February 6, 2009

The Button Thing

Turns out that if you point out to me that the buttons are on the wrong side of my sweater, you get feminist rant #27 Subgroup D - "Institutionalized and traditional impairment of the ease with which women move on the earth"
Alternate title - "Why your life is harder than his all the time."

I put my buttonholes (usually - unless it means doing something stupid to a pattern, and sometimes I just follow a pattern) anywhere I want to, but mostly on the left. I am aware that this is the men's side, and that women's clothing traditionally has the buttonholes on the right. As far as I know, this is a guideline, not a rule or a law - and I laugh in the face of tradition in this case.

The history of buttonholes (I swear, there is a buttonhole history) has the buttonholes placed on the left for men, because that means that they will be manipulating the button with their right hand, making it easier to get dressed. For women, the buttonholes are on the right, meaning that they would be manipulating the button with their left hand... except that it was assumed that while a man would dress himself, a woman would be dressed by her ladies, maids or servants - and so the buttons were placed so that the maid - not the woman, would have an easier time.

(Never mind, of course, that this meant that the maid was arsed when she dressed herself, because that's a lead in to a rant about social ranking, and I'm already in deep enough.)

Since I do dress myself, and it seems to me that since that happens in the morning, when I'm already challenged, I'm inclined to indulge in the spirit of the thing, rather than the interpretation of it - so buttons go where it's easiest for people who don't have servants do dress themselves, and I put the right handed buttonholes on clothing for babies, since they don't dress themselves, and as every parent knows, is well appointed with service personnel.

Nothing bad has happened to me as a result of this policy. I have not been taken for a man. I have not been publicly ridiculed, spoken to, or issued any sort of citation or warning. I have not even been chastised by someone who got a little boy's sweater with the buttons on the girl side. Near as I can tell - the only repercussion at all has been that I feel like the world makes a little more sense some of the time, and I can use as much of that as I can get.

How do you feel about buttonhole placement?

(PS. It's really ok to have no strong feelings about them.)

(PS again, the sweater has had a minor setback when I joined a new ball of yarn and knit for about 5cm before deciding that the colour leap was too drastic. Frogging has occurred. Sweater looks the same as yesterday. I have a long flight tomorrow. Things should pick up - assuming I don't make another mistake that I think about for two inches before finally accepting the truth.)

Posted by Stephanie at February 6, 2009 2:10 PM