|We all know that lesbians never wear skirts, and no straight woman would ever be caught dead in a pair of pants! Amirite? |
Despite the comical value of such a sweeping generalization (not to mention an obvious troll comment), this still brings to light an interesting topic. For whatever reason, there is still a quite prevalent social perception that men who do feminine things must be gay. Now, the purpose of this blog has always been to separate social perceptions and prejudices from reality, and in turn destroy them, thusly both empowering and encouraging people to just be themselves. Let's get into this, shall we?
When I started down this whole fashion freedom path, the first question that Mrs. Spookshow asked me was, "Are you gay?" I was truly taken aback by this, but could understand where she was coming from. Since birth, most of us have been told at some point or another that boys like to (and should) do certain things, and girls like to (and should) do certain things, and to deviate from these standards is wrong and weird (and that if you do, you are probably gay). Now, women have managed to shrug off some of these assumptions over the years (though they haven't broken free entirely), but largely it seems that men have been left with a very small box to exist within.
It's important to note that this starts from a very young age, and though most often seen and thought of through playground bullying, it often goes much further than just that. Boys who don't like sports, roughhousing, or playing soldier can often face ridicule and abuse from parents as well as children. For people who deviate from the "norms", there's often an immense social pressure from a very young age to fit in, to not go against the herd. Before I talk about why this is, I want to talk about some of my personal experiences.
I was fortunate when growing up, as my parents often told me to not be afraid to be myself and make my own course. On a broad and simple level, I think they mostly told me this to try to keep me out of trouble from peer pressure (falling in with a bad crowd just to be cool, smoking, drugs, ect). I've got a bit of a joke with myself in thinking that my parents probably didn't have their son wearing dresses in mind when they told me this so often growing up, but hey, ha! Now, I've made some choices that my parents haven't always agreed with or even liked, but they've always stood by me, and I absolutely realize how lucky I am to have that support. This goes to the reason I have this blog ... I want to sort of "pay it forward", so to speak, and offer my support to people who may not otherwise have a stable support base at home, and try to give them the courage to be themselves through example.
So why do I think there is a social pressure to fit people into neat little boxes of behavior and likes based on gender? I think it ultimately comes down to fear of the unknown. I think there's a deep seated human desire to understand everything and to fit it all into categories. When we are presented with things we may not understand (but can't be bothered to really think about), it's simply easier to just toss it into a preexisting category and move on. I think the line of thinking (usually subconscious) goes as such:
Boy like girls. Girls like boys. All boys like boy things. All girls like girl things. Boys that like girl things must want to be girls. Boys that like girl things must like boys.
If you've stuck with me this far, I don't need to tell you that these types of sweeping generalizations are tragic. It really disappoints me, though, that for a lot of people the above thought process makes more sense (and is preferable) to the simple thought that all people are different, and that's great.
So I can see then, quite easily, following the former thought process (that, again, has probably been somewhat subconsciously enforced in most of us from a young age) why there seems to be a mental connection between boys in dresses and being gay. However, there is not a substantial link between sexuality and gender. The two things are just not related.
Clothing will always be used as a language in our society. It can communicate everything from status, rank, wealth, and opinions. So my point here isn't that that is going to change, because it isn't. What I'm working towards here is a redefinition of what certain sartorial choices say. Putting on a dress doesn't make you gay, and being gay doesn't make you want to put on a dress.
A lot of my essays seem to focus on masculinity and femininity, and what I feel their role should be in defining us, and it seems that this essay is no exception. The entire point of this essay is just to say that masculinity and femininity are not (and should not be) linked to sexuality. Just as our gender should not define who we are, our sexuality should not either. We are all a collection of likes, dislikes, traits, thoughts, and feelings, and no two people are exactly alike. That should be celebrated, not discouraged. What I'm trying to say is, just don't be so quick to judge, nor so eager to put people into categories. That includes yourself.
Be you. Own it, love it, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.