Note: The first two paragraphs are more personal stuff; the gendered clothes starts after that. Feel free to skip the personal stuff!
Hello! I know it has been forever and you may or may not have missed my posts. I don’t really have any good excuses. I finally got a new job after getting fired (unfairly, but that isn’t the point), my boyfriend decided on a school and we got an apartment and a move in date and all sorts of other life stuff. The point it is I have not given up on my blogs.
I am also starting another one. I know, ridiculous since I can’t keep up with these, but it is going to be me ranting about my job at the discount store. It is called Discount Retail Rants.
Gendered Clothes: This is inspired by my job and the people I see there. Almost every day I hear a parent tell their child “You don’t want that! That is for boys/girls!”. This is usually in reference to shoes, a watch or something not actually obviously gendered. People will come up to me with shoes, sunglasses, watches, etc. and ask “Is this for men/women/boys/girls?” I try to answer them honestly, since all the clothes are meant, by the company who created them, for a specific gender. However, I always want to reply “It is for whomever it fits and wants to wear it. So that watch will be a boy’s watch when it belongs to that boy!”
Why are people so worried about whether our clothes are meant for our gender? Does it really matter if those sneakers are for a boy or girl (assuming they fit, of course)? I find these clothes requirements one of the most obviously absurd gender requirements we have. A man wearing a dress doesn’t make him any less tough. He can still punch you in the face and he might actually be able to kick you more easily! And a woman in men’s shoes or shirt is certainly no less feminine.
So why is this such a big deal to us? All I can think of is tradition and arbitrary gender assignment. It is completely pointless and I can’t see any historical reason other than arbitrary gender assignment(maybe easy sexual availability for skirts, but that seems like a flimsy idea at best). Not days it is just a way to differentiate between men and women and force children into the patterns that our society is comfortable with for their adulthood.
The number of times my grandfather has said my infant cousin looks like a “real” boy in his blue/brown/green clothes! People say that the clothes make the man, but that is stupid and I will hopefully tear that apart later when I discuss masculinity.
Of course, it is easier for women. I wear men’s t-shirts and plaid button downs all the time. No one comments. It might be the large breasts and cleavage that distract them from the shirts, but I’m pretty sure no woman would have a big problem. Men, however, get all sorts of attention. We had a young man at my university that wore skirts. He was called “skirt guy”. If a woman wore just pants (which I did until college) she isn’t “pants girl”.
It could be argued that I went through a cross dressing phase. When I was in my tweens I wore only soccer jerseys (I had one female soccer jersey) and wore nothing but pants. I didn’t own a skirt until I was a freshman or sophomore in college. I was just lucky that my family didn’t care and let me express myself and that girls can wear boy clothes.
Some may argue that I’m a bit off, but no one could argue that I am unstable. At least in a dangerous way. Clearly wearing boys clothes did not damage to me. I am a productive member of society with many healthy relationships in all areas of life (romantic, familial, friendship, work). Your son’s mind will not be destroyed if he wears a white woman’s watch.
Why is the gendering of clothes an issue? I don’t believe that most people feel that restricted by our clothing choices. There are those that do, but a discussion about those individuals should get their own post. The big issue is that this is the most obvious and simple example of gendering. It is probably one of the ones that makes
people the least uncomfortable. I think that this makes it a greatplace to start explaining gender issues and arbitrary gender differences to people. Also keep in mind that these differences change. High heels were originally for men.
Exam your own feelings on the issue and answer these questions, either for yourself or in the comments. What do you honestly think when you imagine a man in women’s clothing? A woman in man’s? Could you take these individuals seriously? For straight women and gay or bisexual men, could you be attracted to a man in women’s clothing? What about a man in a kilt? What about Hugh Jackman/Ryan Reynolds/your favorite sexy man in a slinky red number? For straight men and bisexual or gay women, what about a woman in men’s clothing? What about your favorite sexy celebrity in a man’s tuxedo (not form fitting and hugging every curve or showing cleavage)?