Missing the Patriarchy? No Worries, It Leaves Voicemail

Two weeks later, my hair is still a topic of conversation.

As are my clothes. As is the way I walk in the rain.

I know this because I overheard it. Someone at work called me, and then when I didn’t answer, forgot to hang up the phone when it went to voicemail. I came into the office to listen to the voices of my male coworkers, all old enough to be my father, at least, discussing my choices. “I just saw her walk into the building, huddled against the rain.” “Did you see her pants?  It’s a wonder she didn’t pop a hip in those grandma pants.” “Did you see she cut her hair off?” “You don’t like it? I like it.”

Let me clear something up RIGHT OFF THE BAT.

These pants are fabulous. Green and printed, I have waited years for a pair of printed pants that look like a 1960s callback. I am proud of these pants. I lost 30 pounds to feel good in these pants. And you can go jump off a bridge because I like them and I’m happy in them. The most important part of this whole paragraph is that THEY MAKE ME HAPPY.

Fully Work Appropriate Pants
These are those pants. And I love them.

In Bossypants, Tina Fey recalls one of Amy Poehler’s first writers meetings for SNL, in which Jimmy Fallon told Amy Poehler her vulgar bit was “not cute” because it wasn’t ladylike.

Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him. “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit.

I’m always surprised at the level of investment men seem to have in the physical appearance of women. Always surprised that it matters whether they like it. Annoyed that cutting off my hair means that I am “brave.” (The only reason women are “brave” to cut off their hair is because they are removing a symbol of traditional femininity. Maybe that is brave, in a system where the trappings of femininity are so important to the system.) I had seen and spoken to all of one person out of the four on that voicemail in the 24 hours before it was left. I had cut my hair nine days before the conversation. And yet, nine days later, my appearance and whether or not it was acceptable not for the workplace but for their preferences was up for debate.

I’m still in shock that what I wear or the length of my hair is important enough to other people to have a conversation over. I haven’t deleted the voicemail yet, because I keep pressing on it like a bruise. I want to stay angry over this. I want to remain annoyed that my choices about my appearance are anyone else’s business.

Because I don’t fucking care if you like it.

By amandamarieg

Amandamarieg is a lawyer who does not work as a lawyer. She once wrote up a plan to take over the world and turned it in as a paper for a college course. She only received an A-, because she forgot that she would need tech geeks to pull off her scheme.

6 replies on “Missing the Patriarchy? No Worries, It Leaves Voicemail”

First off (and really, most importantly), those pants are freaking amazing!! Mind if I ask where you got them?

Printed pants are cool, imo. I have a pair with a black background and giant roses that screams 1980s, and every time I wear them someone has to give their opinion.

In my personal experience, men are way more into regulating hair/clothes/etc than women. The feminist in me wonders if this is about men controlling women, but I’ve seen men do it to each other as well. Ask a guy with long hair how much shit he gets from other men about it. There’s a guy at my work that I sometimes hang out with who has shoulder-length hair and I *cannot* believe what he goes through in a day. We’ll be waiting to cross the street and some random 40 year old dude will just be like “You need to cut your hair,” to him.

I mean, look at the stuff men wear. Their fashion has barely changed at all within the past 40 years. Suits are essentially all the same. As I type, the four men in my desk cluster are all wearing a white undershirt with plain button up top and khaki pants. Very little variation. They police each other so severely that I can understand why they all just eventually fall in line. One day out with my long-haired male friend and I was absolutely exhausted by all the comments he received.

I’m proud women call this behavior out. We all know men hate uggs, but they’re comfy so women wear them despite that. Printed pants are another thing I hear men complain about, but I will love them forever. They also like to talk about who is allowed to wear leggings, but I will keep putting my plump behind in those comfy pants, thankyouverymuch. Men can keep their noses out of women’s fashion/hair/makeup forever.

I love them. I got them at Sears, out of the Lands’ End section. (And on clearance. Because CLEARANCE and I am cheap.) The whole limited-choices-leads-to-more-judgment idea is a really interesting one. I work in manufacturing, and khakis+plaid is a daily uniform here. (In fact, Tuesday I swear to God they were all wearing the SAME PLAID SHIRT.) Men’s fashion probably has way more rules than women’s fashion as far as what’s acceptable, though I refuse to let them off the hook just because I’m allowed to wear a skirt. (Especially since if I wear a skirt, I’m asked if I’m “angling to move to the corporate offices” with my outfit. No, you asses, I like skirts.)

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