Monday, 7 March 2011

Men in skirts

It's extraord-inary that transvest-ites still have to be so secretive about their leanings, for fear of other people's negative reactions.

In this day and age, when we're all much more broadminded about the sort of clothes people choose to wear, it's odd that there's still such a stigma about clothes that are "gender-inappropriate".

So much so that a journalist writing about the transvestite Butterfly Club, based somewhere near Belfast, is incredibly careful not to reveal its exact location, the identities of its members, or any other details that might lead to unwanted attention from the uptight and the straitlaced.

When it's now perfectly okay for women to wear "male" clothes, it's shocking that men who fancy wearing "female" clothes are still seen as deviant weirdos to be shunned and ridiculed.

Admittedly the men in question often don't do themselves any favours by wearing such laughably unfashionable clothes and wearing them with so little elegance and style, but why is a man in a dress and heels so difficult for other people to accept - or even enjoy? Why do other people feel so threatened and discomforted by someone who's not wearing the expected clobber?

It would certainly help if some transvestites paid a bit more attention to the fashion pages and how real women dress, and looked more like dizzy blondes than frumpy housewives. Then the disbelieving titters might give way to sneaking admiration. And other men might even dip their toes in the water.

But the continuing hostility, still so acute that many men are scared even to reveal their guilty secret to their own wives, is a mystery to me. Is the sight of a man in a miniskirt really so emasculating? Or so traumatising? What's the big deal?

Pic: Male model Andrej Pejic, who frequently models female clothes. Drop-dead gorgeous or what?

36 comments:

nursemyra said...

wow - Andrej is beautiful!

Nick said...

Myra - Ooh, isn't he just? I bet he has just as many male admirers as female....

Grannymar said...

But men have worn skirts for centuries from kilts to dhoti.

Wisewebwoman said...

I've read different opinions of Andrej, not from the cross dressing point of view but from the position that in modelling female clothes he is just a new unreachable body standard (narrow boy-hips, completely flat chested)that real women could never achieve. The designers are really pushing the envelope now. What's next?
XO
WWW

secret agent woman said...

My son has a gay friend who is what he himself refers to as a "pretty man" - like to go out in heels and makeup and is quite androgynous. But you are right - many transvestites look like Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie." And then drag queens often look like absurd caricatures of women. I am not troubled by men who cross-dress, but I don't find it personally appealing.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think we women just hate it when men are prettier than we are.

Nick said...

Grannymar - Indeed they have. Which makes it all the more surprising that doing so is still seen as so peculiar.

W3 - He's just a variation on the whole myth that models are the (unattainable) norm all women should be aspiring to. Nobody can quite accept that women come in all shapes and sizes.

Nick said...

Secret Agent - There's an awful lot of Tootsies out there, they just don't take the painstaking care over their appearance that any ordinary woman is expected to take!

Heart - I know, it just raises the bar and makes self-critical women feel even more inadequate. But then that begs the question of why women are so absurdly self-critical.

rummuser said...

Not to me, they do not look odd. The type that you talk about simply do not exist here. We do have what we call hijrahs here and they are very much part of our society. A few have been elected to office!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijra_%28South_Asia%29

Scarlet Blue said...

I've been reading the same articles as Wisewebwoman about Andrej.
Anyhow, I will have to take you to Cafe C, Nick, - it is the most fun ever.
Sx

newjenny said...

I think it is transgression rather than unattractivesness that makes some people hostile. Envy of the self-asserted freedom of the transgressors is probably a factor.

Your bottom line is the bottom line of so much liberal discourse: 'how can people be so unreasonable?' But it's just a fact that many people are unreasonable, and - unreasonably - aren't open to changing this. That is the brick wall which those trying to improve society come up against. That is why I've more or less given up complaining about injustice.

Nick said...

Ramana - Yes, I remember you mentioning hijras before. It's interesting that although that tradition is long-established (men dressing as women), they're equally shunned and stigmatised.

Scarlet - Cafe C? What is that? What fascinating cultural trend am I missing out on?

Scarlet Blue said...

Mr Beastie's Cafe C!!!
Sx

Nick said...

newjenny - I think it's that particular type of transgression that people dislike. They just can't accept men dressing in female clothes, they want them to be "real men", whatever that may be.

You're right that many people are just unreasonable and impervious to argument. On the other hand, if they can see some personal benefit in something, they can change their attitude very quickly. If men could be persuaded that wearing female clothes occasionally is lots of fun....

Nick said...

Scarlet - Ah, I'm not one of Mr Beastie's regulars, I shall have to pop along and check it out!

Liz said...

But do they want to look like glamorous women? Or just wear clothes that are comfortable? High heels and tight skirts don't make for comfort!

Nick said...

Liz - Good question. I suspect they're not looking for comfort, they want to look the part even if they're uncomfortable. The trouble is a lot of transvestites look both uncomfortable AND not very female. You'll have to try a bit harder, lads!

kylie said...

i just want to know why i can have eyebrows more tidy than andrej's and not look as good as he does???

a dude i work with is a cross dresser and open about it but makes it like a joke. i have heard all kinds of disgust when people consider that he might be serious and questions of how his wife could *possibly* cope.i just think those people dont know what love really is.
he showed me his pretty girls sock tucked in big chunky mans boots once, i was intrigued and delighted. having said all that i have never seen him in womens clothes but i cant imagine it's pretty, he is a big guy with big shoulders and very little hair :)

Baino said...

I guess it depends. Men wearing women's clothing? Sure if that's their thing but the Kilt, Dhoti and pacific islanders garb doesn't really fit with that mold. They're men's skirts.

I saw a very elegant man in Paris not trying to be a woman but wearing a very splashy black and white pleated skirt with a suit jacket and a black fedora. I think he was more eccentric than a cross dresser or tranny. He did turn heads . . but only the tourists, Parisians didn't bat an eyelid.

Terra Shield said...

I'd have never guessed the model is male! He's too pretty...

I've seen 'men' in women's clothing before, back in uni (not in the uni grounds, but in town, actually - but we studied together and I've observed them transform from boys to their new image)and while 2 of them actually looked hot, the other two just looked out of place... like you said, they didn't carry it off elegantly.

Another reason why poeple don't seem to get men in women's clothing is the inconvenience with women's clothing - take heels for instance, a woman chucks it in a corner the moment she gets home from work or a party, and here you have a man who has no need for heels voluntarily using them. Same thing goes for a dress, how a woman needs to remove hair not fit to be seen in public, or tuck in her stomach so she looks good, etc... they're inconveniences, and yet you have men willing to do it without being expected to. It's just baffling, that's all.

Nick said...

Kylie - Open-minded wives can cope very well, they even help their guys to buy the most flattering clothes. I guess the uptight wives have a very rigid stereotype of how men should behave.

Yes, if you're a heavily-built guy with big hands and feet, it's quite a challenge to look pretty and feminine....

Baino - Interesting that it was only the tourists who couldn't quite handle it while the Parisians were more blasé.

Nick said...

Terra - Men don't always realise it's not just a question of what you wear but doing it with style.

That's true, why do men want to put up with the discomfort and inconvenience that women have to endure if they don't have to? I guess like a lot of women they're prepared to suffer a little for the effect it creates.

Eryl said...

I've been reading some very interesting stuff about identity recently and I expect this falls into that category: men in frocks challenge our notions of both personal and cultural identity. When women first started wearing trousers it was shocking and really has only been fully accepted by the establishment for about twenty years. Are women now allowed into the Royal enclosure at Ascot in trousers, not sure?

I guess it will take lots of men willing to wear women's clothes in public, and then about 100 years, before it becomes normalized. If those men paid some attention to fit, proportion and colour they may be able to speed up the process a little!

tattytiara said...

It's sickening how often transvestites and transgendered people are used essentially as punchlines in this day and age, and yes, it's always the m to f. I was watching a DVD of House episodes the other day, and the big joke was he invited a m to f to dinner. It really needs to stop being permissible to ridicule people like that, and above and beyond the cruelty, that's just lazy writing to boot!

Nick said...

Eryl - It would take an awful lot of men wearing female clothes for it to become normal and for the hidebound majority of men to follow suit. But maybe one day - in about 100 years as you say.

Fit, proportion, colour - yes, that would be a good start!

Tattytiara - Exactly, why is a man presenting as female a joke in itself? What's funny about it? And that's on a medical drama - where you'd think someone cross-gender would be treated seriously.

Murr Brewster said...

It's a common and unremarked-upon sight here in Portland. When I see a trans walking by, I often find myself thinking: it's a shame that you can always tell. And then I realize: except when you can't. And then how would I know?

Nick said...

Murr - I've often thought that too. There must be quite a few who've got the hang of it so well that we're completely fooled. One thing that really helps of course is having a petite, female physique to start with.

Val said...

He's gorgeous, that model. Do you remember the singer Marilyn, and also the actor in 'The Crying Game'?

As for men in mini skirts... I don't really know why women want to wear them let alone men. Some womens fashions are just bloody stupid. (Ditto some men's fashions. I mean, a tie?)

Nick said...

Val - I do indeed. They were both gorgeous as well. Miniskirts look breathtaking on the right woman, but bloody awful on the wrong woman. Miniskirts and plumpness do not unfortunately go together.

radiantds84 said...

If a man wears a skirt , that is not cross dressing , unless he wears a ladies skirt .

Charles said...

Women wear every trouser type imaginable, yet still someone says most skirts are off limits to men ("ladies skirts"). There's no use arguing for choice, then restricting it to mere ethnic styles established as traditions for men. This is another attempt to STOP individuality on the part of men, and is an extraordinarily ill-considered suggestion. Terminology also needs scrapping where it's faulty! If a man is clearly doing all he can to present as a woman, it IS fair to call him a female impersonator. If a man is wearing a skirt, but presenting as a man, it's immoral to call him a transvestite or cross-dresser---double standards are unjust, and no woman gets called cross dresser or transvestite for wearing any trouser style. Transvestite should ONLY be reserved for women (if any) who wear athletic supporters, and men who wear bras---garments physiologically specific to the other sex! But one modification should be added---ALL female psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, social workers, "mental health professionals," should be DENOUNCED as "transvestites," NO MATTER WHAT THEY WEAR OR HOW THEY PRESENT THEMSELVES! Since they enjoy so much labeling anyone they disapprove of with their made-up libel terminology, let THEM have a taste of it!

Anonymous said...

I do not see anything wrong men wearing skirts. We can't divide men's and women's except special tailored for women.
Calling cross-dressing is absurd like the word itself because it means posit color-dressed in original. So, skirts are not women's garment, skirts were adopted by women originally from men, women have been worn dresses in past, not skirts. So what the heck?
This shown model isn't a transvestite it is a professional model. If you call that a transvetite because it's a man and looks beautiful like a woman so we have to count millions of females cross dressers because using past- male-
wardrobe and looking like men. Forget that old stuff and enjoy our future which everybody should help to create in a humanly way without prejudices or judgement in case of clothes.
Mara

Nick said...

Charles and Mara - My position on this is very simple. I think men and women should be able to wear whatever clothes they like, and the ridiculous idea of "gender appropriate" clothes should be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Tactilicious said...

I think Nick's last comment covers it. Why not just let people be themselves without making issues of it? A skirt doesn't make a man gay,

I know several women who basically dress as men. Most of the time you couldn't readily tell what they are. Nobody bitches at them, or abuses them for their choices. Why can't men be the same?

I started wearing skirts from the shower. First a wrap, then I said, why not simple pull on skirts. I found I generally left the skirts on until bed, so the next step was easy, just wear them when I felt like it. I have done so in public, though not constantly. On a hot day, a light skirt with suitable breathing unders is hard to beat.

There is also the fabrics issue. fabrics used on women's clothing run the whole range, and some are very nice and comfortable, and light as air. I would like to see the microfibres used so often in women's, make their way to men's, and not at three times the thickness. I am not bricklaying 24 hrs a day!

I say, anyone should wear anything they want, within legal coverage issues.

Transvestism is a different kettle of fish. I have no interest in looking like a woman, high heels, none of that. If someone else wants to, more power to them. The model in the pic cannot be "made" as male very easily. We are millions of different people, let's have fun with the differences as well as the similarities. I agree with Nick's blog that trans should try to do a better job of it, but if they don't, so what?

Nick said...

Tactilicious - A skirt would be a lot more comfortable than pants on a hot,sweaty day! And some guys would look fantastic in a skirt (assuming shaved legs, that is)!

Radiostar said...

Tactilicious makes some very relevant points, a man in a skirt is not necessarily a transvestite ! and a "skirt" is undoubtedly more comfortable than pants. I have been trying to encourage guys to try a skirt for many years,
However, the initial discussion has been lost here, as the subject referred to transvestites, which we all assume means a guy attempting to look like a woman, and VERY few look like the model shown.
Strange how the term transvestite only applies to a male. Whereas a woman can dress in a very masculine manner and may get called many things, but not transvestite.
The original observation was true, many transvestites look faintly ridiculous not because of what they do, but the way that they do it. I have met middle aged men who dressed as middle aged women, but many middle aged crossdressers try to look "twenty something" with cringeworthy results.
Also, there is always the "ahh" factor, a woman wearing clothes that are too big for her, looks slightly swamped and elicits a kind of "aint she sweet" reaction.
A bloke jammed into a tight top and skin tight skirts that are obviously too small does not.
Sadly the point is true, It don't really work, but crossdressing ought not to be so furtive, but it is, as most women would run home to mum if they discovered their guy wore satin and lace.!
Ask a man to volunteer for a drag football match, or something for fun and your likely to be swamped with offers, We all want to do it, but make it fun and then we dont need to hide.