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Posts tagged as Madam Chairperson

Sex, power, oppression: why women wear high heels

Modern elevated shoes were born in Paris, invented and then reinvented for western fashion as the classic high heels we recognize today. Despite it all, Summer Brennan still loves themSummer Brennan‘Heels made me feel powerful in a womanly way.’
There was a time in my life in New York City when I wore high heels almost every day. I myself did not have much power, but I worked at the United Nations, in a place where powerful people congregate.It is a place of suits and ties, skirts and silk blouses; of long speeches and aggressive air conditioning; of Your Excellency, and Madam Chairperson, and freshly shined wingtips and yes, high heels.There was an image in my mind of a certain kind of woman – professional, feminine, poised – that I wanted to embody.I saw these women daily, year after year, backstage to the halls of power, on benches by the ladies’ room, changing in and out of comfortable and uncomfortable shoes.These were power heels, and they were worn by women from all over the world.
They were leopard print, or green and scaly. They were amaranthine and violaceous and subtly velvet.They were black and shiny as Japanese lacquer, with a shock of red on the sole. Some were plain, but uncomfortable anyway.Perhaps I have embellished them somewhat in my imagination, my memory tempered by glamour. What is not in dispute is that all of these statement shoes invariably came with a steel-spined appendage like an exclamation point: stiletto, the heel named for a dagger.
For the women whose feet put up a fight, these shoes were changed out of and put away, smuggled in and out of the building in handbags, like weapons.When I worked in a formal office setting, high heels were never of any special interest to me beyond the fact that I liked them, and wore them, and liked wearing them.
I didn’t fixate. I never owned too many.If I’m honest, there were times when I liked the idea of wearing them more than the actual wearing of the shoes. Still, without high heels, at work I didn’t feel quite put together.Like a man might feel who has forgotten to put on his necktie in a boardroom full of men in neckties. They made me feel powerful in a womanly way; suited up, compliant, like I was buckled in to the workday.

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