Rod MacKenzie
Rod MacKenzie

Frogs and queens: Crossdressing, spirituality and Feminism (II)

“The moral failing most common to men is brutishness.” So says “Jill” the wife of a crossdresser. “Jill” writes this in the context of having learned – with limitations – to accept her husband’s crossdressing behaviour as outlined in an appendix to Bert & Lori: The autobiography of a crossdresser, written by Robert J Rowe (a pseudonym). Jill defends her husband “Bert’s” crossdressing, especially when he transforms into his second self, “Lori”. For her, Bert can never be a brute. He is considerate, precisely because he is a crossdresser. One could jump ahead and say it’s because he’s in touch with his feminine side. Especially when he dons petticoat and bra and pouts his simpering, painted lips at his transformed “madam”, and they have lingering foreplay and sex in this manner at agreed-upon times. Bert, as a crossdresser, is therefore incapable of being a selfish bastard; he is sensitive to Jill’s needs at virtually all times, both in and out of the groaning bed. Well, that much is true. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.


Firstly, most women certainly would not be thrilled with being seduced by a man dressed up as a woman. They would regard such behaviour as abusive, repulsive and selfish, which contradicts the above. The statistics referred to in the meticulously researched and deeply personal Bert & Lori bear this out. So …


Why am I interested in the subject of crossdressing?

Because of my own “numinous” experiences with it when I dressed up for fun as a drag queen, as outlined in my previous blog. Because it breaks with the norms. And because it is little-understood, ancient behaviour. Perhaps most importantly, because crossdressing is first and foremost male behaviour. To risk a truism, you have to be male to dress up as a woman. It is therefore exclusively male behaviour, by men who are often utterly masculine in every other respect. I’ll discuss my reasons for my interest in crossdressing under two headings.


Because crossdressing suggests the numinous or spiritual


Bert, like many others, experiences the following when crossdressed as his “second self” (a term deliberately used by many crossdressers): “[I was] overcome by a remarkable feeling of awe. I sensed what felt like a supernatural presence and seemed momentarily to enter a realm where desire was obliterated by satisfaction.” In his research, including reading Havelock Ellis, Bert finds this “transcendent” experience to be common among a number of crossdressers. Why?


By breaking with conventions, Bert enters another realm of possibility, seemed to move to another plane of consciousness. He does this through crossdressing, a “rite” that is harmless, unlike drugs. One role of clothing is to create or express identity. And to restrict identity. We seldom question the identity that is proscribed for us. To use a teaching on mindfulness from, say, Buddhism, we are breathed, instead of learning to consciously breathe, and thus become mindful of the wonderful apparatus of our lungs. It seems dressing as the “other” can create a new level of consciousness, where repressed or neurotic desires are “obliterated” or released through catharsis. This can be seen in various festivals like the Mardi Gras.


But this barely begins to explain the mystery: why certain men dress as women. Or that some crossdressers find it erotic to dress up and others do it because they just enjoy female clothing without any fetishism involved. Some crossdressers, like Virginia Prince, are public, honey-I’m-in-your-face crossdressers. Others, like Bert, are utterly private. The only common denominator among a variety of crossdressers is wearing women’s clothes. Crossdressers resist categorising, wonderfully so. Which brings me to my next point.


Because it breaks with the norms, including “Feminism”


I distrust carbon-copy behaviour. This does not mean I don’t go for norms that reflect valuing human beings and all life. I am talking about crowd behaviour; doing what is accepted by the majority; the prescriptions handed down by the advertising priests. This of course includes the “politically correct” ways of viewing things, and, most definitely, what has become of Feminism (capitalised to incorporate in one term the huge variety of feminisms available). There was a time when Feminism was sorely needed. The abuse of women was and still is horrific. But the butch viciousness with which I see some Feminists defending and advancing their own causes, often creates an “us and them” mentality that perpetuates one of humankind’s oldest malaises: creating enemies. If there is one phrase that seems to define the whole of our sad, fucked-up history, it is creating enemies. Inescapably, the enemy that is at times created by Feminists, is men. They’re also people.


I don’t have to be a feminist of any kind to abhor rape, family abuse and wife battering. Or to agree with equality in the workplace. I just need to be what I am: a conscious human being.


As repugnant, or downright weird, or a subject for laughter and scorn as crossdressing is to many, a basic, salient point is often missed. Crossdressers love feminine clothing; indeed, all things womanly. They are transformed by female attire and accoutrements. And through all this “nancy-ness” crossdressers show, right there in your face, sweetheart, that they adore and respect women through imitation. Kilts or “pretty” masculine clothes will not do, dearest. The clothing they wear has to be specifically women’s, that gender whom they often worship.


As idealistic as it may sound, crossdressers, though marginalised, by and large show enormous respect for the human race through their harmless, often fun, and even ego-effacing proclivity. Increasingly, some Feminists do not.


But crossdressers often also go through an enormous amount of shaming: a toxic, humiliating gauntlet of ego-destroying experiences from early childhood. I will explore this in a future blog. And the need for a lot more fun in our lives.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

  • The allure of Louisa Punt-Fouché’s poetry
  • Researching and re-imagining the “Fag Hag”
  • The present ‘world dis-order’
  • The Place of Sara Baartman at UCT
    • ZandileM


    • Olivia

      Fantastic Rod! Wonderful insights. I’ve been fascinated with this for much of my life (in my determination to understand myself as well as men on the path of understanding themselves better) so its wonderful to be exposed to new perspectives I hadn’t thought of before, to be able to put myself in “his” shoes.

      There is no shame in any of this. Ive often felt it rather unfair that women get to dress up so much and play around with mens and womens clothes, and men have so little to dress up with… when they do they are met with harsh criticism. We all have the balance of masculine and feminine in us, and to be truly liberated, and to live in an authentic way, its important to be able to express these levels as they slide up and down the scale in us throughout our lives…. even throughout the day!

      Another great piece of writing. I love your vulnerable articles the most – they provide opportunities for others to relate to your experiences, open up and heal from deep secret wounds, and I often relate to them too.

      Thank you for writing it.

    • TJ

      Little boy?

      1. Lesbian feminists have been cross-dressing for fucking decades before you were born. Pretending that cross-dressing is something only men can do is so pathetically ignorant it’s actually kind of sad. Read a history book.

      2. You accuse feminist women of ‘creating enemies.’ Here’s a thought; maybe if men stopped raping us, beating us, molesting us, objectifying us and earning more money than we do, we wouldn’t view them as our enemies. Wouldn’t that be nice?

      3. Really cute of you to describe the ‘butch viciousness’ of feminists in those terms. Why don’t you say what you mean, honey; those ugly, angry lesbo dykes who keep being so meeeean to the poor little innocent menfolk.

      4. And that’s really what your little rant boils down to; ‘Cross-dressing men are SO MUCH BETTER than stupid, angry dyke women!’

      5. If you really think men who occasionally wear dresses have to deal with ANYTHING LIKE the amount of bullshit women (particularly butch women) have to deal with, you’re a spoiled twit.

      6. Grow up.