Friday, May 14, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: France Bans High Heels

After long deliberations, this evening the French National Assembly voted unanimously to ban the wearing of high-heeled shoes in public. Many women wear high heels in order to improve the appearance of their legs and buttocks, though opponents have complained about their links to arthritis, sprained ankles and back problems. The shoes have long been controversial amongst conservative Christians and politically correct secularists for being detrimental to women.

“This is a blow for the rights of women against male authority,” read the official statement from the National Assembly, which is roughly 85% male. “No longer will women don this shameful footwear just because men make them feel they have to.”

The legislation bans wearing of “the heel” in all public places, including government buildings, restaurants, subways and on the street. There is a substantial fine for violators, while husbands who are caught shoe shopping for their wives may spend up to one year in prison.

Some pundits protest that freedom of dress should be a right in any democratic society. Dr. George Lytton of the Madup Institute told our reporters, “So what if a fashion guru says they have to wear the new Chanel stilettos this season? Ultimately women choose to wear these things. If a man is physically forcing women to wear them, deal with him. Penalizing her and removing her choice is an afront."

“Preposterous,” was the first word out of Assemblyman J. Clouseau’s mouth when asked for comment. “Women only wear them to live up a chauvinistic cultural norm that objectifies them. Any woman who wants to wear such an uncomfortable thing has been culturally conditioned into psychological sickness. We are freeing them from social bondage. Only now are they free to wear what they want.”

Later in his press conference, Clouseau framed the issue as a national concern. “High heels are linked to a multitude of medical problems, which put undue strain on our healthcare system. They are costing the French taxpayers millions of euros every year. It’s becoming a national security issue.”

Some have defended the heel on religious grounds. “God didn’t give me this ass so I could hide it,” says Angie Dunning, an American immigrant to France. She is Roman Catholic. “If this keeps up I’ll move to Germany. They’re way more tolerant there. I met a couple of guys at a hostel who said they would totally help me learn the language.”

Angie is part of a movement to repeal heel-banning legislation. The petitioners claim Parliament is unfairly targeting attractive people and people with good senses of balance. Spokespeople for the National Assembly denied that the legislation was targeted at minorities.

46 comments:

  1. As I'm reading it, a tiny part of me is thinking "is this for real?" probably because you are so adept at writing a "news" story. You even ended it the way a newspaper article does, the wind down.

    Your writing is effortless and your sense of humor is unparalleled (sp--it's late). And banning high heels just before Sex & the City 2--tsk tsk.

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  2. Really funny piece!

    Loved how the American woman told it like it is, heh. And it was a great last paragraph!

    Really enjoyed. :)

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  3. I think I'd actually be okay with this. I last wore heels about a decade ago. I'll stay flat on the ground, thanks. Ha.

    Great news mockup, and this isn't the first awesome one you've done. You're a pleasure to read as always John.

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  4. A good theory, but in practice it means women would only be able to wear high heels in their homes. Think of the hard wood floors!

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  5. Clousseau, eh? I see what you did there. I hope.

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  6. Man, you'd be great at writing for The Onion... Send them some stuff, my man...

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  7. Ugh! You've definitely created a realistic scenario here. Replaced "high heels" with something less frivolous and there you have it: real life. Nicely done.

    I had to laugh out loud at ellecee's comment about hard wood floors!

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  8. I love this, it was really well written and you capture the news voice perfectly. I can imagine the high heel black market suddenly soaring!

    The news article forgot to mention the law is targeting not only attractive and well-balanced women, but short women as well! As a tallish woman, I rarely wear heels unless I want to tower over all the men.

    Also, what about all the heel-wearing men?! Aww.

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  9. Clever. At first I thought France would be the last country to ban high heels given its penchant for all things couture & fashion, but then I think you're making a veiled reference to the banning of the hijab over there so props to you for that.

    Marc Nash

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  10. great faux news story
    Like Carrie I generally don't wear heels, but of course I too would protest that it's every woman or transvestite's right to choose for themselves...

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  11. Nice commentary on the banning of the veil in France! This is especially telling, as the veil doesn't impact health and does have genuine religious significance. Ultimately it is the religious part that sticks in the French craw. They pride themselves on being secular and Catholic (don't try to work that one out).

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  12. OH NON! say it ain't so! Hilarious.

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  13. Fiction so close to reality, it's scary.

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  14. John, I have to agree with Bukowski - you need to submit this to The Onion. Absolutely hilarious, and scarily close to the truth.

    I believe, of all your work, I'm liking these pieces the most.

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  15. Thank you all for the warm reception! Wow, what a morning of comments this was to log on and find.

    Peggy, Jen and Tony: You flatter me. I'm tickled when people say these "Perspectives" stories sound real.

    Anthony & Deanna: You really think it should go to The Onion? I'm taking that as a big compliment. I actually went to their site yesterday and was surprised they hadn't beat me to this idea. Then, I had to write it.

    Marisa: I'm glad you liked Angie's opinion. She's strong-willed.

    Roscoe: Yes, you are onto something. "J. Clouseau," "George Lytton," and "Angela Dunning" all come from the same source. If only I could remember which...

    Ellecee: Perhaps flooring companies financed the legislation?

    A.M.: You're right. We did exclude the short. We're as bad as France.

    Carrie & Mazz: I'd rather women didn't wear high heels either. To me, they're false advertising. But I'd never make a law to ban them.

    Lillie: As the friend who is the most in the know about France, I'm very relieved you liked this.

    Sulci: Yes, indeed. A veiled reference is somewhere in here.

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  16. Funny news, but I think it would be fine by me, I don't really wear heels :)

    Great flash, interesting how I also thought of a news story this week.

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  17. Not sure I can say anything that hasn't been said, but great commentary. It will be interesting to see how the real life version plays out.

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  18. I will wear mine in secret!!


    What a great piece, John.. I, too, thought, "Wait. What?"--it was that well done as a news piece.

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  19. This would be funny to me if it wasn't about to start happening here in the US. First it was smoking, then transfats, now CA. has banned giving toys with fast food meals. It's only a matter of time before these laws get to ridiculous levels. Sigh....
    Nice piece, though.

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  20. As a big shoe lover (probably over 70 pairs at the current count, somewhat shamefully / brilliantly) I found this faux news story terrifying! Enjoyable to read with some nice touches and a well observed and cleverly satirised journalistic style.

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  21. Always enjoy a bit of mock journalism nicely topical too http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/05/woman-fined-burqa-italy

    I think I'd like to work for the madup institute

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  22. "Targeted at minorities." I love it! Great job! It's so ridiculous, it feels real. And Angie sounds like she might be from California.....

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  23. Brilliant parody... though alas I'm not sure all the commenters are seeing it.

    "Is this for real?" - yes it's a debate happening in France right now.

    Excellent writing, John.

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  24. Heels are overrated. Funny, you almost had me going there--the way you wrote this was so realistic. Funny yes, but right on target with every other human rights argument from head coverings to medicinal marijuana. Well done.

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  25. David and Adam Keeper are two who clearly caught what I was doing. But David, I don't expect everyone to get the parody. The internationally-minded U.S. media we've got is preoccupied with the massive oil spill and the terrors in Bangkok. I bet most U.S.ers think Europe is too liberal to ever do such a myopic thing as the secret topic of this satire. It's amusing to read comments like Shannon's and G.P.'s, about how the U.S. is headed there, when something very similar is happening in Europe. It's also quite distressing. We need to be very careful about where our country goes, too.

    Danielle, glad you liked that line. I desperately wanted to make the joke, but it took me a while to figure out how to make it work.

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  26. What's next...bustiers?

    Excellent writing, which goes without saying for you, in realistic news article. Fabulous!

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  27. I agree with whoever said you should write for The Onion. You've mastered the ability to write something that sounds at first like a news story, but gradually gets more and more twisted. Very funny! I happen to think that high heels are one of the greatest inventions in the history of the world (easy for me to say, I don't have to wear them), and I would be crushed if they were ever outlawed.

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  28. Yes Laura, bustiers are next. Mandatory bustiers.

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  29. "I met a couple of guys at a hostel who said they would totally help me learn the language."

    Ant suggested the Onion, you may also like the Daily Mash.

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  30. I thought so. The same source that began my life-long crush on Claudia Cardinale.

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  31. This was funny and a little scary, too. You really do have a gift for the "news" story.

    Thoroughly enjoyable.

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  32. LOL Luckily I'm tall at 5'8.5", so I don't have to wear the blasted things, but... Wow, I just found myself wanting to react to your fictional news story. That shows how well-done it was. Oh, and the "Madup Institute" made me LOL. I often hear those "experts" on the news from the "such and such" institute and wonder if they're real.

    CD

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  33. I've had foot surgery and I still can't resist wearing a pair of red stilettos when I go out dancing. I suffer for a week but they are my ruby slippers. If they are banned someone will have to tear them out of my cold dead hands. Great piece!

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  34. Enjoyed the whole thing, but the last line got me to laugh out loud. Well done!

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  35. Having worn high heels for many years I can certify that it's health destroying. But it's pretty, so we keep wearing them.

    Oh, the dictatorship of aesthetics.

    Now, conversely, I favor low heels, or none at all. I wouldn't like to have them imposed to me though.

    Excellent piece! I agree that you should submit it to Onion. Very funny, heh. (See, you even got me discussing as it was the real thing, lol.)

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  36. Reminds me a lot of Spinal Tap. Well done!
    I say ban high heels because they make your feet hurt and make all those long-legged beauties wear Birkenstocks like the rest of us.

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  37. "The petitioners claim Parliament is unfairly targeting attractive people and people with good senses of balance. Spokespeople for the National Assembly denied that the legislation was targeted at minorities." All I can say is I'm glad I hadn't sipped my coke before reading this paragraph. Funny stuff.

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  38. This quite humorously and succinctly sums up a feminist debate I've read about somewhat. I wonder if you just winged this or if you really have read feminist lit. I think Carol Adams would have a field day with this. :)

    I really, really enjoyed this. Well done.

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  39. Donald, I'll try to get you next time and next drink.

    Ganymeder, I've read some feminist literature but certainly am not up to date on theory. My general spirit is egalitarian. Most of this was me winging it after reading several doses of reportage and opinion.

    Susan, you got me to laugh. Equating the desire for stilettos to the NRA's passion for guns - that is priceless.

    Thank you all for this reception. It's been overwhelming and means a lot to me.

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  40. You have such a talent for blowing my mind. This is brilliance.
    ~2

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  41. This is a really good one, John. Next thing you know they'll be trying to ban headscarves, or... Oh yeah. Never mind.

    Your wit is always spot on.
    ~jon

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  42. Good one, Jon. The funny thing is it's plausible. I love my heels (which as a Catholic I wear as a form of self mortification–that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Heels are sexy and fun, and always in demand!

    BUT there are very valid reasons why they are stupid, unhealthy and downright dangerous! I've suffered some really BAD injuries because of them!

    You presented both sides so well, (the plausible and the ironic) that I'm still thinking rather hard about which "side" sounded more ridiculous.

    That's the ultimate trademark of REALLY GOOD SATIRE. You have a gift, man.

    ~Mo

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  43. Mr Wiswell: The underlying joke itself is very funny, but what did it for me was the newspaper language. The cliches and worn-out words and turns of phrase were spot on. After the first paragraph I was banking up some comments to make about your poor writing in this piece, and then in the second paragraph I got it.

    Someone else commented on the editing style, and how the article tails off. Very good.

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  44. Oh, jaysus! This is hysterically funny!

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