to all genderfluids or whatever the fuck we call you:
HAVING LONG HAIR DOES NOT MAKE YOU A GIRL. HAVING SHORT HAIR DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BOY. we are trying to eradicate gender so that people can do and wear and be whatever the fuck they want WITHOUT patriarchal ideals telling them they have to be feminine/masculine depending on their sex so go fuck yourselves
wearing your heart on your sleeve: a look at clothing, self-expression, gender and identity
Recently I’ve been fascinated by the way clothing, and self-presentation in general, forms and shapes ouridentity, especially in the realm of gender – I even wrote an informal essay on
it which I unfortunately can’t share because the tutoring centre I work for has
nabbed it for teaching purposes. Of course, for some people, it won’t really
matter all that much how they dress, do their make-up or style their hair, and
that’s really great! You have to do you and be comfortable and focus on what
you love. And yeah, sometimes I feel like it’s a silly thing to be fascinated
by. But the way I see it is this – when you write something, or draw something,
or make any piece of art, you make sure the form strengthens, deepens or adds
to the meaning of the entire piece – and that’s how I view physical
self-presentation, as an outward expression of who I am. It’s what people see
at a glance, and it’s always on the flux, and it’s superficial for sure, but
it’s important to me (and a lot of people I know) to have their outsides match
This is the first
instalment in a series which is here to explore how different clothing makes me
feel from day to day, what prompts me to choose to wear something, and how I
feel about gender when I am getting dressed. If you feel like it, please send
in your drawings and short blurbs about how you think about gender and
self-presentation in relation to your own clothing!
This is one of
my go-to outfits for days where I don’t feel great or I don’t think I look good
in anything. The shirt is actually a men’s shirt from K-mart (an Australian
discount store) which I really love – I remember being really pleased when I
bought it, not least because it was a men’s shirt. I just get a real kick out
of putting both middle fingers up at the gendered clothing divide, I guess. Under
this shirt I always wear a sports bra to achieve a more androgynous look, and to get the buttons to lay flat on my chest. I
usually do next to nothing to my hair – it’s stick-straight and doesn’t really
hold any style without a lot of work – so that’s how it sits usually. I also
wear my one pair of black skinny jeans to death because seriously, they go with
everything and they’re nice and flattering. The shoes are maybe my favourite
thing right now – they’re squared-toed boots that are patent leather in the
front, soft black leather in the back. They’re so perfect and neutral and
comfortable. And so shiny.
The first time
I wore this, my mum frowned and said I looked like a boy. I grinned like an
idiot. Sometimes I wonder if my preference for ‘male’ or androgynous clothing
is a result of me idealising the ‘male form’ as a symbol of power or cultural
dominance. But other times I’m just happy to look and feel really great.
frequent response to arbitrary gender divisions is a resounding ‘fuck you’. The
first time I wore all this together, it was with my brother’s white shirt. What’s
the difference between his white shirt and mine? Nobody noticed. Who’s to say
this is ‘dressing like a dude’? It’s dressing like me. Although again, I have
my moments of doubt about power and gender and bad faith…
I love almost
all blazers*, but especially this blazer because it is about two sizes two big
and it is beautifully roomy and boxy and it gives me a strong, broad-shouldered
silhouette. I throw it over anything when I want to feel put together but
relaxed. On top of that, it has deep, wide pockets that I can fill up with
everything I need to leave the house – no bag necessary. The picture has me
with a cool, slightly slicked-back hairstyle – I’ve never actually done that,
but I would in a heartbeat if my hair would stay that way. Under my grey trousers I wear soft dark socks
with tiny mustard yellow spots on them, and this always makes me feel fancy and
polished. I am a big enough dork to point them out to anyone I meet, however,
and that cancels it out appropriately. I feel close to my best in a pair of
shiny pointed monk shoes, so they get a lot of wear-time, including as part of
*I am not a
fan of tailored blazers with cinched-in waists. Not a fan at all.
“In many ways, I think that masculinity is the final frontier for gay men. Even as we pass more laws to legitimize and protect our relationships, it’s the notion that gay men aren’t real men that continues to haunt us as individuals and as a movement. From Grindr profiles that demand “masc only” to men like Tovey who think their masculinity — however manufactured, however antithetical to who they truly were when they landed on this planet — is what makes them marketable or desirable, our obsession with what it means to be a man and what it means to fall short of that is keeping us from becoming truly liberated.”
Noah Michelson “A Few Words on Russell Tovey and Why If It Weren’t for My Father, I Wouldn’t Be a Faggot” [x]
I think my biggest “huh” moment with respect to gender roles is when it was pointed out to me that your typical “geek” is just as hypermasculine as your typical “jock” when you look at it from the right angle.
As male geeks, a great deal of our identity is built on the notion that male geeks are, in some sense, gender-nonconformant, insofar as we’re unwilling or unable to live up to certain physical ideals about what a man “should” be. Indeed, many of us take pride in how putatively unmanly we are.
Viewed from an historical perspective, however, the virtues of the ideal geek are essentially those of the ideal aristocrat: a cultured polymath with expertise in a vast array of subjects; rarefied or eccentric taste in food, clothing, music, etc.; identity politics that revolve around one’s hobbies or pastimes; open disdain for physical labour and those who perform it; a sense of natural entitlement to positions of authority (“you should be flipping my burgers!”); and so forth.
And the thing about that aristocratic ideal? It’s intensely masculine. It may seem more welcoming to women on the surface, but - as recent events will readily illustrate - this is a facade: we pretend to be egalitarian because it suits our refined self-image, but that affectation falls away in a heartbeat when challenged.
Basically, the whole “geeks versus jocks” thing that gets drilled into us by media and the educational system isn’t about degrees of masculinity at all. It’s just two different flavours of the same toxic bullshit: the ideal geek is the alpha-male-as-philosopher-king, as opposed to the ideal jock’s alpha-male-as-warrior-king. It’s still a big dick-measuring contest - we’re just using different rulers.
What men reply:Ew nevermind you're not pretty anymore
What the reply really means:I can't handle it when a woman knows her own worth and isn't an object for me to project my faux validation onto. You're hurting my masculine savior complex and making me uncomfortable with your confidence stop making me realize that my "generous nice guy" opinion is unneeded you're oppressing me :(
When we talk about the unreasonable expectations of gender roles, we’re normally talking about women. But a 9-year-old boy made a good point: Men face a lot of pressures too.
The boy made a list of all of the things that he doesn’t like about being a guy, and his answers are incredibly spot-on. While it’s originally from 2012, the list went viral on Twitter on Thursday as part of International Men’s Day
“In one survey, women and men were asked what they were most afraid of. Women responded that they were most afraid of being raped and murdered. Men responded that they were most afraid of being laughed at.”
Michael Kimmel, “Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame, and Silence, in the Construction of Gender Identity,” Toward a New Psychology of Gender
Whatever your opinion, few can argue that these metrics are inclusive. The American beauty standard is undeniably a white standard, and people of color are bombarded with words and images that celebrate features they, as a matter of genetics, do not possess.
It’s part of why Idris + Tony, a Brooklyn, NY-based fashion photography duo, embarked on the Persuasian project earlier this year.
"[Asian] masculinity wasn’t acknowledged," Tony Craig said. "It was stripped away … And the way Asian men are depicted in popular culture, [we’re] never the object of desire … we’re still very much ‘just a friend.’”
“There is only one emotion that patriarchy values when expressed by men; that emotion is anger. Real men get mad. And their mad-ness, no matter how violent or violating, is deemed natural—a positive expression of patriarchal masculinity. Anger is the best hiding place for anybody seeking to conceal pain or anguish of spirit”
Bell Hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love p. 7
Vancouver-based photographer and self-proclaimed “gender terrorist” S.D. Holman gives us an answer with BUTCH: Not like the other girls, a photography project that delves into female masculinity and demonstrates that the “butch” identity is very much alive and well in 2014.
“I always had a fucked-up view on masculinity. My father was a gun nut like Hemingway. He was also a junkie and a bully, mainly to prove he wasn’t effeminate, even though he was a painter and a poet, a mime and a storyteller. Every primitive culture has a puberty ceremony where children become men. Jews still have it, but it’s all religious nostalgia. For the most part, super-modern or industrialised societies don’t have them any more. We only have the harrowing journey – war in particular. If a man comes back from war, everyone agrees: ‘Here is a man.’ My dad told me that when he got back from Vietnam, his family agreed: ‘By golly – you look like a man, Jeff.’ I think the withholding of a puberty ceremony from young men in our society is a scheme which has been cunningly devised to make young men go to war. It creates an eagerness to fight; it’s an aggression that stems out of insecurity.”