The summer was shaken by so many horrifying political events: Gaza, Ebola, Ferguson, Staten Island, ISIS. Still, I have chosen to write instead about some of the glittering women we have lost. No justification, only a small apology.
Elaine Stritch, Bel Kaufman, Lauren Bacall, all gone. Glamorous women with great legs, dancing – or marching – through life in high heels.
High heels? The women’s movement changed that for me: no more girdles, no merry widows under cocktail dresses, no more stockings or garter belts, and definitely no more high heels. In my teens and twenties, I bought what I thought were elegant shoes with pointed toes and three-inch heels for all but the most casual occasions. I bought cowboy boots so tight I could hardly wait to climb on the horse so I didn’t have to walk another minute. And ice skates so uncomfortable, I quit skating. Feminism brought liberation.
Still, I cannot help admiring these strong, feisty, often acerbic women for their energy, their self possession, their pizzazz. They had great politics (well, I’m not sure about Stritch) and fabulous legs. Perhaps it is time for me to concede that dancing should be celebrated. As Margo Berdeshevsky said in Persimmon Tree on the death of her beloved Bel, “Let her be dancing the tango, her high backward kicks, all the way through the tunnels of light.”
Emma Goldman, perhaps calling attention to the joy she found in anarchism, said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” So here’s to ladies who lunch, who teach, who dance, who march. Join the revolution and keep dancing … with or without high heels.