Friday, June 03, 2005

Weren't We Liberated?

It's been awhile since I've looked at any of the popular women's magazines. But recently, while visiting cousins, I picked of copies of Woman's Day and Family Circle. They're conservative by any measure, but I was surprised and dismayed to read several articles about the danger of germs around the house, followed by elaborate instructions on how to clean the various surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom.

Is this all for real? Is this the current version of laundry that's whiter than white or kitchen floors so shiny you can see your reflection? Are we women being subjected in still another way?

An article in the May, 2005 issue of Wired was a response to this kind of scare-journalism. The piece was titled, "Germs Aren't As Scary As You Think", and subtitled, "The little beasties that lurk on common surfaces are rarely enough to make anyone sick." Recommendations: clean you phone receiver occasionally, throw your plastic cutting board into the dish washer (or use a wooden one), and get a flu shot. Our mothers knew what they were talking about when they taught us to wash our hands with (plain) soap and water before eating and after using the bathroom. If you have to worry about something, worry about being too clean and inhibiting your body from developing a strong immune system.

If the germ threat is a tactic to make a woman's life more difficult (and to sell cleaning products --- especially anti-bacterial solutions which do nothing special against viruses like the common cold), it seems that the present female clothing styles are also restrictive. Skirts are short and tight, tops are sleeveless, bras are boned and wired, shoes have high heels and pointed toes. And these styles are not really flattering, even on very slender and very fit teenagers. What will they think ten years from now when they look at photos of themselves taken today?

No, thanks. My house is clean enough to be healthy and I don't propose to be fashionable and therefore squeezed, poked and cold, plagued by foot deformities and backaches. Give me loose, pajama-style pants and tops and flat shoes and let me flow and glide through life on my terms.


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