I have been thinking about choices recently - from all sorts of viewpoints. I loved Rad's fascinating take on hemlines and the economic times. It has always amazed me how the way women wear skirts could ever be considered "economy-driven" - that when times are good we all wear mini-skirts, and when the economy plummets we supposedly opt for maxi-dresses. It is almost as if we didn't have a choice when we look into our wardrobes in the morning, trying to find something to wear: the Dow is down - grab something, anything that reaches our ankles. This implies that either women are mindless sheep who unconsciously follow bigger economic forces, or that we simply can't decide for ourselves and wear what is expected of us. Puhh-lease.
Sal's wonderful post on the weird supposed separation between feminism and style sort of touches upon the same theme. Fashion- or style-conscious women are often labeled superficial by definition, regardless of what goes on in their heads. If a woman is intelligent, she must not care about the way she looks. (Double it, if the woman in question is a feminist.) Again, it is as if we don't even have a choice in the matter. Love clothes or be intelligent, because you can't have both. The universe has spoken on our behalf.I got so angry this morning while reading a NYT article about forced pre-abortion ultrasounds in certain states. I know abortion is a very thorny topic in this country, but it really is insulting to force a woman to go through an invasive medical procedure that, according to at least one study, is completely ineffective in preventing abortions in the first place. Again, it is as if women didn't have the intellectual or emotional means to question their own life-altering decisions. (I can only imagine the uproar if it was men instead of women being subjected to this type of treatment.)
Luckily I have some positive things to say about women and choices alongside my angry rantings above. The same NYT featured a very interesting art review regarding The Museum of Modern Art's exhibition "Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography". The material in exhibition reaches back to 1850s, when only a handful of women carried a camera and captured images of the world the way they saw it. I am sure a bunch of people told women like Julia Margaret Cameron and Gertrude Kasebier (whose works are shown at MoMA, alongside over a hundred others) that they didn't have a choice. They were probably told that they were born into a sex that was societally constructed to lack the ability to make choices. Luckily for them, and for us, they chose to have a choice anyway.