Monday, October 12, 2015

A Little Something Fer the Ladies

Cowgirls, saloon gals, and soiled doves, the ladies have their Western Options too.  Now it should be obvious to anyone that women were present on the frontier.  We have our traditional fictional concepts like schoolmarm, pioneer wife, and such, and we know that women sometimes took roles traditionally restricted to men in the Old West, which should come as no surprise because on a frontier you tend to relax the stricter social rules of a dense urban setting in favor of what is best for survival and success.  Also, there are always opportunities in a frontier setting for someone of enterprise and skill that is willing to buck society.
History has given us:
Annie Oakley, nicknamed Little Sure Shot, Annie was a professional sharpshooter who made her fame with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.  Her amazing feats with firearms and Bill's skills in promotion made a legendary figure whose name is remembered today.
Belle Starr, horse thief, outlaw, and all around bad girl of the prairie.  I like that she's packing a damn horse pistol but still riding side saddle.  That's danger and class in one image.
Calamity Jane, born Martha Jane Canary, famous for cross-dressing, being tough-as-nails, scouting and fighting with the Army, and apparently for being a kind and charitable person.  She too would gain a measure of fame with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show, which probably did more to create the legend of the American West than any other single source.

And it's not just history, we have comics too:

For all you Girl Power aficionados we have Firehair, a 1940s publication by Fiction House.  Firehair is sort of the Wonder Woman of the Dakotas.  She's a redhead that is rescued by a Dakota Indian, learns to do all sorts of frontier things like ride bareback, fight like a Fury on a mission, shoot a bow, throw a tomahawk, rope, etc. and then has adventures kicking the shit out of rustlers, bad Indians, and all manner of evil men.  I assume you can see the picture.  There is some serious ass-kicking going on here.  There were actually a number of "good girl" comics in the 30s and 40s, like Phantom Lady, that cast women as fully capable heroes of justice.

And then there is the purely titillating bad girls of Women Outlaws.  True stories of Gun Gals!  Just look at it.  They are smoking, flashing some skin, shooting dudes...also redheads (is there a message here?)...but it certainly makes a change from the damsel in distress on the plains, don't it?

So with such a rich history of women in the West in both real life and fiction, I bet you can find some pretty good costumes, right?

Well this is what you get, ladies.  Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger.
Now the can can floozy, sure, I know that dance hall entertainment was popular, and I am not here to deny you any affirmation you might draw from it, but sadly it seems that some variation of Saloon Gal/Soiled Dove is the most popular search result I can find.  That's paying some tribute to the sisters that struggled on the frontier, ain't it?
As for Jesse from Toy Story...well I felt obliged to provide an example of how a beloved children's character can be so ill-used.

Now I'm nothing if not divisive thorough so I thought, "hey, maybe there is an Annie Oakley costume out there" and damned if I was not rewarded for my efforts.  If by reward we mean quite disappointed with the results.
For your comparative analysis
So here you have it ladies and gentlemen, an O-Fish-Eye-Owl Annie Oakley costume.  I put it side by side with the real Annie to give you an idea of what a sham it is.  Firstly the dress is too short.  Annie, as evidenced by her many medals, was a woman that wanted to respected for her accomplishments and skill, not for a shot of thigh.  Secondly we have those heinous stripper boots.  Note Annie's low cut footwear and spats.  She's tromping the muddy grounds of fairgrounds set up for her exhibitions, she don't have the time to try to pull a spiked heel out of the cowshit.  Thirdly the fringe and faux cowhide.  What the dang-blasted tarnation is that all about?  Finally, let's talk firearms safety, especially in this current climate of gun control hysteria (yeah, I said it, you want to fight about it?).  Our real deal heroine of the West is holding her weapon with two hands, resting in the crook of her arm, fully in control and pointing away from the camera.  Gun safety.  The fake Annie is just casually resting it on her hip, looks like she got her finger on the trigger and is so concerned with having her picture taken that she is clearly unaware of the position of the weapon.  That's a disgrace to the memory of Annie and I won't have it.

Well, those're your options, ladies, if you choose to follow this route.  Good luck, and God help you.

Yeehaw and git them pumpkins lit!

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