How do we solve problems that have no solutions?

I started writing this over a month ago and never finished. Story of way too much of my life right now. But the thoughts seem coherent enough as started. So you get that.

Twisty at I blame the patriarchy has been critiquing the patriarchal nature of fashion this week. There’s a whole series of posts, but this one takes on fashion head on in a way I find interesting. Essentially the argument is that all fashion serves to sort people into categories and that all fashion is informed and shaped by our patriarchal system. Fair enough. I’ll buy that. She also argues that within our patriarchal system women’s agency is limited and that women make up a subordinated sex class. The argument that women’s agency is hindered by patriarchy is one that I’m willing to accept.

Twisty concludes:

A few of you have wondered what I suggest in terms of the patriarchy-blamer’s value-neutral wardrobe. Sadly, if my hypothesis is correct, such duds do not exist. Feminism cannot seem to counteract the intoxicating effects of male domination. In our culture it is the moral duty of every woman to be “sexy”, and her value remains tied to her success in this painful endeavor. You’re either “sexy” or you’re a schlub. Fucking patriarchy. I blame it, I do.

I’m tempted to conclude that she’s right. On the surface, the argument holds pretty well. But in the end it feels defeatist to me. In the end I think arguments of this sort give too little credit to what agency oppressed people do have within systems of oppression. To say that one has less agency in one social position than one would if one were in another, is not the same as saying that one has no agency. It is not the same as saying “resistance is futile.” So the question then becomes, is resistance futile? How much agency do I have? Is that agency enough to actually effect anything, or should I use what agency I have to choose the path of least resistance?

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