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article imageOp-Ed: Can I Wear My Fur Coat Now?

By Carol Forsloff     Dec 23, 2009 in Politics
Weather advisories for the next few days are for dry and cold weather in Portland, Oregon. For serious chill, a good coat is great. But one wonders these days if it's politically correct in the present political climate to wear fur.
I have a white fox fur jacket. It was given to me four years ago by an 80-something woman who wanted me to be warm in the winter in Louisiana. Along with the jacket, she also gave me a long cape. This came about because her daughter had owned an upscale woman's shop in New York a few years ago, and the coats were some of the items left after the store had been closed. I was amazed and grateful because the first winter in Natchitoches, Louisiana the temperatures droopped into the teens for a few days. I wore the fur a few times to a few parties and concerts and got rave reviews from the women. They told me, however, that most winters iln Louisiana didn't get very cold, so the occasions for fur would be few.
After moving to Portland, Oregon to spend half the year, and some weeks into the winter, I wondered about wearing the fur. Just what is the custom these days, I thought. I also considered how much in the middle I would continue to be given the fact that groups involved in protecting animal rights are often Democrats and liberal and those who wear fur are stereotyped as the "rich folk" who don't care. It is, therefore, a political issue.
For Ruth Madoff, wife of the financier who ripped off a fortune, the whole worry over furs and political correctness likely makes no sense as she is someone who realized fully the varying, practical uses for fur. In July when her goodies were taken in the raid on the Madoff fortune to recover assets to compensate those who lost money from husband Bernie's misdeeds, folks wondered if cash might not be woven into the fur coat found in her closet. In other words she had a fur and possibly put it to use in as many ways possible including stashing some cash.
A University website asks the question about wearing fur but doesn't answer it. The question is posed simply to bait customers into bringing in fur items for sale during this cold weather. But whether it's proper for people to wear fur without being trounced on by protesters is intimated but not answered anywhere.
Recent news shows Whitney Houston in her comeback tour in Moscow with the headline about her wearing her old fur coat to the event. So entertainers wear fur in cold weather, especially where one might not normally find protest, but what about the rest of us? What's the fashion these days? We see entertainers in furs but not politicians, even when it's very cold outside. Politicians wives used to dispel the notion of fur as being associated with the powerful, and the good wife of the President, like Pat Nixon was, was underlined as just an ordinary gal of modest means when Richard Nixon pointed out her only coat was cloth. That was politically correct in the 60's, but oh how things have changed. as the reasons for not wearing fur have evolved. Michelle Obama isn't shown wearing fur, and it's likely a political statement of sorts. To wear fur might signal one cares little about the poor, helpless creatures, lacking progressive political ideas it seems, as who would want little animals killed just to have a fashionable coat?
The fashion news for fall and winter reflected animal prints to be "in."This included both real and fake fur being shown on models in the form of chubby jackets. The news declares fur to be classical fashion, but what are the risks in their wearing?
In Portland, Oregon, home of progressives and protest folks say, one might wonder these days about whether it would be safe to wear fur without becoming a target of pet groups. The question of fur in cold northern climes may be vexing to some, but a quick look around shows no one taking chances where I am living at the moment.
The dilemma of the coat is likely something other people face, but with other things perhaps. Being politically correct these days is so important that in order to remain part of a political group with a set of beliefs one must take what is called colloquially "the whole enchilada." For me I pick and choose my political beliefs as if they were on a menu. I don't take politics like a buffet where one can stuff oneself with everything and forget how fine it is to savor small, elegant portions of wonderfully cooked fare. So it is with me and fur coats. Fur coats are for warmth, are practical, and make sense to wear in cold weather. The fur coats aren't made from domestic animals, from some family pet, for example. If they were good enough for ancient man to ward off the chill, I say a good fur coat is practical indeed and shouldn't be thrown out just to prove a political point. I say the same thing goes with political positions. It's possible, and maybe a good idea, to have a variety of political beliefs and not subscribe to one way of thinking on every social and political issue of the day in order to belong to a group . Should someone have to toss aside a perfectly practical set of beliefs just to be part of the crowd?
For those with a fur in the closet, the question continues to be whether one should worry about protest over soft little creatures or snag something warm from the closet to ward off the cold for awhile. Present fashion has given permission progressives in popular culture may reject no matter what. . Still those who venture out in the cold wearing some smart little fur might be showing some independence. That independence is exactly what politics needs right now given the partisan maneuvers on health care and climate change.
So I think I'll wear the fur and hope others make similar decisions, if not about fur than about other things, so the chasm of enmity might be filled with good will in the season...
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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