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Feminine Women and Masculine Men: Be careful what you wish for!

Updated on September 6, 2012
There was a time when gender roles were extremely clear-cut, and this is reflected in shows like Downton Abbey and Mad Men
There was a time when gender roles were extremely clear-cut, and this is reflected in shows like Downton Abbey and Mad Men
An example of subtle enforcement of 1950s gender norms; women are the pretty eye candy which exist for the visual pleasure of men, while the assumption is that a man's body can never be gazed at by heterosexual women in the same way
An example of subtle enforcement of 1950s gender norms; women are the pretty eye candy which exist for the visual pleasure of men, while the assumption is that a man's body can never be gazed at by heterosexual women in the same way
What alot of people don't understand is that geishas are a form of "forced femininity". I don't think it's particularly fun to be entertaining a bunch of leery, lecherous old douchebags
What alot of people don't understand is that geishas are a form of "forced femininity". I don't think it's particularly fun to be entertaining a bunch of leery, lecherous old douchebags

Back in the 1950s, gender roles were pretty clear-cut. If you were a man, you suited up, you wore neckties, shaved your face, and earned the dough. If you were a woman, your job ranged between looking pretty for hubby dearest, and duties of a more "feminine" nature, which included cooking, cleaning, teaching (in schools and kindergartens) and looking after the kids. Simply put, men were masculine, and women were feminine, and that was it.

In this day and age however, we are realizing that not all boys will be boys, and certainly not all girls will be girls. In other words, we are beginning to realize that gender may in fact, not be biological after all, and that some people do not fit the expectations that society imposes on them by virtue of their possession of a vagina or a penis. That certainly does not mean they are "confused", as some hard-line conservatives put it (Hell, hard-line traditionalist Tim Gunn has accused the American senator Hilary Clinton for being "confused about her gender" due to her preference for trouser suits over skirt suits).

Back in the bad old days of the Mad Men, it was assumed that women did not gaze at the male body in the same way that men gazed at women's bodies. Magazines such as GQ and Cosmopolitan function as relics of the restrictive 1950s gender norms, and this is reflected in their respective approach in the portrayal male and female bodies, and their very rigid, Anglo-centric ideas on how men and women should dress. (If you're a man, you MUST wear suits and ties, no buts. Even if you don't feel entirely comfortable with the gender expression of suits and ties. If you're a woman, you MUST wear skirts and dresses and plunging necklines, even if you don't feel comfortable with the gender expression of skirts and dresses and plunging necklines.) While the men are usually completely buttoned up from head to toe in several layers of clothing, the women are clad in the skimpiest of outfits, which reflects a subtle 1950s power dynamic between men and women. (women wear less because they are objects of desire, men wear more because they are the ones controlling these objects) According to Julienne Smolinski, female contributing writer to GQ Magazine,

" An actress showing her breasts is something that can be done tastefully and artfully. I don't know if that can or will ever be said for balls. I'm not going to lie and say I wouldn't enjoy stumbling upon Alexander Skarsgåd without clothes at, say, one of those natural Swedish hot springs. But I just can't ever conceive of seeing his coin purse on TV covered in white vampire makeup and not wanting to cover my face with my hands.


... Maybe all my trepidation will disappear with time. Maybe all it requires for me to see a scrotum and think, Delish! I'd like to watch that for five minutes, is a few years of desensitization. A few years in which watching the camera slow-motion-molest naked actors becomes as commonplace in mainstream cinema as it is in, say, French yogurt commercials. Until that happens, though, I'll remain unaroused, spending the nude scenes contemplating whether that old trope about the camera adding ten pounds has finally been to someone's advantage."

So basically; while the female body is arousing, the male form is not? The exposed male body does not have the same effect on the heterosexual female gaze as the female body does on the heterosexual male gaze? Now this is the kind of thing you expect to hear from a woman in the repressive 1950s, but in the 2010s? I can understand though, her hesitance to directly admit her desire and admiration for the male body. After all, if your boss is a conservative straight man, as Ms Smolinski's boss probably is, you really don't want to say something that might shake his worldview. Here's another quote from a female GQ editor, Ceri Davis, on what she considers "unacceptable attire" on men:

"An overly deep V-neck - I simply don’t want to see that much chest. It’s verging on the pornographic."

Pornographic, ey? Rather hypocritical don't you think, considering that GQ is a magazine that's filled with pictures of half-naked bikini-clad women posing in provocative poses? And they actually have the cheek to call a man who shows a little bit of skin "pornographic". HAHA. HONESTLY: What's more pornographic? A man who shows a little bit of skin, or a magazine that fills its pages up with half-naked women posing in submissive and provocative poses? A 12 year-old could answer that.

Here's another quote from GQ magazine:

"I think many men hate ties because their shirts don’t fit because they are clinging to their boyhood neck size and they don’t want to have to try to button the collar. Other men hate ties because they suspect their own taste and the selection of a tie presents a much higher degree of difficulty than choosing between a blue chalk stripe and a gray flannel suit. I think anyone who has a highly evolved (?) aesthetic sense should welcome the expressive opportunity a tie presents."

Dear God, all I can say is no, no and no. If the degree of ignorance and misinformation reflected in the above paragraph represents the consensus of the general public, then that is probably the reason why men of today continue to be judged by the same outdated standards as their grandfathers were in the 1950s. First of all, what is all this talk of "selecting" a tie? Regardless of whether it's a bow tie, a long business tie, or even a frilly women's necktie, ANY sort of tie, which draws attention away from my body would be equally unappealing to me. I just don't like the aesthetic of the tie on myself any more than most contemporary Western women would like the aesthetic of the Hijab on themselves, PERIOD. It's just personal preference, just like how some people prefer wine, and some people prefer Vodka (Key words: Aesthetic, personal preference) Secondly, who are you to say an "evolved" sense of aesthetics? You are aware that contemporary ties have been around since the Victorian Era, don't you? On the contrary, I could inversely say that anyone with a highly evolved sense of aesthetics should go for the "cooler" more "progressive", tie-less look. But I don't. Because everybody likes different things, and it would be arrogant not to mention priggish of me to act like I have the monopoly on good taste.

For men like myself, wearing a tie would make us feel just about as uncomfortable and out of place as an average contemporary Western woman wearing a Hijab. Now certainly there are some women of the more conservative temperament who do not feel comfortable leaving the house without wearing a Hijab, just as there are men of the more conservative temperament who do not feel comfortable attending any formal event without a tie. But I am just not comfortable with that form of gender expression, as my personal style veers on the loose, provocative and flamboyant, sometimes androgynous. Unfortunately, the media seems too focused on pressuring men into this restrictive teeny little boy box, consisting of a strictly moderated dress code designed to make us look the same as every other guy, in our corporate maniform. Ever watched Mad Men? Suit and tie, suit and tie, suit and tie, suit and tie, suit and tie, yep. Yawn.

This isn't the 1950s anymore, by the way. People need to realize that gender is a social construct, and that someone who says gender is biological has no idea what it is like to be someone forced into a role akin to a square peg in a round hole.

Anyway - What was my main point of the article? Well my main point, besides the media attempting to force us all into restrictive, clear-cut 1950s gender norms, is that there are certain women (and men) who have fixed ideas on how their partner should be. Let's start with the ladies.

You see, there are some women out there who say that they want a "real man", which not only comprises his career and whether or not he treats her like a lady. What they mean by a "real man" is a "hegemonically masculine" patriarch, e.g. Don Draper, James Bond, the editors of GQ magazine. In other words, he must not only behave like a typical man. His fashions, haircut, etc has to be rigidly defined by restrictive social convention of the rigid 1950s norms on how a "real man" should look. (In other words, he should look to GQ for his style Dos and Don'ts) He should also have traditional ideas on gender roles, and behave and think how a "proper man" is supposed to behave and think. Now what is the problem with that? No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling attracted to a masculine man, as I feel that a straight woman's attraction to masculinity is about as natural as a straight man's attraction to femininity. But the thing is, this "real man" you speak of does exist - I'm not denying he doesn't. Clean-cut, sharply dressed, well-paid, well-built, loves wearing ties (I hate ties, as I've said), hegemonically masculine. But are you sure... You want a "real" man? Mr GQ may also come with a set of well, "quirks" you may never have anticipated. For one, seeing how rigidly traditional he is in his manners and his dress, he will probably expect the same of you. Don't regret it if Mr GQ Oldschool Masculinity remarks that you need to wear skirts and dresses more often, or if he leaves his dirty dishes in the sink after dinner (since that's the way it was in the 50s, and that's how his grandfather treated his wife, and his father his), or if he openly ogles other women in front of your face. Don't blame him, when he's behaving in the only way he knows how. In other words, you can't have your cake and eat it. A traditionalist "real man" is likely to have several traits that you will possibly find downright repulsive. This is not to discourage you from dating a manly conservative "bad boy" like James Bond or Don Draper, as opposed to a "goody goody progressive" man like Mr Barrack Obama, but simply to inform you of what to expect for choosing the latter over the former. Be careful what you wish for. You want a real man, you WILL get a real man. Just don't regret it if you get more than what you bargained for.

Now gentlemen, here's a little something I have for you. I'm an Asian myself, and I've noticed a considerable trend of Caucasian men going after Asian women. Now we have numerous terms for this trend, among which include "Yellow Fever". Nevertheless, on the question as to why many fellows in the West these days tend to prefer Asian women, some people would say it is because, well - Western women aren't as "feminine" and "classy". What exactly do they mean by "feminine"? Does "feminine" in this case mean something akin to a Geisha, a repressive lie of appearance, forcing oneself to behave within the constraints of a rigidly defined "girl box", so to speak? (Geishas are an example of hegemonic femininity, equivalent to James Bond's hegemonic masculinity. While James Bond is at an extreme end of masculinity, the Geisha sits at an exagerrated, extreme end of femininity) Well you know what? For most Asian women in traditional Asian households, life is an extremely rigid and repressive tightrope of hegemonic femininity. The fact is that the women, from the day they are born to the time they are married (around 25-30), are pressured and subjected to stereotypical patriarchal norms (e.g. must look beautiful, must be slim and submissive, must be "sweet and feminine", must be respectable and well-groomed, etc) by not only society, but also their parents. Feminism isn't such a big thing in most parts of Asia, which is why Asian women are relatively much less liberated than their Western counterparts. Nevertheless, as I have put it to the ladies, I will inversely put it to the gents - If she performs her role of hyper-femininity (e.g. wears skirts and dresses all the time, talks in an exaggerated genteel way, performs her expected duties as homemaker and mother), what makes you think she isn't going to expect you to be hyper-masculine in contrast? To quote a fellow blogger Hope Alexander,

"If you are looking for a partner in life, beware of women who spend all their time in the hyper feminine zone. Yes, I know they are attractive, pretty butterflies, I know many of you (crossdressers) aspire to be just like them. However women who are trapped in the mindset that says they must be pretty and feminine are usually, (not always, I'll admit, but I would say quite often,) looking for the man to match. See that word there? The man. They don't want a man who wears women's clothing, because they've heavily invested in being hyper feminine which means that you have to be hyper masculine."

My point was not to pressure you to put on knickers and frilly tutus (unless ya want to, in which case I strongly encourage it), but to remind you that a woman so heavily invested in and obsessed with putting on the show of hyper-femininity, as many Asian women do out of social pressure, is going to expect you to do the same in inverse. Now that's not to say that you are a "bad man" for not being attracted to a super-butch woman (not hating on butches, just saying). Chances are, they aren't interested in you either. But if a woman prefers to wear nice, form-fitting pants and comfy tops more often than she wears skirts and dresses, and only wears make up on special occasions, and is comfortable with expressing both her feminine, as well as masculine side, and encourages people to be who they are comfortable being, then perhaps it might not be such a bad idea to consider her. Remember - You reap what you sow. Men often complain that women won't accept them for what they are, but can they themselves accept women? I won't lie; I LOVE a woman in a sharply-cut, form-fitting suit skirt; IMO, the female suit skirt is a perfect contrast between two ends of humanity. On one end you get the power symbols of the suit which denotes confidence, and the beautiful aesthetic of the hourglass figure emphasized in one beautiful combination between Yin (Masculine) and Yang (Feminine). In fact, a woman in a suit-skirt doesn't even need high heels in my opinion, but if she likes wearing them then it's cool. And to be honest, a woman in a man's suit and pants would not have the same effect on me. But that doesn't necessarily make me a "bad man". After all, I do like curves and I am interested in the female form. It's just that physical attraction is not something we can help, so long as we accept everyone, even if they aren't necessarily our type. However, some men (like the Western gentlemen who are now looking to the Orient because Western women are no longer "desirable" to them) do indeed have excessive expectations of women, and excessive demands of femininity, which is not so good. I hope that soon, more men will mature and realize that they too can't have their cake and eat it.


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    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      This hub is enlightening and very interesting. I like your message in your profile about not conforming and judging people for their personal tastes and lifestyle choice. I couldn't agree more. You have quite the unique style.

    • Mr Crimxen profile image

      Allen-Michael Harber 4 years ago from New Hampshire

      This was a good read. I now have a little more insight on the subject of gender norms and trying to break the conformity. I as well hate ties with a passion, so when I have to I use a clip on. I'm glad I read this and I am glad you wrote this.

    • BereniceTeh90 profile image
      Author

      BereniceTeh90 4 years ago

      Tammy: Thanks Tammy; i also enjoy reading your hubs, i think they're humorous and thought-provoking!

      Mr Crimxen: Thanks brother! Who says you need to wear ties? haha

      In the modern era, most women aren't obliged to wear Hijabs or Tudor Headdresses, so why should we be forced into ties?

    • profile image

      lizzie 4 years ago

      I really like your text and the way you write it.

    • BereniceTeh90 profile image
      Author

      BereniceTeh90 4 years ago

      Thanks Lizzie! ^^

    • profile image

      Guest 3 years ago

      Another thing is men go mad if a woman openly ogles other men which is why they see them as possessions. They never tolerate progressive "bad girls" if they are conservative and they go for conservative "good girls".

      But anyway, traditional women like conservative feisty men over progressive, stable ones.

    • profile image

      Joey Hub Central 2 years ago

      Great Article, Mr. Author!!!

      I'll submit an illustration of this quasi-talibanism-in-reverse:

      It is because of the straight-JACKETed-and-TIE-d legacy of that great sartorial party-pooper of men, one Sir George Bryant (Beau) Brummell, that I, even as a straight-hetereosexual male, flat-out refuse to watch newscasts on television from wherever in the world, United States, Dominion of Canada, Australia, Great Britain, even RT!!

      As a male, I find it very tantalizing that one will often observe a MALE newsanchor and a FEMALE newsanchor sitting right beside him.

      The lady can be seen wearing nothing but basically a tanktop, (well, a dress, or a sleeveless blouse) to keep comfy in the sweltering 85-degree-F heat of the bright studio floodlamps; but the gentleman right beside her: all PENGUIN-SUITED UP, GIFT-WRAPPED (my own expression/s) in a stupid ol' SUIT-and-TIE!!! (grumble, grump, sigh...)

      So, the gents don't get sweaty in that sweltering 85°F heat

      just because they are males?!!!

      Give! Me! A! Break!

      Please don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to female newsanchors, not even opposed to newsladies going bareskinned in front of the camera, but for crying out loud, society, big "dudedom" etc...get over yourselves and let the wardrobal-metros get un-TIE-d and break out of the straight-JACKET of Beau Brummell's not-so-fine-nor-dandy legacy!!

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