Back in the day, second-wave feminists warned us to ditch our high heels because they hampered us if we needed to move fast or even at a reasonable pace, and if you ever wear high heels, you know that to be true. I just dug out an ancient pair, red satin with a high gold heel and long pointed toes and if the heels don’t cripple you the toes will become trapped in pavement cracks and you’ll go either arse backwards or head forward and either way, your progress will be impeded and physical injury may result.
My heels aren’t anywhere near as high as those worn by the Speaker of the House of the Representatives, Bronwyn Helicopter Bishop. So I absolutely understand why, on a recent European jaunt, she ran up a bill of around $1000 per day on a specially equipped black BMW limo to transport her from her luxury accommodations to wherever she needed to be. Only a spiteful, ill-wishing fairy would think she should walk, or take a cab or even an everyday embassy car, none of which would be safe enough to accommodate both her and her stilettos.
Women’s feet, and the type of shoe in which we encase them, have been the stuff of fairy tales in many cultures. There’s the ancient Chinese custom of foot binding. There’s the Grimm’s fairytale of the pubescent mermaid, who so desperately wanted to love a landlocked prince she exchanged her glorious asexual mermaid’s tail for legs, feet, and a clitoris, and forever after suffered as if she was walking on daggers, unless she was flat on her back. Yes. We’ve all been there, haven’t we.
Then there’s the grotesque Hans Christian Anderson saga of the red shoes, which involves a little girl the author describes as vain, who, after complaining of her ungainly footwear is given a pair of red shoes that won’t stop dancing all by themselves, leading to a desperate amputation of her legs at the ankle, and crutches for life. The ill-natured shoes, with her mutilated and bloodied feet inside them, hubristically continue to boogie in front of her everywhere she goes, reminding her of the wages of vanity and self-indulgence. It is this latter story that is perhaps most pertinent to Ms Bishop, as us punters struggle to establish which is the larger insult: the helicopter hired to serve the country (club) or the limo cos shoes.
As accounts of Bronnie’s indulgences at the serfs’ expense continue to unfold, I am reminded of nothing as much as a syphilis maddened British monarch demanding the gratification of every whim, which surprises me, as I had previously held this image as belonging solely to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. But hey nonny, the two are apparently cut from the same cloth, and Bronnie, rumoured to be one of the Captain’s earliest picks (after his nose) continues to enjoy the unqualified support of her leader, against the advice of at least one of his party elders.
Bronnie is out of step with the times, so to speak. She would be far more at home in the Georgian era, getting about in a sedan chair with a couple of bearers she could flog if they didn’t keep up the pace or jerked her about. A couple of hair extensions fashioned into ringlets and she’s all set to go.
I don’t know that we should advocate severing Bronnie’s legs at the ankle. However, there is something to be said for casting her feet (in stilettos of choice) and ankles in bronze, and placing them in a glass case in the entrance hall of Parliament House. These shoes, the placard might read, caused taxpayers to fork out $1000 per day for over two weeks, as they rendered the wearer incapable of using her god-given ability to walk. Only women of calibre should contemplate wearing such shoes, and then only when some other patsy foots the bill for the limo.