WHAT DO YOU THINK THURSDAY: Feminism and Feet?
Get excited, folks! This is the inaugural column of our new weekly installment, “What Do You Think Thursday”!
Ever heard of the Evening Star? It was a local DC newspaper in publication for 128 years, and is a crucial historical resource for the DC Insider Tours team. Over the weekend, we were reading through some old Evening Star newspapers (yes, that is our idea of fun), and we found this little gem from 1852 (conveniently published on a Thursday) that sparked our interest and a lively debate:
FEMALE EMPLOYMENT. – The editor of the New York Mirror is strongly in favor of women performing more man’s work. He says the millinery business ought to be monopolized by women. The shops where shoes are sold for females, ought to have females employed in them to do fitting. It is revolting often to see grown men fingering around one’s wife’s, daughter’s, or sister’s ankles, fitting on boots and shoes, and discoursing about the “excellence of the foot,” or “beauty of shape,” &c. Indeed, ladies ought to insist upon being attended by women in such places, and the stores which employ them ought to have the preference in custom.
We were intrigued by this round-about argument for women entering the workplace, and came to different conclusions as to what, exactly, the author was arguing Here are the two reigning theories we came up with:
1.) Certain jobs, like working in shoe shops, are emasculating. It would be better to have women fill these roles than to have to see men working in such feminine jobs.
2.) Some jobs are downright creepy for men to perform. It would be better to have women work in shoe shops so that men aren’t touching women’s feet in an… um… unsettling manner.
What do you think? And, further, what do you think were the author’s true leanings on the issue? Was he actually a feminist creating an argument that would be more amenable to men? We want to hear from you!