Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Politics of Mantyhose

This article, "The Politics of Mantyhose" was originally published on in January 2009. Now, The Politics Place has picked it up again (July 25, 2010). The article raises some interesting points about how differently things are perceived when one gender wears clothing typically associated with the other--depending on who's doing the wearing. I posted some thoughts on the issue--as it relates to men's pantyhose--and I've reposted them here, below:

[Steve's comment]: An interesting article here. I’ve been wearing pantyhose or tights for about 10 years or so—-primarily for improved leg circulation, but along the way have found them to have other benefits as well. There've been dozens and dozens of articles on the rise of men's pantyhose over the past 8 or 9 years, but not that many scratch below the surface of the issue as this one does.

  In the recent past, I've worked for a leading company that produces men's pantyhose, or 'mantyhose'. As such, I've developed a fairly popular blog (The Nylon Gene, and have posted many articles asking such questions as why there's such a disparity between the way 'cross-dressing' is treated when it's a man versus a woman who's doing the crossing over. For instance, everyone thinks its ‘cute’ or sexy when a woman wears a man’s shirt or boxer briefs—or if she’s wearing a necktie or power suit, she’s not typically ridiculed for it. But, let a man wear something that’s in the least bit associated with ‘feminine’ and he’s laughed at, ridiculed, and treated with so much disdain and scorn as to make most guys afraid to so much as pick up a piece of women’s underwear for any reason at all.

So, you’ve got to ask yourself, why the difference? It seems that maybe the idea of a woman wearing men’s wear is seen as ‘reaching up’ to take on the air of the ‘superior gender’—while a guy wearing something associated with women’s wear (in this case, pantyhose) the negative reaction makes it seem as though he is ‘lowering himself’ to the level of the inferior sex. Mind you, I don’t subscribe to that notion—just making the observation. And, as was asked at the end of the article, why is it that some wives and girlfriends of those men who aren’t afraid to wear hose more disturbed by it than the men? Is there a certain inferiority complex ingrained in the women that makes them do that? Or, is it just recognition that society makes that judgment on the relative merit of male vs female, and they don’t want their guy getting degraded?

While many guys will take a ‘live and let live’ attitude towards men’s pantyhose, it’s interesting to note that the guys who DO get really stoked about it (‘he oughta have is ass kicked…’) sound like the ones who are most likely to consider women to be an inferior species.

I do value the differences between the sexes, and believe that men should be men and women should be women—just as God intended us to be. However, I don’t agree that pantyhose (other than the name, maybe) should be considered to be an inherently female garment. I also don’t believe that anyone should consider male or female to be superior to the other. Different DOES NOT equate to better/worse. Each has their own gifts and burdens and those should be embraced. But, wearing pantyhose or not, does not matter, if you like wearing them.


  1. I guess I am surprised that no one has commented to this posting. I believe we are going to get closer to an acceptance of men wearing pantyhose (and I will just call it that - mantyhose to me just doesn't work) very soon. But it takes more men wearing and not hiding them.

    Because I do wear them as well as knee highs, especially this time of year, I have noticed very, very few women wearing them. Why is that? I've heard the reasoning behind not wearing them, but just don't buy it.

    And by the way, I found Activskins through a search about 5 months ago, and couldn't have been happier to find a company right here in the states where I could buy legwear for men. After a number of purchases, I wear nothing but their products. By the way, this is not an "official" endorsement, but hey, why not?

    Anyway, I would think that more people would have an open mind to what is worn by both sexes. It bothers me just a little when I read what some people supposedly think when they either hear or see that a guy is wearing something that might (just possibly) be considered feminine.

    Yes there may just be a need for wearing something with a little more support, both guys and gals, but don't let that be your sole reason. I don't believe it has to be. Since I started wearing a product designed for men, my legs aren't tired and sore any longer, and they feel 10 times better, but I am enjoying the feel of them as well.

    To the guys who wear now, good for you! To the others who have thought about it, go for it! And to the men and women who think it's just too feminine for a guy to wear nylons, open your mind and your eyes. There's nothing wrong with it.

  2. Thanks your comments, Brad. I too thought this post would generate a bit more conversation. But then again, it is a repost of an older article. Glad to hear you're happy with ActivSkin, too. There are several more companies throwing their lot in with the men's hosiery market these days, which appears to be yet further confirmation that this IS a growing trend.

  3. Hi Steve,
    Thanks. Yes I knew it was an older article and glad you reposted it here. I am curious to know who the other companies are that are getting into "our" market for men's hosiery. Doing a search I suppose would be the easiest way to find them and will certainly do that. But yes I am quite happy with Activskin. Thanks again for all you have done. I hope someone will pick it up as you have done.

  4. I would have to partially disagree with Brad on the acceptance of men wearing pantyhose. That may be true in Europe and Russia where I went but not so in the USA. Yes, acceptance has been growing but there are regional and continental differences. I was in Sweden, France, Poland, Germany, and Russia earlier this year. The growing acceptance of tights there compared to the USA has a lot to do with general style acceptance. For example, if I show a photo of my dad dressed a little baggy, my relatives and friends overseas would tolerate it but encourage him to slim down. In sharp contrast, show a picture of a guy dressed in skin tight jeans or leggings to a typical American and you'll still get stupid laughs with ridiculous comments such as "he looks gay". Unsaid is a noticeable pattern that these same intolerants have a different agenda. They want to enjoy the rest of their lives looking at us ladies dressed skin tight (and boots will be no exception) with the same old fear that guys dressing thin and skin tight will be a "threat" to their enjoyment. The truth is guys with baggy pants pushed a lot of us women away and later into feeling less encouraged to stay slender. While I have reduced from fat to slim over the years, the growing fatness and obesity in women in the US has increased. That isn't to say that fat people don't exist in Europe. They do but they are less frequent. Most men and women overseas are far less obese and the tolerance among men and women dressing skin tight exists unlike the US. See, there few get infatuated looking at someone who is tightly dressed especially on the legs but at the same time few express their intolerance about it. I have to admit that for the first few days, I felt tickled to see guys dressed so elegantly and yet relieved that I was not getting the typical annoying infatuation stares from guys unlike here in the states as if I were some sitcom actress. I would also like to add that several of the patterned tights for us ladies would actually blend in rather well with what guys wear overseas.

    By the way, when I look at the Activskin site catalog, all I see are mainly black, suntan, and nude tights but no other colors. I think that the following colors will actually get more men to accept wearing tights: army colors, navy blue, and royal blue. For patterned tights, a baseball pattern blend and a football style pattern blend for sports kids will do.

    P.S.: I heard that even in Tokyo tights for men is a growing trend.

  5. Thinking will slowly change as so many people are dressing so diversely different, especially the young. The products are out there now and it will be slow for the fact that the generations have to grow and change 'the norm'.

    I have grown up here in the UK with a very similar story too many men who naturally just loved nylon from a young age, but that of tights not being normal on a man. Britain has had to break down so many social conventions since the 1950's. Men's tights/hose are not sold in shops but rather on the internet. Cycling, running and other such sports tights are regular things, but then the dress type for cycling is putting men back in baggy legwear. I ride horses and tight jodhpurs are now not in fashion especially for men.

    Men's hose are not seen on men in the street here and are more expensive.

    My story is one of wearing tights has been of trying ways I can use them. But I don't wear them noticeably in public. I'm not T.V. but enjoy wearing a leotard, dress and occasionally other female identifiable clothing items with tights in the home. I prefer not to feel on view with tights as I am shy by nature, and if not hard work enough coupled with social anxiety I have suffered in the past. I can only deal with pantyhose with cycling or tight jodhpurs as a female clothing type in public so far personally. My activities were driven partly by my wish to wear tight clothing I must say. I feel complete and good when I put tight legwear on.

    I wish for a wider issue of clothing being more unisex and this will slowly change I am hoping. Tights are part of this issue.


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