Friday, October 7, 2016

A Man in a Dress

I resent the fact that male-to-female "cross-dressers" are visualized in the public mindset as essentially the punchline to a joke - a humorously unappealing juxtaposition of feminine clothing and male features, as exemplified by, say, a pair of hairy legs in a skirt and heels, or heavy makeup on a bearded face. Men and women are typically subjected to very different standards of grooming (and women are generally subjected to many more standards than men). I don't like the assumption that cross-dressing consists of simply putting women's clothes on a stereotypical male. Even if you're a man, if you're going to make yourself up as a woman, it makes sense that you would not only apply women's rules of fashion, but also their standards of grooming. It doesn't mean that you necessarily have to, for example, wear makeup, or grow your hair out, or whatever - there is always room for experimentation with the norms. As a matter of fact, there are people who actually appreciate the "genderfuck" nature of the juxtaposed male and female cues I described above (more power to them, I say - I just don't want people assuming that that's what all cross-dressers intend to or end up looking like). But before I ever began to wear women's clothes in public, I got into the habit of shaving regularly - including places I'd never shaved before! - because I knew I would look much better that way.

This is a dilemma that women have - whether to succumb to society's pressures to look a certain way, based on a shared (and some would argue arbitrary) sense of aesthetics. And while it is true (and unfair) that men have more freedom in the grooming parlour - because they are not judged on and valued for their appearance nearly so much as women are - I would make the argument that certain things like body hair are generally less attractive, on both women and men. But unless your goal is to combat these stereotypes (because certainly there are people out there who are attracted to body hair on men, if not women), and emphasize the imbalance between the sexes (and again, if you are, more power to you - I just don't want people thinking that that's the only reason a person might choose to cross-dress), then for better or worse, if you're going to adopt the aesthetics of femininity, then these issues that women have to deal with now become issues that you need to confront (even if you do ultimately end up rejecting them). Because, in the end, it is not inevitable that if a man puts on a dress, he will end up looking like some kind of unappealing freak of nature, as opposed to a beautiful, perhaps androgynously feminine, creature.