Tight Tights

OK, so despite what I had promised to a certain somebody, this post won’t be about the patriarchal architecture that surrounds us in Western society. That one is in the works. This post, rather, is going to be about hosiery. True. Hear me out here people.

The post was born of a facebook wall-to-wall war I had with an old friend of mine regarding a facebook group he’d just set up, declaring “tights are not pants”.

Having been invited to the group, I declined and posted this on his wall:

“Dear Sir,

The image of your group depicts not tights, but stockings [the original picture was of a fat woman wearing stockings and a singlet top] — an entirely different piece of hosiery. Further, I take issue with the SUBSTANCE of your group. Of course tights are not pants. Neither are skirts, or shorts. Only pants are pants.

Also, I might point out that sentiments like yours are essentially anti-woman. Let people be! Sheesh.

Sincerely, Bhak”

I later went to to elaborate on the way groups like this, and indeed sentiments like these affect women.

Don’t you think there is enough pressure on women’s images already? Be skinny, but not too skinny, eat well, go to the gym, have tanned skin, don’t go to the solarium though, that’s for idiots who want to die, wear skirts, act like a lady, but not too short, you’ll look like a skank.

Founder of the group and said friend, Crook, hit back arguing roughly two things:

1) Calling it ‘anti-woman’ was an exxageration as the group was merely concerned with the classification of tights in a “functional sense”, and was also willing to look at inappropriate tights on men.

2) Placing this conversation in a gendered context was an abstraction as the group existed as part of an in-joke to try and establish support for different sides of this debate.

Here again (like Jermaine and Germaine), comedy can give us some clues into our own prejudices and assumptions. To me these strongly held stances against tights (and boy are they strongly held, even in blogs which I read daily), are essentially about economies of taste, about superiority, about retaining control over acceptability and ultimately about telling women what they can and can’t wear. Not cool.


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23 responses to “Tight Tights

  1. Captain Nick

    Given nylon tights serve absolutely no function whatsoever beyond the aesthetic (they are not about warmth, but about covering uneven/hairy/tanless/cellulite-slathered legs), then you can hardly complain when someone judges the aesthetics of tights or the women/men within them.

    It’s a little like someone getting a 38DD breast enlargement becoming offended when the gaze of others drift southwards in conversation.


    • Bhakthi

      I’m not sure ‘complain’ is the right word. Anyway, of course people are going to be judgmental and certainly I’m not daft enough to think that particular activity is going to cease (indeed, it shouldn’t). I’m just pointing out the context of these sentiments, and the impacts it can have on wearers (being eve more self-conscious).

      • Captain Nick

        I’ve never understood the whole lipstick-free species of firebrand feminism: that conforming to social norms of attractiveness is tantamount to being chained barefoot in the kitchen.

        Value-judgments on beauty are not delineated on gender. The pressures to adhere to and aspire to specific ideals of attractiveness are on everyone. I’d argue that the pressure is even greater on men, given such pressures are barely even discussed, and have a much greater shame-quotient (same as many “female problems” that aren’t actually gender-based, like domestic violence, eating disorders….. the men have no public campaigns, and suffer in silence and without public acknowledgment). The solutions for men are also more difficult: women can generally simply not eat, whereas men have to not only not eat, but spend months pounding weight machines.

        Just to be outrageous, I’ll also mention the observation that classically attractive feminists are generally reasonable and well-grounded, working towards equality. Those who abandon notions of personal beauty were already bat-faced hags, and theirs is the foul man-hatred brand of feminism.

        Is suspect it has nothing to do with politics and equality, but the rage of their own ugliness and inability to get laid.

        Flame on.

  2. Yosh

    This raises an interesting point about the nature of critique—clearly, it’s important not only what we critique, but why we critique it. Tights have obviously been roundly criticised in the past for being by their very nature objects of female oppression—a criticism which, unlike saying tights look ugly, doesn’t engage in a tights-based value system.

    There’s such a big difference between saying “I reject the abstract tights premise, and tights are shit” and saying “I accept the abstract tights premise, and tights are shit”.

  3. thresholding

    Die in a ditch, Poad.

    Anyway, the pressure on men to be attractive is certainly an issue. But the fact is that if you are really good at something, and a man, it doesn’t matter what you like like. The number of really quite hideous men who, because they are talented, lead successful lives (often accompanied by vastly more attractive wives and girlfriends) is hugely disproportionate to the number of women of whom we could say the same. There might be pressure on men to look attractive, but there’s pressure on women to ONLY look attractive.

    I draw your attention to the life and career of Woody Allen as my case-study of this phenomenon.

    • Captain Nick

      May it be possible that as a woman you are not aware of the pressures society places on men, just as my understanding of the pressures on women is limited?

      Let’s turn the message around: you speak of men and their success, and their petite wives can simply cruise along on their coattails looking pretty. Maybe being free of the enormous pressure placed on men to be financially succeed is actually a rather nice thing? If a woman succeeds in an industry, fair enough, everyone is impressed. If she acquires no personal success but a marriage into power? Again, no-one bats an eyelid. That’s fine.

      But reverse those roles. If a man succeeds, it is to be expected. No big whoop. But if a *man* marries into success? He’s viewed as some sort of pathetic shell, unable to make it on his own. The flip-flopping John Kerry….a purple heart awarded soldier portrayed as the limp-wristed lapdog to the Heinz empire.

      And thinking of the female captains of industry….. they are as ugly as their male counterparts. Meg Whitlam, Helen Clarke, Angela Merkel…… as dog-faced as Henry Kissinger, John Howard, or Warren Buffet.

      You’re seriously arguing that there isn’t a strata of male society that isn’t expected just to look pretty and keep their dim little mouths shut? Not only are male models in exactly the same position as female models, they’re paid 10% of the salary.

      Your view of male/female roles and expectations seems to be mid-1950s.

      I would like to use Madonna and Jesus the Trainer as my case study.

      • Bhakthi

        First up, talking about the limitations women face doesn’t by implication deny the limitations and anguishes of masculinity (a topic I’m only far too happy to rant about).

        Re. “success”. I’d posit that the pressure to be successful is fairly equal between genders, but the ways this pressure manifests is inevitably different. Helen Clarke, Meg Whitlam and Angela Merkel are giant anomalies. There are pressures on women to be more than a pretty face, but the fact is, the pressure to be a pretty face continues to exist for the majority of women.

        I use Natasha Stott-Despoja and Pauline Hanson (who constantly needs to be sexualised it seems) as my examples.

  4. They see you trollin’…..they hatin’

  5. Bhakthi

    What thresholding said.

    Nick, don’t be a troll, it’s lame.

    • Captain Nick

      That ain’t trolling, sister.

      I’ve always found it vaguely sexist that there’s no opposite word for “misogynist”, yet the attitude is so prevalent.

      • Bhakthi

        There is! Misandrist!

        And that better not be a implied attack. If I hated men, well, my life would be a lot harder. Anyway, my version of things means men suffer under the patriarchy too.

      • Brad

        Ah yes, the person who claims reverse sexism – about as ridicule-worthy as the white man complaining about reverse racism.

      • Captain Nick

        Your comments reply function is playing up, and throwing my comments in odd places. I think you have a rogue plug-in

        ANYWAY…..I’ll do quotes in case it does it again so you know what I’m talking about.

        “Ah yes, the person who claims reverse sexism – about as ridicule-worthy as the white man complaining about reverse racism.”

        Now this is a topic that really gets me annoyed (as annoyed as I ever get, which is not very annoyed at all). Doesn’t this strike you as an incredibly blinkered Western way of looking at the world? As if there’s “white man” and then “everything else”? What does “reverse racism” mean in the context of India and the tensions between the Indo-Aryans and the Dravidians? Or in Fiji, and the native Melanesians, Indians and Rotumans?

        People who talk about “reverse racism” are frankly only revealing their own racist subconscious thinking that everything must always somehow involve Caucasians.

        Racism is simply the invention of pecking orders through nothing but racial and ethnic classifications. To talk of “reverse racism” in the way you mean it – that white people, through there being white people, are a “different case” – is to be beholden to that very manner of thinking, and is, by very definition, racist.

        The same logic goes for “reverse sexism”, in itself revealing far more about the prejudices of the speaker than anything else.

  6. Captain Nick

    If you drop “misandrist” into casual conversation, you will get quizzical looks.

    It’s not even in my spellchecker…..

    • Brad

      Yes, Captain Nick, complaints about “reverse racism” do reveal the prejudices of the complainant. That is why it is equally enlightening that you are complaining about “misandrist” not being as commonly used as “misogynist”. Don’t you think it’s the male-centric douchebag who believes that men badly need a commonly used word that describes systemic anti-male sentiment in society?

      Secondly, I think it’s valid to speak about the “white man” in the context of this comment section. The white/other dichotomy works in Australia because Australia is still a culture dominated by caucasians. To attempt to problematise this by referring to ethnic tensions in India is like saying “There’s no such thing as gender roles in human society because shrimp and orchids can change their sex.”

      I AM impressed with your knowledge of Fiji’s internal politics though. High distinction.

      • Captain Nick

        Blame the notorious flight delays at Nadi International Airport for my knowledge of Fijian politics, and the local newspaper being the only thing available for 4 hours,

        I was also stuck there during the coup in 2000, and little pricks up your ears more to national politics than being a foreigner in a country thrown out of the global Economic Union, and thus no access to ATMs or credit cards, and the airports being closed. What fun we had bargaining watches for baked beans, like a 1250ad spice market.

        And no, I don’t think men in the West need a term to express their dis/enfranchisement I was more making a jab at the curious name of this blog. And I think you’ve shifted the goalposts somewhat…..we’ve never been talking specifically about Australia (I’m not Australian, although I appreciate the blogger is).

        It’s also interesting how you’ve presumed I’m male, and I think, presumed I’m white. And at very least presumed I’m not Fijian, and probably am Australian.

        (the answer is yes, half, no, and no).

        Anyway…back to the point. I don’t think there are many people who would disagree that there’s a significant minority of feminists that aren’t femanists at all. They’re “misandrists” (I’ve now been taught by Bhakti).

        In the same way, there’s a significant minority of people who buy “Australia Made” or supports slogans like “British jobs for British People” (the UK Labour Party motto of 2004) who are not patriots: they are out and out racists.

        I think you’re trying to “either/or” the situation. Yes, the sort of issues that the average aboriginal person faces in Australia because of their ethnicity are magnitudes greater than the average Caucasian.

        But’s then we’re talking about “average people”. What about the individuals? People are individuals, not sweeping demographic averages.

        Is the pain that an *individual* white male feels in a 95% non-white community within an Australian community somehow “lesser” than the pain an *individual* Lebanese male feels in his 95% white community? I don’t think it is.

        I’d also argue that discrimination based on gender (in Australia, as this is where you seem to want to play the game) is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the discrimination (talking averages here, of course) faced by non-whites, gays, the disabled, the transgendered, etc. I’d even argue that a white American student faces a greater disenfranchisement in Melbourne than a white Melbourne-born woman. Or imagine being a white American right-wing student in Melbourne Uni…..they’d be a social leper.

  7. Bhakthi

    That’s unfortunate. You should work on getting the word out.

    • Captain Nick

      I don’t think we really need more words to drive wedges between us.

      I think everyone should just knock back a whiskey and try to get along.

  8. Bhakthi

    Oh please, as if it’s words that are driving the wedges.

    Also I’m all for this whiskey knock back/getting along. But let’s have a good chat while we’re at it.

  9. Captain Nick

    Obviously I was joking. I love to rant about anything.

    I’m building a man-barricade from the onslaught of lady rage.

    • Bhakthi

      The name Misogynist/Not Misogynist is a light-hearted reference to the fact that all my conversations recently have come down to this divide. It’s a highly questionable way of seeing things, but a useful one to examine nonetheless.

  10. I refuse to live in a world where I cannot ridicule people for their clothing, hair style, fake tan, make-up or otherwise. A world without judgement and shallow pettiness based on appearance is just not for me…

  11. Also, tights most certainly are not pants. Too much minge is sometimes too much minge. No one likes an eye full of camel toe, feminist or not, I know where babies come from, thank you very much.

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