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Making a statement with the Wendy Davis shoe

The Filibuster Sneaker: Making a statement with a shoe

The Filibuster Sneaker: Making a statement with a shoe

I really do not need a new pair of running shoes. Particularly ones that will set me back $115. But, even as we speak, a shoebox containing size 7½ Mizuno Wave Rider 16 women’s trainers, in anthracite, beetroot and lime, is making its way to my door.

The backstory is one about the confluence of consumerism and politics in America. I don’t know if it’s a tale of irony, idiocy, social commentary or crass commercialism. I just know that I was swept up in the movement on a slow Friday.

The first hint of the approaching runaway bandwagon arrived in an email that hit my in-box late Thursday night, from a fellow attendee of the Monday/Wednesday/Friday low-impact aerobics class at the Jewish Community Center (taught by Hazel Schlueter of Hazel and the Delta Ramblers, whose next gig celebrates the anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s final flight; but that’s another story, and you can read about it here).

Anyway, the email was succinct: “I figure if Wendy Davis can stand more than 11 hours in this shoe, it's worth trying.”

Wendy Davis? Filibuster? Shoe? In a news week saturated with landmark Supreme Court decisions and government snooping, the Texas state senator’s carefully orchestrated all-day stand-up performance had flown under my radar.

But not for long.

Davis (for those of you who live under a rock), launched a filibuster last week to block a Texas anti-abortion bill that would have been one of the country’s harshest. The 50-year-old democrat from Ft. Worth began talking in the Texas Senate Chamber at 11:18 a.m. Tuesday, with the intent to keep going until the legislative session ended at midnight, thus obviating a vote. Because the rules require that speakers stand, not lean on anything, take no breaks and stay on subject, she came prepared. According to news reports, she wore both a catheter and a back brace beneath her knee-length coat.

And comfy running shoes.

The whole thing captured the public imagination, and Wendy and her “pink sneakers” went viral.

According to CNN, 730,000 tweets hit the airwaves on Tuesday, and the YouTube live stream of Davis’s filibuster had 180,000 viewers glued to their screens.

It picked up more steam over the next few days, ultimately hitting my in-box. Where it sparked animated discourse in my exercise circle -- similar, I would imagine, to a thousand digital water-cooler conversations around the country:

  • “Red or pink? I don’t see pink…”
  • “The reviews of the shoe are hysterical politically, though not very helpful for sizing.”
  • “On Amazon, they give the color as rouge. Judging from the – as you say, ‘political’ – comments about this shoe, it seems to be the one. The nasty comments made me want to buy a pair even more.”
  • “Just got a pair at Southern Runner. The red is yummy watermelon-ish. Runs a little snug so went up 1/2 size.”
  • “I may have to get some, too, although I just purchased two new pairs of Rykas.
  • “I decided to bite the bullet and buy a pair myself …”
  • “Maybe we all should get them....”

Meanwhile, the Pink (rouge, but who’s quibbling?) Filibuster Shoe was building more-partisan commentary on the shoe’s Amazon.com page. A lot of it tickled America’s funnybone:

  • “Built to protect your feet from mudslinging.”
  • “The next time you have to spend 13 hours on your feet without food, water or bathroom breaks, this is the shoe for you. Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy on race day.”
  • “I am so confused on which color to buy! I really need a man to decide this for me because after all, being a woman, I am incapable of making my own decisions which affect only me.”
  • “It turns out that if you want to purchase these shoes, you will be forced to watch a video featuring the manufacture of the shoes from start to finish, and then only in a medical facility supervised by white male lawyers. No returns after 20 weeks."
  • “These shoes are great for Filibustering, but they are absolutely useless in stopping Gerrymandering.”
  • “From the moment my wife put these on, she hasn't stopped talking. It's a good thing I love her so much, or this would be a real nightmare.”

The media covered it all with glee -- “Filibustering sneakers get some Amazon-sized love,” crowed the Today show online.

“Who knew a filibuster is actually a great form of product placement?” parried the Huffington Post, adding that the shoes had quickly become a symbol of the pro-choice movement, and was the best-selling shoe on Amazon on Friday.

The shoe company itself took to the sidelines.

“Mizuno is a sporting goods company with a deep passion for running,” a spokesperson offered on Friday, in the first company reaction to the fray. “We do appreciate Ms. Davis’ choice in athletic footwear; however, (we) do not maintain a corporate position related to the topic in discussion.”

The company’s online product description seemed to echo the no-comment stance: “Designed for the neutral runner,” it begins, in what I sincerely hope, but doubt, is corporate tongue-in-cheek speak.

At any rate, my plunge into the Filibustering Sneaker Affair led me to the Mizuno Amazon.com site, where I vacillated between close-ups of the Sun Orange/Silver/Wild Lime and the Violet Tulle/Vibrant Orange/Ultraviolet. Most of my exercise colleagues gravitated to the Rouge Red/Apple Green/Dark Shadow, as that’s what Wendy wears.

I finally settled, as aforementioned, on the anthracite, beetroot and lime. Because, well, how could you not?

Also, while I admire Wendy Davis and delight in her filibuster fame, I do not follow trends blindly, in either my politics or my fashion choices.

That, of course, is the beauty of online shopping and living in America. My entire online conversation with exercise acquaintances was couched in footwear repartee -- no pro-life/pro-choice talk, no democrat/republican bickering, no women’s lib punches or counterpunches. Just a group of women commenting, with amusement, about a fellow female’s moment in the spotlight. Through her shoes.

Although I wouldn’t be surprised if, when I get to class this morning, I’ll spot more than one pair of Mizuna Wave Rider 16 trainers. In an assortment of colors.

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]

 

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]