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August 13, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-08-13

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Monday, August 13, 2001- The Michigan Daily - 5

What it feels like for a girl
According to a recent study I've pants are written right there on the
just made up, the number one tags. Imagine that! The tags actually
fear among men ages five to tell you how big the pants are. What a
87 is to get stuck clothes shopping beautiful system.
with a woman. 96 percent of those The tags on women's pants offer
surveyed were "terrified" by the no such information. No, that would
thought of standing outside the fitting make things much
room all day, amidst heaps of rejected too easy. Instead,
outfits, trying to convince Ms. X. that women's pants are
she is not, in fact, "fat." Most organized accord-
expressed contempt for women's ing to "size."
shopping habits, calling nine hours These "sizes" -
"way too long" to obsess over a single . generally odd or
pair of jeans. even numbers -
While I am usually the first to xy are determined by
criticize members of my gender for a panel of blind
being absurd (e.g. when they pur- AUBREY chimpanzees in
posely yank out their eyebrows with HENRETTY Saskatchewan.
tweezers, participate in beauty pag- N i R OT 1. There's no guar-
eants or go on the cabbage soup diet), antee that two
I draw the line at clothes shopping. pairs of pants of the same style,
Sorry, guys, but I'm gonna have to labeled with the same number and
side with the ladies on this one. Peo- sold in the same store will be the
ple who design and produce women's same size.
clothing are - and I say this without While we're on the subject of size,
hesitation, apology or clarification - I feel I should include a sidebar on
a sadistic bunch of crackheads who the cultural abomination that is Size
live only to cause others misery. If it Zero. Size Zero? Call me old fash-
only takes nine hours to find an ioned, but I always thought of "zero"
acceptable pair of jeans these people as being without size; it seems a poor
created, I call that an accomplish- choice to call anything containing a
ment. zipper. A more accurate description
Shopping for women's clothes is would be: "Garment That Fits Snugly
not at all like shopping for men's on a Barbie Doll." ButI digress.
clothes. Trying on women's clothes is the
For example, if you're a guy who worst. And by "the worst," I mean,
knows his waist measurement in inch- "so horrific, it defies description. But
es, it'll take you about ten seconds to I'll do my best." Because fashion
find a pair of pants that fit. Why? designers have this crazy idea that
Because the waist and inseam meas- women are supposed to have wide
urements of each individual pair of hips, slim waists and ample chests,

the thick-waisted, small-chested
among us are doomed to a series of
humiliations. Garments pinch, sag
and stretch in all the wrong places
under fluorescent lights that make us
look like dead water buffalo. You'd
scream and throw denim, too.
I'm not saying men should feel
sorry for women, suck it up and
clothes shop with us. (Heavens, no.
Personally, I hate shopping for clothes
with myself and would never subject
my male loved ones to this kind of
hell.) All I ask is that they lay off the
ridicule. Believe me, boys, your mun-
dane teasing pales in comparison to
the mock-feat enjoyed by the clothing
we discard. And until you've
squeezed your wide feet into a pair of
pointy dress shoes, we don't want to
hear it from you.
This would be a great time for me
to get preachy, to boldly challenge
women to defy socially defined dress
codes, to mention the pair of men's
cargo pants I ended up buying this
weekend. Ideally, I'd also toss in a
line about accepting yourself the way
you are, even if that means giving the
metaphorical finger to the fashion
industry. But I won't insult your intel-
ligence; I'll just remind you to laugh
at yourself whenever possible (i.e.
often). It won't make your pants fit
any better, but it will make flinging
them at your shopping buddy easier
for both of you to take.
-Aubrey Henretty does not readfashion
magazines. Ever She can be reached via
e-mail at ahenrett@umich.edu.


The true progressive
Iname my column "The Progres-
sive Pen." What exactly does that
mean? Without utilizing any type.
of American dictionary, let me
attempt to explain what it means to
A progressive does not lean to the
left or right. He or she is neither liber-
al nor conservative, not necessarily
socialist, communist, capitalist or oth-
erwise. When speaking of what truly
makes one a progressive, we must
abandon all politically identifying jar-
gon. A progressive does not exist in a
Western context or in an Eastern con-
text or in a Democratic or Republican
context. Progressiveness exists in
only a human context. It goes hand in
hand with the authentic make-up of
the intellectual. It is a state of mind
that sees no national or political alle-
giances, it is not nationalistic, nor is it
against nationalism. The ethnicity or
race of the subject of the work of the
progressive is of no consequence.
This is why we have almost no pro-
gressives in America. Since just about
everything is racialized (especially in
our two-party system), progressive
activism becomes bankrupt when it
refuses to also point the finger at
those corrupt individuals who happen
to come from disadvantaged back-
In a democratic culture, progres-
siveness must be by definition a
minority movement. If the majority of
people in a society were progressives,
what would they be active against?
Their own fraudulent majority rule?
In a dictatorship, progressiveness is
usually, if not always, a majority

movement, though many times quiet
or silent. It is a movement that strives
to speak some type of truth to power,
precisely the reason those in power
are usually vehemently opposed to it.
It forces powerful individuals to
uncover that
which has made
them powerful. In
most cases, the
success of pro-
gressive activism
existing power
structures. Its suc-
AMER G. cess brings those
ZAHR who have power
to center stage
PR uRESi\E precisely when
FENRi they wish to be
behind closed
Progressives "get it." They hear a
story, educate themselves and become
active because they "get it." "Getting
it," however, is a rare occurrence in
American society. We have few stand-
out progressives who fall into this cat-
egory - people who see and criticize
corruption without giving heed to
who the corrupt is. Among them are
people like Edward Said, Norman
Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky and
Christopher Hitchens. Almost no
politicians fall into this category and
the closest facsimiles of progressive-
ness on Capitol Hill are people like
David Bonior and Cynthia McKinney.
Progressives are targeted. They are
a threat to most societies because they
call for complete reexaminations of

status quos. They call for power to be
put in check. Recently, Christopher
Hitchens published a book entitled
"The Trial of Henry Kissinger," basi-
cally outlining a case for the prosecu-
tion in a war crimes trial against the
former secretary of state. I can only
imagine the amount of death threats
he has received. We have some pro-
gressive institutions in our world,
though many of them, like the UN for
example, have fallen prey to power,
basically becoming a mouthpiece for
the foreign policy of the United
States. Another such institution would
be the UN war crimes tribunal that is
currently hearing the case of Slo-
bodon Milosevic. This is of course an
important first step, but the true test
of the court will be if it also prose-
cutes others who have committed
similar acts, even if they come from
the powerful elite, i.e. the Western
world. The progressiveness of the
court may very well be tested in the
coming years as leaders like Henry
Kissinger, Ariel Sharon and others are
now being pursued, if only prelimi-
narily, by individual prosecutors.
Finally progressiveness is not, as it
is most times seen, an extremist
movement. It is, rather, extremely
moderate. Many times what it calls
for may seem extreme, however, since
it seeks to de-corrupt power, to re-
institute true democracy and to pre-
vent suffering no matter what clothes
the victim wears.
- This isAmer Zahrs last columnfor the
summer He can be reached via

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