Miss Musings

A modern miss provides commentary on sociological and psychological issues concerning politics, the media, literature, and everyday observances.

Captain America wears a tutu

Recently I strutted over to the local Party City in high heels and wandered by the colorful costumes. At first glance, there was a clear distinction between the male’s costumes and female’s costumes. When the two suddenly merged, I stopped in my tracks.

There was the Captain America costume, but it looked a bit different.

Captain America had a tutu. It was pretty cute, too.

The Marvel section proudly displayed an adorable child’s costume: a dress with a red, white, and blue tulle skirt and a glittering Captain America shield on the chest, complete with a matching wand and crown, both equally Americana.


Cute, right?

Cute, right? Source: http://www.partycity.com/product/child+american+dream+tutu+dress.do?navSet=170692


If this had been any other costume, perhaps a princess or a cowgirl, I would not have taken any notice. But as a young woman who quietly bought a Captain America hoodie from the boy’s section in Target, something personal drew me to the innocent, yet still potentially politically powerful tutu. There are no Marvel hoodies in the women’s section at Target. But there is a superhero dress for little girls at Party City. Though it is only a costume, Captain America’s tutu may be a step in the right direction for girls who might just adore superhero movies, or any forms of entertainment that are pre-dominantly marketed towards males.


Photo courtesy of weheartit.com, clip from "Mean Girls"

Source: http://weheartit.com/entry/group/17308827


While I wanted to say “four for you, Party City” and chant about equal access to superhero merchandise, I stepped back to ponder on the result of blurring the social lines regarding what costume is appropriate for which gender. Boys may start requesting to wear tuxedos with Angelina Ballerina accents, and girls may conveniently wear a colored skirt over otherwise “masculine” Power Rangers jumpsuits. Soon enough, boys and girls may dress up exactly like the characters they intend to emulate, regardless of their genders. However, what may be a cause for social shock and outrage about “enforcing experimentation on today’s youth” is most likely just dressing up. In the words of my inner five-year-old, “girls like superhero movies too, deal with it.”

The hoopla caused over mixed gender costumes leads me to believe that society has one big problem: its members read into behaviors too much, therefore causing unnecessary inter-gender friction.

Society says: men wear pants. Women wear skirts. It has been this way for literally hundreds of years. Now, women are wearing the pants… although hesitantly, and when someone calls “feminist” from the rooftops the women jump at the chance to call “male privilege” and “oppression.” Suddenly, we see the hidden power of the pants: we get a bit courageous and perhaps even too big for our new, un-tailored britches.

The same women who cry “oppression,” due to the fact they are frowned on for expressing masculinity, may need to evaluate their opinions on men, one day, wearing skirts. Would it be so wrong for men to express femininity? It may not be wrong, but by today’s standards, it is alien. This is where the supposed “gender gap” in equality really lies: between our meticulous interpretation of trait expression, both for masculine and feminine qualities. If it is so empowering for a woman to wear pants, it would be no different for a man to wear a skirt – if you believe in the true definition of feminism, anyway.


The most accurate definition I could find of "feminism."

The most accurate definition I could find of “feminism.” Source: http://www.dearwinnie.com/2011/02/09/rebranding-feminism/


When men and women view each other as pants and skirts and judged solely on outward appearance, they give a lot of power to pieces of fabric. Suddenly, we are what we wear and have to conform to the expectations of our clothing. As we continue to read into what people wear, we prolong the nonsensical and nonexistent correlation between what kids wear and who they are. This creates problems that do not have to exist; dress-up time has turned into a social movement, whether you are on the “girls don’t wear pants” or “girls need to have equal access to pants” side of the picket line. It is all shouting in the end, and it certainly distracts from playtime.

I would want any girl to be able to wear the Captain America tutu, but not for feminist reasons or because she “should be able to” – only because she loves the Captain America movie just as much as I do.

I research what bothers me: my struggles with poets

Cognitive dissonance in action.

Cognitive dissonance in action. Source: http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/cognitive-dissonance-in-psychology-theory-examples-definition.html#lesson


The power of psychological disturbance is greater than you may imagine, especially when it is transcribed in the English language. Undoubtedly, we accept what is normal easily, and what isn’t, not so easily. This follows the theory of cognitive dissonance: we remember what sticks out to us, because it is atypical.

When I read books, I aim to read them actively. In doing so, certain words stick out to me. An author’s diction sticks to my throat.

Most of these words and phrases are centered on topics that I have little knowledge of: for example, strained relationships, depression deeper than mere medication can heal, or oppression few people could handle long enough to carry out the plot of a short novel.

I distinctly remember reading the poem “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath for my literature class. It shook me about in that bothersome literary way. The metaphors of fascism and the holocaust that Plath employed affected me, as I was deeply involved in independent genocide research at the time. Shortly after I finished reading the poem I ordered Plath’s only novel, The Bell Jar, from the library and absorbed its richness page by page. A quick Google search lent me a key fact: the book is semi-autobiographical. Hence, Esther Greenwood’s enigmatic personality must be a reflection of Plath’s, and was written by a primary source. Plath’s unabridged journal collection fell into my hands, as did several medical papers, and I went on researching, intensely and meticulously, this woman who adjusted the definitions of modern-day psychological disorders.


Segment of Plath's writing.

Segment of Plath’s writing. Source: http://data2.whicdn.com/images/74477080/thumb.jpg


This, along with a quick trip to Target for a caffeine-loaded soda, was my personal-enrichment project weekends ago. Days later I was assigned to read and analyze a feminist novel entitled “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin. I was enticed by the romantic, iced-cupcake style of language, but when I bit into it, something tasted sour. Edna committed suicide by drowning.

After reading several pieces by Sylvia Plath, this little event should not have affected me as deeply as it did. But a character I related to, whom I spent one-hundred pages with, intentionally sank in the ocean.

There had to be a deeper meaning.

Thankfully, there was. More than one, actually: Edna’s suicide has been debated by world-renowned scholars, and her purpose has been analyzed from feminist and humanist perspectives. I scanned pages of discussion on this act of defiance, trying to understand why my literary doppelganger decided to sacrifice everything without “thinking of the children.”

Throughout all of this, I had my own “awakening”: what disturbs me prompts my intellectual discovery. The cognitive dissonance created in my mind by wordsmiths, while not original, is influential on me as an inquirer. I Google what bothers me; I learn from the mistakes of characters. They spark movements in my mind.

What is the most disturbing yet thought-provoking thing you have ever read?