A Law More Nice Than Just

Fanny Fern’s A Law More Nice Than Just tells about the self-serving and oftentimes weird nature of some of our laws. It could just be considered as a small case of weird clothing laws, wherein women at those times were not allowed to wear men’s apparel. However, it could also be viewed in a much different light: men who made such laws somehow made them in their favor. Gender bias was a commonplace at those times that it wouldn’t really be a shock to encounter such laws forbidding women to wear men’s clothes. The message of this article may be perceived differently by different people. Gender and age would be an important factor to consider when looking at the reader’s reaction to and perception of the story.

    It was only during this decade that women were truly considered as men’s equals in every aspect of the society: government, work, and family. Before, it was a common notion that women are inferior to men, and because of this, men are the ones who often called the shots in our society. In this story, the author Fanny Fern is hindered by the law to go out wearing her husband’s clothing. This situation is the result of several days of rain, and her lack of physical activities like walking. She doesn’t like to go out in skirts and other ladies apparel, because it would just be uncomfortable in such weather. For me, just having a law such as this is a sign that society is putting women in a box. It may be weird for some and funny for others, but as modern women like me would see it, it is somehow insulting and degrading. We shouldn’t be told what to wear and what not to wear. I should be free to wear whatever I want, whatever I am comfortable with. As Fanny Fern would put it, “any woman who likes, may stay at home during a three weeks’ rain, till her skin looks like parchment, and her eyes like those of a dead fish, or she may go out and get a consumption dragging around wet petticoats; I won’t – I positively declare I won’t.” I completely agree with Fanny Fern’s resolve to go out and wear her husband’s clothes, because society shouldn’t be biased with anyone, with any gender, and everyone should be allowed to wear whatever they want.

    My closest male friend and neighbor had a different reaction after reading the article. His initial reaction was that Fanny Fern was just being silly when she really went out wearing her husband’s clothing. According to him, this isn’t really a serious matter, since everyone had their own clothes. Males have their pants, while females have their skirts. Fanny shouldn’t insist on wearing one because it wasn’t really made to fit a woman’s body. Also, men at that time never insisted on wearing women’s clothing, so it is just fair if women never insisted on wearing men’s clothes. He finds Fanny Fern’s character delightful and funny, mostly because of her donning male clothing. My friend didn’t consider Fanny’s seriousness in wearing such clothes; instead he found her funny because she even paraded it outside their house.

    From what I observed, I think my friend never really thought deep enough about gender issues presented in this story. He was more about the clothes and the practical aspect of assigning men’s clothes and women’s clothes. He dwelled on the idea that men never desired wearing women’s clothes, so it is just if women never really bothered wearing men’s clothes. He was not open to the idea that males may have desired wearing men’s clothes because of comfort and they wouldn’t have to worry about getting bottom of their skirts wet. Surely, men would not and can not wear women’s clothing because most of them had smaller bodies than males. There is no sense of comfort in any way if they ever wanted to wear women’s clothes.

    A different reaction was also given by my friend’s mother, who is in her early sixties. She strongly agrees with Fanny Fern, because she shares the same experience as her. According to her, there is a great deal of difference in the society between the present and some 30 years ago. She said that there weren’t really much choice of clothes for women at that time. Their generic clothing is the skirt, and wearing pants would really be “radical” Also, the pants at those times were made only for males, unlike now that there are even more pants for females. According to her, gender was really an issue at that time, and women are expected to behave just like what the society dictates. If you don’t follow this and act differently, you would be looked at and frowned upon by different people. This prohibition to wear pants is just a light issue of the society at that time. Indeed, there were a lot of other case of gender discrimination and bias which make cases like this as unassuming and would just deserve a laugh. It was only recently that we became conscious of things that concern gender, which is why it’s only now that we notice such outrageous laws even though they existed for quite some time already. I learned from his mother that this isn’t really a big issue if we’re gunning for gender bias and discrimination. We are able to notice it only now because it is the only thing that we could associate to gender bias. Before, there are a lot of things that really put women at a clear disadvantage.

This article is aimed to promote awareness regarding unfair, gender-biased laws that we have today. The message of this article may be perceived differently by different people so it is really important to consider several factors that could affect a reader’s perception of and reaction to the story. Gender and age were the main factors that affect the perception and reaction to this matter.