Archive for July, 2012

Catwomen

If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises yet, I strongly recommend it. I’m no film critic, but what I can tell you is that Christopher Nolan is a god, the special effects are jaw-dropping (and yet not overdone), the story is intricate and reflects a lot of issues germane to our times, the female characters are immensely powerful, and that other than one fleeting moment of bogus acting, which would be a spoiler if I revealed it, I can’t fault a performance.

A stand-out? Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, who is not overtly referred to but obviously known as the Catwoman.

I cannot imagine that men don’t love her, possibly because my vision is clouded by my own adoration. Other than a sketchy past that she’s trying to escape (who amongst us?), she’s everything you want to be: clever, wry, mechanical, supremely sexy, spandexed, shapely and super-fit. Plus, she has a great collection of little black dresses which are ladylike and vampy at once. And, she can work a string of pearls better than Jackie O on a good day.

But here’s what I love most about the superwoman that is Catwoman. She is literally a super woman. She is resolutely and unapologetically female. She purrs, she works her feminine wiles, she uses her typically female powers of nuanced and critical thinking and in the end, she still opens herself up to love… ultimately coming back to her man (again, I ask: who amongst us?).

And that’s my take on feminism — and the very point of this blog. We win when we do what we do best — and that is precisely what we were genetically programmed to do: Be. Women.

I am a proud feminist and because of that, I embrace what is feminine. What scares me is the notion that we must be bashful about our womanly ways in order to be taken seriously. So what do we get? ‘Professional’ women dressed in genderless suits, acting like poor imitations of their male counterparts and beating themselves up over the notion of having it all (a paradigm that has never, nor will ever, exist for men).

There are some damn good mimics out there, but an imitation is never as good as the real thing. Instead of trying to be something that we’re not — or worse, a new, androgynous category that never existed — why don’t we make the most of what we are? Proudly, strongly feminine.

Ladies, please… don’t neuter your Catwoman.

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Perfume

I was at a perfume counter with a friend when she recounted a story about how her husband loved Shalimar because his adored Aunt wore it when he was a kid, and it has since stuck in his consciousness as a symbol of femininity. The woman behind the counter listened intently and butted in with a thick New York accent – and opinion.

‘All men like Shalimar,’ she said. ‘It’s the scent of a real woman.’ She proceeded to envelop us both in a gas cloud of the stuff, continuing to proselytize about her perfume choices. She warned us that men don’t like ‘these new fragrances that make you smell like you just came from the shower.’ No, she said, they like it strong and musky. ‘They like to know you’ve made an effort.’

I can’t say whether she’s right about Shalimar or not, but the sales woman hit on something when it comes to making an effort.

So I recently attended a political meeting. The content was thought-provoking. The people were brilliant. They expressed themselves so passionately and articulately that I envied them like an agnostic who hungers to know what real faith feels like. But that’s substance, what about the style?

The fact is, that room smelled like sandals and dandruff. Gazing at the nodding heads, I spied grey roots, grease, a potential spiral perm and two (TWO!!) scrunchies. And the woolens?! How many llamas froze to death for that meeting?

Now let’s rewind to a less serious evening: date night. The pre-date prep was immense. I showered, I shaved, I scented; I used product in my hair (Kerastase for God’s sake, the good stuff!). By the time I showed up for that date, I wondered what it must be like to be a man and I envied them, too. I mean, I love a man – and the scruffier the better – but while we show up scrubbed and sweetly smelling, they, like my political friends, often reek of head.

Yes, it’s another double standard.  They can be sloppy and still score and we may not have that luxury. This is precisely where my political allegory clicks. It comes down to this: whether you’re a woman on the pull or a party out for polling results, it often doesn’t matter what you’re saying if your audience doesn’t think you look good saying it. Or if it all smells just a bit funny.

Should higher-minded issues to be cloaked by superficiality? No. But you wouldn’t hide your intellectual light under a bushel, so don’t hide it under a fusty smelling llama jumper either.

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Bras

So you know how men always make fun of women for their obsession with shoes and handbags? I can’t say I don’t relate, but when it comes to the ultimate indulgence, the one thing that makes me part with my cash most quickly is bras. As the good women at Fenwick will attest (especially during the summer sales), I can’t get enough of them.

I think it started early for me. Like a high heel, when you’re a little girl, you see certain things as a sign of latent womanhood. Not to sound creepy, but watching your mother dress for a night out in (at the risk of aging myself) a slip and a bra … and boom – you future gaze to (what you think and hope will be) your glamorous adult life.

So what is about bras? A lot. There’s the obvious fact that they boost the ultimate symbol of your femininity: your breasts. And they make them look really pretty. In fact, of all the things we get to wear, bras are one of the most flattering, whether your flat or full chested, skinny or ample.

And let’s face it, I can get girly, and bras are lacey and colourful.

Or, let’s face it, I can be a perve, and bras can be dark and kinky, like some of my favourites at Marlies Dekkers or Agent Provocateur (the Bubble collection is a good ‘un).

Or I can be playful, and I can shop nipple tassels and pasties from my very talented and gorgeous friend Gaby Kennedy.

The point is, there is a lot to say for bras because there is a lot to say for women — and like bras, we are certainly about more than our breasts. But the best part is that only the wearer knows what’s going on underneath until she decides to show it off.

I know I’ve been waxing poetic about bras, but there is a caution. When we parade around in our skivvies, we should feel beautiful and sexy. That’s great — it’s one of the best things about intimacy. But when we’re in our smalls, are we more aware of what we’re doing to him, or what he’s doing for us?

It’s a well-known fact that men punch above their weight and women accept a bigger differential on a 10 point scale. Anyone who has ever been to the gym observes this phenomenon. A fit woman walks by two beer-bellied men at the water cooler (note: they are not working out) and they comment, pejoratively, on her ass, or her thighs or some such thing they feel requires improvement. Meanwhile, those same men might be in relationships with women who internally recognise their partners are pregnant with carbs but instead beam with pride about their kindness, sensitivity and sense of humour.

Do I want women to be more shallow? No … but yes. Well, a little.

I want us to retain our substance and the complexity and the acceptance that comes with being female. But I also want us to feel we deserve the whole package. The way men do.

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