Saturday, August 13, 2011

still more on coffee and community: herein of the female side

I noted in my last post, a month ago, the "rules" that seemed to apply to men at indie coffee bars and how they could be interpreted as efforts to carve out a distinctly male sphere in at least nominally egalitarian world. There are also of course rules that apply to women, in dress and other behavioral manners. Herewith a few, as best I can relate them:

1. It is forbidden for any woman under the age of 50 to wear a brassiere or other underwear above the waist. (My research does not permit me to go beyond this.) When entering an air conditioned location, or for reasons of modesty, it is however permitted to place a shawl or other similar covering above one's shirt or blouse.

2. Tattoos are permitted or even encouraged for women as well as men, but they must be of an approved female variety. Flowers, or flower arrangements, are preferred. Sports or similarly violent motifs are prohibited: at very least, women wearing them should be given a wide berth.

3. An air of postfeminist indifference--neither the hostility sometimes associated with the feminist movement nor the overt flirtation of the "Madmen" era--should be cultivated in all dealings with men and perhaps older women, as well. A tight-lipped smile and a brief "Hey! or "How are ya?" may be offered on repeat encounters with the same person. There is a marginally greater likelihood of women than men engaging in conversations with real people as opposed to electronic devices, although it is unclear if this difference is permanent or transitional in nature.

It is interesting to note that the supposed "convergence" of the sexes has been accompanied by a re-emphasis on sexual characteristics in grooming, with men more likely to sport facial hair, etc. and women displaying more of their breasts with each passing year. Yet--inasmuch as few men go for an ultra-macho biker look--few real women seem to imitate Lady Gaga, whose exaggerated hair and body can only be understood as a sort of adolescent response to the strictures of a unisex world. Instead most people seem to be, well, at least superficially comfortable with what they are, neither trying to be the other gender nor making a special effort to run away from it. Which, as these things go, is probably not so bad.