For hundreds of years and possibly a lot longer, men and women were quite sharply divided to perform different functions in the Western societies. The division was more or less arbitrary, though it bore some relevance to physiological inevitabilities such as child bearing. Starting about the 19th century, women have sought freedom from such prescription, into a wide world of individual choice. Their task is far from finished, but they have come a long way.
For this reason I envy women. Aside from certain individuals, they have not attempted to become men. They have realized that it is better to try and abolish any gender-based compartmentalization, than to create new prescriptions. However, it looks like, contrary to the physiological findings, men have no balls at all, because they have not sought freedom from their own cubicle.
Of course it is possible that men are happy with this situation and feel no pressure to change it, but this is hard to believe. It is also likely that many women would be willing to change men's position from its present form. Some observations should explain more:
To me, the setting seems completely arbitrary. It seems that men simply don't care about their looks, and they are not interested in being attractive. It is clearly not a universal law because there are lots of men (including the author) who have decided to ignore the general trend, and go on expressing themselves more freely. In the end there is no such thing as a society telling you what to do. What you think is the society's expectations are mostly artifacts of your own mind. The more you think about things, the more arbitrary the 'rules of society' look like.
There is inequality between men and women. It doesn't take a quantum rocket scientist to realize, that it is a problem in the relation between men and women - not a problem in either sex alone. Nevertheless, it seems that the approach to solve the problem has been limited to changing women's position only. That is the most significant reason why it isn't really working at all.
Toimi Kankaanniemi, the leader of the Christian party in Finland once donned a long skirt for a magazine article on men's skirt fashion. He pointed out: "Jesus probably didn't wear trousers either."
The kilt is probably the most masculine garment on this planet.
"If an alien unfamiliar with Western clothing styles were presented with a naked man and woman and asked to match them up with a skirt and trousers, it's easy to imagine that, based on anatomy, the man would get the skirt."
The usual men's attire is in fact far from functional these days. The cherry on the cake of a suffering man is that he wears a hanging rope on his neck. He wears underpants and trousers which choke his balls so that he will need Viagra to restore the erectile blood flow. Why do they put up with that all? The only thing that really comes to mind is that they are afraid of something.
They seem to think that 'manhood' is dependent of certain physical and mental traits:
In short: if that really is the definition of 'being man', I for certain do not want to be one. I may have to call myself something else, despite my biological construction. Maybe I'm a human instead.
I like wearing colourful, provocative, sensual clothes. I like showing my virility and my idea of the world, not shunning them. I like wearing sarongs, kilts, trousers, and dresses. I like to give hugs to good friends, whether they are women or men. I feel sad when I see people doing things that no one would want to, such as wearing a business suit. I like to take care of my looks. I like to discuss and debate rather than waste time/energy/drinks/food on utterly useless 'small talk'. I don't do anything that I don't want to.
If any of the above points makes you think I'm somehow abnormal or perverted, perhaps you could think where that idea comes from. You should realize that the reasons behind are completely arbitrary in the same way as your favourite colour. Yours is probably different from mine, but it's not a reason for me to think you are perverted.
Most of the world's problems could be solved if people only would think and use common sense rather than sticking to old customs long devoid of function. It's as simple as 1,2,5.
Yes, the looks are just the icing on the cake. Which is the only thing directly visible to the outside. It's somewhat of a paradox that, while I think "don't judge the dog by its hair" I also admit that first impressions are very important. Personally I want to give the impression of a free individual, full of energy and ideas, and open to new ideas.
We could start with the axiom that everyone must wear clothes. It's of course not true in many situations, but serves as a simple starting point in most. It means that we must make choices what to wear. Personally, I refuse to buy a new piece of clothing if it is not absolutely cool. It would be a waste of money to get something boring. Since I have to wear something, I could just as well do it my way rather than somebody else's - exactly what I do in other walks of life.
Whenever I see a scientist, an artist or some other very creative person, dressed in a generic Western suit, I think "Now that's a contradiction!" Of course, a contradiction as such can be an interesting effect. But I want others to see that I'm a creative individual, without having to tell them the whole of my life story.
Sometimes people ask 'stupid' questions when one is dressed in a way that is recognized as one belonging to a culture or a nation. The obvious example I've come across is the kilt. They ask me if I'm Scottish and it seems they expect some excuse if I'm not. Now, just because the Scots in their great wisdom happened to invent The Kilt, has no logical implication that only Scots should be wearing it. On the contrary, we could easily assert the T-shirt as an American invention and insist that everyone wearing a T-shirt must be American. *BANG* another logic bomb.
This got really interesting around the Xmas of 2001 when I was wearing the kilt at home (at my parents' place, that is). My dad was making a debate over the idea that I'm not a Scot so how can I wear one. I explained him about the general progression of fashion, that someone invents something somewhere, and if it's cool it will be adopted in other places as well.
The interesting bit was when we discussed my plans of wearing a Finnish national dress at my graduation. I fancied one of Pohjanmaa with dark colors, vertical lines, and the almighty knife, but I thought I should rather take one of Savo, my home province. Dad was quick to point out that, if the Pohjanmaa dress was so cool, it could just as well be adopted by a person of Savo! Of course there are other issues for me choosing the Savo dress but it's neat how he used my own logic against myself.
Back to the general clothing issue: it's a really practical way of testing and developing your thinking. It's hard to describe the feeling of confidence and moral freedom of being a skirtman in public.
You can't just break loose like that, at the snap of your fingers. Or maybe some of you can .. a friend of mine once snapped his fingers to blisters, but that has little to do with this :-).
My first 'outing' with a sarong in Cambridge in May 2000 is deeply engraved into my mind as a very challenging and mind-opening experience. I was going to a picnic with some Buddhist friends who I know would understand my choice of attire. Had to walk through a part of the city to get to the countryside. I remember the looks I got from people, they were not negative nor encouraging, but simply baffled. It was like their whole brainwashed culture was shouting "Men don't and possibly can't wear skirts" but a little voice inside them, the unspoiled child, telling them there is absolutely nothing wrong. In a way I was really scared, but of what? I thought it was a good idea to do this in Britain where people rather keep their anger within than burst out violent. I could imagine certain places in Finland where a guy could get beaten up just by wearing a pink shirt.
Now I can ask myself, what I was scared of, because there wasn't really anything. But I'm still quite reserved in some ways. For example I'm used to wearing kilts and sarongs in public, but I still think thrice before donning a dress. Yes - there are masculine ones out there, think of Roman tunics, Arabic caftans and the like.
Which brings me to an incidence, bound to happen again: I was walking out at the town with a couple of friends, and some other guys suddenly asked me: "Is that a skirt you're wearing?" and I said "No, it's a kilt." "Oh, OK then." So, it's perfectly OK for a man to wear a kilt because it's a male garment, but a skirt is unacceptable. And just by calling the same piece with different names, will make the difference between a Real Man Warrior and a transvestite homo. What a perverse society this is. For this reason some men have proposed that men's unbifurcated (non-splitting) garments are called kilts or sarongs, but never skirts. It makes sense if you think of trousers and slacks, but I thought the ultimate point was gender equality, not the segregation of things into men's and women's. There is of course the counterargument of the bodily construction which differs remarkably between men an women - but so does it between individuals within each gender. Moreover, there is for example the sarong which adjusts to all shapes and sizes of people.
In the end it's worth it. I can't stress enough the wonderful feeling of transcending cultural limitations. There's an effect which is quite expected but still comes as a surprise: you get used to the emperor's new clothes and you need to go further to get the kick. This is how I'm starting to feel with kilts and sarongs. It's a nice situation, being confident and comfortable with something that most people are afraid to do. Yet I've taken a step forward: after wearing a black 'cargo' dress with my cyber boots to a party, I read in the student newspaper that I had looked like a 'Buddhist Darth Maul'. At the party I got many positive comments (and a snog, btw :) and it was great to note that they didn't get stuck with the 'man in a dress' because it was a working combination.
Coming back to the naming problem, I like the word 'dress' because of its versatility (e.g. Highland Dress). There are already single-piece men's garments which fall under the notion of a dress. And while my black dress is from the women's department, it doesn't look effeminate at all.
"Just get out and DO it. It's your life, so live it like it belongs to you." -- Chris Grevstad