Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bridgette Raes | Style Guide: The Truth About Men Who Wear Pantyhose

In a follow-up to her Friday radio broadcast, Bridgette Raes posted a great article on Men In Tights on her blogsite, "BRSG". I will say, as to the double standard she refers to, I’ve often said that it actually betrays a certain residual bias against women that remains in our society even to this day–even among women themselves. Despite the ostensible equality with which women and men are viewed today, you have to ask yourself why there is such a noticeable difference between the way people view it when a member of one sex strays into the fashion territory of the other?

Bridgette noted that a woman can wear clothing ranging from the ultra feminine to jeans, t-shirts, boots and a short haircut and hardly anyone even takes note. Maybe she is even praised as being: strong, “a real go-getter”, or other positive adjectives. But if a man wears even one article of clothing that has typically been associated with women, not only do other men get worked up over it, but women may give him even more flack over it. His manhood might be called into question regardless of how strong and virile an example of masculinity he may otherwise be.

You have to ask yourself if this doesn’t reveal some sort of latent bias against the female? Is it because a woman who co-opts a certain fashion item from men is seen as elevating herself? (BTW, not too many of us are old enough to remember the days when women wearing pants was considered scandalous). If so, by contrast a man adopting anything with a feminine connotation is considered to be ‘lowering’ himself to the level of the less worthy sex and needs to be resisted so as to not betray his manhood.

Of course, when we try to come to terms with all of this, we hope we can be advanced enough in our view on the inherent dignity, and equality, of both men and women that we don’t behave this way. Some–many–men are wearing mantyhose for very legitimate reasons and knee jerk reactions against it have to be examined for what they really reveal about the people making them. Are they unknowingly acknowledging they don’t really view men and women as being equal in dignity? Let’s hope your blog and radio program can help us move beyond that toward true equality. Thank you, Bridgette.

1 comment:

  1. [NOTE: Bridgette provided the following reply to my post on her blogsite. It's such a good response that I asked to also post it here below my blog post -SN]

    Hi Steve, First of all, thank you for your kind words about how I handled the interview. Coming from someone who has been active in the men’s hosiery world for a long time, I take that as the highest of compliments. And, I want to be clear with the readers, it was not your site that neglected to show up for their interview…just in case anyone is wondering. It is unfortunate that you couldn’t join us due to your vacation but, like you and I both said, we had fantastic guests!!

    I also can’t agree with you more regarding the double standard. While it is liberating as a woman that I can embrace a more masculine look, what does it say about women when a man embraces what is perceived as a more feminine look and gets called things that are negative? I always think of that song by Madonna “What it Feels Like for a Girl” As the lyrics go:

    “Girls can wear jeans
    And cut their hair short
    Wear shirts and boots
    ‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy
    But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
    ‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading
    But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like
    Wouldn’t you
    What it feels like for a girl”

    Therefore, what you said should be pointed out; that when a woman does something masculine it’s considered elevating herself but when a man does something perceived as feminine he is lowering himself. I couldn’t agree and it is something I’ve thought about quite often…especially being raised by a feminist.

    While few women can remember when women didn’t have the fashion freedoms that they do today, and can hardly remember the women who went against the grain, I still wanted to point that out to make my point about those who do shake things up, who take a stand and change the course of society’s perceptions. The funny thing is that we take those people, and what they did, for granted and my hope is that as men become more comfortable with wearing pantyhose, in time to come it will be so normal that this whole conversation that we’re having now will be as archaic sounding and preposterous as the idea that there was a time when women couldn’t wear pants.

    Lastly to your point about the inequality that is so blatant yet often not acknowledged and also the negative reactions that people have when they hear that men wear pantyhose, this I realized while taping the show: What stymies me is how enraged people get when others do things that make them uncomfortable. Why do we care so much? Why do we get uncomfortable, angered, judgmental, twitchy??? Why do we care? We could plop in any topic where this happens from homosexuality to body art to people who worship trees…it really doesn’t matter. If people do, wear or express themselves in ways that are right for them and it doesn’t affect anyone else and don’t cause any harm to others, why do we get so outraged, uncomfortable and judgmental? What is it in us that causes that reaction? I mean, when you look at it on the surface, men are wearing pantyhose…is this really something that should elicit SUCH a reaction??? Not really…yet it does.

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