It’s hard to understand why anyone took women seriously when they started clamoring for “liberation.” Firstly, there was nothing for women to be liberated from but lives of ease and privilege. Secondly, even if women suffered oppression, submission seems to be the natural state of woman. When women have no established limits, they will always resort to self imposed strictures. If left unchecked, and in extreme cases, they will seek to impose draconian limitations on the whole of society. Prohibition represents a time worn example of this impulse at work. Women do not truly value freedom. They retreat into the warm bosom of the safe, familiar, and conventional when confronted with unbridled liberty.
Examine the article and the photo. Each of the women pictured fancy themselves feminists. How do they announce their feminist bona fides? How do they celebrate their hard-won liberation? By adopting neo-Victorian modesty codes and wearing woolens in June. Naturally. Lo, the sartorial splendor of the latter day feminist:
Young women are opting for socks (black ones), suede pants (in June!), turtlenecks, children’s denim jackets, tights, long rayon skirts, and chunky flatforms.
Intriguing. Freedom through infantilization. What’s up with that?
Many women today choose not to dress for a man’s gaze, even when the weather seems to dictate the baring of skin. The appeal of thrifting, a 90’s comeback (1890’s, I’m sure), the end of workplace dress codes, the rising tide of fourth wave feminism (whatever that is), a newfound combativeness towards street harassment, the current fluidity of gender-or some combination.
A hodgepodge of conformist reasons for adopting modified burkas. Das cool. But King Solomon was right when he said that there’s nothing new under the sun.
The irony here is that women could have kept modesty codes all along, had they simply kept patriarchy in place. The purpose of modesty codes was to preserve female virtue and prevent the “male gaze.” Instead, they upended everything only to cycle right back to where things were at the outset of the Women’s Lib Movement. Civilization had to be razed, so that women could rediscover what every simpleton from antiquity to modernity has always known about male desire and intersexual relations.
This is neither to imply opposition to a return to modesty for women, nor to suggest that women shouldn’t be permitted to dress as they please. This is simply to underscore the faddish, inarticulate nature of a feminism that has won all of its battles and is now wandering in an ideological desert, praying for manna to fall from heaven to sustain its dying cause. Feminism will always be regressive because its core demographic can’t comprehend or appreciate liberty and is not designed for its undertaking. Feminism 3.0 will continue its devolution into a retread of Feminism 1.0 because it has nothing left to achieve, and puritanical sensibilities are rushing in to fill the vacuum.