Paint it, Baby! Paint It!
The ancient art of make-up and manicure keeps being revived and remixed by industries that are still mostly led by men.
The Board of Directors at L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics company founded in 1909 by Eugène Paul Louis Schueller, is today composed of fourteen men and only four women.
Never has the industry of foundation creams, powders, artificial nails, brazen-red lipsticks, nail polishes, hair sprays and false eyelashes been so thriving.
Them were the days!
At least, not since from the era of unisex make-up in Ancient Egypt when both men and women redesigned the shapes of their eyes and brows with long and thick lines of kohl.
They also brightened their cheeks with rouge and used aromatic oils to soften their skin and, up to a point, prevent sunburn. And not since the ‘60s when the London mod scene, bringing with it the London Look, electrified western fashion.
Back in those days, Mary Quant, Fashion Designer, the woman behind the name, director of her company until 2000, lead the way in a field that ended as a cul-de-sac for women who aspired to walk in her tracks.
Today, Mary Quant Cosmetics is managed by a British-based Japanese businessman. As it stands, so many decades later, women only make up about 25% of the fashion industry that, in various ways, shapes the lives of roughly 150 million women.
Pink and blue all over
Worldwide, very few anti-girls or anti-women customs and trends endure without the collusion of women, their mothers and their mothers’ mothers.
In the ‘80s, in the west, there was the hope that pink and blue, gendered coloured for a myriad of items relevant to babies and toddlers, would finally be phased out.
However, as we near the end of the year 2017, pink is still the colour of choice for the ever-growing number of pre and post-teen ‘feminine’ items.
Pink is the default colour of many of their toys and bicycles. It is the ruling girlie colour of their clothes and school supplies, digital devices and related accessories.
Only the singer Pink and the pink pussycat bonnet have done their bit to redeem the misguided use of the colour pink!
In these days of raging battle for equality, also a throwback from the ‘60s, the issue of gendered colours might be the last thing young women, and mothers care to worry about and yet, PINK might not, after all, be any girl’s best friend.
Bottom line: are we able to consider that specific, modern, yet very dated aspects of female behaviour, aspirations and fashion sense, are parts of the cultural baggage that has constructed the sturdy root system that sits at the base of the inequality of the sexes?
That and the rest
That and, whatever it is which, from aeons back, has culturally enabled men to dissociate themselves from a genuine partnership with women - and, for that matter, with anyone perceived 'weaker' than themselves.
That, and whatever it is that has enabled enduring, endemic ‘victim blaming’ in our democracies and a mealy-mouthed application of the law in most cases of Woman vs Man litigation, particularly when complaints are of a sexual nature.
That, and also the cultural blindfold, from under which men and women of all ages have, apparently, failed to grasp the depth of the ongoing ugly, uncomfortable bias in the workplace, in the streets, on the sports field and schools.
At one time or another, the sex bias has affected most girls and women alike, regardless of their social status, appearance and ethnicity, since the dawn of time and certainly since the Declaration of Human rights of 1948.
That, and crime fiction as films and as novels.
Women alongside men have developed a taste for this form of ubiquitous entertainment focused on girls and women who are toyed with, bullied, ostracised, often abused and most often, too, eventually found lifeless, callously murdered predominantly out ‘out of love’ by the man they knew and trusted.
Damn that dis-empowering L word!
That, and that dreadful P word, patriarchy, far from obsolete in the west, which has allowed boys and men to go on referring to women of all ages, even mature ones, as ‘girl’, particularly in reference to or addressing ancillary staff, secretarial and sales personnel.
Similarly, in men and women alike, this mindset has also pulled the plug on the word ‘woman’ as a generic noun, the flipside of the word ‘man’, in utterances such as, “There was a lady on the bus yesterday who complained about this and that.” When talking about a man, do many people, these days say, “There was a gentleman on the bus yesterday. He complained about this and that”?
Curious as to what the word 'ladies' brings up on Google?
Have a look.
That was until, seemingly out-of-the-blue, karmic choreography at its best, brought to the attention of the world one in a series of actions among millions which, in the fullness of time, turned out to be ‘the one who broke the camel’s back’. The rest is now enshrined in social media history.
It does not get better than becoming a household name across all continents, and the man whose initials are HW is now much more infamous in his role as a sexual predator than he ever was famous as a celebrated American film producer.
Even if he does not spend one day in jail, this person is currently so vilified that he will most likely suffer until kingdom come. He might also be moved to expiate the best way he can the offences he has committed.
There is no such thing as coincidence, good or bad luck, right time/right place or wrong time/wrong place. And so, interestingly, it is through the merging ripples expanding across their lifetimes that HW and the woman who first denounced him along with the woman who started the now iconic Me Too hashtag have popped up as the karmic tools through which global culture is intended to make a spectacular about-turn.
And so, presto, the cultural blindfold was removed.
The structure of oppression was suddenly exposed although a Me Too movement had already been started in 2007 and, though, independently of that movement, several sex addicts and predatory men had already been the subjects of sexual assault allegations that included rape, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and sexual misconduct.
Warning bells ringing
Women will decide what happens next. True, but warnings apply!
The revived energies that led to the Medieval Inquisition and witch-hunts are not what the world needs.
Though we need to become emotionally stronger, more self-reflective and more courageous, the one thing the world does not need is a new crop of ‘ballsy’ women.
Being equal does not mean being and behaving in the same ways.
Girls/women do not need to be urged to aim sexually derogatory remarks at boys/men.
There is absolutely no need to copy men’s penchant for slurs by uttering such things as, ‘Duh, dude! Close your f… legs. Your dick ain't that huge,’ when on a train or bus.
Besides, what would be the point in women adopting a pattern of behaviour that, they know, has been proven dysfunctional at so many levels?
That degree of clarity should also apply to women supervisors, managers, directors and CEOs, as well as to women in all echelons of politics. Of course!
By the same token, the real meaning of 'sisterhood', the catch-cry of feminists back in the '70s, should finally, now, be enacted by women near and far. If we don't have 'each other's back,' who will? We all know the answer to that question.
The thing is, most men by far are decent men, even if they did pat a woman or two on the backside at Christmas parties or groped a few women who were not 100% consensual at the time.
These are the men with whom we need to reconnect.
In 1603, Shakespeare had Ophelia declaring, ‘We know what we are but know not what we may be’.
So many centuries later, most of us appear none the wiser.
Different rules of engagement are needed on both sides. We need to tap into our metaphoric Yin and our metaphoric Yang.
Our gendered core energies are hardwired in our brain. When 'found', they enable each of us, Man, Woman and Child, to develop our true inner nature. They allow each one to work, live, love and play from the centre of this self-less energy.
From the centre of our authentic inner being.
From the energy of our authentic self - for the greater good of all and of the self.
Then, we can show up as the women we were born to become.
Then, our daughters can grow up as the women they were born to become.
And, in this understanding lies the answer to the title trick question of this mind-meander, Which aspect of our body defines us best?
As the 45th Governor of Texas, Ann Richards, said, 'The here and now is all we have, and if we play it right, it is all we'll need.'
© 2017 Carole Claude Saint-Clair