Tag Archives: Masculinity

I Do NOT Cross-Dress

Look at how lovely I am in this dress. I am a man and I’m wearing a dress and I’m not wearing cross-dressing. What. That’s a nice dress. (Photo credit: Skye at “My Kingdom for a Hat” [colormebrazen.wordpress.com])

If you define cross-dressing as a person wearing clothing that their culture expects to see on a different gender/sex then alright, I suppose I do cross-dress. I mean, fine, alright, I guess I’m crossing gender/sex lines when I, a self-identified male with a penis, put on a dress but I don’t really think of it like that. It’s not like I wake up and go to my closet and say, “Well I could wear these pants and turtleneck or I could subvert American society’s traditional and oppressive gender norms by putting on this grey and lighter-shade-of-grey striped dress with three buttons off-center of the collar’s front.”

To be honest what I’m thinking when I get dressed is, “Shit, shit, shit, shit, late, shit, shit, this clean, shit, shit, shit.” OR “What would Emily Gilmore wear?” OR “How much like Virginia Woolf will I look if I wear this?” I suppose the question I most often ask myself when getting dressed is, “What do I want to wear today?”

When I look at clothing I don’t look at how they’ve been gendered by society. I see trousers that would fit me, skirts with waists that are too big for me, pencil skirts that make my ass look damn wonderful. I see them in terms of how they relate to my body, how they’ll look when placed on my physical body.

This tendency to forget that clothing comes with gender implications can sometimes get me in uncomfortable situations. There have been times when I forgot I was going to pick up a job application from a store and put on a pencil skirt before leaving the house. I’m not ashamed of my pencil skirts but I do recognize that depending on where I’m getting my job application my clothing may have a negative impact on the hiring process. I’ve been so fortunate that I’ve never been in physical danger because of my clothing but I’m aware that this could change. If I feel that I’m going somewhere where my clothing might draw “danger” from people then I wear pants. The trouble is that I’m so used to wearing what I fucking want to wear that I slip on a dress or heels without a second thought.

It’s at a point now where if someone describes me as a cross-dresser or transvestite I tend to get confused by what in the name of hell they’re talking about. It’ll take me a few seconds to realize that they’re talking about my nylon stalkings from Rite-Aid, black dress with white lilies and short sleeves, strand of fake pearls and light mascara. There’s nothing wrong with being a cross-dresser or a transvestite but it’s not how I see myself. In my mind I’m not crossing gender lines or wearing another gender’s clothing, I’m just wearing… my clothes.

“This is my daily activism,” I tell myself when I’m made aware of my nontraditional clothing choices (This awareness is usually triggered by someone staring at me like I’m a chimp in a mu-mu singing “My Sharona.”)  Sometimes this reminder, this reminder that I’m fighting the gender binary simply by putting on a sundress, is nice but sometimes it makes me sad. It makes me sad that my clothing is in anyway provocative or even interesting beyond the fact that it’s nice.

My day-to-day clothing is fairly conservative. I like clothing that makes me look like Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, or Miss Marple or your grandmother. My colors tend towards darker tones and my favorite fabric is tweed. Yes, I wear loud broaches but if I my body had prominent breasts and didn’t have stubble and wasn’t so tall then my clothing wouldn’t raise eye brows. The fact that I get stares because I’m a man wearing this clothing can get pretty annoying.

Clothing trends will change. I predict that in my life it will be commonly accepted for men in my society to wear dresses but I’m afraid that these dresses will have some stupid name like “he-dress” or “man-robe.” (Think of the “man-purse.” Why, why, why for the love of all that I hold holy, why did we need to call it a “man-purse?”Isn’t it a purse period, full stop, end of story, stop right there mister you’re going to jail, hold it, go no further, do not pass go?) When women started wearing trousers regularly in the early 1900’s did we call pants for women “woman-pants?” (No seriously, did we? I want to know if someone can answer this.) By fixing these new gender labels to clothing we’re perpetuating this highly unnecessary habit of assigning clothing to various genders. Let’s call a dress a dress, no matter who it’s on.

In conclusion: No, I do not identify as a cross-dresser or transvestite or as a drag queen or, or, or, or… I identify as male and look forward to the day where I can wear what I want to wear and not have to explain my sartorial choices.

Why Are We Still Making Jokes About the Bieb’s Masculinity?

Two things:

  1. This title sucks.
  2. This is my third rant-y/complain-y post this month but I don’t really feel sorry about that.

According to Wikipedia Justin Bieber was discovered when he was around 14 years old. For the last five years he’s been growing up in the public eye and he’s been exposed to a lot of harsh criticism. The idea of a teenager being in that hyper-exposed world is something that I have qualms with but for now all I really care about is why we keep making jokes about Justin Bieber being a girl.

When people don’t like Mr. Bieber’s music or how he presents or what his fanbase is like they tend to either bring focus their critiques on his perceived feminine qualities. His hair, his voice, his body, his songs’ content, his clothing, everything seems to be too effeminate for large swaths of our society. Whenever these insults are brought up I end up grinding my teeth until my gums are bloody and ripping the hair from my head.

This form of mockery encourages a strict adherence to gender norms that is restrictive, outdated and generally absurd. Our society already likes its separate gender norms and we really don’t need to be encouraging it. Bashing Justin Bieber based on aspects of his poor adherence to “masculinity” is loud and vocal in prominent areas of our popular culture and the fact that they’re rarely contradicted gives legitimacy to what they say.

While I think this is concerning for all members of our society (I think every one is negatively effected by a black-and-white gender binary.) I am particularly worried about children and teenagers who are trying to find their identity. This sort of humor tells them that it’s not alright to go outside of their gender norms, that they should adhere to these norms unless they want to get made fun of.

More specifically I am concerned about males who are growing up while exposed to this. Speaking from personal experience I feel that I can safely say that it’s not always easy being a male who doesn’t always present as your gender is expected to. We need more people telling boys that they can have “feminine” characteristics if that’s what they feel comfortable in and that we’re not going to laugh at them for it.

 I’m also irritated by that saying that Justin Bieber has “feminine” qualities is meant to be offensive or degrading. What message are we sending to young children when we say that having stereotypical feminine features is bad? Are we telling girls that they way society wants to them to behave are ways that are less-than the way we want boys to behave? Are we telling boys that it’s beneath them to have anything in common with girls? There’s an Iggy Pop quote that gets trotted out frequently during discussions like this one and I want to trot it out again (I’m also having a hard time sourcing it and would love any primary sources you can provide me.), “I’m not ashamed to ‘dress like a woman’ because I don’t think it’s shameful to be a woman.”

My final point is that people say really cruel and horrible things to celebrities they’ve never met. When looking through the internet before writing this post I kept coming across slurs and death threats and rape jokes and all matter of general horrendous language. (The “I Hate Justin Bieber” fan-page on Facebook is a pretty good snapshot of the shit being thrown.) Look, I get that when you put yourself into the spotlight by becoming a celebrity you need to expect a level of hate coming at you. Can we just think about the fact that Justin Bieber is still a teenager, though? I mean, since he first became famous adult men and women have been saying really cruel things about him in public forums. What sort of society are we that seems to think this is alright?

I’m not saying that you need to love Justin Bieber. What I am saying is that we can think before we can speak. Yes, he is a celebrity and yes, he’s probably not going to hear what you or your friends say about him but this doesn’t mean that other people won’t hear it. Be aware of the words you use and the weight they carry in society and the context in which they use them. We don’t need to perpetuate a society where boys are afraid to expose their less “masculine” sides. We don’t have to encourage people to use slurs and other terrible language about a teenager. We sure as hell don’t need to talk about traditionally feminine qualities as if they’re second-class or something to be ashamed of.

Censorship is a crappy and terrible thing that I want no part of but when we hear this sort of language used we can use it as an opening to start conversations about gender and whatnot. So please, don’t stand silent when your friends are talking about “Justine” Bieber. Please help to end this sort of behavior in our culture.

[NSFW/18+] Stop Shitting on the Bottoms

(At some point I was going to title this post “Let’s Hear it for the Bottoms” but that’s way too classy for the likes of me. )

I have had it up to here (Note: I am holding my hand way above my head.) with how our society views male-identified people who enjoy taking penises/strap-ons/what-have-you-who up the butt. I am tired of bottoming being seen as inherently subordinate or somehow emasculating for men to take pleasure from being on the receiving end of anal penetration. I am extremelytired of how certain elements of the gay-male culture have taken these positions on bottoming and somehow codified them into “gay laws” or something (Yes, I am mostly thinking about white, cisgender gay men right now.)

The paragraph you’ve just read is an old complaint. I’ve felt it myself and heard it from others for years but I’ve recently felt moved to vocally speak out on this. On January 28th a music video went up on Willam Belli’s Youtube page that began to pick up attention around the web (There are over 5 million views on it right now.) Here’s the video (Probably not safe for where you work):

It’s really not a terrible music video but it casually brings in some of what I’m talking about.

 

My hackles were first raised pretty early on when the narrators point out that this Boy put “versatile” (As opposed to strict bottom or strict top.) on his Grindr profile and then say, “Versatile, Yea, OK. Girl y’know you’re super Gay.” Here’s the thing: BEING A MAN AND ENJOYING THE SENSATION OF SOMETHING BEING PUT INTO YOUR BUTT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH “HOW GAY” YOU ARE. Got it?

 

I’m a pansexual male who has spent lots of time in various queer communities where there are plenty of gay guys. One thing that I keep noticing is this habit of some of these gays to form a hierarchy based off of how “straight passing” they are. (Another thing- It seems like most of these hierarchy obsessed dudes are also very much in the main-stream gay culture which is heavily white and cisgendered and not very friendly to others.) The issue that I have with this hierarchy (besides being stupid) is that it feels like it was created to give “straight passing” guys a sense of superiority.

 

YOUR EXACT SEXUAL ACTS DON’T DEFINE YOUR SEXUALITY. THAT’S NOT WHAT SEXUALITY MEANS. YOU CAN BE A STRAIGHT WOMAN WHO PREFERS TO WEAR A STRAP-ON AND DOESN’T LIKE TO BE PENETRATED AND THAT DOESN’T MEAN SHE’S NOT STRAIGHT.

 

And that “Never gonna bottom” breakdown? Am I the only one who feels like the singers are almost bragging about how they’re a top? If my interpretation of that section isn’t totally wrong then they’re continuing this idea that it’s shameful to bottom. That whole bit of them running after the Boy and pointing their fingers at him and telling the whole world that he’s a bottom? That whole bit felt like they were accusing him.

So here’s my take away from this- There is NOTHING WRONG WITH RECEIVING DURING ANAL PLAY and doing so TELLS YOU NOTHING ABOUT THAT PERSON OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT THEY HAPPEN TO ENJOY RECEIVING DURING ANAL PLAY. If you like bottoming then you should bottom. If you like topping then you should top. If you like doing both then you should do both. If you like to frot then you should frot.

And m’dear Tops, cool it with the bottom mocking because without bottoms you’re stuck with expensive Fleshlights*.

*Of course if you like Fleshlights better than human butts then that’s great too. Enjoy what you enjoy!

Etiquette: Approaching a Man in a Dress

(Let’s start things off with a disclaimer: I am a man who wears “women’s” clothing but I can’t speak for every man who wears dresses. Like most questions of etiquette all advice given must be then applied in regards to the situation. To quote Stephen Fry in his excellent piece on the beauty of language, “Context, convention and circumstance are all.”  But onto the meat of this post.)

It’s 2012 (soon to be 2013, dear mother of everything that’s holy) and it’s highly probable that you’ve encountered a man in a dress. Maybe you were behind a man in heels while online at the grocery store, or perhaps a close male friend sometimes wears muumuus  to parties. For the past two years  I’ve been that man (well, I do prefer pencil skirts to muumuus, much more flattering for my figure) and I’ve had a some… awkward encounters  with strangers, family members and friends who feel uncomfortable with my sartorial choices.  Understandably, many people are uncomfortable when they first meet me. It’s not that they’re looking at me and comparing me to the Son of Satan, it’s simply that they really don’t want to offend me. I appreciate it that, I really do.

When approaching a man in a dress the most important thing for you to keep in mind is that (get ready for this, it’s a shocker) IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL. Seriously. The fact that I’m a male identified person whose wearing a fitted black black dress, fishnet stockings and sensible librarian shoes doesn’t mean that I’m a homosexual or a child molester or confused about my gender or an anarchist (For the record: I’m none of those four.) Smile, keep calm and treat me like you would anyone else.

There is the big issue of gendered words in the English language. I’ve had many encounters with people in retail where I’m addressed like this, “Hello, sir, sorry, madam, I mean, sir?, sir, madam, hello? I’m sorry.” If you’re in this situation then just breathe and remember, it’s not your fault. If anyone is to blame it’s the English language and its male-female based language. A few intrepid folks are trying to help rectify this by bringing in third-gender/gender-neutral pronouns (this is a link to the Wikipedia page on the topic) but these pronouns haven’t yet been fully adopted into language. When the time and situation allows for it a friendly, “Excuse me, may I ask what your preferred pronouns are?”, can’t hurt. In cases where there really isn’t a chance to ask about preferred pronouns then I’d have to recommend that you try to skip over any gendered-words. If you really, really, really have to use gendered-words like ma’am or sir then I suppose you’ll have to go with your gut.  Really, we could totally use a form of polite address that doesn’t carry gender…

There’s a strange trend where complete strangers will meet me and then seem to want to demonstrate how down-with-blowing-up-out-dated-gender-stereotypes-and-roles they are by immediately saying something that acknowledges the fact that I’ve got a penis and I’m wearing a dress. These comments tend to divide into two categories:

You know, my cousin’s daughter has a friend who also realized he’s a girl.

OR

 How do your parents feel about you wearing dresses?

The first is, is, well it’s ridiculous. My clothing tells you jack-shit about my gender identity. To assume that you know anything about my gender identity is just a bunch of bull. And let’s talk about why you think I’m trans (AND let’s also point out that the way the first comment is phrased is quite problematic. If you don’t see anything wrong with the first comment please look at the links to resources at the end of this post.)- Maybe I am, maybe I’m not but either way YOU DON’T KNOW.  You can ask my preferred pronoun or just don’t bring it up. This first type of comment is also irritating since it relies on a very divided concept of gender and gender performance that says that only female-identified people wear “women’s” clothing.

The second type of comment is really uncomfortable and quite frankly not really your business. If we’re close friends or are having a nice conversation about gender and gender-identity in which I share a bit of my own experience then great, ask away! When you’re a stranger this is just weird. You have no idea about my history with my parents and my sartorial choices. Perhaps I’ve had some really horrific experiences that I simply don’t want to talk about or maybe I haven’t, either way you simply don’t know. So please, unless we’re not complete strangers, how about you don’t bring this up? Great, thanks.

Here’s a quick re-hash of what we’ve learned today:

  1. Men in dresses isn’t a big deal. Really. I promise.
  2. A nice polite, “Excuse me, do you have preferred pronouns?”, is nice.
  3. Calm down, it’s not a big deal. Seriously.
  4. My clothing tells you nothing about my gender identity (or any other aspect of any of my other identities, for that matter) and to assume that you know my gender identity is kinda rude…
  5. Take a deep breath, you’ll be fine.
  6. YOU DON’T NEED TO TALK TO ME ABOUT MY FASHION CHOICES. Compliments? Compliments are great. “You look better in a dress than most women”? Not so great.

Most importantly- What I’ve written can’t be applied to every situation you’ll find yourself in. I’ve laid out my opinion on the subject but you can bet there are other men in dresses who disagree with me on this. Please feel free to respond with your thoughts on my suggestion.

Super Cool Resources On Gender And Fashion And Cool Things:

Genderfork: According to their “about” blurb: “Genderfork is a supportive community for the expression of identities across the gender spectrum.” This is less of a resource for self-education on gender identities and more of a beautiful online community that I highly recommend looking at.

LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS IS! The graphic originally is from TSER but I discovered via Project Queer.

Actually, just go TSER’s sweet graphics page for some rather well designed presentations. The focus is on trans* identities (and let’s face it, who among us couldn’t use a brush-up on how to not be a stupid-head on trans* identities?) but it includes some excellent information about gender identities.

And of course Planned Parenthood has a lovely page on gender.