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LucyMom08
But he's wearing a skirt...
March 6, 2013 at 11:13 PM

 

Last week, as part of a cultural discovery project for one of my classes, I spent three days wearing ‘girls’ clothes while going about my day. I wanted to explo...re the general reaction and preconceptions that people in my city have to clothing, especially in regards to gender. To me, the idea that a piece of fabric or accessory can be so intertwined with who are in our conscious is perplexing. I didn’t want to show off, or offend anyone by my act of curiosity. Rather, I wanted to act as a meticulous observer of the times, to see if the community around me was really as open-minded as I wanted to believe that it was. After all, if such things really only had a place in the realm of high-fashion and in Scottish tradition, then something bigger must be at work.

On the first day, I wore a long-sleeve pink top cropped at the collarbone. I received many compliments, a few glares and even a free Venti gingerbread latte. On the second, I rocked a pink blouse with a high-waisted belt. Again, the same amount of well-wishes, questions and passing eye-rolls. These things were to be expected, as it isn’t necessarily the norm to see someone like me wearing things like these. I felt collected and confident in these modest outfits, seemingly convinced that the world around me could care less about the clothes someone wore. Most affirming was the response to my nails, which were almost always met with a cheerful grin, a high-five and a few words of encouragement.

What happened on the third day changed my perspective on humanity forever. I dressed myself as I normally would; band t-shirt, cardigan, plain Vans, etc. However, instead of black jeans, I complimented the outfit with a plain black skirt and matching set of tights. For me, this was a huge step in self-image. Years ago, I was barely confident enough to leave the house for school. These days, the opposite couldn’t be more true. As I set off about my day, the absolute worst in people came out in a full-force flurry of expletives and discomfort. I was ridiculed in whispers. I was mocked in glances. I was obnoxiously and filthily cat-called by a construction crew who, from behind, couldn’t tell that I was a man. Stopping by a bathroom before a lecture, a frat-bro went out of his way to shove me into the adjacent wall after eyeing me up and down on his way out. Expletives and names that might induce me to vomit were I to repeat them, were casually thrown in my direction with almost zero passing thought. By day’s end, I feared a full-on breakdown, unable to stand up for myself or what I believed in to maintain the integrity of the observer’s perspective. In a way, I had no right to feel that way, mostly because of the realization that this is the way that many have to live their lives. I fought back tears as every stare and ill-formed word engrained themselves in my sub-conscious.

Though I may not know you, I think that it’s important that we all come to understand why these things happen. In my book, cat-calling, shaming and harassment are among the worst actions we can engage in. As a heterosexual male, I will never truly know the fear that women may experience while walking home from work, going see a friend for lunch, or being sized-up in public based on their clothing. I will never truly know the gut-rot that a transgender individual may feel while being eyed up and down at the store or in class, strangers seeming to think as if the clothing they see before them begs a legal invitation of ridicule. I will never truly know the plights of these people, but as an ally and a human being invested in true equality, it is now my obligation to stand up for them as if I did.

What scares me the most is not the glances, mixed emotions, or 10-page paper that will inevitably come as a by-product of this project. No, what scares me is that this is the world we live in. We exist in a place where individuals living their truths can be subjected, directly or otherwise, to fear simply for living those truths. We live in an age where feeling ‘normal’ in your own clothing can create unfathomable contention with strangers, despite them having zero investment in their lives. We live in a world where the material, the fabric, the pieces that adorn you are somehow allowed to say more about who you are than the convictions in your heart and the sincerity in your deeds.

I don’t know about you, but I refuse that world. I refuse to let these things overcome the passion and genuine honesty that I’ve been so fortunate to bear witness to in my time. I refuse to let backwards, unprogressive mindsets stifle the glow and drive of those who are undeservingly robbed of it. Don’t say it can’t happen to you. If it happened to me, under the most average of circumstances on the streets in a progressive-leaning city, it could happen to anyone, and that is something I truly do not understand.

After all, it’s just a skirt.

What is it about a piece of inanimate, plain fabric that scares you so much?

-Tommy

Replies

  • LucyMom08
    March 6, 2013 at 11:14 PM

     Found this on FB...I love the way he puts words together and his entire message...

  • x_Starr_x
    March 6, 2013 at 11:19 PM
    this was a nice read
  • Mrs.Kubalabuku
    March 6, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    Very interesting.  It is odd how he was so well received up until he put the skirt on.  Really?  Girls can wear pants!  But not the other way around...oh no!

  • LucyMom08
    March 6, 2013 at 11:22 PM

     I'm guessing it's because the skirt is what truly crossed the 'gender barrier'...

    Quoting Mrs.Kubalabuku:

    Very interesting.  It is odd how he was so well received up until he put the skirt on.  Really?  Girls can wear pants!  But not the other way around...oh no!

     

  • muslimahpj
    March 6, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    Yep, live with this every time I go out the front door.

     "We exist in a place where individuals living their truths can be subjected, directly or otherwise, to fear simply for living those truths. We live in an age where feeling ‘normal’ in your own clothing can create unfathomable contention with strangers, despite them having zero investment in their lives. We live in a world where the material, the fabric, the pieces that adorn you are somehow allowed to say more about who you are than the convictions in your heart and the sincerity in your deeds."

  • glitterteaz
    March 6, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    Sick world we live in when people outside our bubble think they have a right to tell us how to live, be and love. What impact does it have on us outside the bubble? Does it affect our pay? Does it affect who we love? Does it hurt our bottom line? To all those questions NO! What business is it of ours to judge anyone so long as they are not hurting someone weaker than themselves?

  • TranquilMind
    March 6, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    " In a way, I had no right to feel that way, mostly because of the realization that this is the way that many have to live their lives. I fought back tears as every stare and ill-formed word engrained themselves in my sub-conscious. "

    What BS.

    There isn't any guy out there in this country who is "forced to live his life" in a skirt.    And amazingly and conveniently, for purposes of his "experiment' (doesn't anyone do science experiments anymore?), he managed to find the worst of the worst physically abusive men who shoved him around and cussed him out.  What would REALLY be happening the real world (except for rare pockets)  is that a few people would do double-takes and maybe snicker a little if they see a dude in a skirt.

    And if I hear another idiot hurl the disingenuous "what do you FEAR?" comment, as if adults were shaking with fright when he passed by in his skirt, instead of shaking their heads, I'm just gonna hurl. 

    So over this topic.  I'm sure if I got my freak on tonight and went out looking for bad reactions, I could find them if I targeted my audience properly.  Or any of you. 

    I call BS on this one. 

  • stacymomof2
    March 6, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    I'm surprised he ran into so much trouble.  In my city I see guys in full make-up working the high end make-up counters at Macy's.  The male bank teller has a full set of nails and over-groomed eyebrows.  Guys in drag are a dime a dozen.  Even at the community center pool there is a guy who works the counter in full make up.

    An understated black skirt and tights?  That's nothing.  lol

  • TranquilMind
    March 6, 2013 at 11:43 PM

     

    And that's pretty much the way it really is, in the real world. 

    Quoting glitterteaz:

    What business is it of ours to judge anyone so long as they are not hurting someone weaker than themselves?


     

  • TranquilMind
    March 6, 2013 at 11:45 PM

     No freaking kidding.  Might get a yawn around here, or a comment that he could have chosen better accessories or shoes...

    I told this story elsewhere, because it was just SO unexpected in the environment, but I found my MECHANIC IN THE auto repair garage in full makeup and hairstyle one day, though he had on the normal mechanic jumpsuit thing and everything else.  It was such a fantastic makeup job that I truly did do a doubletake, wondering why I hadn't seen this woman in this particular auto repair shop before, but hey...maybe she is related to my mechanic since they are the same size and look alike but...oh wait...it IS the mechanic.  I didn't say a word, and he didn't say a word, but I could tell that he wasn't expecting to be seen that day as he was out back and someone else was on the desk, but had run out to lunch. 

    He kind of winked at me next time he saw me.  I never said a word and neither did he.

    This writer of this piece found what he was looking for to support his previously-established conclusion.  Ten page paper to follow.

     

    Quoting stacymomof2:

    I'm surprised he ran into so much trouble.  In my city I see guys in full make-up working the high end make-up counters at Macy's.  The male bank teller has a full set of nails and over-groomed eyebrows.  Guys in drag are a dime a dozen.  Even at the community center pool there is a guy who works the counter in full make up.

    An understated black skirt and tights?  That's nothing.  lol

     

     

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