These Boots Are Made For Dismantling The Patriarchy, Who's With Me?!
I gotta say something about these boots, y'all. I ordered these online especially for the play. When they arrived, I tried ONE of them on ONE time and was afraid to wear them again. I kept "forgetting" to bring my costume to rehearsals so I wouldn't have to put on the boots. I don't know why, exactly. Well, I mean, cuz look at 'em. I'm 37. I have a child. I work at a preschool, for crying out loud.
But I finally brought them to dress rehearsal because we were required to bring everything we were going to wear, and I hadn't had time to get anything else. They were still in the box, and for a while I just sat around chatting, idly reviewing my lines, etc. Finally, it was almost time to line up for a scene we're all in, so I said to myself, ok I'm gonna put these on, let's just fake it 'til we make it (pretending to be confident in an outfit or at a work meeting or on a dance floor are the only times I advocate faking anything, but I digress).
I sat down on the floor. Opened the box. Brushed aside the forest of tissue paper, took them out. A group of actors, especially my fellow women, who are sitting around with nothing to do, will instinctively pay attention when a brand new shoebox is being opened in their midst. I said something like, "Girls, I don't know if I can wear these..." I pulled each one on... and on... and on... they just kept going up. The girls stared. Someone asked, "How high do they go?" I zipped them up. Tied the little rip cords at the top, above the knee. Gingerly stood up like a newborn giraffe trying out its wobbly legs for the first time. Got my balance. Adjusted my skirt. Took a few steps. Turned and faced the ladies.
"I'm returning them."
(A chorus of gasps.)
"Are you insane?"
"Where did you get those?"
"They look hot."
"How much were they?"
"If you don't want them, I'll take them."
"Why would you return them?"
I was like, "I'm like, too old to wear boots like these, and like, they're so high, and then with the skirt-- I dunno. I feel weird, and I just had dinner, I'm like in this tight skirt, I can't do it. Maybe I just won't eat between now and the show, but that's insane. I'm like, a mom. I can't wear these boots."
The Russian with her delicious accent, leaning against the wall with her hands in her (leather) pockets, looked at me like I was an idiot and goes, "It's a feminist play. We're all in a monologue called My Short Skirt that's literally about wearing this shit just because you want to. Wear the boots, or I will. Let me see you walk in them."
You know how thigh-high boots reach down into your very soul's crotch and bring out your inner Victoria's Secret model, their curved, rigid foot shape and three-inch heels forcing you to strut like you're on your way to behead some fucking aristocrats and you want to make sure you look really hot for the proletariat when you're up there on the guillotine platform?
Thirty-five dollars and forty-eight hours ago, neither did I.
I felt so different in them that I forgot half my lines. Tonight we rehearsed onstage at the venue for the first time. I did my monologue in regular sandals and still forgot a few words. I wasn't the only one. Every time you change something, it's really common to forget some lines. So I decided to put the boots on just with my regular clothes so I could practice wearing them onstage before opening night.
Sitting backstage in my boots, waiting to go on, I felt that sheepishness creep back in. It's amazing what our backwards-ass culture can do to a simple pair of boots. Like, I felt weirdly judged and guilty? So much baggage with just a couple of inches of my upper leg, between skirt and boot, exposed. What's that about? I'm the same person, same IQ, same personality, just in a sexy-ass pair of boots. Like, literally who cares. I looked around me. I'm actually in one of the more modest get-ups in this play. There are multiple corsets. One harness plus this lace thing plus athletic shorts plus a jacket? A dominatrix with a red cat o'nine tails. It's no big deal. When did I get so used to being, like, covered? I think it's the whole virgin-mother-whore thing that our society spoon-feeds us from childhood. Also the cattiness and competition energy that is part of growing up female in the patriarchy, where if you show up dressed too blatantly "sexy," or whatever, you get poison dart arrows shot at you from your own kind until you go put on a sweatshirt. And once you're a mom, lots of your fellow moms will police the shit out of you if you display anything resembling, like, a "personality" or "life force" or desire to be, I dunno, "happy" in your own "life." My quotation marks got away from there for a second.
It's a lot to unpack. There are many layers. I do not have the time or energy to do it here and now. Let's just say... These boots are a head trip.
In my regular shoes I'm like, "Hi, I'm doing a monologue about how amazing vaginas and childbirth are. I'm wearing sandals." In my thigh-highs I'm like, "Listen here you little patriarchal maggot pieces of shit! LOOK AT THIS IMAGINARY VAGINA I'M DESCRIBING! LOOK AT IT! Five minutes ago you saw a woman in a leather corset slap my ass on this very stage, and now I'm talking about contractions and blood and shit and hearts and looking inside a vagina with a baby's head coming out of it! Well guess what! After this play we're all going to set fire to the nearest bank and/or government building, and then it's GUILLOTINE TIME! I AM NOT A WHORE! BUT I DO SUPPORT THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF SEX WORKERS! AND I HAVE A HEALTHY AND HOLISTIC SELF-IMAGE THAT INCLUDES EMBRACING MY SEXUALITY! I AM FEELING VERY EMPOWERED RIGHT NOW. THESE BOOTS HAVE DRAWSTRINGS!"
Obviously, I'm keeping them.