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How To Find Freedom In Women's Clothes

Updated on April 28, 2010
What CK thinks you should think you should be.
What CK thinks you should think you should be.

If you happen to be a guy who at some point developed a fascination with women's clothing, you've probably spent a good deal of your life since that time feeling guilty and disliking yourself. I don't say that because I'm some guru with a deep insight human nature, but because I'm a human with eyes, and any human with eyes can see that if there's anything that modern living sets us up for, its feeling guilty and giving us reasons for disliking ourselves.

More than ever, we're shown exactly what we should be like by those around us and by the media from the moment we are born. Sit down at 3pm and watch television for half an hour and you'll see what I mean. You'll also see that children's television has morphed from being fairly benign entertainment in which a kindly father or mother figure plays with toys and shows you how to make crafts into a crazed, high powered extravaganza in which children are shown as entirely emancipated consumers and the entire parade of hyper marketing madness (which invariably will include pop culture tie-ins not suitable for anyone under the age of 18) will be lead by adolescent presenters who will, sooner or later, be brought up on illicit drugs charges. But I digress. What you'll see are girls showing girls how to be girls, being pretty and ditzy, and boys being boys with trucks and war machines. Of course, this has always been a part of human society, but the fundamental reason for it has changed.

You see, at one time, we expected people to behave in certain ways because we thought that a strong man and a maternal mother were essential for making sure that kids survived the winter. Nowadays, we expect men to be men and women to be women because reinforcing gender expectations makes people better consumers. Women don't buy make up because they like it, they buy make up because they are told that make up will make them prettier, and therefore, more socially acceptable. After 10 or more years of buying into these ideas, women internalize them, and then you see ladies who say that they wear make up for themselves. At that point, cosmetics companies chuckle in glee, because they've moved from being sellers of products to being an essential part of women's self esteem.

The same thing goes for men. Men are marketed to on the basis of strength and masculinity, because a man who believes that being strong and masculine (as masculinity is defined by the marketers) is a man who will faithfully buy every crappy deodorant spray and 15 blade razor that comes out onto the market. He'll also buy beer, because beer is manly. I don't know if you've noticed this, but beer advertising has reached entirely new planes in recent years, with cinematic style commercials that sell not beer, but entire lifestyles.

What's the point of all this ranting that only seems remotely connected with the issue of men wearing women's clothing? It's that marketing is becoming one of the primary sources of social pressure in the modern world. If we can realize this, we can free ourselves from a lot of the guilt associated with not being what we're 'supposed' to be. If we can see that the bulk of people surrender their desires to marketers and then faithfully buy whatever the marketers tell them they should want, then we can feel good about no longer falling into that trap.

You can be whatever you want to be. Truly. You are more than a consumer unit. Turn off the TV and discover what it is that lurks inside you, then relish it, protect it and nourish it, because its the only thing that truly matters, its the only thing that is truly real.


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      Doug 7 years ago

      As our society evolves, so do our gender roles. I think we are seeing greater freedom, at least in Western society, in terms of gender roles, than at any other time.

      As far as marketing, I’m sure that one reason I love feminine clothes and love shopping for lingerie and cute outfits so much is that the marketing for women’s clothes is so effective. There is no big marketing conspiracy out there with executives meeting regularly to decide how to control people’s thoughts. Marketers work hard to shape opinions and behavior, but they also follow consumers’ behaviors and opinion. They will follow the path of least resistance to the most revenue they can generate. Look at how advertising jumped on hip-hop once that became mainstream, and now every company wants to be project a “green” image (whether they are or not). If marketers determine that there is a big enough market in men who wear skirts, dresses, lingerie, etc., they will jump on it and work their butts off to make it mainstream (and more profitable). Therefore, I feel it is very important that when I buy clothes, I in no way hide the fact that they are for me.

      I must say, though, that I disagree that main stream media is limiting concepts of social roles. If anything, we are beat over the head with the “diversity” mantra, at least in the US. I obviously believe in people’s right to do what they want (and have defended that right), I just don’t want to be told how to think, even if I agree with them. Nearly every day, I see stories in “dinosaur” media (news papers and broadcast TV) highlighting someone who has broken social stereotypes. Stories that come to mind are gay couples getting married, boys elected prom queen, girls playing American football, transgendered people, and stories about stay at home dads.

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      innercomfort 7 years ago

      We have to create some waves ourselves and not let marketers have their way. Just be your normal male self but feminize in subtle ways. Wear a piece or two of feminine jewelry. Wear a ladies' watch. Wear short shorts, not below-the-knee shorts. Wear women's tops, not super-frilly overtly feminine numbers but ones with very short sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, ribbed fabric, floral patterns, lower or wider necklines. Dress up those bluejeans with a feminine belt. Wear bras with modest size breast forms. in short, BE YOURSELF! If you feel a need to express a feminine side, don't be afraid to do so. The more we do, the more society will be accepting. Remember how weird it was to see guys with two earrings thirty years ago? Now it's fairly common.

      Women can wear anything masculine they want. It is so sad that men can't feminize as freely. So go ahead and push that envelope and express your real self. It can be very liberating.

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      A friend has a pr 7 years ago

      Re your point about the Visa people are probably the ones telling you to march to your own tune ... to some extent it is the world of consumerism and marketing that has enabled people to imagine themselves differently. Even in the case of compulsory masculinity marketing, it can have the opposite effect and attract you to the feminity marketing. I think even the noticeable increase in the gendering of children over the last 15 years (I'm talking from Uk experience here) is actually a response to precisely a softening of the boundaries between the genders. So it's all very complicated. The answer lies still in pursuing a liberal agenda in the public sphere ... I like all your posts and they're very reassuring to my friend with the problem :-)

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      Zeta 7 years ago

      Another inspiring post!

      Thank you Hope.

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      Hope Alexander 7 years ago

      The problem is that these days, the person saying 'march to your own drummer' is probably trying to sell you a Visa card. ;)

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      Cyndie_D 7 years ago

      Yes, I agree for many people marketing is reality. It would be so good if we never needed to say "think outside the box" or "march to your own drummer". There a re a few people in this world, like you, for which there is no "box" or "drummer". You are the interesting people to have in our lives. Thanks

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      Kevin 7 years ago

      So so true ! We need to take the path that is less traveled or create a new one !!

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      davyou5 7 years ago

      You call it Social Pressure, I call it False Social preceptions, ether way both are true. We are what we think.