Men Wearing Dresses to Feel Whole
All I want to do is to be able to be myself every day.
That’s from “Vivienne,” a man who cross-dresses in part to get in touch with his feminine side and feel whole.
Wearing a dress helps in the same way that actors use costume to get into a part.
But it’s unsatisfactory, he says.
Maybe because the costume isn’t real enough. Or because there’s a trade-off: First one side expresses itself and then the other. And the timing can be off.
Sometimes I feel quite manly, and sometimes quite womanly, yet I am “expected” to be the same person all the time. Opportunities for cross-dressing are quite few, and they don’t always coincide with the times when I feel most womanly. Then when an opportunity does arise, I think: Well, better not waste this chance; who knows when the next one will be? So sometimes it feels a bit forced.
And surely the stigma diminishes satisfaction.
But cross-dressing isn’t the only route to making men whole, as famed artist and self-proclaimed “tranny,” Grayson Perry notes:
I’m not saying that men should wear dresses, it’s just that symbolically (we’re) saying: there’s something up with being a man… I always think it’s a crude way of dealing with something that I think could be dealt with more graciously or almost gracefully in my everyday life.
There are other ways to unify our masculine and feminine sides. But straight men might not find them easily accessible. (And most cross-dressers are straight men!)
Women routinely express their so-called masculine side, whether they are being rational, assertive, athletic, leaders or breadwinners, etc. But since masculinity is more valued than femininity, guys can feel demeaned when they are emotional, vulnerable, needy, nurturing, or flamboyant…
Or, gays may feel supported in expressing their “feminine side.” But straight men? Not so much.
Perry mentions a dying breed of straight British dandies who dress with style and flair. At least one said the style released him from the coarseness of masculine life:
I want life to be as Cashmere soft and as velvety smooth as I can… I thought there was enough there in men’s clothes to actually be getting along with.
A British youth sub-culture also sports “young men wearing lipstick and eyeshadow and nail varnish, with plucked eyebrows and long hair and ribbons,” says Perry.
Cosplay — “costume play” — is another outlet, he adds.
In the U.S. (and maybe elsewhere) metrosexual straight guys do go ahead and enjoy fashion. And even some “regular guys” may buy fancy watches, socks, ties or flowered Hawaiian shirts to bring out their frivolity, fun and sense of style.
Something that men need seems to be lacking as so many seek ways to find expression.
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Posted on October 1, 2014, in feminism, gender, LGBTQ+, men, psychology, sexism and tagged Cross-dressing, feminism, gender, Grayson Perry, LGBTQ+, men, psychology, sexism. Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.