The Future Is Androgynous, But WTF Does That Even Mean?
It’s not just enough for women to dress like men. Men need to dress like women, too.
You know that thing where it’s way more socially acceptable for a woman to wear pants than for a man to wear a dress? That’s about misogyny. In case you were wondering.
Patriarchal boundaries tell both genders to stay in their lanes, and while we’ve made progress over the past 100 years at kicking holes in the guardrails that keep the genders apart, it makes sense that the first areas to give way were the ones that let women be more like men. At best, it’s women breaking down the boundaries of exclusion. At worst, it‘s society giving its tacit approval because a woman being more like a man is considered an improvement (wump wump).
Freeing up men to be more like women, however, has been a tougher slog. Because for men, being more like a woman is still seen as ridiculous and demeaning — again, because of misogyny. There have been studies to back this up (96 percent of men would not wear women’s clothing, while 88 percent of women would wear men’s), but those aren’t really necessary for anyone living the gender divide firsthand in Western culture every day. It’s one of the many things that I suspect we take for granted not just because it’s everywhere, but because pausing to look too deeply into it is a fairly pessimistic enterprise.
For the longest time, even self-proclaimed “androgynous” fashion has just been about putting models of all genders in some vaguely Star Trek–looking functional pants and tops — perpetuating the less than great idea that male equals default. Of course, there are some feminists out there who take the hard-line view that all feminine garb has actually been artificially foisted onto women by the patriarchy as a means of control, which I suppose would make what we currently call men’s fashion the default neutral style for everybody.
Except that’s silly. Humans have spent thousands of years proving that we’re wildly expressive and creative animals. And just because the patriarchy spent a long time making dresses mandatory for women and off-limits for men doesn’t mean both genders wouldn’t have been pleased as punch to simply have everything as an option.