|Figure 1. F is for Feminism|
All of this makes me want to turn to my vintage self-help book collection, largely augmented by my mother's books she acquired during her lifetime. One of note is the ever-popular The Woman's Dress for Success Book by John T. Molloy, Copyright 1977, lovingly underlined throughout with my mother's ruler and pencil. Five years before my birth, I imagine my mother dressed for success, with navy-neutral non-overwhelming ensembles of precision, advised and devised by a male author. She probably got the job! Thanks, John!
This past year a woman asked me what I was wearing to a job interview. I snapped back that I would not entertain that sort of question, not even realizing myself why I was so offended by a seemingly navy-neutral non-overwhelming inquiry. Would she have asked my brothers what they were wearing to an interview? My dear friend astutely commented, "It's because it suggests that you do not know how to dress yourself." Perhaps this person who was so concerned about my appearance knows our culture still values this so much. My success: I must dress for it, right?
I've always felt supported in my interests and never pressured to take one road over the other. I think it's been known for quite some time I am going to go do whatever I want to do anyway. But how much un-mathing sits so deep in my widened pelvic bones, that we're unable to see our own female mathematical undoing?
So what has led me to this strong sense of independence? This love for mathematics? This penchant for dressing myself? Was it my own mother's courage? Was it women's lib? Was it the insane amount of bananas and peanut butter I ate during puberty? The movie Stand and Deliver?
While I think on that, here are some recent portraits taken by my talented friend William Harper of a woman of questionable success, who likes math. She dressed however she wanted.