I consider myself a feminist; I love men, I am married, I wear steel boned corsets, false eyelashes and fake tan; I have stopped short of plastic surgery, but I support people who feel the need for it in their lives.
But these are all expressions of my identity, I am the girl who never grew out of the dress-up box and I am happy to bring it into my adult life. I have used it to play with people’s conceptions of image, and I have spent a lot of my career working ideas around image and perceptions of image, and now there is a growing body of research based on the examining of women in the workplace. Universities like Harvard, Florida, George Washington, Cleveland State; Hospitals like Massachusetts General and Harvard Medical School – have all been involved in extensive studies based around women’s appearance and what they could be worth or how they are thought of in the work environment.
Women are judged more harshly on their appearance than men, and I am a feminist and, therefore, many may see me playing this game of pandering to society’s unwritten rules of acceptable appearance, as counter intuitive. I would like to state that I do so knowingly and purposefully in order to gain acceptance from the sheeple, so in the future I can be a positive influence for the acceptance of difference in all its glorious variety. I am a spy with lipstick on, I like lipstick, and we can have both. I train teams of women in the arts of counter espionage, to become ‘sleepers’, if you like, who know that we are playing a game – the game of socially acceptable rules of appearance, so that once they are in positions of authority, influence and power, they can lead an avalanche of change.
If you are doubtful of the importance of women’s appearance, their capacity to earn, be taken seriously, and the importance placed on it … check out this article from Forbes http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/05/appearance-work-pay-forbes-woman-leadership-body-weight.html , and this one in Project Syndicate by Naomi Wolf http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/women-s-appearance-and-workplace-sexism-by-naomi-wolf. There are numerous articles similar to this one exploring other different nuances, but they all arrive at similar conclusions. ‘Ladies, you need to look good, dress well, and be a certain size before you open your mouth to be successful. And then, you will still be paid less, be noticed less and be taken less seriously than your male counterparts, regardless of your education, intelligence or qualifications.’
A recent speech delivered by Hillary Clinton on 18 September 2014, referring to new research from America that shows that women are significantly more likely to live in poverty than men, warns that women earning the minimum wage or who are reliant on tips were “really on the brink”. Clinton said, “We talk about a glass ceiling – these women don’t even have a secure floor under them” – this phenomenon isn’t just an American issue, I believe it is systemic worldwide. That more often than not in our developed first world, as well as in the third world, women are second, paid less, treated as inferior; I even caught one of my highly-educated, man-scaped, metro-sexual liberated, almond-milk flat white, merlot drinking, male friends making sweeping chauvinistic statements. He made a passing comment to a female artist friend of mine, that at least her art didn’t have to support her family. He assumed that because she had a boyfriend he supported her and her children, or the father of her children did. She is widowed, her boyfriend is a boyfriend, he doesn’t contribute financially to her life and nor should he. Thankfully my artist friend set my male friend straight, immediately, without any personal details. A man would never be subjected to that degree of undermining of his career. Imagine trivialising a man’s profession to the level of a hobby! We have such a long way to go.
“We talk about a glass ceiling – these women don’t even have a secure floor under them.”
Focusing on making women look good in the current climate, adhering to the ideals of societal norms, is a road to empowerment. Teaching the knowledge – whilst also informing that it is a game, that it is a glamour (the Etymology of the word glamour is that it comes from the Scottish term ‘gramarye’ which translates to magic, enchantment, a spell affecting the eye, a kind of haze in the air) and it isn’t real, is where the power truly lies.
‘Real’ is who people are on the inside – what their values, skills and beliefs are. Not what their packaging is. Until the sheeple believe this I will keep educating people to knowingly play the game better than any other players. They will be the best stealth agents, positioned to make change, from the inside out. In their environments, as they can, when they can, with the resources they have.
This is my wish for the world; that all the fantastic wonderful women, in all the formidable divinity that they are and were created as, are happy to be just who they want to be, or want to become, with no limits. I choose to help it happen through personal grooming and exploration of costume. Some of it may seem very trivial, but it all comes from a very feminist centred and empowered view point.
Be your most formidable self,
PS Check out Emma Watson and her definition of feminism, rocking it at the UN!