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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
by on Mar. 6, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Replies (41-50):
TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Mar. 7, 2013 at 12:48 PM

 Well, I disagree with that.  I think most people are far too self-involved to give a darn about what other people are doing and wearing, especially out in the world.  I think a guy in a skirt could walk by 75% of the people out there and go unnoticed entirely.  Most people can't even look up from their cell phones long enough to drive somewhere or even pay attention to their child who is climbing out of his carseat or grocery cart.  I see it every day.

I think incidents of violence and nasty remarks are relatively rare, which is why they are newsworthy.

Even this guy here admits getting high fives and free coffee for wearing women's clothes and looking ridiculous - up to the point where he wears a skirt (he says). 

Quoting muslimahpj:

No, it isnt. People get judged by what they wear and how they look all the time. 

Quoting TranquilMind:

 

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
by Platinum Member on Mar. 7, 2013 at 12:52 PM

 

Nothing justifies violence or unwanted touching or invasion of space, whether it is just dressing like a clown or dressing sexually.  So, no.

But you must realize that when you do choose to dress strangely, you will get attention, most of which will be entirely benign.  But you know this up front going in, so you can't complain about people staring or whatever afterward (again - violence is a crime and is NOT justified, and is legally actionable).

Quoting jllcali:

The whole "it's your choice if you dress that way" attitude bothers me. Sounds an awful lot like "dressed like that, she was asking for it".



Quoting TranquilMind:

 Lots of people are WAY outside social norms in many different ways , but you can look however you want.  It's your choice if you dress to draw that kind of attention. 


 


Quoting LucyMom08:


 I think what he meant by that, was that there are many people who have to live with daily ridicule and feeling uncomfortable within their own skin, while simultaneously dealing with the feelings that come from being outside social 'norms'...


Quoting TranquilMind:


" 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. 


 


 


 

 

 

TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Mar. 7, 2013 at 12:56 PM

 Soft, politically correct science.

You know I meant hard science, like oh, maybe...in a lab attempting to develop a cure for some disease?  Something important.  I'm sorry but seeing if you can achieve your foregone conclusion that people will think it is weird if you are a dude dressed in a skirt just doesnt' qualify as important. 


Quoting autodidact:

 

sociology IS a science.

Quoting TranquilMind:

" 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. 

 

 


 

polyhymia
by Member on Mar. 7, 2013 at 1:08 PM
1 mom liked this


The area I live in, you would never see stuff like that. The people here are very "small-town" I suppose. In high school we had the goth group who wore some make-up (mostly black nail polish but a few extremists wore white face paint) and they got so much trouble for it. A gay male would have even more trouble if he did not dress in a socially acceptable way. My family went to D.C. last year and a man was walking down the road in a purple skirt, and my MIL just stopped and starred for a minute. She had never seen anything like that before. It is interesting how different areas are with this sort of thing. Based on my area, the article doesn't surprise me at all. I have seen one man who would dress in drag on occasion, and he got similar treatment and he eventually moved.

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



Sekirei
by Nari Trickster on Mar. 7, 2013 at 1:11 PM
3 moms liked this

no.. it is the study of human society and it's origins. The basics started around 1056 and became an actual study about 1600's ... far before the politically correct bullshit.

Quoting TranquilMind:

 Soft, politically correct science.

You know I meant hard science, like oh, maybe...in a lab attempting to develop a cure for some disease?  Something important.  I'm sorry but seeing if you can achieve your foregone conclusion that people will think it is weird if you are a dude dressed in a skirt just doesnt' qualify as important. 


Quoting autodidact:


sociology IS a science.

Quoting TranquilMind:

" 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. 






purpleducky
by Silver Member on Mar. 7, 2013 at 1:12 PM
4 moms liked this
Awesome experiment. Breaking gender barriers can kill you. He is brave.
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mlg1989
by Bronze Member on Mar. 7, 2013 at 1:13 PM
Very interesting.
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TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Mar. 7, 2013 at 1:23 PM

 Well....if you want to reach far beyond what passes for sociology today (like this "experiment"), Plato and Confucious wrote about the structure and roles in society.  But it was Comte who was considered the first real sociologist in the mid-1800's.  He wrote about the social ills and potential remedies after the French Revolution had completely up-ended society as it had been known. 

But here, we've got, "Gee, I wonder if and how people will react if I wear women's clothes?"

Quoting Sekirei:

no.. it is the study of human society and it's origins. The basics started around 1056 and became an actual study about 1600's ... far before the politically correct bullshit.

Quoting TranquilMind:

 Soft, politically correct science.

You know I meant hard science, like oh, maybe...in a lab attempting to develop a cure for some disease?  Something important.  I'm sorry but seeing if you can achieve your foregone conclusion that people will think it is weird if you are a dude dressed in a skirt just doesnt' qualify as important. 

 

Quoting autodidact:

 

sociology IS a science.

Quoting TranquilMind:

" 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. 

 

 

 

 



 

Sekirei
by Nari Trickster on Mar. 7, 2013 at 1:27 PM
1 mom liked this

Roles in their society.. and when I took sociology, it was a mainly conservative view point. (And I took it through a big liberal college) So, unless that has changed in the past..4 years, then it is still mainly conservative 

If you cannot see the actual point to the experiment, then not much is going to help explain it to you. 

Quoting TranquilMind:

 Well....if you want to reach far beyond what passes for sociology today (like this "experiment"), Plato and Confucious wrote about the structure and roles in society.  But it was Comte who was considered the first real sociologist in the mid-1800's.  He wrote about the social ills and potential remedies after the French Revolution had completely up-ended society as it had been known. 

But here, we've got, "Gee, I wonder if and how people will react if I wear women's clothes?"

Quoting Sekirei:

no.. it is the study of human society and it's origins. The basics started around 1056 and became an actual study about 1600's ... far before the politically correct bullshit.

Quoting TranquilMind:

 Soft, politically correct science.

You know I meant hard science, like oh, maybe...in a lab attempting to develop a cure for some disease?  Something important.  I'm sorry but seeing if you can achieve your foregone conclusion that people will think it is weird if you are a dude dressed in a skirt just doesnt' qualify as important. 


Quoting autodidact:


sociology IS a science.

Quoting TranquilMind:

" 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. 









jllcali
by Jane on Mar. 7, 2013 at 1:32 PM
1 mom liked this
Why should people be subjected to ridicule for what they wear at all. It should be a non issues. Should it be okay if every person who thought your hairstyle looked bad mock you? Or people who find your face unattractive? Or your glasses are ugly? Afterall, you can choose a different hairstyle or cover your face or wear contacts so you can look more acceptable.

Quoting TranquilMind:

 


Nothing justifies violence or unwanted touching or invasion of space, whether it is just dressing like a clown or dressing sexually.  So, no.


But you must realize that when you do choose to dress strangely, you will get attention, most of which will be entirely benign.  But you know this up front going in, so you can't complain about people staring or whatever afterward (again - violence is a crime and is NOT justified, and is legally actionable).


Quoting jllcali:

The whole "it's your choice if you dress that way" attitude bothers me. Sounds an awful lot like "dressed like that, she was asking for it".




Quoting TranquilMind:


 Lots of people are WAY outside social norms in many different ways , but you can look however you want.  It's your choice if you dress to draw that kind of attention. 



 



Quoting LucyMom08:



 I think what he meant by that, was that there are many people who have to live with daily ridicule and feeling uncomfortable within their own skin, while simultaneously dealing with the feelings that come from being outside social 'norms'...



Quoting TranquilMind:



" 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. 



 



 



 


 


 

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