Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thoughts on Freestyle Fashion II

One of the most common statements that I hear in support of men's freestyle fashion is that women can and do cross the gender divide in fashion quite freely, and men should be allowed to do the same. While freestyle fashion isn't an issue of gender equality for me (more on that later), I do feel this is a valid point. A girl in a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers could just be a bit of a tomboy, although I don't think most people would even bother to think that in this day and age because it is so common. Meanwhile, a guy in a dress, tights, and heels is clearly either mad or perverted. While I feel this is a great disservice to men, it's probably an even greater disservice to women, and here's why.

While women have made great strides in earning equal rights in life, there is still an underlying prejudice. Without delving too deeply into feminist theory, the reason I see for the aforementioned social disparity is that masculinity is still viewed as being more powerful than femininity. It is socially accepted, and even encouraged, for the weaker to mimic the strong. A business woman in a pantsuit is going places, she's confident and able. When a man puts on a skirt, however, he's opened up to all manner of name calling and assumptions about his sexual preference.

It's so strange to me how simple garments have come to represent such notions, but I see examples of it all the time. My wife and I have recently started watching the short-lived television series No Ordinary Family, and there is a perfect example of this in the show. The show centers around a family who gain super powers and how they deal with it. One of the characters, the mother in this family, is a leading scientist at a large research corporation. She seems to be pretty high up in the corporate hierarchy, enough so that she has an assistant. What I find striking in the show is that the lead scientist is always wearing pants at work, while the assistant is always in skirts and dresses. Now, you could say this is just coincidence, or maybe just characterization, but I see this sort of styling in shows all the time. I'm not even convinced that it's a conscious wardrobe decision, I just think it's one of those things that is deeply ingrained in the subconscious. The boss wears the pants, the secretary wears a skirt. I've even seen articles online suggesting that women may not want to wear pants to a job interview, for worry that it makes them look too assertive.

Getting back to the primary topic, I do think it's unfortunate that there is such a bias when it comes to acceptable fashion choices between the genders. I think it's sad that men are often looked down upon for expressing themselves outside of the expected machismo and toughness. Is it unfair? Absolutely. However, remember that at the beginning of this post I said that freestyle fashion is not about fairness with me, and it isn't. I don't see myself as a champion of gender equality. I don't really see myself as wearing what I wear for a cause. I'm just being myself.

I can't really say if the gender bias in fashion will ever be broken, though to be honest I'm not certain I care. I wear the clothes that I wear because I like them. I like the way I look in them and I like the way they make me feel. I've never cared what other people think of me, and I'll never let it stop me from being myself. I read an article earlier this year about the top ten most common things that people regret about their lives on their deathbed. The number one regret people had was not having the courage to truly be themselves. So, whenever someone gives me a dirty look or says something hateful towards me for dressing the way I do, I think back on that article. If I ever have a moment of self doubt or hesitation, I remember the article.

No regrets.

8 comments:

  1. I like they way you think my friend, never give up, never back down.
    Equality in Fashions

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    1. Better late than never? A few months short of a year later, thank you, Lorraine!

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  2. BINGO. You make an excellent point: "Femininity" is automatically considered inferior, an insult. (This is why I don't understand why a dominant woman would ever dress up a submissive/slave as a girl to "humiliate" him -- who are you really humiliating?)

    Even though you don't seem intend your clothing to be a political statement, it's great that you recognize that it is. Bravo.

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    1. That's an interesting point I had never considered, She Fights Like a Girl! Thanks for taking the time to comment here!

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  3. As I see it, it's really all about conformity and conditioning. I wonder how many realise that trousers are a relatively recent invention, and that skirts and later breeches and stockings have been worn by men for centuries.
    The idea that feminine dress is a sign of submission is a fairly recent concept.
    Paul.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to post here, Paul.

      Indeed, as far as I know men were the first to wear high heels anyhow. As I've heard it, it was initially a way of signifying that things such as manual labor were beneath you, ha. I think pants were probably necessitated by the types of work men usually took part in, and horseback riding. It's really disappointing that over the years men have somehow lost the "right" to wear skirts, tights, or high heels, and been largely confined to drab, wholly practical attire.

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    2. Many years late now, but AFAIK high heels originally came out of horse riding as the heels helped keep the feet in the stirrups.

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  4. As a girl who wants to dress more as a male, I wouldn't say that's it's completely acceptable for women to wear men's clothing; to imitate it, yes, but to wear a tie, vest, men's shoes, etc. is still looked down upon. I am met with opposition from my parents, who think I want to become a man when those clothes are just more aesthetically appealing and comfortable for me to wear. While my gender is non-binary (though I refer to myself as female and go by female pronouns), I'm not transgender, even if I don't object if someone thinks I'm male.
    I've also struggled with my weight my whole life, and having the fashion market put out clothes in small sizes for women has hurt my self-esteem. When you go from being a size XL to a size Medium (that fits very comfortably and baggy, hiding any unwanted curves rather than clinging to them) it feels better. I love getting dolled up sometimes, but I also feel like I'm forced to wear what's expected of me instead of what I really want to wear. You've really inspired me to wear what I want without worrying about what other people think. Clothes don't define our gender nor should they be defined by gender. Thank you so much for sharing your rockin' style.

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