I was reading Lion’s entry on being forced to wear frilly panties and the humiliation that causes him, and that got me thinking about deep-rooted sexism in our society. That’s not a particularly original thought, to be sure. I figured I might as well blog about it anyway and see where I am at with it.
Lion had this to say:
My view is that the reason I am embarrassed is that being discovered would make me different and inappropriate. The political issue of women being free to dress in male clothes and men humiliated by wearing women’s clothes is a longstanding sexism issue. I definitely didn’t choose to address that.
So there’s “violating societal norms”, and the embarrassment that stems from that, and “violating gender norms”. And then there’s the whole “men who dress in women’s clothes aren’t real men” thing, which is where the sexism comes in.
What a mess. I’m not sure I can untangle this in my own mind.
Personally, I own frilly panties and love them. I’m not embarrassed by them. To the contrary, I feel sexy and empowered and desirable in them. And definitely very male.
This might be simpler for me because I am (for all intents and purposes) gay, and so “violating societal and gender norms” kinda comes with the territory.
Yay me, right? But not so fast. Bear recently mentioned he wanted to pick out clothes for me, and my first response after “yes Sir” was to make sure he didn’t mean he was going to pick out women’s clothes for me. I had to be reassured. Because that would be embarrassing.
And I can’t figure out exactly whether that’d be embarrassing because I am violating societal and gender norms, or because it’d make me less of a man somehow. I want to say the former and not the latter, that I could run around in what’s widely considered “women’s clothes” – as long as the cut is male and fits my body well, obviously, who wants to wear dumpy stuff – and feel just as male and empowered. And I’m not sure that’s so. I don’t know that I’ll find out, either, because the “draw stares by violating societal norms” awkwardness / shame would be too great.
I don’t have any great insights, other than that I’d encourage people to be a little “different and inappropriate”. Within reason.
Frilly panties – they are no more inappropriate than boxer shorts while not visible in public, and just as inappropriate when visible. That’s a safe one. They’re sexy, so go right for it.
A dog rope collar – I wear one all the time, but I stopped wearing it to work or when socializing with colleagues. I got a few “what the hell dude” comments, and decided it was less than professional to wear, even under a dress shirt, or even when in casual wear but still during a work-related function. Outside of work, strangers always ignore the thing or will give a “that’s so cool” compliment, and my friends mostly ignore the thing, and a few have commented because they are curious. I tell them it means exactly what they think it means, and that’s usually as far as it goes. So if you’re wondering whether you can wear a collar in public – you can.
Those are safe expressions of individuality. I’d love for men to be able to wear more colorful clothes and more types of clothes. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” I know. Maybe if I achieve Fuck You Money or retire, but until then, I care too much about what that might mean professionally.
In the meantime, the best I can do is be aware of when I’m embarrassed, acknowledge there’s likely an element of sexism in it, because one simply cannot escape this shit, and do my best to not feed that element of sexism.
What are your experiences with wearing clothing that doesn’t conform to gender norms? And how hard do you believe we should think about this stuff?