Men Who Wear Frocks
Some guys wear dresses. Why?
“Vivienne” is what one cross-dressing man calls himself when he’s in drag. Vivienne also blogs on her cross-dressing experience over at BluestockingBlue, where she seeks to understand why she does it.
Before delving into Vivienne’s musings, let’s do a little Transvestite 101.
First, you might be surprised to learn that most cross-dressers, a.k.a. transvestites, are straight men.
While biological males who are transgendered or transsexual don’t see themselves as men, transvestites do. They are men who are trying to express something of the feminine within, which is so often submerged. And, cross-dressing often holds a sexual appeal for them.
That appeal helps explain why they’re usually straight. These guys are turned-on by women, and for them, dressing like one can be arousing.
Now back to Vivienne, who wrote a four-part series on a documentary called “Why Men Wear Frocks.” The film was produced by British artist, and tranny, Grayson Perry. To read more, start with Part 1 on her site.
The morning after The Miss Rose Beauty Pageant, Grayson Perry mused,
Time to pack the frocks away again. It can seem quite cruel going back to the toughty-roughty world of men after being in the company of some rather lovely ones…
What is it about being a man today that makes some men so desperate to be women?
Actually, Mr. Perry has some thoughts on that:
It’s just that the acceptable range you can display as a man is quite narrow…
Feelings aren’t intrinsically male or female. But you wouldn’t know that from the imagery we see around us. It is this apartheid of the emotions that transvestites are rebelling against.
Vivienne can relate her own cross-dressing to combating this “apartheid.” She was also struck by Mr. Perry’s phrase, “carapace of masculinity.” She says,
“Carapace of masculinity” is a very powerful expression. I can’t help thinking of people like Jan Hamilton, who tried to crush her femininity by becoming uber-masculine, a special forces soldier. It didn’t work; or to be more correct it worked for a while but made her profoundly unhappy. Hamilton is, however, an extreme case. I wonder how many genuinely sensitive men hide their feelings behind badges of masculinity (bikes, trucks, guns, tattoos, football) because they feel they cannot do otherwise?
Carapace: a hard shell.
Hard, lacking softness.
“A shell” evokes “nothing but a shell,” as if something is lacking.
A shell. Protective. But what from? The feminine?
When men, Jan Hamilton or any of us forbid our feminine side we crush half of who they are — a significant part of our humanity.
My own view is that some transvestites seek out archetypes of femininity (the schoolgirl, the maid, the bride)…
Dresses are symbols of vulnerability and innocence and submissiveness and things that men don’t have access to. There’s something about putting on a dress that instantly gives me permission to act out those feelings.
By donning feminine costume trannies take on a role and get in touch with the vulnerable, playful, carefree girl inside themselves, or the desirable, sexy young thing, or the fawned-over Princess bride.
I pursue cross-dressing partly to escape from the masculine expectations placed upon me, in part because of the dearth of emotional expression open to men.
It all reminds me of Norah Vincent’s book, “Self-Made Man.” Norah spent 18 months passing as a man, expecting to enjoy the privileged male sphere. In the end she felt stifled in self-expression and more than happy to exit that straightjacket.
I doubt cross-dressing is the only route to making men whole, and Mr. Perry doubts it too. More on that later. And more later on the sexual allure of cross-dressing.
Posted on October 16, 2013, in feminism, gender, LGBT/gay rights, men, psychology, sexism, women and tagged cross-dressers, feminism, gender, Grayson Perry, LGBT, men, psychology, sexism, transvestites, why men wear frocks. Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.