Thursday, January 21, 2010

Musings on Gender in Fashion Pt. 1



I've been thinking lately about androgyny and gender bending. Well, I've always been interested in the topic, but it came more to the forefront of my mind over break, when armed with a gift card from Urban I ended up spending it all in the menswear department. It's funny how in those stores there is a clear women section and a men section, and most of us keep to those sections. What makes an item of clothing male vs. female (I mean besides the obvious tailoring and cut differences)?

I think it's interesting that menswear is really trendy right now on women, but yet women's clothing is still extremely taboo on men. A prime of example of someone who says "fuck that" to those taboos is a friend named Khonsu (pictured below), who demonstrates that men look damn fantastic in women's wear. Khonsu and I attended high school together and I always thought his personal sense of style was daring, innovative, and completely original (everything I said fashion ought to be in my previous post, you'll notice).



So, why is it OK for a girl to wear her boyfriend's jeans, but not OK for him to slip on her dress? I think it's all on how we define femininity and masculinity. For a long time in history female roles and male roles in a community were different, but considered of equal value. Then a time went on things changed and women were seen as vastly inferior to men. It's only very recently that equality in gender roles has been advocated for. My suspicion is that when women act "masculine"* it's like dressing "up", dressing above one's station. When men act "feminine"* it's moving down in life, degrading. This is just my personal theory, made up on the fly. I'm interested to know what you guys think about this as well. I personally find androgyny to be sexy and incredibly interesting as a fashion choice, on both women and men. Are you a fan? Do you think the rules for men in women's clothing will change anytime soon? Do you wear anything that is ambiguously gendered? Gender identity really fascinates me, so I'm begging you for comments.

*I don't even want to begin to deconstruct what masculine and feminine really mean, gender roles, transgender, etc, so I put quotes to avoid all that, seeing as this post is epically long already.

19 comments:

  1. I really, really like this post! I find androgyny, especially in fashion, to be so amazing.

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for your sweet comment! :)

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  2. I actually think it's more than OK for a guy to slip on his girlfriend's dress and a pair of heels... if he can pull it off. I used to date a guy who was in a crossdressing phase at the time and he looked fab. I still run into him now and then, but now he has changed his look into something more straight-male-ish... but he's still super chic. :)

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  3. Genny- this is a top notch post!!! i think that you addressed so many true facts in this post. i've always considered myself to be a pretty open and accepting person, and i've always loved the idea of androgyny for women, but i was surprised to see how weird androgyny for men made me feel when a man was on the show America's Next Top Model. i loved the idea of it and i was much more comfortable with the contestant than most people were, but there would still be episodes where i found myself frowning becuase i didn't like how this man fit in the mix. well anyways, i actually beleive that while androgyny for men isn't as acceptable as you and i would like for it to be, i think that opinions are slowly changing since it's starting to become more exposed. i mean, something as little as crazy tyra's show allowed me to talk to residnets aobut it.
    sorry this is getting so incredibly long, but you know that bus stop right by campion? there's an ad for rupaul drag race! i was so happy to see that it was getting so much publicity and i was happily surprised to see people talking about the show in a positive way.

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  4. I think mens don't wear a dress because it doesn't look sexy, but a woman with men trausers looks good and sexy.
    I love androgyny in fashion.

    Thanks for your comment!

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  5. this is an interesting take on the androgyny trend. i honestly love wearing trousers and boyfriend jeans but i guess guys have yet to break the barrier to our side...

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  6. I love boyfriend jeans and over sized flannel men shirts ;) But I definitley think it's odd when I see a guy walking around in obvious girl jeans. Weird. weird.

    Love, Meg
    @ www.strawberriesandlace.blogspot.com

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  7. Great post! This was really interesting. I agree about the whole upgrading and downgrading idea... It makes sense. Men have always been esteemed as higher than women.


    clothedmuch.blogspot.com

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  8. I think this post is brilliant! Your friend is awesome with his own personal style. I usually find that people who complain about that are just afraid of whats not THEIR norm. I love, love love your insight on this topic - well done.

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  9. thankyou so much for your comment girl, you are too kind! & i love this post, it's really intrigued me. although i don't know what to say, because it's such a fair point that you make, but i would find it pretty alarming if my boyfriend tried on my dress ha! though he does sometimes prance around in (or should i say on) my heels, which is more funny than anything. maybe fashion for men will change soon...

    fashionstolemyheart.blogspot.com

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  10. Very interesting post - I've never thought of it before.

    I guess my thought would be that women's role have become more progressive - in history, women were very minor - so fashion seems like an extension of this for women. (Am I even making sense? I really can't express my thoughts very well.)

    I guess fashion has also always been considered a topic for females and therefore women experimenting with fashion seems more "natural."

    I really don't think I'm expressing what I'm trying to say, so I'll just leave it with great post!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!
    quirkyexplosion.blogspot.com

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  11. I just started a gender class this semester, and this post was absolutely fitting to one of our discussions we had! very impressed!!

    freshbrownies.blogspot.com

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  12. Great and insightful post! Androgyny in fashion has always been interesting to me. I find it interesting how fashion has changed over the centuries -- men used to wear kilts and foustanellas, and now those are seen more as ceremonial rather than everyday.

    Thanks for checking out our blog and for your sweet comment!

    - JoAnn, Sidewalk Chalk

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  13. Lovely post!
    Very interesting :)

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  14. This is an awesome post..very interesting take on androgyny

    --
    enter to win my jewelry giveaway!

    http://missneira.blogspot.com/2010/01/perpetual-anastasia-jewelry-giveway.html

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  15. love this post.
    i have a lot of guy friends who pull off women wear really well, even better than some of my female friends!

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  16. This is a really interesting subject.

    My friend cross dresses and has done for years but not for fashions sake. Its just a personal thing for him and if I'm honest, guys in chicks clothes doesnt really do it for me but there is something quite sexy about chicks in guys clothes! Haha

    x

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  17. love androgyny in fashion and i think people should dress how they want to!

    myglitteringcreation.blogspot.com

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  18. first i just want to say-your friend is awesome and he looks amazing!! and i do find it weird that us girls can wear anything-women, men, and even kids clothing sometimes. and it sucks how men cant do the same and when they do they get critizised-not cool :( hope things will change in the future.

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  19. I really enjoyed reading this, and I absolutely agree. What does it mean that women can wear men clothes and be seen as attractive and respectable but men doing the same for women's clothes makes them less attractive and respectable? What does that say about how much we value women?

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