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Kittredge: Wearing Black

The initiative to wear black at the Golden Globes was commendable as a stance against a culture historically focused on women’s bodies and clothing as sexual ignitors. But it didn’t eliminate the need for careful and thoughtful consideration of the complexity of the situation at hand.

I also thought this was true of the #MeToo movement, and I demurred from a #MeToo posting because, looking back on my own experiences, I could see how many factors contributed to such events in my own life, which were, with one exception, non-violent.

And another thing that, to my knowledge, hasn’t gotten much discussion is how flattering the attention of men, especially men in authority can be. Flattery and attention are affirming and uplifting, and we’d be foolish to assert otherwise or suggest that only weak women fall prey to their allure. Such an assertion would serve only to be further demeaning.

Besides, men can be just as vulnerable to flattery as women - perhaps more so. The difference is that when men are complimented, they tend to see it as an affirmation. With women it can be a revelation, a surprise, a welcome switch from, unfortunately, a more subservient, self-deprecating view.

But getting back to wearing black as a political statement, I have to say, it’s tragic how much black is already in my closet. Maybe this is something that happens as we get older and more introverted, but less and less am I attracted to bright colors, preferring off whites and uniform black.

Years ago, when I was considering getting a puppy with a golden coat, a wise friend noted that I wear a lot of black. Even the dogs in our lives have worn coal colored attire.

I do make an exception, however, when I visit someone in the hospital. As a patient many years ago I realized that visitors clad in drab colors, looking dower and bleak, tended to affirm my own sorry state - but if they arrived looking bright and cheerful, I was lifted by their countenance.

My wardrobe’s not likely to change; it will remain predominately black, but I welcome bright colors in this monochromatic winter landscape and the strength and freedom to think for myself in the company of capable, affirmative women and respectful, caring, intelligent men.

Susan Cooke Kittredge is Associate Pastor of the Charlotte Congregational Church.
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