ugg cardigan boots Why do men and women dress differently
I was on an escalator in a train station last week and a woman ascended past me wearing tartan tights and a denim skirt that was cut just above the curve of her backside the effect being that all you had to do was look up and you could see what she’d had for breakfast.
A little later, she climbed the stairs out of the station and gave a brace of businessmen clad head to toe in grey flannel another look under the bonnet and I wondered why is it so?
Think about it for second: both sexes have two arms and legs, we both need ready access to our nether regions for sex, waste elimination and cup caking, yet if an alien were to visit a women’s clothing store, they’d think it was vital a woman have her arms, shoulders, breasts, stomach, legs and crotch exposed to the elements or sheathed in skin tight garish coloured material.
I’m sure there are plenty of females who enjoy being ogled and who like having various bits and pieces out there for mass consumption, but just as many must also find it frustrating that so much of women’s fashion is designed to put the female body on display.
Some women say wearing skimpy clothing makes them “feel feminine” but yet others would liken this to a canary in its cage, tweeting about the lovely golden bars; girls are told from an early age that in order to be “successfully” female they need to dress in a certain way (show lots of flesh) and women who do not are often dismissed as “butch” or masculine ..
I guess the first time I started thinking about this stuff was last year when I read Shiela Jeffrey’s Beauty and Misogyny in which she discusses the “differences written into what men and women wear.”
“These differences enable the sex class of women to be distinguished from that of men and, in recent decades, turn a full one half of the human race into toys to create sexual excitement in the other half,” says Jeffreys.
Aside from the display of skin, Jeffreys argues that the sexual difference in fashion is also created by “the placing of the zip fasteners and buttons so they open to the left or right in order to display sex, and the rule that women’s clothes should not have functional pockets, necessitating the carriage of a handbag.”
Take a look at this video of Katie Holmes on the David Letterman show last week and the differences in dress are jarring: the nubile young girl stilts around on heels, legs on display, sex parts tantalisingly close to being revealed, while the man strides forward, rooted to the ground in his flat shoes, only the hands and face exposed.
Nineteenth century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton tackled this subject as well when she asked: “Why is it that at balls and parties, when man comes dressed in his usual style, fashion requires women to display her person, to bare her arms and neck? Why must she attract man’s admiration? Why must she secure his physical love?”
Jeffreys has no doubts on the matter, and like high heels, cosmetic surgery and the wearing of make up, reckons it is to arouse men’s sexual appetites and so attract them into marriage.
The difference between men’s and women’s clothing, she argues, is never more stark than in the phenomenon of the suit.
“The suit performs the function of covering the body comfortably,
allowing considerable movement without rucking up, and conceals imperfections of the body. Hence it is a form of clothing that alllows human dignity and thus it was denied to women,” says Jeffreys.
Granted, women wearing pant suits and sleeved shirts is now accepted practice in this country, and a lot of females manage to look very feminine doing so but I wonder how easy it is for girls with body shapes outside what is considered “the norm”.
“When extended to working women in the 1980’s, the suit tended to become restrictive and take the form of short skirts, shoulder pads and, once again, tightness,” says Jeffreys.
Go into any men’s store and you can buy shirts with specific sizing for the neck, shoulders and arms, not to mention the plethora of sizing options for suits.
Women attempting to dress in this fashion have a far narrower spectrum to choose from and have the added wrinkle of breasts.
I know women with large busts who find it next to impossible to source shirts or suit jackets that discretely button over their chests, or the sizes that do fit are so balloon like, the assumption on the part of the manufacturer seeming to be big tits = you’re really fat.
I’m sure the girl in the tartan tights and mini denim skirt felt she was exercising her freedom and sexuality by dressing in the way she was and I’m not knocking it it certainly gave me a jolt no cappuccino could better.
I just wonder if the majority of women and men ever question the roles and uniforms we’re told we have to fill and if questioning is even worth the effort?
If you’d like to email me with a topic suggestion or just vent, try here. I now have too many unanswered emails to catch up on, so I’m instituting a no reply policy (unless you’re hot). In advance, I thank you for your email.
All Men Are Liars fully has MySpace, eh?
Yeah, yeah, we also have FaceBook but that’s just for friends
“The suit performs the function of covering the body comfortably, allowing considerable movement without rucking up, and conceals imperfections of the body..”
Conceals imperfections of the body? She obviously hasn’t seen some of the lardarses populating my building, unless she draws a distinction between “imperfections” and “great big glaring mistakes”.
This brings us to the double edged sword of feminine apparel and artifice, whilst it may often seem a burden, it is also an enabler. The plain or fugly woman will avail herself of make up, extensive hairstyling, and an array of clothing that highlights her best features and conceals her flaws. The man, if he wishes to remain recognisably coded by society as male, is restricted to a narrower range of attire depending on the habitus, and extensive grooming is strictly verboten unless he wishes to have his sexuality questioned.
on the topic of fashion: what is it with wearing the crotch of your jeans down at your knees and your knees and boxer shorts hanging out the top? what would an alien think of that? that human males try to attract the attentions of the opposite sex by demonstrating that they don’t know how to dress themselves? that the sexuality of human females is strongly tied to the mothering instinct, so that a male who appears to require assistance with fastening waistband/belt is a particularly hot prospect? curious indeed..
It is interesting how women generally expose more flesh when they dress but what about when men and women undress. For some reason my boyfriend never lets me see him naked when the lights are on. I wont lie, I have slept with more than my share of men in my life so I have seen all sorts of shapes and sizes. My man always acts so confident when we are out but once we get to the bedroom,
the lights are off before the clothes. Has anyone any idea what is going on?