2015-12-24

模倣子 A Gift Horse in the Mouth

Yeah, I do know how to sew. The problem is the economic system and what it's doing. The first take is that it's some kind of gender conspiracy to oppress both genders in different ways. Just making your own stuff gets you out of the system, which is good, but it doesn't fix it and it doesn't answer the basic question.

I have a friend who researches fashion trends and the history of industrially produced clothing over the past couple of centuries, so I should perhaps ask her about this. The first clothes were simple things for single men who were soldiers or laborers, i.e., who were too poor and had no family (women) to make clothes for them.

I may be taking a huge risk here, so please just see what you think of the following ideas (I've been kicking around from reading this forum over the past day or so) and let me know if it makes you think of anything.

Anyway...here goes...

When you talk about clothing as a purchasable commodity, then it becomes something that among other things men may sell their labor for money to buy in order to impress women, i.e., partly to give as gifts to impress women. Clothing for men is purely for practical purposes, i.e., no such "gift component". Diamonds are a classic example. They are very expensive and completely useless and also readily recognizable. In the same way, expensive fine clothing given as gifts need not be practical, useful, or even of particularly high quality, so long as they are known to be very expensive.

It follows then that there should be zillions of varieties and brands and shapes and colors for no reason, and "something to get the woman who has everything" because there is no "everything" -- if a man has some money and wants to spend it to impress a woman, then there should always be somebody ready to take his money, and no women should have to suffer the agony of already having one of those or showing up to the same venue with the same one of those as some other woman or all of those other clichés.

Just as a side note, I'm not trying to say that women never give gifts to men, or that women and men don't BOTH earn their own money, but that my assumption (and please let me know if it's wrong of if there are cultures outside of the Americas, Western Europe, and Japan that I don't know of where this isn't true) that when it comes to one gender spending the larger portion of their income on gifts on the other gender, it's men on women. Does that ring quite true to all?

The middle of the 20th Century in America was perhaps a bit of a low patch, but women also want to sell their own labor for money so they can buy their own stuff, or make it themselves (or possibly get it from men who are trying to impress them), but this whole "decorative commodity pressure" on a lot of women's clothing and personal items may always tend to creep in as a form of economic pressure pushing the quality of goods used exclusively by women DOWN and the costs UP.

It's an example of how there are four ways to spend money:
1. your own money on yourself
2. your own money on somebody else
3. somebody else's money on yourself
4. somebody else's money on somebody else (The Government)

in #1 you want the best value for money
in #2 you want to be cheap, and you don't care the quality
in #3 you want the best, to hell with the cost
in #4 you don't care the cost or the result, e.g., The Government

Men's personal care and clothing is always in #1 category. Men want value for dollar. Women should also be in #1 category, but there are a couple of negative pressures from the fact that men trying to impress them buy them presents of this stuff, and that is the natural state of the way things are.

1. men are poor consumers of female personal consumer goods -- either they don't know how to judge quality, or they don't care, so when acting as demand agents on behalf of the women they purchase (gifts) for, they perform poor market correction, i.e., they do not "spank" underperformers. Or they buy fancy, overpriced but low-quality stuff just to impress everybody (including their female recipients?)

1.1. this can extend to cases where woman has idea already of type of gift she wants but would not buy if she had to supply all of the money herself, but if male friend helps, she buys. the male friend does not typically provide feedback, i.e., he supplies indiscriminate market support again (for impractical low-quality women-targeted products which should probably not be purchased).  Again, injection of surplus support for high-variety, low-quality women-directed market segment.

2. The availability of "male demand for female attention" must be met by "gift variety" (money sinks). There must be items of all sizes, shapes, colors, price tags, etc., and if these don't exist, they will be created. In other words, male demand pressure causes expanding variety which degrades economies of scale, doesn't really create competition, etc.

Let me make this perfectly clear.

I am NOT saying that all clothing and personal care products exist for the purpose of being able to be purchased by men as gifts for women.

Let me say that again.

All women's clothing and personal care products were NOT invented to be sold as gifts to be purchased by men for women.

I would venture that say that men's purpose for existing is to impress women. Since men having nothing better to do than labor, and that labor tends to produce money, then that very money tends to produce an economic pressure on any commodities of interest to women, for the sake of acquiring same and using them to impress same.

And I am saying that said economic pressure has potentially deleterious effects on the marketplace of women's clothing and personal care items, per our discussion, as well political implications for the women's liberation movement.

There are two problems:
1. Men are always going to want to buy stuff for women, and that is going to tend to have the negative effect of making products for women: a) more expensive and b) of lower quality, as discussed elsewhere
2. Women may need to go through a "sifting" exercise vis-à-vis what they want from the marketplace

#1 it's a (true, apparently) stereotype that a lot of men get ties and socks for gift-giving occasions from all of their loved ones.  This may have disastrous economic implications for the tie and sock industries, but frankly, who cares? When I see a store like The Tie Rack or such I'm almost afraid to go in for fear it's a front for a spy ring or that I'd have to donate blood or an organ or something to get back out. But they don't have anything I really NEED in there. They're not holding my sanitary napkins hostage in there.

#2 "Business Casual" In short, I wore woolen suits for about 15 years in the streets and offices of Tokyo, Japan. It was nice in Winter (except winter is beastly) but it was beastly in summer, and kind of nice in-between. In silicon valley, I wore slacks and T-shirts all the time, and I more or less wear that now (cargo pants?). When I was on the road around the US as a consultant, I pretty much wore what I wore in Tokyo. The business suit is a garment that has evolved over about 200 years and is designed to keep the wearer comfortable (relatively speaking) literally from the tropics up to the arctic. in a properly tailored suit, there is a button BEHIND the I think it's the right lapel that fits the some think it's the button hole for putting a flower or something on the other lapel but no you can close the whole jacket right up around your neck right up to your ears, which is perfect for those cold winter nights. Of course, you can take the jacket off, roll up shirt sleeves, even take off socks, roll up trouser legs, and so on, even go in undershirt, and if it is quality wool, it wears like iron, does not stain, and on and on, and the jacket has pockets everywhere. However much I might feel like complaining, whatever I wear is usually just enough fabric to cover my body, or from some military design (like cargo pants) or like this business suit.

Oh, I have to say that I've never worn those SOCK GARTERS like those IBM guys back in the 1960s. Maybe my feeling of "it's at least practical" would be a bit different if so!

So I assume that women have a different feeling about their own clothing, that it's not so practical, no so serviceable, not so suited to the jobs they have to do and to the lives they are trying to lead? That was also the complaint of the American women in combat in Afghanistan, that their armor did not fit their bodies well.

A business suit if it does not fit well, it's very bad, but if it is well-tailored, then it's just great, by the way.

At very long last, I guess I would say that my clothes are some newer, some more expensive (though not always!), some of special material, and that makes them for special occasions or for work or whatever.
I guess "the necktie" is about the only "stupid garment that other people expect me to wear that doesn't make any sense" that I can think of right off. I don't wear one very often these days, by the way, but for many years it was a daily thing (and they were mostly gifts).
That's a very small part of the male wardrobe that is impractical like that.  Is that fair to say, guys?  I can't help wondering if a very much larger portion of the "female wardrobe" (if such an all-encompassing term is even meaningful) is similarly so. What is your feeling?

You don't have to know what you would rather it be like. You can just start by thinking that maybe it's not the best it could be as it is.  Sometimes, the "good" is the enemy of the "best".

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