Hoisting Petards and the Patriarchy

Have you ever heard the phrase “hoist by his own petard”? As in the sentence “Newt Gingrich was hoist by his own petard: his general douchebaggery has probably cost him the presidency”?

Do you have any idea what a petard is?

Seriously. I have talked to dozens of people who have used the phrase, and not a single one of them knows what a petard is. The meaning is understood, but the words might as well just be a bunch of random syllables for all the meaning we’re getting out of them. According to Wikipedia, “hoist by his own petard” means “blown up with his own bomb,” that it derives from Hamlet, and that it was originally a fart joke, because Shakespeare.

You know what that means? The phrase “hoist by his own petard” has stuck around approximately three hundred years after anyone knew what the hell it meant.

The same thing is true with the patriarchy.

We’ve discussed in this blog before the practical problems with the term ‘patriarchy,‘ but I absolutely refuse to write an entire article using the phrase “the institutional, societal system of sexism” every two sentences, so we’ll just have to live with it. Just to be clear about my terminology use: “patriarchy” does not mean a gender system that benefits men, it means a gender system which benefits patriarchs. Men who are not hegemonically masculine get fucked over– whether they’re feminine, gay, unsuccessful, young, poor, of color, unathletic, or what.

Here’s the thing: our gender assumptions are not old. The whole “man goes to work outside the home, woman stays home” thing is not more than a few hundred years old at best– it got its start with the Industrial Revolution. Before that, the majority of people worked within the household, even if men and women tended to have different tasks; for most people, there wasn’t really an “outside the home” to go work at. (Note: I am generalizing over thousands of years of history here. The generalization usually holds true, but I don’t want to make the mistake of painting The Past as this homogeneous entity. It’s not.)

Even after the Industrial Revolution, a whole fuckload of people didn’t get to participate in the “domestic angel too pure for this sinful earth” separate spheres bullshit. Poor women, for instance, always worked. Women of color always worked. And I’m pretty sure there were a fuckload of slave women who would be quite surprised to discover how much their masters respected and honored women.

And then the Second Wave happened. I think it’s really difficult for those of us who grew up after the Second Wave to realize how much fucking changed because of it. When my mother was growing up, her teacher assigned her class to write an essay on what they wanted to be when they grew up, and told the female students they could write about how they wanted to be a teacher, nurse, or housewife. (My mother, being my mother, said that she wanted to be an acrobat.) When I was growing up, my teacher arranged for a female scientist to speak to us about how we could grow up to be whatever we wanted to be. It’s a completely different situation.

And then we get into the Petard Problem. Even though no one remembers what a petard is, we keep saying the phrase “hoist by his own petard,” because Tradition! Even though no one remembers why we’re supposed to believe all this crappy, patriarchal shit, we keep believing it, because Tradition!

Take the whole “golddigger” concept. The idea that men should pay for meals (to show off that they have money and hence are desirable). The Harlequin Romance guidelines that basically require that the hero be a member of the 1%. My grandmother’s advice that it’s as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one. My father’s advice that, if I intended on being a writer, I ought to marry someone rich. I don’t think men get half this shit.

And the thing is, it makes sense! If, as a middle-class woman, you are not going to be able to work outside the home, it makes sense to select your husband as much for his earning capability as his personality, character, or forearms. Your economic stability for the rest of your life is going to depend on whether he has money. Whether you marry a rich man means the difference between going on nice European vacations and having to choose between food and rent.

But the thing is, now women can earn their own money. We don’t have to marry men to support us! We can marry men (or women, or miscellaneous) with charming personalities, good character, and nice forearms, who also happen to make poverty-level wages, and then support them! Or, more realistically, given the levels of assortative mating, make poverty-level wages together.

And the weirdest part is that as I write this I feel a kind of… instinctive revulsion. On an intellectual level, I know that a poor woman is exactly as desirable as a poor man, and yet I cannot help but think that the waitress swept away by a dashing entrepreneur is a romantic heroine, and a waiter swept away by a dashing entrepreneur is kind of a loser. This shit is buried down deep.

But that doesn’t change the fact that all this “women should marry a rich man” stuff is just… hangovers. Random detritus left over. Strategies that, in their time, were logical and helped people, but have long outlived their usefulness– just like “hoist by his own petard” was once a vivid image and apparently a fart joke, but has long outlived its meaningfulness.

About ozyfrantz

Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.

Comments

  1. Or a legacy of sapping and the black powder era when charges were as dangerous to the user as the foe, and as close and as relevant as any urban police bomb squad, EOD unit, the last batch of combat engineers trained in Missouri.

    Just like some exceptionally beautiful women insist on fast cars, glitzy restaurants and jewels. But generally female reinforcement of the pat means that the average non-hot man feels like he’s begging for the romantic attention of his female peers and invisible to stereotypically-attractive women.

  2. This is a great reminder that things are changing in a positive way, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Thanks!

  3. BlackHumor says:

    I totally knew what “hoist by his own petard” meant. Thank you, Age of Empires 3! (Who says video games aren’t educational?! :D)

  4. Pétard is a French word for small explosive, now mostly childish stuff put in children’s toy guns that is cost-prohibitive for the entertainment it gives (80 shots for 2$ or so back when I was a kid).

  5. Honestly, when I was a kid I thought petard was a kind of flag and the phrase referred to that prank you always see in cartoons where the bully character sends the bullied character up the flagpole by his pants.

    thats what i thought… when I was a kid.. definitly not what I thought up until five minutes ago… no way >.>

  6. Pretty good article. I knew what it meant.

    Another problem is that the word has multiple definitions in multiple circles and people don’t know what those are usually. Not to mention that the use of a single noun for patriarchy evokes the idea of a coherent conspiracy, or at least coalition, to maintain sexism.

  7. For anyone who wants to get a feel for what it might’ve been like to be a woman in that “get hitched so you have someone upon whom to be economically dependent forever” category, (or I suppose, what it was like to be a man back then too!) I really recommend reading some Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters. For all the reputation those books have as, basically, romance novels – they are a really unflinching portrait of how people act when they have very limited options for choice and self-expression.

  8. “Do you have any idea what a petard is?”

    Just to join in with everyone else who knew what a petard was…

    It’s a sort of mediaeval limpet-mine. You stuck it to a wall or gate, lit the fuse, and hoped it didn’t go off before you’d managed to retreat. If it did then you were “hoist with…” etc.

    I have Antonia Forest’s book “The Marlows and the Traitor” to thank for knowing this :)

  9. “On an intellectual level, I know that a poor woman is exactly as desirable as a poor man, and yet I cannot help but think that the waitress swept away by a dashing entrepreneur is a romantic heroine, and a waiter swept away by a dashing entrepreneur is kind of a loser. This shit is buried down deep.”

    Thank you at least for admiting this. I absolutly hate when when people say they’re way to progressive to think like this and yet their distaste for people who don’t follow the script they claim to disregard comes across in all their interactions with them. (And that includes every feminist who uses “man up” seriously)

  10. elementary_watson says:

    Good article, but about this “if you want to be a writer, you better marry wealth” thing … A few years ago, I was a t the Frankfurt Book Fair, where a writer of non-fiction books about some region in Germany said that he advises men who want to become writers to do as he did, and marry a woman with a comfortable income who supports them. So, unfortunately, this advice seems to be more of a writer thing than a gender thing, unfortunately.

  11. I absolutely refuse to write an entire article using the phrase “the institutional, societal system of sexism” every two sentences, so we’ll just have to live with it. Just to be clear about my terminology use: “patriarchy” does not mean a gender system that benefits men[…]

    Something I find interesting about feminist terminology like “patriarchy” (and this is certainly not specific to feminism, but it’s the topic at hand) is that there is such a broad and often conflicting range of definitions. There’s nothing necessarily wrong about this, aside from just practical issues of confusion. But I think it’s sometimes used to foster a false sense of unity. E.g. feminists collectively agree that there is a patriarchy, but that doesn’t actually mean anything if they’re using conflicting definitions–then they’re not actually agreeing, they’re just (probably inadvertently) pretending to.

    It’s like if two people both agree that chips are awesome and tasty. Except one of them was using the European definition, and actually hates the american kind of chips. Or one of them is thinking of chocolate chips. Or something like that. There is an appearance of agreement and unity, but it’s false. It’s pure coincidence that they’re both uttering the same pattern of phonemes.

    In any case, I certainly appreciate your clarification of what you mean when you use the word. Should help communication to be less ambiguous. :-)

  12. We all hoist ourelves by our own petards when we adopt other people’s standards and definitions as our own without proper thought, then try to blame “society” for our resulting predicaments. Your mother did not fall into this trap, obviously. She somersaulted her way right out of that ol’ teacher’s attempted hypnosis re: gender roles!

  13. Isn’t Kyrachy the new term for this though?

  14. @Xakudo:

    Something I find interesting about feminist terminology like “patriarchy” (and this is certainly not specific to feminism, but it’s the topic at hand) is that there is such a broad and often conflicting range of definitions.

    Could you give some examples of those contradicting definitions? Because I’ve heard a lot about how necessary it is to stop talking about it, but I have never heard anyone make an argument for it, except “In some specific situations, two people might not always agree about whether something is patriarchal or not”, which seems to hold true for most words.

  15. Most people who point it out see it as an issue of wether it’s “some people have power and they’re all men” or “all men have power”.

  16. “Men who are not hegemonically masculine get fucked over– whether they’re feminine, gay, unsuccessful, young, poor, of color, unathletic, or what.”

    It’s sentences like this that prevent me from seeing this blog as a place for true equality. Even though I’m one of those non-hegemonically masculine men, I do not want that alone to be the reason why feminists give a flying f*** about discrimination that affects me. When will you people start accepting the fact that men get screwed over even when they are normal masculine white etc.?
    It’s the same old feminist dogma that men cannot be discriminated against just for being men ; they must also have some other ‘defect’ in order to qualify as victims under the feminarchy.

    I think it’s about time to swallow the bitter pill that both genders face discrimination even when they are “normal” under the ***archy or change the blog title to only focus on men who are seen as vulnerable. It’s time to end the “conditional compassion” and start dosing it more equally so not only those who cry loudest get all of it.

    PS: You don’t have to look cute and cuddly in order to be vulnerable and worth protecting.

  17. @Adi

    There ARE two sides to this issue. I think there are three central things at work here:
    1. Your CHOICES can also be influenced by the actions of the patriarchy, even if you belong to a patriarchal phenotype. It would explain why so many of my friends went into consulting after pursuing math or economics degrees and espousing the most liberal philosophies in college: because money and success are GOOD THINGS and the pressure to pursue them over happiness is great (doubly so if you blew all your $$ on an Ivy-league education).
    2. HOWEVER, as Ozzy points out, the patriarchy also has framing narratives that will reverse-justify even your decisions that fall outside of the norm (when I say “starving artist” you think “male” don’t you? Can you imagine how much a woman would be badgered for being single and pursuing a non-lucrative dream!?).
    3. Ozzy also implies something in that statement that isn’t always clear: Your masculinity is always on trial. EVEN if you’re the leader in your group, there is almost nearly someone to whom you need to prove yourself. And therein lies the problem. The patriarchy requires conformance by nearly everyone but for it’s “ruling” class it really discourages you from stepping outside of it. But at the same time, you still can. Choosing to conform or present in a traditional way isn’t bad (it’s still your choice), but I would argue that agonizing over a choice isn’t nearly as bad as having to take “not-good-option-B” without getting to choose.

  18. @JE:

    Most people who point it out see it as an issue of wether it’s “some people have power and they’re all men” or “all men have power”.

    I’ve heard that before, but not only is it not that contradictory (both statements agree on the basics), it’s also the same situation with every single other system in which one group has had power over another.

  19. “When will you people start accepting the fact that men get screwed over even when they are normal masculine white etc.?”

    We DO. 90% of the posts on this blog are about how traditional gender rules hurt everyone.

  20. What Patches said.

  21. So men who are “hegemonically masculine” don’t get fucked over?

    And what does “hegemonically masculine” mean? What percentage of men are “hegemonically masculine”?

    What about the “hegemonically feminine”. What percentage of women are “hegemonically feminine”? And do these women benefit from the (so called) patriarchy too?

  22. Patches asked, “when I say “starving artist” you think “male” don’t you? Can you imagine how much a woman would be badgered for being single and pursuing a non-lucrative dream!?”

    No, I don’t think of a male.

    Women,in my experience, are encouraged to follow their dreams while men are encouraged to work. Personal fulfillment vs feeding the beast.

    And, single men are often seen as losers. As in, why can’t they find a woman? Where people say, “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”.

    Sorry from my perspective reality is not as you describe or suggest.

  23. @ Patches,
    I’m having a hard time following your reasoning. I’m not even clear if you agree with me or not.

    “Your CHOICES can also be influenced by the actions of the patriarchy..”

    What are these “actions of the patriarchy” and how do they influence your choices any differently to how anything that happens around us influences our decisions – from bad weather to mainstream advertisement?

    “Ozzy also implies something in that statement that isn’t always clear: Your masculinity is always on trial. EVEN if you’re the leader in your group, there is almost nearly someone to whom you need to prove yourself.”

    The problem is that there is no hegemonic masculinity. Why do you think that there is so much questioning of what it means to be a man and so few answers all of which could either apply to any adult or are just sexual preferences of the person answering? For every proposition of what makes an ideal man, you’ll have a shit load of people reprimanding it. It doesn’t even matter how high status you are.

    “The patriarchy requires conformance by nearly everyone but for it’s “ruling” class it really discourages you from stepping outside of it. But at the same time, you still can.”

    Can you show me some examples of this “ruling class”. In particular, show me some male examples who are not also publicly scrutinized. Can you perhaps suggest a path that a man might aspire to go down that will not lead him between a rock and a hard place?

  24. Just a Metalhead says:

    Just an historical correction.

    The idea that “women work in the house, men work outside the house” didn’t originate in the Industrial Revolution. It goes back much farther than that, however, it was mainly a high- or ruling-class idea. Whether it be nobles or rich merchants, the tradition that women shouldn’t have to work and that men had to administer the external affairs like trade and war was well-entrenched probably for millenia. What writings we have from the Greeks (more precisely, Greek elites) imply the same idea that women stayed in the home as much as possible, whereas the men went out and dealt with business/politics.

    With the growth in agricultural productivity that freed up millions of peasants to work in factories, wealth multiplied and many people that had been humble merchants began becoming rich. These “nouveau riche” sought to differentiate themselves from their humble roots and thus adopted the culture of the rich and powerful, including the gender segregation. The fact that we actually have an expression consecrated just for the phenomenon of people having come into wealth recently trying to copy the behavior from the existing rich class to get social approval of their new status just underlines how prevalent it was. Meanwhile, I think the urban poor all worked or tried to find work, including women and children.

    When the middle class became predominant, they still aspired to reach the social spheres of the rich and powerful and thus copied their social habits. I think we have to realize that a lot of our social values and etiquette are descended straight from social values and etiquette from the elite of centuries past.

  25. “I’ve heard that before, but not only is it not that contradictory (both statements agree on the basics), it’s also the same situation with every single other system in which one group has had power over another.”

    That depends what you consider the basics. In my opinion the two are radically different. And yes this is a question that is relevant in any situation where power is unequaly distributed among groups

  26. @AB:

    Could you give some examples of those contradicting definitions?

    In the case of the word patriarchy, Ozy’s OP here illustrates it well:

    […]“the institutional, societal system of sexism” every two sentences, so we’ll just have to live with it. Just to be clear about my terminology use: “patriarchy” does not mean a gender system that benefits men, it means a gender system which benefits patriarchs[…]

    There are plenty of feminists who disagree with this definition, and would argue that, yes, patriarchy does mean a gender system that benefits men. It’s the same kind of feminist that would argue that gender privilege/disprivilege is uni-directional, etc., etc., etc.

    There are also plenty of feminists that absolutely do agree with Ozy’s definition.

    To me, these seem like meaningfully conflicting definitions. They agree on the basics in the same way that in my chip example both people agree that chips are food. In this case, both sets of feminists agree that there is a harmful systemic gender system (and so do MRA’s…). But there are still meaningful conflicts in their respective definitions, that lead to very different models of the world and society.

    The word “sexism” is another one. Many feminists believe that sexism can only happen against women, not against men. Many other feminists see it as a bi-directional thing that can happen to men as well. This is a meaningful conflict in definition as well, IMO.

    In both cases, I would argue that the latter feminists are the ones that bother to reality-check their theories and assertions, updating their model of the world as new evidence comes to light. But they’re still using the same set of words as the former feminists, they just mean different things. Again, nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it can give a false sense of agreement and unity, I think.

    Then again, there is the whole “feminism is not a monolith” thing, so obviously there is awareness of this. But, for example, I think mainstream feminism and radical feminism aren’t really part of the same movement, except in a historical origins sense. But I think most people’s mental model of feminism–including feminists’–still groups them together in a more significant way than that.

    Then again, I could be wrong. These are my impressions from my time in the gendersphere so far. I’m curious about your thoughts on this, AB.

    Because I’ve heard a lot about how necessary it is to stop talking about it, but I have never heard anyone make an argument for it, except “In some specific situations, two people might not always agree about whether something is patriarchal or not”, which seems to hold true for most words.

    Yeah, I’m not at all arguing that the word shouldn’t be used. I was, rather, making an observation that was interesting to me. If anything, I’m making the argument that we should just be mindful of these varying definitions, and make sure we’re using them the same way when speaking with others, instead of just assuming we’re using them the same way–and I think this fully applies to feminists talking to each other, as well.

    And, again, this is not at all specific to feminism. This false-unity due to using the same words happens within many other groups as well (I’ve noticed this within my profession as well, for example). I didn’t intend for this to come across as a jab against feminism.

  27. Xakudo: In a certain sense, I am a radical feminist: a lot of my basic theoretical framework comes from radical feminism, I just took a left turn at Albuquerque when everyone else took the right.

    Just a Metalhead: Yep, thanks. :) Like I said, I was generalizing massively… I mean, even if you just look at the Greeks, the Spartans and the Athenians had massively different gender roles for their upper class (Spartan women did much of the routine work of the city while their husbands were off soldiering). In the cities of Renaissance Europe, I’m told, you’d quite often see wives and husbands working together to run their business, and medieval noblewomen generally knew how to defend their castles from sieges. Not to mention the Proverbs 31 “ideal wife,” who ran her own small business…

  28. @Adi

    Alright, alright. So I was a little imprecise. Let’s try this again:

    The point that Ozzy is driving at is that the rules of our society operate to protect the PATRIARCHS who sit at the top, and that our obsession with the implication that “the patriarchy” means that “men don’t get oppressed” misses the point. It means that there is a collection of rules and cultural memes that define behavior on a way that controls people beyond what’s probably required for polite society and pushes into “we want to define who gets to be in charge and who doesn’t.”

    The EASIEST way to illustrate this is with a fashion example. I hope Noah dips in to help out/fill in the blanks, but as he stated before if you go for an interview at an Investment bank or on Capitol Hill, there is a dress code. WHY is there a dress code? Clothes have everything to do with your social circles and nothing whatsoever to do with how well you can crunch numbers. As Noah laid out before, depending on how high into management you’re reaching, the cut, material, and color of the suit you wear to the interview is under subtle scrutiny. These things provide barriers to entry on multiple levels: 1. Having one speaks to a certain amount of money. 2. knowing how to wear it says something about the company you keep (and how much money you have) 3. your attention to style says you know how important other people’s opinions about you are. By showing up in the right CLOTHES you’ve jumped through a number of hoops that have more to do with who you are than whether you can perform your job.

    So, yes. This is bad for men. HOWEVER, the sartorial decisions for women are vastly more complicated. Skirt/no skirt. Length of Skirt. Jacket/no jacket. Color of blouse. How much jewelry (this one also kind of applies to men, as your cufflinks, tie pin and watch can be graded, but still), what kind? Sure, these extra rules might not benefit YOU, but they sure as hell benefit the men in charge (conducting the interview), since they give them multiple opportunities to see how well you can conform.

    The idea that a closet full of suits is required to rule the world is silly until you start looking at pictures of bankers and statespeople. As a rule, its silly. It doesn’t benefit men over women or vice versa. What it DOES is benefit the guys in charge. Since they sort of require that you look like them. I would posit most memes of the patriarchy work like this. They’re constructed to match the group of people with the most power and any commonality you have with them makes it easier to approach/conform to their image IF YOU SO CHOOSE. The fact that there is benefit for conforming is just how the memes perpetuate.

  29. Ozy while I’m all for what you say here for the most part there is one thing I have a bit of an issue with:
    Just to be clear about my terminology use: “patriarchy” does not mean a gender system that benefits men, it means a gender system which benefits patriarchs. Men who are not hegemonically masculine get fucked over– whether they’re feminine, gay, unsuccessful, young, poor, of color, unathletic, or what.
    Surely you don’t think a man getting fucked over hinges on whether or not he is hemogenically masculine do you?

    We’ve discussed in this blog before the practical problems with the term ‘patriarchy,‘ but I absolutely refuse to write an entire article using the phrase “the institutional, societal system of sexism” every two sentences, so we’ll just have to live with it.
    I just call it “The System” or “Kryiarchy”.

    ik:
    Not to mention that the use of a single noun for patriarchy evokes the idea of a coherent conspiracy, or at least coalition, to maintain sexism.
    Well with the say some folks use it…

  30. If you have such a problem with patriarchy, then why not use the more accurate kyriarchy? The structural, institutional, microaggressions, and miscellaneous aspects of oppression do not correlate along only gender lines. There’s class, race, sexuality, disabled/non-disabled, age, religion, and even other crap that matters even less — like political affiliation.

    More importantly, even extremely “masculine” (whatever that means) men get effed by patriarchy. It’s really only the top 1%, the white, straight, able-bodied, old rich Christian men who benefit from the kyriarchy. Shoot, the top 1% aren’t even wholly hegemonic anymore, though they are mostly.

    I think, like the petard, and like the out-dated ideas of men as Success Objects, women as Sex Objects, we should get rid of the idea of patriarchy and get used to reality, which is a kyriarchy.

    The shit is buried deep down, but that don’t mean we can’t dig it out, unpack it, and get over it.

  31. @Ozy:

    Xakudo: In a certain sense, I am a radical feminist: a lot of my basic theoretical framework comes from radical feminism, I just took a left turn at Albuquerque when everyone else took the right.

    What definition of radfem are you using? Because it seems like we could just as easily say that in a certain sense you are an MRA, too.

    And sure, most modern mainstream feminism has adopted certain things from radical feminist thought. The whole privilege framework derives from radical feminism, IIRC (which in turn got it from Marxism, IIRC). I hardly think that makes them equivalent, or even necessarily compatible.

    Can you clarify what the term “radical feminism” means to you?

    In any case, I kind of feel like you’re proving my point. And I don’t mean that in an under-handed way. I just… dunno.

  32. @ Patches
    I think you’re massively oversimplifying the “patriarchy” as everyone likes to do. First of all, your reasoning rests on a simplistic ruling class vs underclass model. You just presume that rising up in the ranks gives you more freedom to break from conformity. This is gravely mistaken. At best it depends on what you’re doing. In Entrepreneurship, you can SOMETIMES get away with being not quite conformist. Steve Jobs is a good example as I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a suit. But still, his clothes were just casual. I doubt he’d have been able to get away with wearing a skirt. And we’re talking about one of the highest positions you could rise in. This would be quite different in other fields.
    Looking at politics for example things are way stricter. No politician can afford not to conform – especially those at the top. Because it is the masses that enforce conformity and those masses are what constitutes YOUR designated group of a gender oppressed underclass.

    As you can see, there is no conscious conspiracy of powerful men deciding what everyone should conform to. To those at the bottom it appears so because they see them as a monolithic group acting together. If you learn to see them as individuals however, you’ll see that nearly all of those “rulers” in the patriarchy are vulnerable to loss of power. We have seen time and time again who a mere finger pointing can bring down pretty much any man in that “ruling” class (interestingly, women in power seem relatively safe from such finger pointing).

    Oh, and I’d take women’s fashion freedom over men’s fashion oppression ANY DAY. With freedom comes more choices and they’d obviously make that more complicated. While we often hear women complaining about how much depends on their fashion sense, I doubt very much they would want to swap with men on this one. It’s always easy to take freedom for granted.

    Fact is, people care a great deal about how other people look. That is not the patriarchy doing that. If you replaced the current system with something else, we’d only (perhaps) have different looks to conform to – but the conformity requirement will be the same so long as our species is the same. That’s just how we humans are. Men didn’t do that to women and the rich didn’t do it to the poor either (as somebody else said above, it was probably the poor trying to imitate the rich which created the main driving force behind such conformity).

  33. @Adi, young Steve Jobs wore a suit when he still had to rely on investors for money…but even then, his shameless casual-wearing habits could only be afforded by the 0.01% :V

  34. @ T
    Even Steve Jobs got called out not long ago by AT&T “suggesting” he wore a suit. While he refused dismissively, the mere attempt to make him conform is very telling. Imagine things had gotten difficult for Apple for whatever reason. We can bet the criticism of his public appearance would have grown.
    The point is that nobody is safe from the conformist crowd not even your 0.01%. In fact, they are especially restricted. I would like to postulate that, the higher up you climb in the “patriarchy”, the more you are pressured to conform. The evidence for this is ubiquitous.

    And as for the young Steve Jobs wearing a suit at times, as far as I know this was only when directly promoting at events. I don’t know much more than that (do enlighten me) but I’m certain that his famous casual outfit has been around for well over a decade and long before Apple became the cult that it is today.

  35. Oh, and I’d take women’s fashion freedom over men’s fashion oppression ANY DAY. With freedom comes more choices and they’d obviously make that more complicated. While we often hear women complaining about how much depends on their fashion sense, I doubt very much they would want to swap with men on this one. It’s always easy to take freedom for granted.

    Speaking as a woman, I’d take your trade in a heartbeat. That would mean that I could walk into any “professional wear” store and get a properly tailored suit right? And that once I knew the tailoring for my body I’d just have to decide on the color (brown, grey, navy or black / pinstripe or no)? And those suits would stay in style for years and be made out of quality material? Ya, a heartbeat or less… how long does it take the synapses to fire and get a message to the mouth? ’cause there would be no through involved before I took that deal…

  36. “Speaking as a woman, I’d take your trade in a heartbeat. ”

    I can see how life seems much easier for men but the price is lack of freedom – something one easily takes for granted when one has never experienced a life without it.

    It’s a classic reaction we can see elsewhere too. After the wall came down, a few years later, people started longing for the “good old days” and the simplicity of life under government oppression. They simply forgot what it cost them and only remembered the good things.

    A similar thing we see when people long for their childhood because life was so easy and carefree. I bet they don’t long for not being allowed to leave the house by themselves or only get pocket money and being told when to go to bed and what to eat.

    I’m not saying your desire isn’t legitimate. Only that I’m skeptical for the reasons I mentioned. If you think those analogies are bad, then ask yourself if you’d appreciate having to cut your hair down to an inch or two just so you even get considered for a job. It’s not like you can reverse that after working hours – you’re stuck with that look even when you’re off work. So perhaps you like having short hair anyway. Fine, but would you allow someone else to force it upon you? If so then perhaps you really would prefer to swap with men. Most women would not – one of very few generalizations I can make with certainty.

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