Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

04 May 2008, 9:42 a.m.

Tips, Modesty, and The Magic Word (Julie Andrews)

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

My sisters-in-law have started putting longer essays and tipsheets on Associated Content (Susie, Rachel) . Susie writes mostly tips for domestic productivity and happiness. I especially like Susie's tips on beginner sewing projects using scrap fabric and reusing old, worn-out clothes, and her lists of tips on useful things to keep in the car, starting a meal swap group (a.k.a. once-a-month megapotluck), housewarming gift ideas, and setting up and maintaining a cleaning schedule. Now I just have to follow through!

Rachel's living in London, which led Susie to write up tips for reducing an expatriate's loneliness. Rachel mostly writes expat- and traveler-themed articles, like tips on planning a backpacking trip, a pros-and-cons piece on using guidebooks, and gift guides for expats and itinerants. This November, I'd like to use Rachel's tips for succeeding at NaNoWriMo. And it was neat and exciting to read her citizen reporting from the Democrats Abroad presidential primary.

Sadly, not all the stuff on Associated Content is as useful and cool as my family's work. Women have posted creepy Bible-related comments on an article on the history of pants in women's fashion. I never understood why skirts were more "modest" than pants until I read these comments. I'd figured: it's easier to have sex while wearing a skirt! Wouldn't pants, which would need to be removed, be more modest? But no, these women inform me: the lines of the leg-tubes draw the male gaze right to the forbidden area! They know where it is! They can't help but think about it! But wait, isn't mystery sexier? Wouldn't men actually obsess more over the invisible, unknowable skirt-covered crotch? Ridiculous.

If these women want me to wear skirts, they should turn their energies towards convincing mainstream America that God gave all his children leg hair and never meant for half of them to constantly battle it.

As long as I'm talking about my sisters-in-law, I should mention that Rachel recently recommended Lying About Hitler by Richard Evans and saw a stage production of The Sound of Music. Rachel, I saw a home-taped video of the film a zillion times when I was a kid, and I must have always fallen asleep around the wedding. When I was a teen, I then actually saw the ending with the escape and was like, "Oh! So it was all about Nazis!"

Also, when I was five, my mom took me to try out for a local stage production of The Sound of Music as Gretl, the tiny daughter. I said the lines Gretl had said in the movie instead of the lines they were giving me for the play. I didn't get the part.


06 May 2008, 10:29 a.m.

Glad you liked my articles!

07 May 2008, 21:34 p.m.

I think the fact that skirts are sexier could well be a major reason they've been around so long. After all, anyone can rationalize the fashion choices of our society, but it was the patriarchy that chose them in the first place. They have the added advantage (to the patriarchy) that they limit the wearer's freedom to move, unless you're Scottish and you don't give a toss about people glimpsing your naughty bits while you're running at them screaming and brandishing a Claymore. (In fact, come to think, the kilt might actually give a tactical advantage.)

All of that said, skirts are totally sexy. I don't fully understand how I resolve my simultaneous appreciation of traditionally feminine clothing and androgynous women, but somehow I do.

09 May 2008, 0:43 a.m.

A tight skirt is way more revealing than tight pants. I can see a ankle length loose pilgrim looking skirt being more modest than tight pants though. I guess it depends on how it hugs your curves.

12 May 2008, 23:50 p.m.

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