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Are Cross Dressing Men Offensive To Women?

Updated on October 13, 2009

I wrote an article recently titled 'Why Women Find Cross Dressing Men Scary', an article which reflected on the way that cross dressing men can sometimes be quite intimidating because of the 'uber' feminine appearance and manner they have.

One reader, Tracy, made a comment which was perhaps tangential to the initial point of the article, but which I think has a great deal of merit and definitely deserves discussion. Tracy said:

I don't think it is so much that women are "jealous". I think they are offended. Offended at the fact that some man actually thinks they can dress up a certain way and "be" a woman. Offended that men perceived "being a woman" by how they look and not how they act, tirelessly clean, nurture the family, cook the meals, shuttle everyone from event to event and still hold down a full time job. THAT is a woman. It is offensive to think that cross-dressing men focus on a fantasy part of women that rarely gets to exist. Which also brings up resentment. Real women resent that they are not provided the time to spend hours on their own personal grooming. They have too many other important things to do.

Here Tracy expresses something I've been thinking myself for a wee while now and partially expressed in the article “Can A Dress Turn A Man Into A Woman?” but she does it in a blunt and direct way that certainly hammers the point home. Having spent quite a significant amount of time around men who cross dress, I do agree that men are buying into the fantasy of being female much more so than the reality.

Actually being a woman doesn't always mean being soft and gentle and nice and sweet. Actually being a woman means your hormones throw you for a loop on a monthly basis and many of us spend a few days in the borderlands between being sane and being certain that the world is a horrible place out to get you and you can't stop crying at advertisements which include things like puppies, children, reconciling estranged adults or low fat cookies.

Actually being a woman can be a messy, dirty business. It quite often involves expelling a small, screaming human being out of your body, after all. (The average woman will do that two or three times in her life time.) But society pressures women to look good and behave nicely when what we'd really like to do sometimes is roll, frizzy haired, out of bed, throw on a toweling robe and tell the idiots in HR she's not coming in today, or ever. The same 'feminine' accouterments that cross dressing men covet can often seem more like the trappings of a prison of social morays to a woman.

I suppose in one way, men cross dressing as women and feeling soft and feminine and dainty would be like women dressing as men and kicking back, feet up on the coffee table, cigar in hand, telling the 'little woman' what to do. In many ways it can seem as if it is little more than embracing a stereotype rather than truly appreciating the reality of femininity.

But, at the end of the day, does it matter? Does it matter if cross dressing men aren't exactly embracing the reality of femininity? I think not. Men playing fantasy pretend and cross dressing as women certainly doesn't harm women any more than having little kids point their fingers at each other and shout 'Bang' harms real soldiers. Personally, I don't find it offensive at all, but I do very much understand where women such as Tracy are coming from.

Cross dressing men may be walking a fine line if they claim to be truly feminine, as it may be interpreted by some ladies as being an insult to women as a whole. (Kind of like it would be if some guy from the mail room dressed up as a soldier and went to meet shell shocked soldiers returning from war and proceeded to tell them he was just like them because he felt he had a truly militaristic side and looked totally awesome in the uniform.)


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      sissychuck44 8 years ago


      I completely understand what Tracy was saying but from the opposite angle. I see women who have their hair cut short and worn in a man's style. They are wearing men's clothing and trying to act as if they were a man. Everyone around them knows they aren't a man and start sizing them up in an attempt to see what it is they are trying to accomplish and see where they are coming from and who they are portraying themselves to be. They mimic men. But, we know they aren't and will never be. I know that I have thought the same thing that Tracy has said about women dressing as men. They will never be men, we all say. There's more to being a man than simply putting a coat and tie on with slacks and a button down shirt, etcetera.

      That same thing occurs, in my opinion, when men dress as women. All of a sudden, we're on THEIR turf and are fair game for evaluation and assessment. it's a natural event that happens both directions.

    • Doctor Editor profile image

      Doctor Editor 8 years ago

      Well....what more can I say about this? I had a great thought not only but 15 minutes ago and now I've lost it! hehehe! Oh....I remember now! I happen to be living overseas at the moment as an Expat and I find that things operate a little differently here and what might be a day in the life of the typical woman stateside, doesn't cross over the pond to Europe. I find woman here "DO" find the time to dress up pretty and be feminine as much as they can. I feel things are slowly changing here with regards to "just how feminine" a woman is, but they have preserved the qualities that truly define a woman. Does that mean that men who cross-dress are still just trying to mimick the "attractive part of the feminine woman"? I think it simply differs depending on which society you're talking about.

      I happen to know a woman from Ukraine whose monthly salary is a grand total of $250 U.S. per month and yet she finds the money and time to go to the Spa every Sunday morning from 8 - 12 with her girlfriend and makes it a priority to look her absolute best! I don't believe society is pressuring her to be this way, it is what she enjoys! She loves to be a woman and she relishes in the time it takes to make herself feel wonderful and beautiful to those around her and herself!

      I think American Society in particular has gone sour in this regards and quite frankly I'm not so keen on the idea of possibly returning to a society that is constantly complaining about how difficult it is to be a woman. America hasn't a clue what it's truly like to have it so hard. I don't have it so easy trying to live like an Eastern European, but I do know I appreciate all the times a woman makes the effort and takes the time to be a woman!

      Kudo's to the women out there who still take the time and

      make the effort to be a feminine woman!

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      satin lover 8 years ago from milwaukee

      I do feel that women feel threatened when men crossdress. I felt this same fear when I was getting into makeup artistry. Some women didn't want men getting into "their" territory & I've been sexually discriminated in this manner. If a man wishes to express his "feminine side", so much the better. WHO is it hurting??? It shows that this person is psychologically in touch with his emotional feelings & is not embarrased to display & express them. Either way, just b/c a man expresses his feminine side does not make him less of a man, even thought there are many that will disagree with me. Men are really being stuck in this "gender box" in that they can ONLY wear scratchy, boringly designed clothes that pass as MENS WEAR. Its like men don't count when it comes to having clothes that are made out of nice fabrics thats smooth to the touch, its gotta be like sack cloth, with only 4 colors to choose from. Like Chris said "women crossdress everyday & society doesn't blink an eye". There is such a double standard with it comes to clothes. When I sold mens clothes, there were many girls who'd come into my department & want to use the fitting room to try on MENS clothes! Hehe, lets see a guy try that in a womens department! They'd be calling security & have the guy kicked out of the store! I think in order to break the chains of this fear that women have of men crossdressing, women need to look at themselves in what they're doing! Women think they can come into a mans world & take over everything & kick men to the curb. The same goes for this attitude towards gender bending. My wife fits better in mens jeans, & I fit better in womens jeans-am I hurting anyone?? Whats good for one gender is good for the other one--fair is fair!

    • gusripper profile image

      gusripper 8 years ago

      If that guy in the photo can stay all night awake near an ill child,then no problem thats mean that HE IS A FATHER ,A MAN, .........if you know what i mean

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      oralbobert 8 years ago

      So if you really want to feel feminine,stay home and do the housework!Now,where's my French maids uniform.

    • Hope Alexander profile image

      Hope Alexander 8 years ago

      I understand Chris, it's just that your point is quite tangential to the point of this article. This article is talking about men who do try to pass as women, whereas your comment is talking about men who just want to wear whatever clothing they want to. It's a valid point, but it isn't really related to this particular article.

      It's like if you wrote an article about how to change the oil in a Jaguar and I left a comment about how C02 efficient a Honda is - vaguely related, but not really relevant.

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      Chris 8 years ago

      Okay Hope, I follow you. I was only trying to put an emphasis on the male point of view.

    • Hope Alexander profile image

      Hope Alexander 8 years ago

      Er Chris, that was my WHOLE point. That if a woman cross dressed and kicked her feet up and did nothing she'd just be buying into false a stereotype as well. Was that not abundantly, blatantly, obvious and clear?

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      Chris 8 years ago

      I understand Tracy's comments but have a few points to add to this HUB in general.

      Being a man doesn't mean kicking back with your feet up, smoking a cigar and shouting orders. Men and women both work hard these days trying to make a living. There are many men who work hard all day, still make time for the kids and wife, shuttle their children around and do housework. The broad lines that once separated the traditional roles of men and women have become much thinner. It take a partnership to get things done.

      Crossdressing men are at the end of the day, still men. There are many men like me who are not trying to BE women, we simply choose to broaden our fashion scope and we like the styles of clothing available to women. Thus, we wear womens clothing but still represent ourselves as men to the public. I embrace many things that are traditionally for females like spa appointments. There aren't many men who do this becuase they get labeled as homesexual or metrosexual. Society is quick to slap a label on any man who cares about his appearnce, wants to go to the spa, doesn't dress like a lumberjack and actually uses moisturizer at bedtime. And suprisingly, it's usually women who slap on those labels.

      There is still such a double-standard. The fashion trend continues the "menswear" look for women and it is ever increasing. Maybe men would like to have more options like "womenswear" inspired clothing. When I see a woman dressed in what might be traditionally considered men's clothing I don't feel less masculine and I'm not threatened. I don't think she's trying to become a man and I don't find it insulting. I don't feel I'm somehow being mocked and that my position in society is being underminded or that I'm under-appreciated. Men are constantly being ridiculed when they step outside the box.

      This past week close to my home-town, there were two separate instances where teenage boys were sent home for cross-dressing at high school. These young men were not pulling stunts, they simply prefer women's clothing and one of them dared carry a handbag and wore some makeup. Both young men had been cross-dressing for some time and it was a way of life for both. They had their parents full support. Consiquently, both were sent to detention and their parents called. Both young men are currently fighting for their right to be who they are with the school districts. Just wait till the ACLU gets involved. The men were quick to point out that girls who come to school in guys clothing wearing baggy jeans and the like were not harassed at all. This is the double-standard that men are fighting.

      I honestly feel that many women are threatened by cross-dressing men and tend to feel less feminine when around them. I think much of what a woman wears dictates how feminine she feels. When a man is able to pull off a female look or walk in heels as well or better than she, she feels less feminine and feels that some of her feminine swagger is stolen away. She may combat this by making remarks or giving disapproving looks and try to shame or embarres the man. My favorite remark is the ever popular "ewwwwww" displayed on chatboards all over the web.

      I simply want a level playing field and I believe in fashion freedom for all! My wearing of female clothing hurts no one and has no under-lying meaning. They are just clothes.