Dazed and Confused

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2000

LEE DRESSELHAUS / L’Observateur / August 15, 2000

So. There are two things about eavesdropping that I think I should bring upbefore I get to what will have to pass as my point.

One: It’s rude.

Two: It’s fun.

And when nobody knows you it’s even more fun. I’m writing this column fromone of those internet caf type things in Key West, where I’m working very hard to do absolutely nothing, like you should do on a vacation. For me doingnothing on vacation is not an option, it’s a rule.

Key West is a great little place, the last in the chain of islands known as the Florida Keys, but you knew that. It’s two miles by four size-wise and remindsme a lot of New Orleans, except for the fact that it’s a bit cleaner and a lot safer. Criminal activity is limited here because, well, where ya gonna go afteryou car-jack someone or rob a bank or something? It’s an island. There’s oneway in and one way out. Even the stupidest of criminals can figure out theramifications of that bit of geography trivia. And apparently they do becausehaving your bicycle ripped off or your purse or wallet stolen if you’re stupid enough to leave it sitting all by itself seems to be the major crime issues here.

Anyway, last night I was sitting in one of the outdoor bars here. I wanderedinto the place by accident, really, I thought it was a church and had the opportunity to eavesdrop on two people who had not the slightest clue I was listening. I couldn’t help it, their table being just behind mine and shieldedfrom me by some kind of tropical plant.

I could have gotten up and moved, but they caught my attention when they started to bemoan the state of modern day feminism.

That’s right, they were hard-core feminists, the ones from my generation.

Like me they had been watching the tourists pass up and down Duval Street.

They apparently became offended at the clothing some of the women of this generation chooses to wear. There are several words to describe saidclothing including, tight, revealing, very tight, and very revealing. All of whichI find acceptable, being the pig I am.

These two women apparently do not find it so. They groused about how theyand their generation of women warriors had worked so hard to free women from the constraints of just that type of thing. They felt that those womenare betraying The Cause by wearing stuff that appeals to men, and they loudly wondered if their revolution had all been for nothing. They soundly androundly criticized everything from high heels to the short-shorts that seem to be very popular these days. They had burned their bras while they were incollege as an expression of their desire to be free of that type of bondage, not to mention the condescension of men when they do things like opening doors for women, pulling out a woman’s chair for her at a table, or lighting a woman’s cigarette.

After listening for a while and looking around for a place to drown myself (I was on the ground floor so throwing myself to the street wasn’t an option because it would have just looked silly) and not finding a body of water deep enough, I settled in and began to enjoy those two. It was the best show intown for a while.

I kept myself out of it for the obvious reasons. It wouldn’t have been politeto butt in, and I was afraid they’d beat me up. They sounded frustrated and Ichose not to become a target.

But, those two are missing a big fat point about modern feminism.

Women these days dress any way they like. They don’t dress for thepleasure men or to meet the Gloria Steinem-inspired standards of a past generation. A lot of young women don’t have a clue who Gloria Steinem evenis. All they know is that they’ll dress as they darn well please and if you oranybody else doesn’t like it they can take a flying leap.

Furthermore, it’s okay these days if a man opens a door for a woman, or pulls out that chair. That doesn’t degrade, demean, demote, or belittle thewoman at all. It never has, in fact. And women these days like it. And here’sa little secret: Men like doing it. It’s fun.Here’s a message for those two feminists and anyone else who thinks women aren’t doing what they should do for The Cause these days. Your revolutiondidn’t fail. Those women dress like that these days because they can, notbecause it’s expected or required. They are the direct beneficiaries of ageneration that decided that you should be able to wear you hair as you like or to burn your bra if you choose to do so.

Just try to tell a woman how she should dress or act these days and see for yourself.

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