katharine discusses lady things

Didn’t we get our gender issues squared away 40 years ago? I mean true gender equality wasn’t quite there yet, but Virginia Slims assured us that we had come a long way. Women got the vote. Women joined the work force. Women could get abortions if deemed necessary. Women burned their bras. Men stopped holding the doors and started crying in front of us. Progress!

So…what’s the deal now? Is this purely politics as usual and a hyperactive 24-hour news cycle? Are we going to see scads of women fleeing the U.S. for fear that a gyno Gestapo will probe all uteri for pre-aborted fetuses? How exactly does the female reproductive system factor into today’s economy?

I am not looking forward to the eventual discourse we’re all going to have to participate in involving lady parts and menstrual cycles and whatnot. It’s clearly a discussion that needs to take place to get things sorted once and for all. But I’m not here to rant about my “lady troubles.” Personally, I don’t feel that my uterus is in any immediate danger. However, one thing does worry me in this “War on Women”: the modern brassiere.

What’s with bras today? All of the bras in Victoria’s Secret feel like lies. Padded lace and satin lies. Racks upon racks of perfected rounded molded cups. Lingerie that serves up generic sex. Promises of impossible cleavage and disappointed boyfriends. Breasts are like snowflakes. No two sets are identical. So why are we continuing to allow our foundation garments to jam us into an unnatural-yet-universally accepted shape? And what new kinds of pollution will we create if we burn these padded contraptions?

We do have an alternative now in the Genie Bra. These bra infomercials are the worst. In traditional infomercial fashion, viewers are treated to all the different products that are just no good. Some team had to brainstorm ideas on all the different ways to make ladies’ torsos look unattractive. Look at how awful these old-fashioned brassieres are! Back fat! Unsightly cleavage! Flimsy shoulder straps! Nip slips! Supposedly the Genie Bra is the only bra we’ll ever need again. It comes in one style but purportedly provides ample support and coverage to any and all bosoms. Basically it’s a sports bra but even less sexy. It is the granny panties of brassieres. It looks comfortable. It probably is comfortable. But Crocs were comfortable and look how well they’ve got on.

Look, I’m sure that design and mass production of a product so widely in demand for such unpredictable consumer needs and tastes must be a challenge. If you can’t fit your product to your audience, then fit your audience to your product. And so we fight internal battles and wrestle with unnecessary insecurity issues because our boobs don’t look like Barbie’s. We get sexualized in non-threatening ways for mating purposes. We get desexualized in the name of comfort. We get chastised for not putting out. We get chastised for seemingly putting out too much. We’re sluts, whores, prudes, feminists, and bitches. And the vast majority of us are just sitting in our pajamas watching marathons of popular television shows we may or may not have watched several times over. The menfolk are fighting our battles for (and against) us. Who said chivalry was dead?

What’s my point? Perhaps men and women are not quite as equal as we’d imagined? That men have always been intimidated of women and seek out every opportunity available to undercut women’s power and influence? That cigarette companies are not great indicators of societal evolution?

We already fought the reproductive battles. Abortion and birth control aren’t going to magically disappear because someone remembered that they disapprove. It’s time to move forward. It’s time to invent a memory foam bra. Because if we don’t, the terrorists will win the Civil War and Lincoln will have never been born.

katharine hearts davy

My experience with The Monkees begins much the same as most in my generation. MTV and Nickelodeon were young networks that hadn’t yet discovered reality programming or Dan Schneider (for he was holding court in the back of the Head of the Class room). For me, I’m almost certain The Monkees aired on a local station prior to 1986. I distinctly remember watching The Monkees before my afternoon nap and watching Gidget after my nap. The point is that I was a wee pre-pre-preteen when I got hooked on the Pre-Fab Four. When I got my first boombox, one of my first albums was The Monkees Greatest Hits (yes, Brucio, greatest hits albums are for housewives and little girls). I listened to that cassette tape on the way to school everyday for two years. Tip: Don’t let your seven-year-olds listen to “Shades of Grey” on repeat.

Davy Jones was my first favourite Monkee. He was my imaginary friend when I had to spend horrendous afternoons with my drunk grandmother. Even into the 1980s, with the mullet and California tan, Davy proved to still be a heartthrob. And to multiple generations. Davy Jones was no Rex Manning. If young women were lining up for his autograph, it was out of genuine affection. They weren’t queuing up for their moms or spinster aunts. Most teen idols don’t cross generations successfully. And no teen idol has been able to gracefully retain his boyish good looks (Prove me wrong, Bieber).

I outgrew The Monkees for a while. I needed to experiment with other music and swoon over other funny boys. These days, I’m a Mike girl (although he refuses to be my imaginary friend). And I’m strictly softcore in my fandom, compared to others. Epcot will be a little sadder without an annual appearance by Davy. The possibility of seeing The Monkees in concert just one more time grew a little dimmer. And somewhere, a group of people are comparing The Monkees to Golden Girls and taking bets on who will go next (will they go by height? Will Peter experience a Betty White-like surge of popularity? Who will be saddled with title of “the remaining Monkee”?). My own act of mourning the loss of Davy Jones is to preserve my best memories of him, to not focus on the later years of mullets and man-boobs. And to not tarnish his memory by continuing to poke fun at his mullet and moobs. (I’m already failing.)