Monday, February 11, 2008

Travel clothes


I wear skirts when I travel. I generally wear skirts regardless of whether I am flying or driving, and except in cases of deep snow, regardless of the weather. Most women I know think I'm nuts. But I have my reasons, good reasons.

Skirts are comfortable. They are unrestrictive, allowing a full range of motion. If they get twisted, they do not tug or cut painfully into anything. They allow for air-flow when it is hot. When it is cold, bike shorts or leggings can be worn underneath without compromising comfort.

But regardless of these practicalities, there is a better reason to wear skirts when traveling: People are more courteous. I find that when I am wearing a skirt or dress, people are more polite. Bus, tram, trolly, and shuttle drivers always rush to help me with my bags. Service staff at hotels, restaurants and airports are both more deferential and helpful. People hold open the doors and let me pass first. And men are more admiring and appreciative. I've had several comments from men about how nice it is to see a woman in skirts.

I assure you, chivalry is not dead. It is simply that men's responses to feminism have driven it underground. I have observed that while most men will be solicitous toward women given the opportunity, they are less likely to act upon their chivalrous urges when the fairer sex is wearing pants. It seems to me that men unconsciously interpret the wearing of pants as a woman's declaration of independence.

A woman in skirts however, ah! now she is the target of all the bottled-up chivalry that men have less and less opportunity to express in this world of gender parity. She has dropped something, Oh, here, let me get that for you. Oh, no need to pump your own gas, I'm almost finished with mine, I'll be happy to do yours next. Please, take this full-sized car instead of the mid-sized, no extra charge. You'll be more comfortable. A lady should never eat alone, may I join you? Please, you take this elevator, I'll wait for the next. Its pouring rain and you've no umbrella? Please share mine. Here, let me get that door for you.

I am by no means helpless, in fact, quite the opposite. But there is an implied social contract between a woman in skirts and the rest of the world. In exchange for their solicitousness and courtesy, for providing them the opportunity to be gentle-people, I am smiling, gracious, and receptive: a lady.

I dress like a lady, act like a lady, and in return, I am treated like one.

All for the 'price' of wearing a skirt. Quite a bargain, I say.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Sherri said...

Excellent. I too wear skirts even in winter, even while riding my bike but I haven't taken notice of any change in men's attitudes. I will be more observant from now on. And I love your comment about graciousness. I think it highly under-rated and while I am rather out of practice, I decided this week to cultivate it. Yours comes through quite clearly in your writing.

3:05 AM, February 15, 2008  

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