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Our clothing, our culture
"I was a feminist who wouldn't judge a woman for her life experiences, but would make a snide crack about her high heels."
-Shannon Drury, click here to read her column from August 2013, MN Women's Press magazine

by Kathy Magnuson and Norma Smith Olson

Racial profiling, gun laws and justice have been a big part of our public conversation this summer. Included in that is talk of what Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was killed - a hooded sweatshirt. His hoodie has become a symbol of the racial profiling of young black men. Was his clothing a contributing factor in his death? What are the images we hold as a culture of a criminal and of a victim? And where does responsibility lie for these cultural views?

Criticism of clothing is an all-too-familiar pattern for women in our culture, as well. When a woman is assaulted, too often the conversation - and even the media coverage - focuses on what she was wearing. Was her skirt too short? Was her shirt cut too low? Was she wearing high heels? Victim blaming can be rampant, even though common sense tells us that clothing does not equal permission to rape.

From the clothing, the discussion often proceeds to what she was doing. Was she alone? Was she out after dark? Just as President Obama talked about the commonality of African-American men being followed in department stores, girls and women in our culture know the chilling feeling of being followed at night. But does walking alone give permission to assault?

It is the custom in some cultures for women to always be covered in public. One reason given is that a man seeing a woman's ankle or arm may be provoked to sexual assault. And it would be her fault. It's part of the same continuum of blaming women for their own rape if they weren't wearing "proper" clothing.

We sometimes describe the Women's Press as a women's magazine that doesn't write about how to find the man of your dreams, this week's diet tips - or this season's hottest fashions. So here is our "What She Wore" issue.

In addition to the feature story on the rape myth, you'll find thoughts about women's self-esteem and hair from a cancer survivor whose business helps women find wigs and scarves. Professor Duchess Harris tells why it's important to her as a Black feminist to wear heels and a skirt to class each day. Readers share thoughts about their power boots, the importance of a good-fitting bra and dressing like Cinderella for a day.

Despite what many people may think, feminists do know how to have fun. This issue also includes a story about Carol Salmon's bright red wig, enormous shoes and oily makeup that she wears as a clown. Reneé Rongen shares the power of wearing a suit and having a sense of humor. We share a few choice reviews from Amazon of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' bright running/standing shoes. And, then consider those fun shoes on the cover!

Coming up:
Women mean business is September 2013's focus and we're asking: What life lessons have you learned from the business world?
Tell us about it.
Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: Aug. 10, 2013
September, 2013, advertising sections:
• Elder Guide
• Grrrls Go Green Guide
• Spirituality Guide
• GoSeeDo Guide
Deadline: Aug. 10, 2013

Watch for our annual Women's Directory in the September issue! 28 years of helping organizations and businesses connect with the women's audience in the Twin Cities.
Advertising deadline: Aug. 1, 2013

Women and trees is our focus in October, 2013. Send us your haiku about your life and trees, editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: Sept. 10, 2013
October advertising sections:
• Health Guide
• Home Guide
• Women & Pets Guide
• GoSeeDo Guide
Deadline: Sept. 10, 2013


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