Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Various Controversies Revisited

First, the yoga pants.  Never mind the fact the guy was "joking". Most women, young or old, look slatternly in yoga pants. At the moment, I forget what we call them in the UK. It is surely not "pants" which  here means either "underpants" or "terrible."  (Leggings?)   At any rate, some poor chap in the USA wrote a letter to his local paper complaining about  women wearing yoga pants in the same way we might complain about men wearing Speedos, and the result was death threats, a parade of yoga pants and world infamy.

Now, yoga pants are comfortable, and the black ones play into some inner female delusion that tight black leg-coverings somehow render those legs wonderfully attractive. I have some myself, which I confess I have occasionally worn to Tesco, not just for the gym or striding about the Historical Policies in my wellies. I hereby apologize to my neighbours and beg clemency on the grounds that I always wore a longish coat with them.

Keeping inside the law, women "can" wear whatever we want but that won't stop other people from thinking we look like right daft cows when we wear it. It would be loving our neighbours as ourselves if we presented a inoffensive appearance. Meanwhile, wouldn't we rather give off  "kind of girl I'd like to marry" signals instead of "Amsterdam window" vibes?

Second, "scientific" study purported to show that men aren't attracted to smart women. This is old news, but it appeared in my Facebook homepage yesterday, and various women of conservative mien fussed about it in the comments. I wrote something like, "Men like smart women. Smart women know that men aren't attracted to women who need to best them in 'who's smarter' contests." A male friend followed that up, and a woman contradicted him, so I gave him a Facebook "like."

I wish I had known in grade school how socially important it is to give "likes" to boys and men. At this late date, I cannot think of any natural opportunities that arose. I suppose "Hey, great presentation in Famous Canadians class!" or "Boy, you really know how to draw a tank" would have been appropriate.

According to Watching the English, however, English girls and boys flirt by hurling insults at each other. On the other hand, Watching the English stresses that the English are very uncomfortable with bragging and boasting and are wont to say things like, "Well, yes, er, um, I did go to Oxford, but I'm quite thick, really."

Thinking about it, "Yes, I do have all the hallmarks of high intelligence, but I'm quite thick really" is a way of showing a man that you are not in competition with him and are therefore a restful personality, such as he might want to find at home. What is needed is a touch of old-fashioned (and highly male) compartmentalizing and hypocrisy. There's a way to be at work, and there's a way to be at parties. Of course, this is only if you care to inspire affection in male hearts. If you don't, brag as much as you like, Harvard grad. How dare that highly eligible man think he might have had a chance against your mighty brain.

Third, I was asked to join a Polish dancing troupe, but I thought that was a bit too much cultural appropriation for a Toronto woman with nary a drop of polskiego krwi in her żyłach. Also, dancing almost always makes me feel foolish. Still, I was up late browsing this exciting site. There are few circumstances under which I would wear traditional Polish folk dress (e.g. as a disguise while fleeing an assassin), but I have loved Polish folk motifs since I was a tiny child. A folkowy raincoat would be smashing.

Fourth, I see that a Trappist abbot is demoting himself so that his abbey isn't shut down. It is not made clear why his abbey is in danger, but I suppose it is because the monks have returned to pre-conciliar Trappist ways. I simply cannot imagine why certain Catholics hate Catholic traditions so much and want them banished to the past. Fifty years of praying for vocations and harping about "the young", but then when the young discover traditional vocations... Eeek! No! No! It's working! Shut it down!!!!! Apparently a trend is "sign of the times" only when it is ugly, cheap, easy or of interest to an ethnographer.


  1. Do the dance troupe! Do it!
    You were asked after all.

    1. A Bridge Too Far.
      Aged P

    2. Yeah, I explained to the girl that if I joined the dance troupe, my mother would start worrying.

  2. Harrumph, Mrs M. Polish women's folk dress is nothing but a billowy white blouse, a bright, patterned skirt + apron, and black boots. What is so frightening about that, pray tell? ;-)

    Re leggings: even at the gym I only wear them with tops long enough to cover my hindquarters. Yoga pants are inherently dowdy.

    Re men and their attitude to women's smartness: one of the dangers in showing off one's brains is that you may well attract men who want to cut you down to size. Even if - or especially if - they also find you desirable in the more basic sense. Take warning, take warning, young maidens pray do.

    Alias Clio

    1. Oh no, good heavens. Polish women's folk dress is terribly complicated. It changes from region to region and according to your marital status and the headresses for married women in some regions are just something else. If someone were to ask me what region my ancestors were from, I would have to say the Rhine valley, and that would never do.

      No, I am content with my good old Scottish MacLean hunting tartan sash. I may eventually cough up the not inconsiderable cash for the good old MacLean hunting tartan hostess skirt, but even though I can wear Scottish national dress with the aura of authenticity, that's as folky as I am going to get.

      That said, pretty things with Polish designs that don't look like folk dance costumes are always welcome chez nous.

  3. Yoga pants/leggings are very much the uniform of "stay at home mums" as they are stretchy so fit over lumpy post pregnancy bellies and are comfy to wear while wrangling small children. That said, I don't know anyone who doesn't wear tunics or long tops or short dresses over them. Most stay at home mums are quite keen to cover their bottoms and bellies.
    Another good thing about them is that unlike skirts (which are also comfy to wear) they can't get blown up by the wind. I live in one of the windiest cities in the world so this is very important to me.

    Aussie girl in NZ

  4. This goes in the leggings are not pants category. Unless actually at the gym there must be something covering the rear.

  5. Unless worn by some bikini-body inspo guru on Instagram, yoga pants just say "I give up on life."


  6. If you seriously don't want to dance, don't dance. But if what you are worried about is cultural appropriation... don't look in my closet at my yukata (I haven't a drop of Japanese blood in me (although some are starting to wonder)). Unless there is a specific dress code where you are required to wear regional dress, why can't you dress in a tartan sash and show up? (Scottish dance dress code down here is traditional attire or formal wear if one doesn't have Scottish traditional attire). Your role would be like that of an ambassador, not a native. Who knows? Maybe you take to Polish folk dancing like a fish to water, you start talking about it after Mass, soon young men and women start to listen, they think it would be interesting to try it out, they ask you to help, you invite some native Poles to also help, there's a big Scottish-Polish Folk Dance Night that celebrates the two traditions and some of the animosity that is born towards the Polish immigrants begins to wain in your neighborhood... (if you're going to dream: go for delusions of grandeur).

    As to my neck of the woods (a college campus): yoga pants (or tights) are worn with flip flops or boots and waist length shirts or crop tops or shirts that barely cover the bum. It's not unusual to see a logo or phrase imprinted on the bum of the yoga pants if the lassie in question is wearing a crop top. The style is starting to go out of fashion and is being replaced by rompers that only cover as much as a pair of Daisy Duke's.

    1. To be honest, what stops me is my own culture, which is Old Toronto. Defining any culture in Canada is difficult, but I would say that third and fourth generation Torontonians (a very small group) are very concerned about cultural appropriation, not just because it is like turning someone else's customs into fancy-dress costume, but it is a betrayal of one's own Old Toronto culture. (This is doubtlessly why Aged P disapproves, see above.)

      Luckily for me, I had Scottish great-grandparents, and therefore only the most hidebound Old Torontonians wouldn't accuse me of "dressing-up" when I wear ye olde MacLean tartan to a Burns Night Supper or a Polish wedding. (I have, however, been patted on the head for it by British people here, in a oh-how-cute-you-foreign-woman-wearing-your-husband's-tartan-bless way.)

      You will be glad to know that there is already a Scottish-Polish cultural association in Edinburgh. However, the kind of locals who most resent the Poles are not the kind of locals who join cultural associations. That said, at least one "middle-class" Briton has remarked that Polish must be terribly useful for speaking to "labourers." In actual fact, most Poles I know are scientists, managers, writers or in publishing.

      I have looked up "Yukata" on Google, and it looks like a very useful garment. I must say it would be fun to belong to a culture in which you can borrow from other cultures all the time and nobody inside or outside your own culture minds. But sadly Old Torontonians are frightfully conscious of all the pitfalls.

    2. *Sorry, that is that only the most hidebound Old Torontonian WOULD accuse me of cultural appropriation. My own Scottish-Canadian grandparents might have mocked me as a "professional Scot." Really, there are more comfortable cultures than Old Toronto to be from.