Why It's A Big Deal When Men Wear Women's Clothes In Public

Shocking, but why?

Steve Wears A Dress

A book by Hope Alexander for men who wear women's clothing and the women who love them.

This lighthearted, non threatening guide to men wearing women's clothing is designed to tickle the fancy of men who wear women's clothing and to provide a resource for the special people in their lives who may not entirely understand the phenomenon.

17 action packed pages along with charming illustrations guaranteed to soften even the most granite of exteriors.

For most women, wearing women's clothing in public is not a big deal. It's something we do everyday without so much as batting an eyelid. We can also wear men's clothing out in public without too much trouble either. When was the last time someone took issue with a woman wearing a sweater and jeans, for example (besides in some whiny Craigslist posting, and Craigslist postings don't count as reality anyway.)

For men however, the act of wearing women's clothing in public is something of an act of defiance. It breaks the rules. It shocks onlookers. It draws furtive glances and giggles.

Not all of these things are bad. Most of us grow up within this double standard never questioning it. I know I certainly didn't until I actually met a man who wore lingerie and began to see the world through his eyes. It's easy to judge people for not seeing the inequality, but the fact of the matter is, as humans we tend to see only those things which effect us. You could call it being self centered, but in reality it is probably more a result of the fact that there is just no real way to comprehend all of the social issues in the world at one time.We only have so much brain space, and much of that is taken up with the task of not falling over when we walk.

So then, when we first see a man wearing women's clothing, be it a skirt, a dress, some panties, or even just carrying a purse, our little minds are blown.

Some people react to this change with anger and try to reject it. 'It's wrong', they say, or 'It's gay'. (Thereby rejecting the behavior by associating it with a group which has traditionally been marginalized and stigmatized.)

Other people are more on the fence. 'Huh. Okay. I guess if he wants to it's okay.'

Still other people love the idea and embrace it fully. There's some evidence that there are genetic markers associated with being receptive to change. People highly receptive to change are generally liberal in political outlook and don't get too upset when they encounter worldviews markedly different from their own. People who are not receptive to change tend to become defensive or aggressive when presented with views, ideas or realities which conflict with what they have come to accept. It doesn't make the behavior any less bigoted or wrong, but it does explain the logical disconnect which occurs when people become outrageously upset over things that really do not affect them (ie, when men wear women's clothing.)

If you want proof of that wild and unsubstantiated claim I just made, check out this TED talk on Conservative and Liberal morality. It is sure to learn you good on this subject.

Of course, the genetics of temperament only indicates how we feel about a subject on a reptilian, primal level. It is not an excuse for ongoing bigotry, or for hurting those around us by enforcing our limited world view upon them. When we understand the motivations which drive us, we have the chance to overcome them, live a happier life, and leave others to live happy lives as well.

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Comments 44 comments

iloveps 7 years ago

You just made my day by linking to TED. it is one of my favorite places ever!


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 7 years ago Author

Agreed, TED rocks...


SatinJenni profile image

SatinJenni 7 years ago from Burlington Ontario Canada

Excellent article Hope! Well presented.

Although tolerated by most, a male donning feminine clothing remains in the realm of perversion. Talk about inequality amongst the genders!

It's a tuff sell to convince the bigots of the religious right of any other lifestyle than the one put down by their preachers. A man wearing a dress is not a threat to anyone any more than a woman wearing pants. The sooner we are able to eliminate social conditioning as an acceptable form of discrimination the better off we all will be.


SatinJenni profile image

SatinJenni 7 years ago from Burlington Ontario Canada

Love the picture by the way... he looks great!


Benz B profile image

Benz B 7 years ago

awesome hub. was a great read. nicely done.


Nanciboy 7 years ago

You have just explained the genetic basis for why I live in waco, liberal San Francisco. I know a wonderful street artist who has made me three purses (shoulder bags) that I carry all over town on weekends. (they really don't go with my weekday suits) Purses are wonderful inventions for carrying all my weekend necessities - wallet, book/magazine, lipstick, nail polish. . . The book or magazine are for reading on the bus or while waiting at the salon for my manicure/pedicure.

Now, if it would just get warm enough here to wear one of my skirts outside. Someday. . .


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 7 years ago Author

I thought San Francisco had some of the best weather in the world!


Writer Rider 7 years ago

This is a very funny hub. I have to say though, women's cloths don't fall well on men. Plus, you guys just don't know how to walk in women's clothes (you're all so...clunky).


\Brenda Scully 7 years ago

l enjoyed this ..... I have to tell you , that men dressing in womens clothes is a nightmare to parents and teachers who have to take children to places where they may have to use public toilets..... sorry to bring a damper to this subject. It is a nightmare.......


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 7 years ago Author

Brenda, a man wearing a skirt is not the same as a man in the women's bathroom. I think you're mistaking fashion freedom for the concept of transsexual behavior - they're not the same thing.

Also, I fail to see what children have to do with anything. Are you saying the concept of men in the bathroom is somehow inherently detrimental to children? Some places have unisex toilets... is that also a problem?

The fact that you describe this theoretical scenario as a 'nightmare' is actually kind of disturbing to me. It seems to imply that men are more likely than not, predators. It's a well known fact that most people who harm children are known to the child, they're not some guy who feels the need to live as a woman. They're certainly not some guy in the women's toilets. Have I misunderstood your point, or was this what you were actually driving at?

Have men really become so marginalized?If a woman was to go into a man's bathroom, would it also be considered a 'nightmare'? Or are random women safer than random men?


GoneNylon 7 years ago

With all due respect, the bathroom argument? Please. If a person can't explain to a child that clothing doesn't define gender, that person is a poor teacher indeed.

In fact, Brenda notes that her problem isn't with women dressing as men (female teachers do it in the classroom all the time), but with men wearing perceptibly "feminine" garments. I submit that Brenda doesn't have as much a problem with men in "women's clothing" as she does with the prejudices that attach to such a scenario. Bigotry abounds, and society/culture probably spends more time inculcating our children to mainstream bigotries than it does inculcating them with the Additive Property of Mathematics or "I before E except after C."

Clothing, being inanimate, cannot be a nightmare. Only animate things make nightmares. Animate things like bigoted parents, fundamentalist preachers and children suffused in the miasma of intolerance before they get the chance to make their own choices.


billyb 7 years ago

hi Hope

Another great article, but I guess that I am the enigma in your story on most views I am politically conservitive and yet I love wearing high heels and lingire I am all for people having the freedom to express them selves as long as it does not bring harm to others and I am aginst any form of government interfering in our lives and our wallets.


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 7 years ago Author

It's interesting that it is always the female commenters who show wild intolerance and breaks from logic that astounds me. By and large, guys will come by and crack a fairly well meaning joke and move on, but for some reason, women actually think they have some deity given right to tell men what they can and cannot do. It's incredibly arrogant and ignorant all at the same time.

As for you, Mr BillyB, you're certainly not the only conservative male who wears lingerie, when dealing with the human animal wild generalizations will normally fall short of some individuals :)


Nanciboy 7 years ago

Anyone else tired of people trotting out 'The Children' whenever they want to postulate terrible thing X happening if Y is allowed to happen?

I was in my local library about 10 years ago when I noticed a guy in a skirt near where I was sitting. A child walked up and asked him why he was wearing a skirt but didn't seem to be tramuatized by the sight.


Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

I, personally, don't see anything "moral" or "immoral" about a guy who wants to wear women's clothes, but - I'm sorry - I find they look ridiculous. (There's a reason male comedians often dress up in women's clothes as part of a bit.) Heck, some masculine-looking women also look ridiculous in some particularly feminine looking clothes. If some guy wants to look ridiculous it's his business, but nobody should be surprised if others respond to him as if he were Milton Berle in one of his famous (and obnoxious) women's clothing bits. I don't see it as having my freedom to express myself squelched when I know I'd get "looks" if I wore a pink tutu and an army helmet to the grocery store. I don't want the looks, so I don't do that kind of thing. I kind of think it's more an "aethestics thing" than anything else a good part of the time. There's just something ridiculous looking about a big shouldered, giant, lumbering, person with hairy legs in a mini-skirt that looks ridiculous.


kykid profile image

kykid 7 years ago

very lovely, it kinda' goes along with the same idea as a piece I wrote called "mentaldilemma"....It's about how we see the world...the entire idea of "this world is nothing more than a mere perception of mine....who's to say what any other person, being, life form....rock (!) sees, hears, experiences...This is the world; the way I see it...I'd love to hear your thoughts on this piece....and any others that i've posted or have yet to post...hope to hear from you...

kykid


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 7 years ago Author

Lisa, ever stop a moment to think that maybe the reason why you think a man looks ridiculos in a skirt is because you've been taught to think that simply by growing up in a society where you don't see it? In cultures where do men wear 'skirts', ie Scotland with their Kilts, Asian countries where men wear robes, the Catholic church, nobody thinks they look silly.

Fashion, aesthetics and other such concepts are moveable and malleable, they are not static truths as your comment supposes them to be.

When women first wore trousers, men accused them of being ugly and unfeminine too, now there are very few women who do not own a pair. Men aren't commenting on hubs where women write about fashion pants saying that women look ridiculos and trying to make them feel bad about their choice to wear pants. If a man did, he would be howled down as being sexist and mysoginistic. But because it is a woman doing that to a hub about men wearing feminine dress, hey, that's a okay. Because for some bizzare reason, some women think that they have the corner on what is acceptable in fashion, and men better just toe the line.

You might get looks if you wore a tutu and an army helmet to the store, but I don't think it would garner the sort of angry rejection that men face when they want to wear something other than their prescribed 'uniform'.


HappyHer profile image

HappyHer 7 years ago from Cleveland, OH

We have tons of male customers at HappyHer.com who frequently buy lingerie for themselves. Most men's underwear isn't nearly so silky and sexy to wear. I think women who wear it and enjoy it should totally understand why a man would feel the same way about it!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

"In cultures where do men wear 'skirts', ie Scotland with their Kilts, Asian countries where men wear robes, the Catholic church, nobody thinks they look silly."

Actually, a lot pf people in those countries do think Kilts and Priests' robes look pretty daft!


LittleHawk profile image

LittleHawk 7 years ago from NC

Great article! Thank you!


\Brenda Scully 7 years ago

I don't know where you people live....... but here in Ireland at least where I am, children would never ever see men dressed as women...... I took a group of children to the theatre in Dublin and there was a couple of guys in the queue with us, their parents went into shock, I think these things are a new concept here, now where you are you may have men dressing as women in the classroom but it has not reached here yet...

Personally I don't mind what people do, as long as they don't offend me ........ We would still be at the hard stare stage here if we saw a man dressed a woman during the day in our town. I am from Manchester but it is 12 years since I lived there. Nothing would shock me there at all....


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 7 years ago Author

Thanks for your comments Brenda, LondonGirl, Lisa, et al, it's nice to have other women weighing in on the issue, even if it is to disagree. Discussion makes the world a happier place...


\Brenda Scully 7 years ago

amen to that comment


peace_maker profile image

peace_maker 7 years ago from Quebec Canada

the whole thing is that women are veritale then men could ever be..I wud never wear the things a women would wear unless I was a cross dresser " Gender is one thing then to be gay is another I am not brothered of seeing two gay men wearing neat clothes that dress the same color to see a man wearing women clothes comes to be a hub disscussion"


Watch Tower profile image

Watch Tower 7 years ago from New Zealand

This would be one of the better articles I have read. the fact of the matter is dressing up as woman is nothing new, In fact it is very old and at one point woman could not even walk the boards / preform in a theater. Yup no female actors at all, Men played the females and did so very well, ( which is were we get the merkin from ) they would have huge fan followings and both men and woman would pursue their favorite 'female' stars. I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn how many men do wear female undergarments as an everyday practice. I do not see anything wrong with it, But then that's ok, by most as it is hidden and unseen. Woe betide them if they happen to feel more comfy in a dress or skirt. I have a friend that is a cross dresser, he is not gay or perverted. He simply feels more comfortable in woman's attire, and in fact he is better looking and has far more out going personality when he dress's. He doesn't harm anyone. I have met a lot of men who cross dress to varying degrees and they have purges where they throw everything out, because society has told them they are sick in the head, disgusting etc, then they just end up feeling horrid and yes unnatural if they can not dress how they wish to in female clothing.

The fact is we have for so many generations been brought up to believe aspects of human behavior, that men are this and woman are that. The fact is now we are learning its not black and white and the process that make's up the human mind is so complex and exhibits itself in such a broad and varied spectrum that the term 'Normal ' is now only a thin perception. To thy own self be true and better self empowerment for it.


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 7 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment Watch Tower, I think a historical look at the nature of gender roles would shed a revealing light on those conventions we have come to apparently accept as eternal truths.


dave 7 years ago

women can wear men's clothes in public simply because they do it and has been doing so for some fifty years. But if you'd go back to the 1930's, a woman in pants was considered as strange as man in a skirt is now. But women who wear mens clothes should not complain on men wearing skirts and such: they do exactly the same thing.


morbid angel profile image

morbid angel 7 years ago

Well, Nice hub. Actually what I think is that its the choice and right we get from our birth about what we put on with and other stuffs.

Nowhere in the Bible, Hindu epics, Kuran has implicitly written that these and those are the garments for male and female. So, men too can put on with women's clothings like the females proudly put on with male garments....

So its the thought which is weird rather than the clothing itself......


David 7 years ago

This is a question that I have had as far back into childhood as I can remember.

The weather is warm, I have just had a shower, and so am hot.Why should I have to sweat in a pair of jeans, when a skirt makes more sense?

As I write, I am wearing a below the knee denim a-line skirt - very comfortable indeed.

In warm weather, a skirt is cooler, more comfortable, better for men's anatomy, and makes a change from pants all the time.

So, there are a few reasons why it is ok for a guy to wear a skirt.Now, anyone (and I mean ANYONE) please tell me the reasons why not.So far, no one (not just in this thread) has given a sensible answer.

Some say because guys have hairy legs. Well, shock horror, women have hairy legs too! That's why they shave or wax. A man can remove the hair also.

Some say it is gay. If a guy is gay, surely he would dress as manly as possible (in the western world, a skirt is not considered manly).I am staight by the way, so I get confused as to why people think it is gay.

Some say, because it is wrong. My answer is this question...It is wrong because? (over to you!!)

p.s. the picture does not offend me at all - I just accept it.


Bailey 7 years ago

This article begs much thought, re-thought on previously established truths/normalities. I am currently a sophomore at Drake University in Des Moines, IA and dating a man who when he was in high school wore skirts, which prompted my initial thought on this subject. Now, I am taking summer classes at a local community college and am collecting information to write an essay on "gender" vaguely enough. I chose "men", fatherhood initially. I feel men are understated and though fundamentally "bread-winners" I am in the process of discovering the contradictions and further male importance I currently don't see. I am leaving this comment for legal reasons - I will most likely use pieces of your article and other comments made on it - Brenda's in particular. I will also, of course state this in the piece. Thank you again for your thought-provoking piece.


Hope Alexander profile image

Hope Alexander 7 years ago Author

Awesome, you should pass a copy along via email when you're done...


Paper Moon profile image

Paper Moon 7 years ago from In the clouds

I had two skirts, though technically, they were man skirts.


Marti 7 years ago

I find skirts to be very comfortable. I shave me entire body every other day (so no hair) I am married to a wonderful woman that supports me in my dress at home. I do not go out in public wearing a dress, but would love to. I know that society would not except that, but yet I wear womans shorts, pants and tunics in public all the time. I enjoy feeling feminine, I enjoy feeling the material rub against my body. I am not gay, I am very much in love with my wife. My wife does not like everything I wear, but I don't like everything she wears either. I wear sunflower perfume all the time, it smells good and my wife buys it for me, if she sees that I am running low she will surprise me with a new bottle. If people can't like me for who I am then I don't need them in my life. I am 49 years old and have been wearing womens clothing since I was a young kid. I like the colors, and prints and material used in womens clothing better than mens clothing. Mens clothing is drab, and plain, womens clothing is colorful and exciting.


maninpanties 7 years ago

will wear my panties but refuse bras and skirts and womens tops, if you do wear bras and ect go for it if its you


creativeMind profile image

creativeMind 7 years ago from Cochin

interesting information


MikeNV profile image

MikeNV 7 years ago from Henderson, NV

Lane Bryant for me... that picture is just too funny. He just looks silly.


Hanna Bambina profile image

Hanna Bambina 7 years ago

Ledge.


SkirtedMan 6 years ago from http://skirts4men.myfreeforum.org/

I wear skirts daily, I burned my pants a couple of years ago and find no possible reason to wear something that's main claim to fame is a torture chamber called a "crotch", it squashes my balls and child creating device, heats everything up resulting in constant sweating and the addition of strings and threads getting stuck in all my private areas.

A skirt or kilt on the other hand, keeps all of the above cool and clean and squashes nothing. I'm not trying to look or act feminine, not would I care to. I wear plain twill or cotton camo A-line mid calf skirts with lots of big baggy pockets just like I'd have if I still wore pants. I wear a T-shirt or button front shirt with it, cotton socks, normal men's leather shoes or boots. I'm not trying to look like anything but a comfortable man in a comfortable skirt. Just like the "other" 85% of men on the planet who wear Male Unbifurcated Garments or MUGs with names like “kilts”, kikoy, sarongs, lavalavas, sulu, tupenu, Lungi, Männerock,(your German friends call men's skirts this),Caftan, CAssock, Dashiki, Dhoti, Dishdasha, Djellaba, Fustenella (a short pleated SKIRT worn by men in Greece and Albania),Gho, Hakama, Kain, Kimono, Laplap, Longyi, Sapeta, Pareo, Paso, Robe, Kikepa,Thobe, tunic, Yukata, and probably a few more that I haven’t listed.

None of these men are feminine, they are just "MEN" in skirted garments. Sort of like that preacher from a few years ago....I think his name was something like "Jesus"..who also didn't wear pants or trousers, even when he rode an ass, burro or mule. (he couldn't afford a horse).


Wade 6 years ago

I am a passable cross dresser and go out all the time in public. I get nothing but complaiments from every body on how well i look. I enjoy going shopping efem.


Fred 6 years ago

We have to remember that this is a male-dominated society, where the strength of the male species is of paragon importance. There is a macho strain deeply imbedded in this society, and the entirety of society expects, and demands it. If a male wishes to pursue this proclivity, it should be done in the quietude of the evening in a home or bedroom. Not flaunting it in public.


JakkiB profile image

JakkiB 6 years ago

Well now, passable are you ? Why do you feel the need to pass as a girl ? Although I have been rollerskating,and then rollerblading (when they came out with in line skates)since 1954, I've been doing it dressed up in female skate wear. I've never wore a wig or make-up as I've never felt like a girl or woman and never entertained the desire to pretend to be one. I just got the biggest thrill out of wearing their clothes.


tanya 6 years ago

Thank you for very interesting story and interesting discussion. To the last respondent, Fred, I would say the following:

We are not cavemen anymore. Society is gradually moving away from being male-dominated (in the US women are more than 50% of the workforce) and it's simply not true that male strength is the great determinant of who succeeds and leads in life. And who are you to set down the rules about what men may or may not flaunt in public?

I think the person who mentioned aesthetics was on to something so yes a man with hairy legs in a skirt might look silly but if a guy shaves his body hair and looks well toned it's a different story. Aesthetics are shaped by what we are used to. If more men were brave enough to defy the cultural conventions and wear women's clothes we might see attitudes change. It will take time but some people say there are fashion trends for more androgyny so I hope it will begin to happen faster.


lucky092 6 years ago

I wear Wolford Fatal 50 black tights, blue denim mini skirt and any top to match plus suede calf boots that look nice as Im male with very slim body (34-24-35) so men can wear skirt and go out in public as it free country. I would disagree word as gay or anything as it not sound like for men clothes skirts, dress as women wear men clothes for years so men can wear as well as equal.


MrRunner 6 years ago

I am a (masculine) man who wears women's Nike running tempo shorts. I like the way they feel. Growing up as a high school student in the early 70s, these shorts are almost as short as the ones we wore back in PE classes, on the tack team, and the basketball team. Nike makes women's running shorts almost exactly the same way with the exception of adding the lining inside. I have seen several men wearing Tempo short made for women. I like the variety of colors.

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