COMMENTARY: Women deserve a month of devotion (at least)


All of us have owned “that” car. It was the rusted-out piece of crap. Its only virtue was that it was the best ride we could afford. We were struggling to pay the bills and a better car was not even a blip on the perimeter of our fiscal radar scope. My version of “that” car was a metallic green Ford Galaxy with close to 200,000 miles. It ran because of my three-inch high heels.

Let me explain.

About three times a week my car would fail to start. But, fair weather or foul, I had the solution. I would pop the hood, take the air cleaner off the engine, prop my spike heel in the butterfly valve to hold it open and, voila, the engine would turn over. Then I slogged back out in the weather, took the heel out of the valve and back on my cold, wet foot, put the air filter back on, slam down the hood and down the road I would go. In all honesty, after a while I just threw the air filter in the trunk and eliminated Step Two in the whole, sorry process.

I’m sure stories like these are not unique and prove why women deserve a whole month devoted to their history — high heels being one of them.

We work with them, play with them, even fix cars with them. They are our cross to bear and we have learned to love them. Even at my age there are times when I like to strut a little. I put on a cocktail dress, four-inch heels and feel just plain foxy. Of course, any heads I turn are much older and grayer than they used to be, but I’m OK with that — I’ve always liked older men!

Without question, women wear high heels because men love them. Pick out any public venue with a good mix of men and women, and lots of open space (an airport terminal, hotel lobby or shopping mall) and watch the human story unfold. A woman walking by in high heels is going to clock more, “eye time” than those with, “sensible” shoes. A woman in heels is measured on a scale of desirability despite their age. I’m not saying it is right, I’m just saying it is reality. Cleavage works also, but there is always that fine line between seductive and slutty. With heels, that is never an issue. So women wear them because they work.

High heels should be like fast food, a rare indulgence rather than a steady diet, but that isn’t how the world works. I taught in heels for 30 years because the women in sensible shoes were never promoted. The last smart woman who made it big in brogans was Golda Meir. They may be punishing on our knees, legs and spine, but we wear them loud and proud and make it look easy. Ann Richards pointed out an enduring truth when she said that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.

March is Women’s history month. So beginning today, women get a month of special attention because we frequently must approach problems, solutions, and recognition with the burden of “femininity” instead of simple “humanity.” Personally, I enjoy being a girl. Nor do I think men have an easy road or automatic ticket to the top. I am glad I don’t carry their burdens. But I also know that because of evolution and the culture that grows around natural phenomenon, women’s race to equality has frequently been over the hurdles instead of a sprint on a flat track. But that is OK. We can get the job done. Give us high heels and we will learn how to fix cars.