came across the web that deserve some attention, good or bad.  All these are great for a well-covered feminist spy who carries around gadgets instead of lingerie for a change to save the world. I am a lingerie addict, but I can’t pretend that it does any good outside the bedroom.

scottevest-trench-coat-spy En-trenched with this trench coat. I complain about how women’s clothes are lacking in pockets, but that’s what purses are for, right? Then again, it could just be a massive conspiracy where women’s clothing designers intentionally don’t add pockets so that they can sell more bags. Check out this trench coat by Scottevest. It has 18 pockets?! They have a whole line of TEC (technology-enabled clothing) that is perfect for a spy. Oh, and I spy Amy Tan sporting the coat on their website!

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A Purse and a Boot, to Boot! Elizabeth Anne’s The European boot looks like an ordinary boot from the outside, but take a close look at the interior. This Canadian designer made the “The World’s First Purse For Your Feet.” I could see an Emma Peel in this decade wearing these as she whips out a credit card to pay for her purchases and picks up her cellphone to make a call. I’ve seen a lot of crazy fashion ideas out there, but this one seems not too far fetched from sanity. Femme fatales have been hiding knives and guns in their shoe and garter belts, pretending like they’ve obviously got nothing to hide in their skintight clothing. Oh, looks can be deceiving.

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Zoom-ba! I recently saw a commercial for Zoomies on TV, and I immediately gave it the same creepiness factor as the Snuggies commercial. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my Snuggie. It’s an odd-looking thing, but its use is so practical. Zoomies may be very useful, but they do open up a can of worms for predators. Snuggies however do not, but perhaps another person can argue otherwise.

When it comes to decisions on clothing and accessories though, I  do succumb to aesthetics over practicality almost every time. I know some people may frown upon that, but dressing up can be and is an art form for some of us. If we were to supposed to wear the most practical pants, then we’d be all wearing cargo pants. I wore cargos in the 90s, and although I really liked them at the time, I may not ever go back.

My point in this post is this— there’s nothing wrong with “impractical” clothing if you see it as beautiful. However, if you’re going to try to kick butt, make sure you do so through “practical” skills and not your body.

P.S. Thank you for choosing me as one of your top 25 political and feminist blogs in June 2013! I’m not going to take this TOO seriously for two reasons. One, I haven’t written anything on point in a while. Two, I was ahead of Michelle Malkin by two points.

Woman of a Thousand Faces

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Fifties actress Eleanor Parker, most known for her role in The Sound of Music as the baroness, was praised for her on-screen versatility and was rightfully dubbed “Woman of a Thousand Faces” by her biographer Doug McClelland. Look through the photos of her in each of these collages… amazing! Some people think that “ordinary” or “common-looking” people can sometimes look indistinguishable from one another, because they don’t stand out from the crowd. When you think about it however, if beauty is symmetry, isn’t that more conventional? To me, a runway model looks indistinguishable from the model next to her if I take off my contacts. I had personally been more attracted to seeing a charming flaw in a potential mate, because physical flaws contribute to giving someone a personality.

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I’m not trying to make you think that Eleanor is in any way ordinary looking. Oh, that woman was a knock out. I would like to point out how we women love changing ourselves out of boredom—hair, nails, clothes, you name it. Eleanor is definitely an inspiration! I myself have changed clothing styles significantly from one phase of my life to another. I used to like wearing cropped t-shirts and shorts in the 90s, dark clothes during my metal and goth punk days in middle school, and bubble gum pop skimpy clothing late middle school to early high school. In college, I was into Victorian/Rococo styles a lot because I was inspired by my fashionable Russian professor. My latest obvious vice was probably my drastic hair color changes. I look so different every few years, I cringe when I see an old photo of me. Do you feel the same about yourself?

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As much as some men don’t understand why we do it (why we pack a ton of clothes to pick from on a trip, why we do makeovers), they do admit that they like variations here and there. If you’re in a committed relationship with your man of course, you don’t want that change to happen from one woman to another! So the best that we can do to keep him guessing and interested is to do what you’ve always enjoyed any way! Do it to make yourself feel confident with your own beauty without going extreme. Extreme might have different thresholds for each person, however. For some, heavy makeup is a no-no. That is not really what I think, because makeup is my best friend. For me, it might just be cosmetic surgery. That is only because 1) I think it’s not very safe depending on the severity of the operation, and 2) if I start, I might not get fully satisfied with myself and be totally dependent on getting more done. We all need to love the closest to our natural selves as we can, because only then (and in my opinion, along with holding a solid belief in at least something worthwhile to live by or for) can we truly be fulfilled.

Have fun! Put on a fashion show in front of the mirror, wear heels at home from time to time, wear sexy underwear underneath whatever you wear, wear makeup and fragrance at home even when no one is around, treat yourself to a spa. Love yourself, and as much as you can, try not to think you that you need something to make you happy or beautiful—that includes attention or the latest MAC palette . If it comes, then it comes. If not, stay happy and believe that you’re “beautifully and wonderfully made” whether someone is looking or not. Only you can make yourself believe that—though your significant other can help you, he just can’t be the reason for your self-appreciation.

What fun things do you like to about change about yourself?

War on Women: What Would Women Do?

So Superstorm Sandy (newscasters should’ve just continued referring to it as “Frankenstorm!”) is almost over, and election campaigning will soon be back on track. (Not to gloss over Sandy—my thoughts and prayers go out to those who were in its path and were hurt or negatively affected by it.) How do you all feel about the phrase “war on women” being tossed around? Do you feel that politicians might just be using this idea as bait to get more women voters? If you consider yourself a well-informed feminist, would you vote for a candidate primarily based on social, economic, or foreign policy issues?

I personally do not like politics for politics sake, and to use my gender as a weapon for campaigning sickens me the worst. First of all, women are part of the collective human race—the same goes for every ethnic background. To decline a person from being chosen for employment primarily based on gender or race is unjust. On the flip side, to promote a person primarily based on their gender or race is also unjust. Considering that, how do you think women are being attacked from an economic standpoint—that is, if you even believe this discrimination still exists in our country?

The second reason why I hate the appeals toward women as part of a political campaign is that I care about mostly the same things men care or should care about when choosing a presidential candidate. To say anything else would be categorizing me as a separate entity not equal to men. As a woman, I should care about the economy for the future of my children and theirs as much as my husband cares about the economy to support his immediate family. To lure me in with women-only ads belittles my intelligence, leading me to believe you think this is the only—if not the primary arena I’m concerned with. For instance, these ads say that abortion is a women’s-only issue. When has it been possible to conceive without a man (or his seed) involved?

Why is it that Planned Parenthood seems to be the only place they make you think you can get affordable “women’s services,” excluding abortion? I don’t use them, but I was able to get my BCPs for $9/mo (with no insurance)! Now that I have good insurance that my husband and I picked out, I get them for free. That’s about the same deal as Planned Parenthood, if not better.

My dear fellow women, I do not need to tell you what you must do. All I want to warn you is that your world should not be limited to what they show you in a political ad. Some politicians will bait you by scaring you, making you mad, or making you feel like a victim. That is because these politicians rely on our estrogen-fueled emotions, and you need to prove that you can be as logical as men when making rational decisions. That kind of thinking, as well as our abilities, should determine our employment and our salaries—not because we are women. If your being hired is just because of your gender (or race), then you are merely part of a quota that needed to be filled.

My husband and I are not employed, but we are now proud small business owners—thank God for capitalism! Part of the reason why we felt a need to start a business together was because of his having been laid off by his job. Some of the people who weren’t laid off were arguably less qualified, but they were also definitely minorities. Maybe the company should’ve taken note that he was married to a then-jobless student minority before laying him off. I don’t need the government to make special arrangements to force employers to hire me even if I am a slacker or somehow less qualified than other applicants. I hope you get my point, despite my harsh tone.

Some time ago, during the height of my involvement with college, I used to buy into Marxist ideals. I have to say, they were always just ideals and never a plausible reality to me. Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom won me over. It is scary to see an America unfolding into a communist country, without the majority of its people even realizing it. A tactful politician can mask the ugliest thing you can think of and make you eat it up like cake.

I think the only war on women that exists (at least in the coming election) is the way that politicians make you think there is one and use it to their advantage. It’s like somebody’s trying to hypnotize us by waving pretty pearl necklaces in our faces, distracting us from all other issues and covering up huge past and pres(id)ent blunders.

You might not believe me if I say that I am not writing this politically to support a specific candidate. You’re partially right. I do know who I want to win (and so should you by now, being so close to election day). However, writing for women and as a woman, I want to preserve the integrity of our women as much as I can by telling you not to vote for a candidate because of our women’s issues. Our issues may be very important, but wise people (and even crafty terrorists like Bin Laden) know that to destroy a nation’s economy is to destroy a nation completely.

Cindy’s Centerfolds

Cindy Sherman is an American photographer who is currently based in New York and whose most famous work involves conceptual photography. Besides her multiple-persona-style-type self portraits in all their glorious absurdness, I like her best for her centerfold photography. No, I haven’t gone out of my mind.

Sherman is perhaps most noted for her Centerfold Series from 1981.  Without leaving any metallic taste in her mouth, the irony in portraying her fully dressed body (as if showing the aftermath of being raped)  in centerfold speaks volumes.

“In content I wanted a man opening up the magazine to suddenly look at it with an expectation of something lascivious and then feel like the violator that they would be. Looking at this woman who is perhaps a victim. I didn’t think of them as victims at the time… But I suppose… Obviously I’m trying to make someone feel bad for having a certain expectation.” – Cindy Sherman

Above is the photo of Cindy’s that caught my eye first. It also happens to be the most expensive photograph in the world—it sold for $3,890,500 at a Christie’s auction. You know what? Modesty is money… or gold… whatever sounds better.

If you plan on looking at Sherman’s other series, I must warn you that some of them are not for the faint of heart. The sexuality series might be a bit offensive to some, so if you want to spare your eyes from Christmas on Mars type of images (I’m sure there is a better movie to explain this, but I really am not into genitalia art), I’d stay away from that particular one. I must say, I must applaud her for this very bold and clever endeavor. Although she doesn’t consider herself a feminist or a spiritual person (as far as I know), I find her advancement against women’s objectivity attractive.

The other day I was flipping through (sealed) vintage magazines of all kinds at our local vintage treasure trove, and it’s incredible to see how drastically different the pre-war Playboy magazine covers were in comparison to today’s. I saw nothing but somewhat modest clothes on the cover (of course, that is always subjective). I really hate to think about what adult entertainment is going to be like in the future. “Adult” is just a euphemism used by the sex industry to justify what kind of audience X-rated material is intended for—that’s most of us I presume. Child pornography then is a euphemistic oxymoron (with emphasis on the second half of the latter word).

I didn’t realize how strongly didactic photography could be until Sherman came along. The trendier, flashier, and more digital photography has become, the more it has begun to leave a bad taste in my mouth. For me, photography has to be more than just the irony of capturing the still “beauty” of life while manipulating it, or enhancing reality to make it attractive to an agreeable majority. Truth be told, we are all guilty of distorting our own realities, of wanting to make ourselves or anything that reflects us better than our actual selves. When does it become unhealthy or even just plain commercial? I think that if your goals are noble and truly (not in an amoral sense) benefit more than just yourself (like in Sherman’s case), then a different projection of yourself is justifiably art in action.