I am repeatedly fascinated and provoked by the assumptions those ‘outside’ of Women’s and Gender Studies make about those of us on the ‘inside.’ While my femme styling certainly results in the occasional frustrating provocation within this small branch of the academic world, I often get the sense that my performance of femininity also complicates non-WGS people’s responses to me when they find out what I do and where I do it.
Though I’ve considered doing so, I’ve not yet changed the way I dress, wear make-up, or style my hair to mitigate responses to my appearance that reflect stereotypical assumptions about how a feminist looks. Furthermore, as this blog surely demonstrates, with the exception of formal professional settings, I do not reign in (all of) my goofiness, wry sarcasm, or (what I consider to be) wit, in part because I like how these elements of my personality undermine stereotyped understandings of feminists as intensely serious, humourless people. Occasionally, however, despite my credentials, either or both of these choices result in my being underestimated, or treated with disrespect.
I can’t go into detail in this public forum, but I will say that I was recently and rather obviously underestimated in this way in a casual meeting with new colleagues. I wasn’t meeting with students that day, so I came to campus in a trouser-jean-based ‘business casual’ ensemble. And now I wonder if I could have prevented this error through sartorial means.
I am thus inspired to up the profesh-factor in my attire for each and every day on campus this term. And we’ll just see if I can change certain people’s responses to me through clothing alone.
Today, for example, I’ve come to campus to work in my office all day. I’ve no meetings, and I don’t teach. But I’m wearing this:
Wonder Woman pose: preview of coming conference attractions
Really, the boots are this colour:
OK, so this ensemble could still read as “casual,” but it’s comfortable and is not trouser jeans. It’s a start.