Thoughts from a Noble Woman: On Clothing and Fashion Mishaps

We have an interesting development in our mysterious M.A.’s diary (first discussed here): it looks like she gave considerable thought into how she presented herself, clothing-wise.

How many philosophers can you name spent time thinking of such things?

Yeah, same here.

And yet, it can be argued, it is hardly a trivial pursuit. How you dress makes a difference in how people see you, and perhaps in how you perform.

But as M.A. points out, there is a dark side to taking such matters seriously, that being, feeling yourself superior as a result.

And personally? I love how she struggles with it!

Just see for yourself:

MA 2

Do not think that because you choose your attire with care that you are somehow better than she who does not.
Such as the woman you saw at the store this morning.
What was she thinking? For goodness sake, what would her mother say?
What would my mother say?
No! Stop it!
All women are your sisters – remember this. No matter how they are dressed, they are your equals.
Do not judge them because their slip is showing; you’ve been there too.
Never laugh at their fashion choices; you’ve taken questionable paths as well.
However scandalous the hemlines – oh dear, they are scandalous…
No! Don’t think it! Instead, repeat to yourself:

Clothing is not Morality
Clothing is not Intelligence
Clothing is not Kindness

And if in finding a woman who thinks as you do, who shares your fashion sense, if together you show contempt for a younger woman’s clothing, what does that accomplish except cause division among your sex? Will it cause the younger woman to change her attire? Of course not! She will see you and your friend as obnoxious prudes. For that is what you are.
So stop it!
Nay, keep your thoughts to yourself. Instead, let your own mode of dress speak for you and be kind.
In all things, be kind.

From M.A.’s Recipe Drawer

All Dressed Up with No Place to Go Egg Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy breezy
  • Print

An egg salad elegant enough for company, whether elegantly attired or not.

Egg salad with smoked salmon

Ingredients

  • 6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tablespoon finely snipped, fresh dill
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Mayonnaise

Directions

Mix first ingredients together in a medium sized bowl, add enough mayonnaise to bind together.

Use as a sandwich filling or to serve with crackers.
Another option: Make deviled eggs! Slice hardboiled eggs in half and remove yolks, chop and mix with other ingredients. Spoon a generous mound of salmon-yolk filling into each egg half. Place a bit of dill or chives on each for serving.

When Girls Kiss at Gammage

I was at Gammage the other night.

That’s how we say it in Arizona: “I was at Gammage.” Old timers might say, “I was at Grady Gammage,” but most of us don’t bother with the full name.

Gammage.png

If a big Broadway show is coming to Phoenix, you can be sure it will be at Gammage and this year we’re getting a buttload of them.

Even… (drumroll, please)… Hamilton!

That’s coming up in January,and it’s the main reason we bought season tickets. Fun Home was the first show of the season and I was anxious to see it.

Do you know the story? It’s based on the memoir of Alison Bechdel. Basically, it’s a coming of age tale, but unlike most of the coming of age stories you’ve heard, this one involves a lesbian.

Husband and I knew the story fairly well without ever seeing it. Son saw it in New York twice, and from his descriptions and playing the soundtrack over and over, we knew it inside out. Plus, I read the book.

Our seats were in the Mezzanine area, and in general, I’d say that’s a nice place to sit. We had ample space in front of us, meaning people could walk to their seats with no difficulty.

Except for one guy, who was without a doubt the slowest shuffler I’ve ever seen.

For those of you of a certain age, just picture Tim Conway’s “oldest man” character from the Carol Burnett show. (See him here.) Dress him in khaki pants that are too short and a Cardinals t-shirt and cap, and you’ve got our man.

Here’s the drawing I made of him:

Arriving

That’s him shuffling in front of us, on his way to his seat. (Notice the three little lines to his right? That indicates movement.)

Please ignore the fact that he looks like he’s going to the bathroom. As I’ve said before, I can’t draw hands. I tried putting them in his pockets, but… look, just ignore that part, okay?

As to the musical, I must say, it’s interesting watching people’s reactions to a story you know well. There were lines that caused huge laughs, but Husband and I knew them so well we didn’t react.

That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy the play. Far from it. Also, that’s not to say everyone found it funny.

I think we were about a half hour into the show? Not sure, but it was about the time college-age Alison has her first experience with a girl.

You don’t see it happen, of course, but you do see them tangled in sheets. It’s the point where she starts singing: I’m changing my major to Joan!… I’m changing my major to sex with Joan!

The audience burst out in laughter and applause, with the exception of this guy:

Leaving

Yep. That’s when Shuffler shuffled his way out the theater. (Note how the three motion lines switched sides?)

I guess the subject matter was too much for him.

Shuffler aside, Fun Home was a great hit in Phoenix. If it makes it to your area, I highly recommend it.

Oh, one more thing: On our way out of Gammage, making our way through the parking lot, I noticed two women ahead of us. Older women, in their 70s I guessed, and they were holding hands.

Not like friends holding hands, but like a couple holding hands. For that is what they were. A couple.

And once again it hit me how very far we’ve come as a society. Sure, there are problems, and sure, we’ve got our Shufflers. But overall, things are so much better than they were. And if we don’t lose heart, I’m convinced they will keep on getting better.

Because eventually, even the Shufflers will get used to girls kissing.

Anyway. Those were some thoughts I had when I was at Gammage the other night.

Thoughts From a Noble Woman: M.A.’s First Entries

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’ve been hard at work deciphering the scribblings of our mysterious M.A., and I’m happy to report I have a few entries to present today.

I’m giving you the first two I found, therefore I’m calling them the First Two Entries. (Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?)

Please keep in mind nothing was dated, so let’s not get too concerned whether they were actually M.A.’s first writings, hmm?

In the same way, don’t worry about whether I’m making all this up or not. There’s much to be said for losing yourself in story.

There are far worse places you could find yourself.

Continue reading “Thoughts From a Noble Woman: M.A.’s First Entries”

Recent Discovery: the Diary of a Noble Woman

In a previous post, I lamented the lack of philosophical writings for women. A collection of ideas where the chief goal was to empower, embolden, and other em-words like that there.

But was it true? Did we really lack such writings, or was I falling into a “poor me” mentality, as satisfying as it is lazy? I had to find out.

My trip to the library produced mixed results. The reading materials were plentiful and the cold brew coffee sold in their cafe (only $3.95) was lovely. The problem, as I saw it, was that the writings focused too much on what was wrong with women. They came from a premise that we were broken. Battered down and weakened.

After two hours of disheartening research, I bought another cold brew and headed home.

That was when my trip took an interesting turn. Continue reading “Recent Discovery: the Diary of a Noble Woman”

On Philosophy, Pronouns, and Stoic Women

Last week in an article in the New York Times, columnist Laura Collins Hughes referred to a recent performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

No, not that performance. The one Hughes spoke of was at an all-girls high school. Not only were all the roles played by girls, the word “man” was changed to “girl” throughout the script.

Hughes wrote:

“Thou art the ruins of the noblest girl that ever lived in the tide of times,” Mark Antony said over the dead body of Caesar, and I thought: When do we ever describe girls as noble? When, in the stories we tell, do we ever take them that seriously?

–from “When Women Won’t Accept Theatrical Manspreading
by Laura Collins-Hughes, the New York Times, July 17, 2017

To which I say, “Right?!”

It started me thinking – or rather, it returned me to thinking, as it’s not my first time – how powerful language can be, especially the words we choose to describe ourselves.

I’ve been doing some reading into Stoicism (because I’m weird like that), partly because it reminds me of my dad. He was a calm, quiet Norwegian. A perfect fit for Stoicism.

But also… well, have you ever read something and thought to yourself, “Yes! This, right here! This is meeee!” (Squealed in a most stoic fashion, I assure you.)

You find out you’re not a weirdo after all. Someone — okay, someone in ancient times, but still, it’s someone — thinks the way you do. Only smarter and with a better vocabulary.

Stoicism is like that for me. But there’s one little problem: it’s a wee bit masculine. Oh hell, it’s all the way masculine. I mean, they were all men.

(Okay, fine. I realize there were some female Stoics, but we know very little about them, and they don’t appear to have written anything. Not so much as a grocery list.)

So after hearing of the plucky girls doing Shakespeare, I started changing the language of what I was reading.

For instance:

The bravest sight in the world is to see a great man struggling against adversity.
― Seneca

becomes:

The bravest sight in the world is to see a great woman struggling against adversity.  ― Seneca, feminized

Granted, it’s a small change. Just one word. But that one word not only makes it more relevant to me, it’s done something more.

It got me to thinking: Maybe there are other women, maybe lots of women, who would like these Stoic thoughts too.

To tell the truth, I never felt I had much in common with other women. It wasn’t a gender issue, but more a mental one. I wasn’t as interested in the things they were (or what I thought they were – shopping, makeup, diets, fashion), which may explain why I always had more male friends than female.

But what if that was based on misplaced thinking?

Women are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them. — Epictetus, feminized

Consider the basic Stoic principles of humility, self-control, equality, justice — are those strictly masculine ideals? Of course not. Do all women practice them? No, but then neither do all men. That’s why we call them ideals. (Also, did you notice how christian they sound? Again, ideally speaking.)

Okay, so what’s the big deal, you say. Just read “man” as humankind. If these ideas aren’t exclusively male, then neither should they be exclusively female.

To which I say, Geez fella, lighten up! After several centuries of language going your way, you can’t give us a few quotes of our own?

Because just as it is for an all-girl Julius Caesar, changing the pronouns makes the quotes more meaningful to the average female.

She who lives in harmony with herself lives in harmony with the universe.
— Marcus Aurelius, feminized

A nice concept, isn’t it? A woman living in harmony with herself?

Imagine if young women were hearing messages like that, rather than “Jeans that Make Your Butt Look Great!” (from Seventeen)

Of course, I realize we’re not in the habit of quoting philosophy to our kids, either to our daughters or our sons. That’s not my point.

(Though if you do quote philosophy to your kids, I want you to know how much I love you.)

My point is… well, I’m not sure what my point is. Let’s say it’s my wish. I wish we had a Stoic equivalent for women. Because Stoicism is far more than tweetable quotes, it’s a way of life.

I wish there had been a female Marcus Aurelius who wrote down all her thoughts on how to live a good and honorable life. Maybe Marcus had a second cousin, twice removed.

Let’s call her Marcia. Marcia Aurelius.

But what’s the use of wishing? (Wishing is not a Stoic-approved practice.) Maybe we don’t have ancient philosophies to bolster us up. That doesn’t mean we can’t make use of them, or alter them if need be.

Or — hey, how ’bout this? — what if we wrote our own Meditations?

One day, someone will find a wise woman’s diary — your diary — filled with ideas, admonitions, private reflections; Empowering words on how to be a good, noble woman.

I really wish we had something like that. Tell ya what – I’ll work on mine if you work on yours.

Deal?

Waste no more time arguing about what a good woman should be. Be one. — Marcus Aurelius, feminized