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Why Men Must Wear Dresses

Updated on June 6, 2010
A handsome fellow rocking an evening dress and oven mitts with inimitable style...
A handsome fellow rocking an evening dress and oven mitts with inimitable style...

Men must wear dresses. In fact, I would like to posit the theory that until all men are able to walk about in dresses without fear of mockery, losing their jobs or putting off potential mates, we will not have achieved freedom and equality in our societies.

So why don't men have the same fashion 'rights' that women have? Well, female fashion was revolutionized when women decided to break free of the restrictions imposed against them by society. Feminism, though now a dirty word, did a great deal in both the social and fashion worlds. Men simply don't seem to have an equivalent drive or movement. Whatever inequalities they are dealt, they seem content to accept them.

You might scoff at the idea of men being discriminated against, however scoff no more! Though men do have it pretty good, there are several major inequalities they face on a day to day basis. For one, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to relationships and children. A woman practically has to boil her babies before a man is granted full custody of children after a separation.

Men are often victims of domestic violence, however they are less likely to get help for it and less likely to receive support from their friends and communities when they are victimized. A man who is being beaten at home elicits far less compassion than a woman in the same situation. Why? Because, as a society, we respect men who are strong and we despise men who are weak.

Though we are supposed to be advanced and civilized, when it comes to our perspectives on men, we're practically stone age. If there is a tragedy, reports that women and children have been killed elicit far more empathy and outrage than reports that men have been killed.

We treat men as disposable commodities. They must be strong to survive, and if they are too weak to do so, then we tend to leave them to fend for themselves. The vast majority of homeless people are men. The vast majority of prisoners in jails are men. And that's not always because men commit more crime. Oftentimes, a man who commits a crime will receive a heavier sentence than a woman who has committed a similar crime. A man who kills his wife faces a long stretch inside, a woman who whacks her husband will serve time, but usually not nearly as much. Why? Because we assume women are victims and men are aggressors.

In fact, if a male / female criminal duo are arrested, the male is almost always likely to get significantly more jail time than his female partner, and he is often regarded as being the ringleader, even if that was not the case at all. Again, men are regarded as being evil doers, and women are simply the sweet little lambs too weak to resist.

Our gender prejudice against males runs deep. We pretend that it isn't there, but yet we see it every day, in the way we keep our men in their tidy men uniforms, reinforcing the idea that they must be strong, they must be simple, they must be masculine.

God forbid that we treat men as true equals of women and admit that men too can be vulnerable, can be weak, can need help. This isn't the stone age anymore, and its time men stood up for their rights as equals.

The day we can see a man in a dress and not giggle to ourselves and view him as a parody of his own masculinity is the day that we will truly have achieved the equality we've been blathering on about for the past few hundred years.

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    • profile image

      Sharon 

      8 years ago

      Great article that expounds the problems of equality. How do you get it out to the mainstream so that more people can read it and begin dialogue on those issues? Until that kind of thing happens, most of us men will stay in the closet and enjoy what little time we have wearing the things that please us.

    • Gr8legs profile image

      Gr8legs 

      8 years ago

      Jeffery: I thank you for your kind words of support.

      The funny thing about it all is that when we met, she had an expansive lingerie collection & I, in the closet, had none - save for a couple of items left behind by various girlfriends). I told her about my liking for lingerie and she at first embraced it. Indeed, on the day I told her she took me lingerie shopping! As time went on, she wore "good" lingerie less & less, whereas I wore it more & more. One of the accusations thrown at me at the end was that I spent more on lingerie for myself than I did for her.

      My response? "Well, if you wore it more often, I would buy it for you too!" (lol)

      An interesting sociological perspective from GoneNylon. The uniform thing goes beyond even the military and the workplace. If you watch the "red carpet" portion of any awards ceremony, the whole focus is on the women's dresses, whereas the men almost invariably turn up in evening wear (tuxedoes).

      Anyone who has ever attended a "black tie" function will tell you that it is easy to locate any particular woman at the function as the are all distinctively attired. The men, however, blend into a seamless landscape of identical black dinner suits, differentiated only by their hair and, sometimes, their choice of tie and/or waistcoat (vest for the Yanks).

      It is perfectly feasible for a man to slip away on some nefarious endeavour and, when challenged by his partner as to his whereabouts, claim to have been in the hall/ballroom for the entire evening, "networking" the room.

      Things that make you go "Hmmmmm".

    • profile image

      Doug 

      8 years ago

      Hope, I agree with you on this.

      I love how I am treated when I am wear "women's" clothes. Most people seem to make a point to be a little extra nice. I don't feel any pressure to look or act like a "man," I feel free to just be myself and not be concerned about labels.

      My hope is that when people see me, they think "A guy can wear that?" and that I plant the seed in a few other minds that they do not have to live by narrow definitions of masculinity.

    • Hope Alexander profile imageAUTHOR

      Hope Alexander 

      8 years ago

      Great feedback guys, Gr8legs, I hope things work out for you, divorces can often be awful no matter who wears the lingerie.

      Great ideas there, GoneNylon, there certainly are a lot of different factors that go into how we dress and how we view the dresses of others.

    • profile image

      maggied 

      8 years ago

      Yet another insightful article on gender equality. I couldn't agree with you more, men will never truly be equal until they receive fashion independence without mockery. It is sad when as civilized societies that we try to force gender into neat little boxes and have so little compassion for the weak simply due to their gender. Thank you for your voice Ms. Alexander.

    • profile image

      Jeffery 

      8 years ago

      Gr8legs, I do understand what you are going through as my earlier post explains. My ordial happened over 7 years ago and my "X" tried using my cross-dressing against me but suprizingly it was barly noticed. I hope yours does not drag out (no pun intended). I wish you the best.

    • Arthur Windermere profile image

      Arthur Windermere 

      8 years ago

      What a coincidence: I just wrote a Hub on the subject of dresses for men a few days ago. It's been in the top fashion hubs since then, so it's certainly been visible. Did I by any chance inspire you?

      At any rate, this is well-written run-down of the disparities in gender expectations. Bravo!

    • profile image

      ILoveLingerie 

      8 years ago

      You are truely a great writer. You reason the whole affair very well. I have nothing to add.

    • Gr8legs profile image

      Gr8legs 

      8 years ago

      You're spot-on regarding the inequities in law, Hope. I separated from my wife late last year and it has cost me thousands of dollars in legal fees to disprove her fallacious and totally unsubstantiated allegations made against me. If she says it is so, then I must PROVE it is not. If I say something is so, then I must PROVE that it is, before any action may be be taken, or (more likely) not.

      She is denying me access to our children, based on her contention that my "cross-dressing" would be harmful to our children. I wear lingerie. Not openly and never have done so in front of our kids, but there goes another $?K in the courts do I can see my kids. All because of a few scraps of silky nylon & society's prejudice.

    • fran-gerry profile image

      fran-gerry 

      8 years ago

      Very insightful. This must be required reading for all women and men!

      We have come a long ways for female equality ,but not so much for male equality.

    • profile image

      GoneNylon 

      8 years ago

      You've gotten me thinking again, Hope. Nasty habit, that: thinking. Entirely counter-productive to being a Good Prole in the stifling Global Corporate Village.

      By virtue of the wider array of clothing choices for women, I think it's a near certainty that they spend more on clothing than do men. Lord knows, an itsy-bitsy bikini can cost hundreds compared to a dull pair of mens' swim trunks, for instance, and while a man of means may spend a couple of thousand dollars on a good business suit, that cost pales by comparison to a couture gown.

      Now, the rub: why wouldn't clothing manufacturers want to leverage men into the same relentless fasion spending cycle that they have done with women? Not doing so runs entirely contrary to any sort of market-driven economic theory. I suspect that while the male/female population demographic is roughly equal, far more money is spent on women's fashion than on men's.

      As such, there must be a further externalized reason men remain condemned to charcoal, navy and the occasionally extravagantly "out" seersucker suit. Hope, I submit you've come close to that reason, but not fully laid it bare.

      Men, as you note, must be bland and boring and uniform. That uniformity makes controlling the herd/pack/hive simpler. If all Wall Street Banksters wear charcoal gray bespoke suits, while carrying umbrellas, one can clearly spot them and know who they are. If all Good Humor men wear white pants, hats and shirts with little black bowties, then there's no worry we'll ever mistake one for a Wall Street Bankster.

      IBM once had an entire corporate culture based upon its management ALL wearing identical clothing. So much as a shade of difference in suit color was cause for massive alarm in that "culture."

      The military, while fond of fizzles and fazzles of color and pomp, rests upon its uniform singularity: a soldier is a soldier is a soldier.

      Now, add in the mix of female fashion "freedom." Go have a look at the military and see how much "freedom" a woman has in her choices there; or at Wall Street: sameSame. Only in recent years have nurses won the right to wear something besides dull, drab whites.

      Ultimately, the wide variety of womens' fashion is a way of telling women they're not important enough to "wear the uniform," while at the same time fleecing them of their money. It's a way of flamboyantly marking out that part of the species that's suitable only for breeding and serving, while keeping those doing otherwise from getting "uppity" and doing something different.

      I agree, Hope: we won't have real gender equity until every person may wear what s/he reasonably prefers under the circumstances. Additionally, however, we won't have that gender equity until women realize how completely and cynically they're being used. After all, there's a lot more fabric in a pair of men's boxer briefs than in a skimpy little confection like a thong, yet which, on average costs more? I hope you see my point.

    • profile image

      Jeffery 

      8 years ago

      I can not thank you enough for writing this article and posting it where all can see. I have been "preaching" these same thoughts as I myself had to fight like heck to get custody of my daughter even though CPS was on my side and it was a known fact that the mother was a Rx drug addict. I also spent a night in jail because the "X" got herself beat-up and went to the hospital and said that I did it even though I had an alibi. So I have lived through all of what you were writing about and yes even including the fashion issues because I also would rather wear a skirt or a dress and other "women's" clothing. Thank you again for this great article.

    • profile image

      innercomfort 

      8 years ago

      The manufacturers and marketers buy into this sexism. Women can buy "boyfriend-style" jeans, shirts/tops, jackets, even briefs, but men can't buy "girlfriend-style" anything! It's really unfair.

    • Hope Alexander profile imageAUTHOR

      Hope Alexander 

      8 years ago

      I know a few do Nancy, plenty of them comment hereabouts :) But still, when speaking in generalities, male fashion is subject to more restrictions than female fashion.

    • profile image

      Nanciboy 

      8 years ago

      I can't quite pull off a dress (the proportions don't work well) but I (and a number of other men) do wear skirts out in the real world.

    • scrappycoco profile image

      scrappycoco 

      8 years ago from Ohio

      This has got to be one of the most insiteful article's of your's I have read yet! Love it! cause it is true to the core!

    • profile image

      martinus 

      8 years ago

      A great article, Hope, and I only can recommend that ALL men should read and understand it. Perfect in details and background.

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