International Woman’s Day, 2017 – Stumbling Blocks

Before I share my poem let us hear from a man on how it felt to dress as a woman in the job he held down at the time. But, I also want to say, how ridiculous I find it that corporates have unrealistic expectations of men regarding their attire and work comfort in their everyday lives and not just in an experiment such as Michael Beacon took part in.

Not all women feel bad about high-heels. The thing is, it needs to be a choice, and for many it will be a choice of comfort. I am writing from the New Zealand scene because on the same evening as the news item on the debate in England’s Parliament there were news items about N.Z. MPs waging war on the long standing lower percentages of women’s pay.

My posting today is also a blatant and happy promotion of NZs first anthology of Political Poems which is named Manifesto Aotearoa and will be published in April, 2017 and in which I have a poem. Similar subject:  Very different perspective.

“The heels, however, were a nightmare. I wobbled through central London, toes pinching, calves straining. I felt like a rhino on a tightrope.”  so said Michael Beacon of The Telegraph


     S T U M B L I N G      B L O C K S


With 152,420 signatures, genders unspecified, there

is a new a story; a story about feet & feminism.


Feet:    You have 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments

and 19 muscles. One quarter of all the bones of your

body are down in your feet.


Pain:     Among suggestions for foot pain I read this:

‘take over-the-counter pain killers.’


Conspiracy theorists might say there has been

an agreement between employers, who require women

to work a full day wearing shoes with a height 2-4 inches,

and the drug companies peddling pain killers. Such theory

total balderdash. And now that we’ve had our laugh, let

us get down to business: the foot fatigue, after nine hours

coping with such torture; metatarsal fractures; employment

compensations have no direct link to indefinitely worded

employment laws on work-place attire and appearance.

Well that’s what some would say. Then if not the pain

of spiked shoes, the pain of a manager’s, possibly

fellow workers, also under inequitable pressures

adding  belittlements. For it is still assumed the corporate

image is at stake on the height of your heels; the colour

of your locks. The not so casual sexism, enforced

and re-enforced  endlessly  by companies with risible

attitudes to these  (at all times) impractical extremely

high heels and blonde stereotypes. Lower rates of pay

for women, long open to question. The progress,

on all fronts, remains extraordinarily slow and finds

me shrieking the shame, and disgust of it, on all.


It might be Britain where, in their Parliament today,

this has just been debated, but  workers, have you checked

your own position in law, here in the land of the very first

female franchise, one hundred and twenty four years ago?

Laws, so loosely worded, workers so easily manipulated.


Walking, it is said, is the very best exercise for feet.

A vote for metatarsal health, for women’s health,

women’s choice!! Workers’ choice.  Come on

this is the 21st century. The wording in law

easily wangled in favour of the corporates.

But I am not your doctor, or even your friendly aunt.

You make your own choices on footwear. Though now

that you have statistics on feet, love them truly love them.

They have to last a lifetime. Just make sure it’s your choice

and you know the stumbling blocks.

Benita H. Kape © 7.3.2017


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