Thursday, May 6, 2010

Women's Clothes, Men's Clothes

Yesterday, I asked folks to help Jeff and I decide on some writing topics. There wasn't much of a consensus so my plan is to tackle each of the topics that were mentionned in the comments. I'm working on getting Jeff to do the same. His writing process is different from mine- but I'm sure he will come through for us! The first topic for me is "Women who wear men's clothes and men who wear women's clothes." Personally, I have no issue with men wearing women's clothing or women wearing men's clothing. To each their own and there are myriad reasons why people are driven in the direction they are when it comes to how they present themselves. The first thing that I thought about with this topic was one of my favorite outfits when I was a teenager. It was back when I had first been introduced to Goodwill and thrift stores. 2 of my prize finds were a flannel shirt - mostly navy blue, a little red, a little white- and red, white and blue bowling shoes. Throw on a pair of jeans and I had one of my favorite outfits. Interestingly, Teagan and I had a conversation about boys and girls and shirts this evening. We were driving home and she saw a boy, maybe 10 years old, playing basketball in the driveway with his shirt off. She asked me about it. I explained that sometimes boys take off their shirts when they get really hot and sweaty. She asked me if Daddy does that. I said no- Daddy prefers to keep a t-shirt on when he is outside. I was waiting for more questions and was debating how to answer them. I didn't want to immediately sexualize breasts right then and there! Personally, it makes no sense to me whatsoever that a man can go topless in the sun and heat but it's indecent for a woman to do the same. I've seen plenty of men out mowing the grass with no shirt- and breasts bigger than mine. If I went out and mowed my lawn topless... I'd be arrested! What's with that double standard? How is it that a woman's naked top half is something sexual but a man's top half isn't? And why isn't it? Man chests can be very sexy... so isn't it dangerous to have those sexy man chests flashing around out there? Anyway. There are times I enjoy wearing a skirt or dress and feeling flirty and sexy and feminine. I like my workout clothes that are form fitting and I feel strong and sexy. I like wearing a baggy old t-shirt and sweat pants when I want to feel comfortable and cozy. In my mind, there are men who want to feel all those ways, too. I think there is something that can be very alluring about stepping, literally, into the shoes of the opposite sex. Here's another double standard for you on this subject... When I was a dating gal... it was common to want pieces of a boyfriend's wardrobe. To wear his jacket, his shirt, his shorts... there was something about it that left you feeling special. For me, having a boyfriend's shirt meant that I could feel like I was wrapped up in him even when he wasn't there. It's even considered sexy for a woman to wear nothing but a man's dress shirt or a sport jersey. But if a man were to ask for an article of his girlfriend's clothing- that would be creepy and he'd be weird, right? What man wears a girlfriend's t-shirt or sweater? What man puts on a woman's dress to be sexy for his partner without being ridiculed or labeled? Why is that double standard there? Why is it sexy for a woman to wear a man's shirt but creepy for a man to do the same? I really don't understand that. I'm really not any kind of a fashionista so I suppose it isn't a subject I've really thought about a lot. But for the most part, what a person chooses to wear is really not my business. Whatever makes someone else happy- more power to them. I'm really not one to judge someone only by appearance- there might be automatic first impressions because of clothing but I really am someone who looks past the outside and connects with the person under the appearance. Photobucket

14 comments:

♥ Em{ily} ♥ said...

I'm glad to hear that someone else feels the way I do about boyfriend's shirts!!! I love doing that, especially if they are freshly washed *cough cough, because someone doesn't wear cologne haha* I just feel safe wearing a boyfriend's tee shirt or jersey.

I've had boyfriends ask for a larger shirt of mine to wear, just to remind them of me or something, not necessarily to wear. One boyfriend used to keep it on his computer chair, to remind himself to say goodnight to me over IM every night (ohhhh high school haha).

I personally prefer to have the boyfriend let me wear his tee-shirts...it's nice to have a part of them with you when they aren't physically around :)

Lori D said...

I have a really tough time dealing with the hypocrisy that is the world we live in. Men are castigated and shamed for anything considered feminine, yet it's practically universally accepted when a woman does things men do and wear what was once considered male attire.

I think if we really focused on what God sees and looks at, the heart, we'd be in a better position to love one another.

mimbles said...

It's absolutely all tied up in the construction of the feminine as lesser and undesireable. So of course men shouldn't want to wear women's clothing because it's associated in the patriarchal view of the world with a lack of power and so on.

I think it's interesting too that while yes, women do wear pants and other clothing that was once considered for men only, it's only the women's versions of those clothes that are really considered acceptable. If a woman wears actual men's clothing in a manner that isn't about belonging to the man that owns the clothes or being sexy (for the presumed benefit of the male gaze) or some such thing then she is regarded as doing something subversive and even confrontational. Think of the young women who have been refused permission to wear a tuxedo to their school prom for example.

c3 said...

It's a complicated issue on many levels. Of course there are the impacts of societal norms and expectations, but there are also the practical aspects (which may even be where some of the norms come from). For instance, in a more fit society (which I think we were even 20 years ago), it would be relatively uncommon for a man to FIT INTO his woman's clothes, vs the ease with which a woman would fit into her man's. Also, in a more fit society, men's breasts aren't larger than women's -- and a degree of support for 'jiggly bits' is appreciated. Nowadays, we just haven't gotten to where man-boobs get the support they need. We need to make man-bras popular and fashionable. Accept your man-boobs and wear support! Denial isn't just a river in Egypt! OK, maybe dating myself a bit there.

Hmm... I blame this all on you. You put the image of a sexy man-chest in my head, and it's quite distracting. Mmmm....

Mary P (Barnmaven) said...

I know a young couple in their twenties, I used to work with both fo them. He frequently wears her jeans and he has no problem with that. He's also an extraordinarily empathetic and funny young man, and has zero sense of social phobia or fear of judgment. I always found it refreshing to meet someone who was so perfectly OK in their own skin that they just didn't care what the rest of the world thought.

The world seems to have less trouble with a woman in men's clothes than a man in women's clothes, although the moment a woman crosses some invisible line to "butch" the comments start. People tend to hate what they fear, my hope is that someday our society will focus less on what people wear than on what's in their hearts.

Katherine said...

I think the general shift of society is that things that were acceptable for men are becoming acceptable for women (including names...how many Rileys, Kellys, and Taylors (formerly boys names) are now girl names.)

Personally, I think it's the fit. My husband's clothes easily fit me (but are not extremely flattering.) There is no way my husband could wear my clothes without showing his belly (or worse.) He just couldn't.

Men are starting to wear a lot more pink, which I love. So, that's something that's becoming gender neutral.

ImogenSky said...

I had this discussion with my, almost 4 year old, while I was pregnant. We were going through the bins and bins of girl clothes that I have stored, to look for the few outfits that would be "acceptable" for this baby boy to wear. She asked my what makes this girl clothes and not boy clothes. I didn't have a great answer for her, other than most boys/men don't wear pink and purple frilly/flowery shirts/pants, and that most boys/men don't wear skirts and dresses no matter what color they are.
I hated that I had to say any of that, becuase If this little man decides that he wants to wear all his sisters' old jammies and clothes that would be fine with us...At the same time though I wouldn't want him to wear them to school because I know what type of responses that would get him...

As for adults, my husband...occasionally...will wear one of my hoodies (the plain solid one color ones), but it took him a while to decide not to care about wearing them outside...I really don't care if i see men or women in clothes that is "meant" for the opposite sex only...If they feel great in it, and they have the confidence to do it, then more power to them!

Jen said...

Women in my province (Ontario) are allowed to go topless. I have rarely seen it though...just a few times at the beach.

Jeff said...

Honey, we're visiting Ontario...

ImogenSky said...

Jeff you're funny! And Jen I live in Ontario too and I have never seen a woman topless, not even at the beach!

Barbaloot said...

I suppose people can wear what they want...but I always find it de-masculating (is that a word?)when men wear women's clothes. I totally get the wearing boyfriend's clothes things...but also not in publc. De-masculating for boys, sloppy for girls.

As far as the unfairness of taking off shirts---I think I'm okay with it. I like the idea that I have something that shouldn't be shared with the world. I think it gives women more power cuz we choose the people that we share it with.

Karen said...

In parts of Canada, it is legal for women to go topless when the temperature reaches a certain level. Just a little fun fact.

As for men wearing women's clothes, the only thing I thought about was the line from While You Were Sleeping where Lucy says to Jack, "If you fit into my pants, I will kill myself."

I think that may be part of where the double standard came from. Maybe. Men aren't supposed to fit into their women's clothes. They're supposed to be big and tough and strong.

And, yes. If a guy asked for my sweater, I would be a little creeped out. Sorry!

Liz's Mom said...

I tried to leave a message for Jeff on his blog, but an error message came up instead. I am so proud to have him as a son-in-law. He is a terrific husband and father.

Mens Shirts from Suits Men said...

yes,me too really don't care if i see men or women in clothes that is "meant" for the opposite sex only...If they feel great in it