Monday, October 21, 2019

Gender Roles and Clothing

A friend (Hi Wulfwen!) posted this on Facebook and I realized it was something I've wanted to babble about for some time now.  Go ahead and read it.  I'll wait.

So these guys bought a couple shawls and their girlfriends dumped them because it somehow made them less ... manly?  Really?  Look at that thing - gray stripes on dark gray, with no fringe or flowers, no lace, and no pattern in the knit.  If it were a jacket or a hoodie it would be in the boring section of a men's clothing store.

As anyone who has studied history or anthropology knows, there is nothing about any particular style of clothing or accessory that inextricably links it to a gender. What in one place or time is considered effeminate will be seen elsewhere and when as masculine. Even when limited to the rural parts of the US this holds true.

Last week when I was picking up Thai food at a local restaurant I noticed one of the guys at the front dest was wearing one of those long sweaters. My first thought was that it looked really comfortable, so I complemented him on it. I did wonder though if he caught any flack for wearing it. Southwest Ohio isn't the most cosmopolitan part of the world.

I also asked myself if I would wear something like that. I still don't know, though mostly because I'm not sure it would look right on me - I'm kind of short and chubby.

The thing is I really like that our culture is loosening up on gender stereotypes. I'm cis-het, but I've been wearing tropical print shirts for decades because most of the colors in the men's section of the average clothing store are so damned boring.

Two years ago I admitted to myself that I'd wanted a purse since I was six years old. Shortly after that I saw one of my younger co-workers carrying a bag and I realized things had changed enough that I could carry one and not get beaten up by some knuckle-walker. So I bought this messenger bag and have been carrying it around ever since.

It is so nice not to have my pockets full of keys and stuff!

Earlier this year I got fed up with wearing socks that were white, black, or gray. Now I have socks that rarely match anything else I'm wearing and my inner-eight-year-old is happy!

There is sort of a catch. My wife, Cindy, does have a say in how I dress and accessorize. It's not because of any ultimatum though but because I value her opinion. If she says I'd look good in something and it's something I'd like to try out then that's cool.  If she says she's not going anywhere with me if I'm going to wear a tank top, tutu, black socks, and sandals then I'm inclined to rethink my sartorial choices.

I guess what I'm saying is that life is too short to wear things that are uncomfortable or ugly or dull (unless you're really into that sort of thing). Change is good. Wear whatever the hell you want. The chances are you'll end up encouraging someone else to wear what they want.

And anyone who tells you it's too masculine/feminine/whatever ... to hell with them.


  1. James has and wears his Beatles Yellow Submarine Happy socks with his suits.

  2. It's the socks with sandals that's the deal breaker. Everyone knows that.