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Men In Dresses and Women In Red, The Cost Of Fashion Freedom

Updated on October 16, 2009

Recently one of my readers left a comment on a hub saying that it was all very well and good for women to fight for equality, after all, they started at the bottom so they had nowhere to go but up, therefore they had nothing to lose. Men, on the other hand, are apparently at the top of the food chain and so have something to lose. I thought this was an interesting point and I have pondered deeply before penning this response.

The notion that men can 'go down' as a group is probably incorrect in today's society. We are ostensibly egalitarian in our approach. As a single man against the world wearing a skirt or a dress to work might result in the loss of employment or bad treatment by one's coworkers, as well as a loss in dating and procreating opportunities. That's not an entirely invalid point. But its not stopping some men from taking action and wearing what they want to wear anyway. Some are even garnering international attention.

A fellow female hubber, Princessa, put me on to this group, Hommes en Jupe, a French group of men fighting for the right for men to wear skirts as normally as women.

You can read more about them here in this Huffington Post article.

"We're fighting against prejudice and cliches," says Moreau, a 39-year-old civil servant who quotes Virginia Woolf as a gender-bending inspiration. "Women fought for trousers; we're doing the same with the skirt."

Men, there is nothing to fear but fear itself, and being afraid of the battle is not good enough reason not to engage in it. Don't kid yourselves, the women who fought to wear trousers faced no less marginalization than you do. They faced no less pain, no less suffering, and no less anguish. In fact, there are still women fighting for basic fashion rights today.

This poignant photo shows an Iranian girl being arrested for daring to wear red clothing. No doubt she knew arrest and even beatings were a possibility when she stepped out that day, but she did it anyway. Why? I cannot hope to speak for someone who showed more courage in one day than I have in a lifetime just by getting dressed, but I wager she believed in her inherent right to wear whatever she wanted, and she was prepared to fight for that right.

Men who wear skirts, dresses and lingerie will not be arrested for it. Men who wear skirts, dresses and lingerie will not be taken to cells and beaten by police for wearing what they want to. Granted, they may suffer the sneers, stares and catcalls of the ignorant, some have even been attacked, but that is not a certainty and depends greatly on location.

So to those men who claim that they have more to lose than the women who fought for equal rights, I say don't kid yourselves. Those women faced abuse of all kinds, weathered the storm and won the rights for generations of women after them. Today in many places many women still display this kind of courage. If anything, the recent upheaval in Iran has demonstrated just how brave women can be.

And just how is the conflict in Iran related to men wearing panties? Simple. Both are battles for freedom. Men, just be glad yours can be won without blood in the streets.

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    • Hope Alexander profile imageAUTHOR

      Hope Alexander 

      9 years ago

      Also, Mr Panties4 Everyone .. I'm on YOUR side. I just don't happen to believe that saying you have more to lose and being all bitter is the way to win this particular battle...

    • Hope Alexander profile imageAUTHOR

      Hope Alexander 

      9 years ago

      I didn't create a straw man issue, I said women half a world away are dying for less, whilst you whine about 'having so much to lose'. I am probably one of the biggest supporters of men who wear lingerie, but I have no time for those who want to put women down whilst they do it. If you don't like it, fight it. But don't pretend your struggle is any more important or difficult because its yours than any one elses' is just because it happens to be theirs.

    • profile image

      panties4everyone 

      9 years ago

      <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } -->

      This is an issue because you created this hub to try to prove yourself right but all you did was shift focus to the middle east (a Bush tactic), created a straw man argument, and then tried to belittle our issues.

      Like I said, I do plan to take action. I have been planning to take action and have been working hard to make that plan become a realization for 3 years now. I'm only months away from actualizing my plans. I feel sorry for the women in the middle east and the women in places like Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines, and eastern European countries where the women have no rights at all. I, also, feel sorry for the women who lived in the U.S. prior to the 60's. But I do not feel sorry for contemporary American women, as I've never met a single one who was not a hypocrite when it comes to gender equality. And it seems to me like you're the one who's belittling men's issues.

      I'm claiming men have more to lose because they have more lose. You may not like that but it's the reality of the situation now. Women have gained a lot since they started protesting in the 50's and 60's and that's great. Sadly, however, prior to that, women were viewed as second class citizens in this country and did not have many rights or access to a lot of jobs. Men are not currently viewed as second class citizens; however, a man who cross-dresses (or wears panties or bras or whatever) runs the risk of being relegated to a second class citizen position, being denied rights, and being denied access to a lot of jobs he might otherwise have access to, simply for wanting the very equality women want. So, again, how do we not have more to lose? It seems pretty cut and dried to me. I really don't know how else to explain this. You either get it or you don't, I guess.

      David Mamet wrote about when he first performed his play Oleanna (which is about a female student who falsely accuses a professor of rape) at Brown University. Afterwards, he said one of the students commented by saying, “Don't you think it's politically questionable to have the girl make a false accusation of rape?” He said he was stunned by this and “wondered what force had so perverted the young that they would think that increasing political enfranchisement of a group rendered a member of that group incapable of error.” I've been wondering this same thing for years. It's like being a woman has become a trump card that wins all. Rock, paper, scissors, woman--woman wins all. And women win all because they're victims. But let's all ignore it when men are victims, too. After all, their issues aren't as important. It makes me wish I was a woman. I'd be infallible and no one could ever question anything I ever had to say because to do so would be sexist and/or wrong and I'd be placed on a pedestal above all else, rendering me untouchable.

      Yes, the middle east is messed up. This isn't news. Yes, there are women in certain countries who still don't have equal rights and we can all agree that sucks and we need to change that. But let's keep the focus on western society because that's what the discussion was about, was it not? I don't live in the middle east and you don't live in the middle east. We both live in societies that claim to strive for equality. So, let's discuss societies that claim to strive for equality.

      I'm not making this a gender issue, this is already a gender issue. To talk about men and women's rights, or lack thereof, or to talk about their behavior (the clothes they wear, etc) is to talk about gender issues.

    • Hope Alexander profile imageAUTHOR

      Hope Alexander 

      9 years ago

      Men and women both struggle for freedom, both have a great deal to lose. If you choose not to fight, fair enough, but please do not belittle the incredible courage which women have shown over the years, and the courage they still show in the face of violence and death, by writing it off as "oh well, they don't have much to lose anyway."

      I don't think it is fair to say that you have more to lose because it happens to be you who is doing the losing. (Even though you justify it by trying to make it a broader gender issue.)

      As I said earlier, every person thinks they have a lot to loose, to say that women had less to lose and therefore it is, relatively speaking, so much harder for you to wear panties or whatever than it is for women to fight for their rights is incredibly self centered and shows a lack of empathy. Women die fighting for their rights, as do men, it is sad and it is wrong, but neither sex has 'more' to lose. A life is a life.

      I've spent a fair bit of time in the States, not to mention lived in Europe for a while, so I'm aware of the environment in different countries.

      I'm not sure what this obsession is with claiming men have more to lose than women, what is your point? Why are you even making this a gender issue? Is it to make you feel better about not doing anything? Is it to justify inaction? It doesn't seem that way from the rest of your comment, but I fail to understand why it was an issue in the first place.

    • profile image

      panties4everyone 

      9 years ago

      Also, what about the men who have been shot and killed or beat up for wearing women's clothes? There was a high school boy who was shot and killed by a classmate because he liked wearing women's clothes. I wish I still had a link to the article. Why are you assuming it won't end with blood in the streets? Maybe New Zealand isn't as violent, but the U.S. is. Not to mention the rampant homophobia in the U.S. and the misguided notion that cross-dressing makes a guy "gay."

    • profile image

      panties4everyone 

      9 years ago

      Women had very little when they started protesting for equal rights and you cannot argue that men in today's society are at the same point that women were when they started protesting. We may not be “top of the food chain” but we definitely have more than what women had when they started protesting; therefore, we have more to lose. It is not logically necessary for us to be at the top of the food chain for us to have more to lose.

      I can assure you I will be out there protesting this fall (spring for you southern hemisphere folk) when I move to another state, and I'll be wearing whatever clothes I want to wear. Perhaps, if I end up homeless they'll let me stay at one of the women's shelters.

    • Hope Alexander profile imageAUTHOR

      Hope Alexander 

      9 years ago

      Hm, evidently my point was not clear. I was comparing the courage it takes for a woman to stand against armed forces with that required for a man to just wear whatever it is that makes him happy. Our own problems are always the greatest, but we should be able to take heart from those who display courage when facing their fears, fears which makes our fears seem minuscule by comparison. On a personal note, I am sorry you feel that way about your life and I hope you find peace within it.

    • Komara profile image

      Komara 

      9 years ago

      We live in our own worlds though. Whilst our problems may seem small compared to those on the other side of the planet, at the end of the day we return back to our own lives, and the people in it, and then our problems seem big again.I was born in the wrong body. I have gone to the extent off going on hormones and beginning the path to sexual reassignment surgery, but have since backed out. The fact is, that SRS will not truly correct my problem, erase the years gone by that I have had to live as a male, and make me happy. Sometimes I have tried to blend female fasion items into my male attire in an attempt to receive some form of consellation, but when I think about the "sneers & sniggers", I wonder: "Is it worth it?".Life is OK without the lingerie and bubble skirts ( :P ), it's not my ideal, but OK, but a draw filled with panties, or SRS, will never grant me my ideal scenario. My life was ruined the day I was born due to a birth defect, and so now all I can ever achieve is an "OK" life. Whether I wear a skirt or not makes little difference.So I won't be fighting the cause, though I support it.The sad thing is that as awful as the woman in red's life may be, I'd trade with her in a heartbeat.

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