Deborah Coddington

Deborah Coddington is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Forget burning your bra - if the shoe fits, wear it

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"Buy lingerie!" the builder advised me, when he'd estimated the bill for my husband as a result of my backing the Touareg through our winery door.

I'm well paid for my journalism, but not enough to cover the damage a towbar makes when it penetrates a wooden roller door.

I was tired. It was raining. My hat was over my eyes. Okay then, I'm a blonde in a 4WD, and I'll never make it to that esteemed rank of feminists with a capital F.

Do I care?

Once upon a time, yes. In the 70s, Gloria Steinem was one of my heroines; I slavishly subscribed to Ms magazine.

Years ago, I tried hard to forget about my children when I was at work and they were at school. But each lunchtime I worried they were eating their sandwiches and not biffing them in the bin.

At home-time I prayed they were walking home safely or hadn't lost their bus cards.

I pushed them out of the door to school, feeling guilty about being a working mum and not in the kitchen when they arrived home. Despite outward appearances of professionalism, inside I always felt torn.

In a recent NZ Herald article revisiting feminism, one young woman, probably like her mother and grandmother before her, lamented that married women still take their husbands' names. This is not feminism, she opined.

But take that argument to its extreme and girls taking their fathers' names would not be feminism. They'd have to take their mothers' names, but that wouldn't do because her name came from her dad, and so it goes on to infinite silliness.

Isn't feminism about more important issues than names?

My passport is in my married name so when we travel overseas I can jettison all the stuff I hate doing enough to put me off flying - filling departure and arrival cards, dealing with immigration officials, check-in, quarantine inquiries.

But my husband does it all and I tag along, pointing at him if I'm asked questions, happy to play the bimbo wife. I don't care if bureaucrats think I'm brainless.

Sometimes it pays to act dumb. In the days when Air New Zealand handed out magazines on domestic flights, if I was sitting next to an important-looking politician or businessman, I'd always request a trashy women's mag.

If I was lucky, said business person might think he was seated next to a bimbo and pull out confidential papers to read, which I could poke my nose into, and get a good story.

This happened last February in Canberra when, as Deborah Carruthers, at a barristers' black-tie dinner, I was seated beside Queensland's Liberal Senator George Brandis.

His glance, I saw, dismissed me as blonde QC's wifey, and he turned his back on me all night. On my blog I named and reviewed him in unflattering language.

Cut to Sydney last weekend, another international Bar conference, and some Queensland barristers learned my real name, profession, and read my blog.

They shared my opinion of their senator, are delighted and, as I write this column, are spreading my review of their upper house representative.

We should never judge people by their appearances, but hardcore feminists are among the worst, especially if you take Germaine Greer's bitter rants against high-heel wearers. She claims high heels have "conquered the world" while "feminists have been struggling to set women free".

But in one of Greer's essays against stilettos, she claims women like her and Jackie Onassis "sadly grew too tall" to wear them. Why? Because they'd be taller than their men?

That's not very "empowering", to use a word much loved by the feminists.

Speaking from all 5 feet 10 inches of me, there is no heel too high for a woman to wear. Christian Louboutin? Bring it on - the man is a genius.

His shoes, with their trademarked flashing red soles, are so high you drink just enough to anaesthetise your toes, but not so much you cannot walk. So sharp they break all the rules.

Save up for them, and you've bought a piece of art.

Forget lingerie - wear just Louboutins, and your man will beg you to back through the garage door.

- Herald on Sunday

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