The idea that humans are either male or female stems from patriarchy and is deeply ingrained in our society. But, research and the lived experiences of countless intersex and gender non-conforming people shows that the ideas of sex and gender aren’t binary. So, why should our clothes be?
The rules that govern what men and women should wear are actually fairly arbitrary.
Gender identity and expression should not be a reason for bullying children or anybody else, for that matter. Applying makeup or showing interest in dressing up in any manner does not make anybody more or less human, nor does it have anything to do with being a man.
The clothing & fashion industry is funny business. The way one dresses up not only has an impact on their confidence, but also determines how they are perceived by others. It’s the first impression you leave on somebody when they first see or meet you. With clothing being gendered and policed by patriarchy, it is all the more a hindrance to full self-expression. People label you according to your clothing and say things like:
“You dress like a slut.”
“It looks so girly. Namard!”
…and so on.
Advertising also aligns with these gender expectations. They seem to suggest that you can only be “a complete man” if you wear a suit…as if not wearing a suit will make me less of a man or interfere with my masculinity.
When I decided to wear a skirt in college for a program, many of my classmates were against it. They were like people will call me ‘trans’. So, I pointed out that there was nothing wrong with being trans, to begin with, and secondly, clothing has no gender and should not be gendered when worn by different people. My decision to wear a skirt that day was to encourage those living in the closet and being made to feel uncomfortable about themselves that I would stand up for them, should they choose to use clothing to express themselves freely. There is nothing wrong with being a man and wearing a dress.
I am what I am and my clothes exist to merely keep me comfortable. If they seem to tell you about my identity, then therein lies your bias. Right now, I have four skirts and when I go for any sessions at colleges, I wear them. Dressing in any manner does not deprive me or anybody else of our gender identity. We need to talk about this strict idea of masculinity and redefine it for once and for all.