Saturday, June 09, 2007

Dressing digression

I get a fair bit of flak for constantly griping about this topic. No one seems to understand, and most people think I'm making too big a deal out of nothing.

And honestly, I do agree with these people. They do have a point. If you look hard enough, there are just so many things that have the potential to piss you off, and this seems to be one of those cases that should be ignored and over-looked - unless you really are looking to be pissed off. I think they figure that I'm making my life unnecessarily misearble by choosing not to look the other way.

I'm actually talking about me in skirts. Me, in skirts or dresses or any piece of clothing that doesn't wrap my two legs individually.

And even though I wear these to work fairly regularly, because I just don't have that many pants to last the week, it never fails to elicit a comment or two.

Now, this is something I really don't understand.

I'd understand the ribbing if it took place in ST, because I back then I didn't wear skirts at all and it would be ridiculous to do so if you've to be prepared to climb ladders and lie down on floors.

So a comment would be more than justified for the sheer novelty of the situation.

But now?

It's been almost half a year, and I've gone through the wardrobe a couple of times. The novelty should have worn off, although I don't understand why it was even there to begin with. And to be really completely honest, the comments are RARE. But I'm still griping about it anyway because one time is one too much.

Let me be more specific.

There are the women, who make kind and polite comments that girls make sometimes when they're in a good mood - oh I like your dress, you look nice today, where did you get it from.

I don't care about that. I do the same thing too. A lot of these are small-talk fillers when you pass each other in office.

What I don't get, and what I don't like - are the questions that insinuate it is strange for me to be wearing a dress.

"I notice you've been dressing differently these days, eh?" - smirk smirk wink wink

Let me summarise their points:
- I am trying to look more feminine
- I am trying to dress better
- I am putting in effort at looking more feminine
- I've decided to look niceer at work (aka more feminine)

Someone actually said, "Keep it up!"

Fuck. You.

Like I said yesterday before walking away from the conversation, "I don't see the difference between skirt and pants. Clothes are clothes."

The dude replied, oh yes, there is a difference. And he gave an all-knowing smile. Your secret's safe with me, that smirk seemed to say. We both know there's a difference, but I'll let you pretend that you don't agree.

Now, I don't think anyone has followed me long enough to reach this part of the ramble. And I must apologise because I don't think I'm going to do a very good job at explaining myself.

Some disclaimers first. I am (obviously) too sensitive, too defensive and extremely poor at receiving compliments.

A lot of what I say here will be speculation. While I am aware I may be completely wrong, but this is just me trying to explain what goes on in my head and why I get so pissed off.

Let me begin with the word objectification.

A girl in a dress is easier to understand than a girl in pants. In my case, because I seem to be known for being a pants-lover, a cross over to the world of skirts seem to be interpreted that I only did so because I had an epiphany of sorts.

That I've realised, oh! skirts make me look better and more feminine. And because I want to look better and more feminine (after all, which normal female wouldn't??), I will wear skirts.

It doesn't seem possible that there is no reason behind the skirt-wearing. It doesn't seem possible that men are not part of the equation.

Going out furthur on this already precarious limb, let me continue by saying I believe - (some) men derive satisfaction from seeing women feminise themselves.

There could be many reasons for this. A boost of ego from seeing women realise their place in men's eyes? A subconscoius belief that he is amongst the group of men she is trying to attract and impress? A surrender of sorts?

Ah... it turns out Jess was just like the rest of them, she just took a little longer to realise it.

Interestingly enough, the one guy who has not made any comments about me in skirts is also the only guy to compliment me on my dressing when I wore pants.

For some reason, I just have too many negative things associated with this situation. Too many implications come into my head at the sound of one simple remark.

I don't know why I turned out this way, I don't know why I refuse to be associated with the word feminine.

Actually, that's inaccurate. I'm fine with the concept (I have pink pants for god's sake), I just I refuse to let anyone associate me with that word.

So while I'd like to be able to apologise for being a constipated, ungrateful bitch who doesn't appreciate compliments and just has to learn to RELAX and not take things so seriously - I'd like to really understand why I feel this way.

Gender issues have been in the spotlight (in my mind) recently. I don't know what sparked it off. But a lot of what I feel is extremely emotional and instinctive, like some sort of biological-defence-response.

And when I read this article, a lot of it made sense. I can't claim to understand it since I haven't been through the same thing it, but if you'll refer to this blog post I did make a passing reference to how I felt about having to cover up.

But Megan Stack really said it best. The paragraph below describes what happened to her after living in sexist Saudi Arabia:

A view from behind the veil
By Megan K. Stack


"I would find that I still saw scraps of Saudi Arabia everywhere I went. Back home in Cairo, the usual cacophony of whistles and lewd coos on the streets sent me into blind rage. I slammed doors in the faces of deliverymen; cursed at Egyptian soldiers in a language they didn't speak; kept a resentful mental tally of the Western men, especially fellow reporters, who seemed to condone, even relish, the relegation of women in the Arab world."

And anyone who thinks that Singapore is not sexist - you're wrong.


gopi said...

god..jess,now i'm afraid to compliment you when you wear a nice dress. but your right lah,dress or jeans,doesn't matter.

panaphobic said...

hahaha aiyah i'll make an eception for you

Joce said...

hey send me the full article! i dun wanna sign up haha