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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why I Spent So Much Money on Eileen Fisher and Chico's Pants: The Gaze

Obviously, I feel very guilty, since I keep returning to those pants. For the record, the three pairs came to about $180.00, after various discounts and coupons. Plus, my mother bought me the pants from Chico's--thanks Mom!

So even though I seek to glorify these purchases by adverting to the concept of Franch Frugality, in truth, the reason has to do with the GAZE.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that students listen to only a small portion of what a teacher says. The ONLY thing I can be sure my students will pick up on is the magical phrase: extra credit. Sometimes they hallucinate, as when they say But you said we could have extra credit for coming to class!

Teachers are subject to the GAZE. Anyone who has spent any time in literary theory classes or film classes knows about the male gaze (famous article by Laura Mulvey: "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema") and its many permutations.

So while teachers seem to have all the power (because they make up the tests and do the grading, obviously), as they intone away on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the students are, it must be admitted, not paying attention to the lecture. But they are GAZING upon the teacher. The GAZER, as we know from Mulvey et al, has the power to which the OBJECT of the GAZE is vulnerable.

I know this for a fact, because as I left my classroom yesterday, I overheard two fellows chatting as they waited for their class. They were saying, "That teacher has the biggest muffin top I've ever seen!" It is a testament to the power of the gaze that every woman to whom I related this story immediately said, "OMG, that must have been ME they were talking about!"

My new pants have wide and stretchy waistbands. Nuff said!


Over the Cubicle Wall said...

I never was any good at the gaze in college classes. I had to give all of my attention to keep from flunking out. I know it exists because my friends would always point out things about various professors. This one always wore the same jacket. That one the same pants, complete with same chalk stains on the pockets. Another was so tall he had to duck under the fluorescent light set over the chalk board. I missed all of that kind of stuff. I notice it now though. I think my attention span is shot when I am at work.

Anyway, glad you like your pants.

Shelley said...

The only teacher I ever didn't pay attention to was one who was so obviously bored with his subject matter that I couldn't find any respect for him; also, he had such poor personal hygiene I couldn't bear to look at him. He was gross.

All my other teachers that I still remember anyhow, I loved to pieces and thought they were wonderfully witty and often very well dressed. Given what teachers' pay has always been, they must have known a frugal thing or two!

If you can meet your financial obligations and afford expensive clothes, why should you not enjoy them, guilt free!

Duchesse said...

Perhaps it is "selective listening", because in my teacher friends' experience, the gaze has been diverted to the BlackBerry.

I remember many of my profs, I'd say, nearly all of them. I didn't pay attention to what they wore- I considered them old, and didn't care.

Though I don't consider $180 for three pairs of pants an extravagance, I hope you don't do what I did when I thought I'd paid too much: save them for "good" and never get the pleasure (and value) out of wearing them.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Cubicle-That must be why you are such a success!

@Shelley--Wow! I wish I had more students like you!

@Duchesse--I make my students put away electronic devices--though they often hide them in their laps. It is truly a scary addiction.

And I am not SAVING my pants. Like the French, I am wearing them every day. Good advice.

Funny about Money said...

Reminds me of the time when I was in undergraduate school. During a change of classes, two or three students were walking down the stairs, and one of them was holding forth on what a terrible teacher and total jerk Prof. Boxankle was, little realizing Boxankle was directly behind him on the steps.

Don't recall that we paid much attention to how faculty dressed, except for one guy who was given to wearing desert boots to class. The same guy had green hair. Or so it seemed: his hair, a dowdy shade of brown, had the unfortunate characteristic that it took on an odd greenish cast in fluorescent light. Strange.