Julia, Step Out With Your Left Foot

When one trains dogs, and I suspect other animals as well, body language is an important factor. How one steps out, what foot one uses is an essential signal. Speech commands are an adjunct.

Julia Gillard gave women a great speech command a few days ago. Do not be willing to submit meekly to sexist viewpoints.

I was disappointed she cannot do this in her stepping.

The battle against high heels was mistakenly thought to be won in the 70s. The wearing of high heeled shoes is physically indefensible so must be defended by other means. It is said they are “feminine”. They would not be, Ms Gillard, if women did not wear them. There is a suggestion that they are sexy, particularly in that odd unbalanced way they push one’s weight forward and so the posterior sticks out.

I, perhaps mistakenly, have generally regarded sex as a rather informal physical activity, in the main conducted bare footed with a certain physical freedom and joi de vive which is not forthcoming in high heels, but I must make it clear that the sample size does not allow for a statistically significant conclusion for research purposes.

In every day working life high heels are a nightmare and have no legitimate justification. Often consumerism and the manufacturers can be blamed for the provision of a lot of non-feminist goods but, in the matter of shoes, a number of attractive alternatives to pointy heels are readily available.

Personally, I last wore stilettos in 1964 and have not spent my life in jackboots or lace-ups (although for informal wear the “sneaker” or “trainer” is handy). A pair of plain black shoes with small pointy heels were kept for use when trying to maintain an appearance that I was not just an old fuddy duddy but part of the modern world.

Most often they were worn when giving evidence in court as a psychologist. As happened recently to Ms Gillard, I took a slight tumble some years ago. The stepping down from an unfamiliar witness box whilst giving the standard polite “genuflex” in the direction of the bench before leaving the court proved difficult in those shoes.

I threw them out.

Julia, step out boldly with your left foot, with no pointy heels, and lead the way!


About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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2 Responses to Julia, Step Out With Your Left Foot

  1. So there are sensible, reasonably stylish smart shoes for women. There always have been for men, of course. But I do suspect the PM will cop it on dress no matter what she wears. I just wish there wasn’t such an obsession with dress for public figures, when it has nothing to do with their ability to do their job.

    It will be asserted loudly that the way a person dresses indicates character traits. That’s true. But it annoys me that people are often judged on this almost to the exclusion of other qualities.

    India is a very fashion-conscious country, especially amongst its new wave of professionals. This was no doubt taken into account when her dress was decided upon for public appearances. Does anyone seriously think that she just pulls out a dress from the rack and a pair of shoes from the cupboard without having to consider the effect? I know the choices made by/with/for her haven’t always flattered her in the past, but I’m sure the choices now are made with more care.

    Academics are notoriously bad dressers, or at least the old-style ones were in the past. That’s because they understood that how they dressed was irrelevant to how well they did their job of advancing knowledge, and were recognised for their work no matter how frumpy they looked.

    I’m not advocating green tracksuits for everyone. Smart dress is appealing, but I do hate its being made too much of. This isn’t a criticism of anything you’ve written, just a comment on ‘peer’ and media pressure to conform!

  2. Anne Powles says:

    It is indeed possible to get sensible and reasonably stylish in women’s shoes – ie what I think is reasonably stylish anyway! I do not hold myself out as fit to be an arbiter of fashion! (A green track suit might even be a step up for my academic son @JonPowles)

    I agree with what you say and do not worry too much myself about how people dress and decorate themselves except when it seems to signify a problem with self image. I do, however, worry about people ( almost always they are women) who still wear shoes that can be both permanently damaging and dangerous.

    While I think that comfort in clothes should be the main concern, I concede that how one dresses is often taken as a sign of respect and this is very important for public figures. I don’t have a problem with how any of our current politicians dress. I did see what Germaine Greer meant a month or so ago about Julia Gillard’s jackets and the message it sent about the PM’s body image when it is apparent that she is a clever woman who looks quite good, but certainly I think she dresses most appropriately in her public role as a PM. However I know how embarrassing it is to fall over in public and this is so often, as it was in my case, caused by high heels ( and not even that high)!

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