Thursday, 23 February 2012

Wardrobe malfunction

Oh dear, student leaders at Exeter University have really got their nappies in a knot. They're warning students that cross-dressing is offensive to transsexuals.

Come again? I'm loath to use that much mis-applied expression "political correctness gone mad", but that's what it is.

The Students Guild maintains that cross-dressing creates a parody of women and is the equivalent of "blacking-up". It is mocking transsexuals who are still in-between genders.

They really haven't thought it through, as more enlightened students have since pointed out.

Cross-dressing is not only harmless fun, but it breaks down gender roles and the absurd rules about "gender-appropriate" clothing.

Yes, there are some drag queens who ridicule women, but the vast majority are simply liberating themselves from the tyranny of shirts, ties and suits. In fact many dress as women specifically to celebrate female beauty and adornment.*

Okay, some drag queens are so inept they end up as hopelessly unconvincing women, but that doesn't amount to "parody", only an aesthetic blind-spot.

The supreme irony of all this is that transsexuals themselves are cross-dressing. So by what strange logic can it also be offensive?

The Clare Project, a transgender support group, has already criticised the student leaders for trying to be politically correct and getting it wrong. Well said. Men in skirts are simply that - men in skirts.

*I'm confining myself to men here, as women are effectively "cross-dressing" on a daily basis anyway.

By an odd coincidence, John has posted on the very same subject, in his own inimitable style.


  1. dear god almighty
    what have we come to?

    we ( our moral nannies) are constantly worried that everyone is potentially upset with everything we all do and say

    bollocks, bollocks and bollocks....
    ( and someone out there will be upset I have said that!)


  2. John - Indeed, what have we come to? An innocent source of enjoyment suddenly categorised as discriminatory. It's nuts. And a substantial helping of bollocks.

  3. It's all too confusing to me and honestly, I just don't want to have to deal with any of it. If I can't tell if you're male or female, I just won't address you. Or someone needs to come up with a unisex term for Mr/Mrs/Ms.

    Did you see where France is dropping the word, "Madamoiselle"?

  4. Bijoux - I wouldn't go so far as not to address someone, that's rather impolite, but certainly it can be difficult if gender is uncertain! A unisex term for everyone would be useful.

    I didn't know about the new French ban on the word Mademoiselle and requests for marital status. Great news! And a great victory for those feminist groups who've been campaigning for the change.

  5. Now I could see there being a problem if the students turned up wearing no clothes at all, but that is hardly lightly in our cold weather!

  6. Grannymar - You're right, that would be a genuine problem, not an invented one!

  7. On the whole I agree Nick but I never cease to be offended and dismayed at some of the variety shows here in outport Newfoundland. Men dressed as appalling, shrieking and stupid women bring down the house much to my outrage, usually solitary, as others think I am a stick in the mud for not getting "it". I get "it" alright. Another form of misogyny, like MIL jokes.
    It is a fine line, n'est pas?

  8. www - Men whose aim in dressing as women is to ridicule them are indeed offensive. I don't see anything humorous about it. Fortunately there are other men with more benign intentions.

  9. Do they actually have any transgendered students at Exeter??
    Just wondering....

  10. A JohnG said :

    Bollocks ... Bollocks ... Bollocks ...!

    I s'pose they'd even come down on little kids playing dress-ups?

    Last year one of the local Kindergartens cancelled the Easter Bonnet Parade 'cos it was considered sexist!

    Bah! Humbug!

  11. hi nick!
    i have commented here three times and either my secret blondeness or some conspiracy has served to stuff up every attempt.

    so...the shortened version of my opinion because i am sick to death of the longer version is that i really cannot stand to be expected to laugh at men in dresses. not funny. but if they like it and their intentions are harmless then go for it fellas/ladies/she-men

  12. Macy - Supposedly they do have one or two, but it doesn't look as if the Students Guild has actually spoken to them on the subject. *scratches head in disbelief*

    John D - And were the little boys also wearing Easter bonnets?

    Kylie - I'm baffled as to why so many comments go astray. I never have any trouble myself. Nasty Blogger.

    That's a good point, is there anything at all funny about men in female clothes apart from their inability to do it convincingly? I must say the only drag queens I appreciate are the ones who look so much like women they're amazing - and often totally gorgeous!

  13. Ridiculous! Why can't people dress the way they want.....

  14. Myra - I thought you'd say that. My opinion entirely. Unless a man in a dress is going to demolish the eurozone, cause an earthquake in Japan, or prompt a global shortage of chocolate cake, what exactly is the problem?

  15. Nick, I have been cross dressing all my life. No one has objected. In fact, Bikehikebabe and others of her ilk think that it is cute that I wear skirts!

  16. Ramana - Indeed, you're in the vanguard here! Along with Scotsmen in kilts and priests in cassocks....

  17. Just think of the unintended consequences... There could be some browbeaten transvestites in tears, or at least cross, after being ticked off for dressing in - a dress.
    Wonder how they'll distinguish between a student having a laugh, someone for whom it's a lifestyle choice, a performer in drag and ... a Scotsman. (Yay - couldn't leave them out!) And what if one person personifies all four?

  18. Blackwater - Goodness yes, all those distraught transvestites, it doesn't bear thinking about. And it looks like they won't be distinguishing, just banning the lot, whatever the intention. Though somehow I think they'll be backing down....

  19. Hi Nick, thanks for dropping over to Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden.
    Lady Mondegreen has a secret cousin called Amanita Mascara (she doesn't have a blog - yet) who finds that dressing in drag somehow speaks to her female androgyny. Confusing? I'm sure she could make a case for being a minority group.

  20. Oh, good grief. I'm not a big fan of drag shows myself, but they don't offend me and I don't much care what people choose to wear in public as long as it's not obscene (and by that I mean I'd prefer people keep their private bits private). I guess they were trying to be sensitive and that's a good thing, but it was a silly over-step.

  21. Lady M - I think Amanita is on to something. Female androgyny is shamefully neglected in our culture. In fact there's a crying need for a comprehensive dictionary of minority groups to keep us all up to speed.

    Agent - I agree, as long as there's nothing obscene, what's the big deal? Somebody's gone completely over the top in second-guessing other people's sensitivities.

  22. Yep. I'm a cross dresser. I have 2 dresses which I bought for weddings, otherwise...I wear the pants. Literally. Oh really...what is the world coming to.

  23. Baino - Ooh, how daring of you. You mean you actually wear these dresses in public? Whatever next?