Feminism has little or nothing to say about crossdressing. I would like to explore why.
Crossdressing can only be a masculine activity. But women can wear any men’s clothing. Male garb often makes them more sexy or striking. Men, when they wear women’s clothing, often look silly. Surely even to feminists. Women generally want their men in “masculine” clothing … while women colonise the use of ALL clothing. Please scroll through all the men and women swapping clothes here. Finished? Now I am speaking to the feminists. If you were to visit a school about enrolling your kids, would you be happy if the male teachers were dressed like that? I doubt it. I wouldn’t either. But any person, feminist or otherwise, would be happy with a female teacher dressed in either men’s or women’s attire. Because ultimately, women rule, honey.
Here we have “women dressed as men”. But the women do not even look like they are wearing men’s clothing. The garb has become women’s domain. I regard crossdressing as a crucial topic precisely because it is marginalised and misunderstood, and that which is marginalised often says most about that which is central to a discourse: and here it is feminism. All women can get away with one of the most visible, public activities of all – how we dress – not men. Why?
Women have had to revolt against men as the ruling class by becoming like men … and gain freedom by becoming at least the equal of men. In fighting against the oppressor, you have to emulate the oppressor. The bullied mirrors the bully to beat him. In overcoming international terrorism or say, the Iraq crisis of the last twenty-odd years, distinctions between oppressors and oppressed have blurred.
This has implications about which sex really is the oppressor and which the oppressed in current times in developed, urban spaces. It’s not the simple binary so many feminists speak of (oppressor/oppressed = male/female). Some feminists militate against prostitution as a form of oppression without wanting to acknowledge a raw fact. These “whores”, in this much-needed profession, are often boss. Having lived in China for a number of years, I have seen these women at work and my partner even let me go see what goes on in these brothels. These ladies are predators. They love their carnivorous role, their domination over males who look up to them with tongues lolling. These tigresses squeeze out of guys an obscene amount of money for what may have only been a few minutes of sticky pleasure and where she is in complete control, and this is what the man wants, indeed craves. He so wishes to shirk his over-achieving, over-responsible, stroke-inducing, imprisoning masculine role in those velvet Shanghai caverns where pussy and titty rule supreme. Where almighty pussy sucks in the grateful man and says, “there, there, baby”. Which is all he was, and perhaps still is, as he originally came from there. And, after sex, the woman holding him listens to all his little headaches about the stock exchange, his domineering wife, his problems at work.
To view these “whores” as oppressed is ludicrous. I have seen them chew up men and spit them out with a giggle. The men look as silly, childlike and helpless as some of the crossdressers in the above link. And it’s because they want to. Women rule in a subtle, clandestine way that will never be as crudely obvious as that vulnerable, needy impostor, the erect penis.
Then look at kindergartens. These institutions are the crucible for the social development of toddlers. They are the bellwether of all future education and perceptions in the impressionable tot. And kindergartens are matriarchies through and through, virtually impervious to men. I know this first hand, having taught in one for six months. The queen-women scold, smack bums, wipe arses, give approval, hug and impress deeply on that child – from the very first – which sex RULES. And this perception is set for life. Ask any Jesuit priest what he can impress on a child forever. Just think on the impact this has on your self-worth: the humiliation of having strange women — not men — scold you for not wiping your bum properly, and giving approval for when you do correctly wipe your arse. And many feminists say we live in a patriarchal society where women are the hapless victims of “the male gaze”? My hairy (but well-wiped) backside! It’s just not as simple as that. Crossdressers testify to this through their puzzling adoration of women’s things, their willingness to deify the ruling feminine principle we have virtually all known since birth; and crossdressers celebrate women’s “stuff” at a sacrifice: scorn and even physical abuse.
The “male gaze”. The argument often goes like this. Women are the victims of a patriarchal culture that inculcates in females of all ages a male-dominated set of scripts for what constitutes beauty and acceptance. As a result of this hegemony, women feel worthless and almost never able to live up to the masculine ideal of women’s beauty, thus reinforcing the othering, victimising male gaze.
There is so much naively wrong with the above sort of thinking (perhaps already clear from what I have argued above) that I feel like a nudist in a mosquito colony. I just don’t know where to begin.
To state the excruciatingly obvious, men are also victims of this “beauty culture”. For example, many of us envy the abdominal six pack but will never have one. Or the lean, tight ass. Or the striking features of say, Hugh Jackman. Who decides on these beauty scripts for men or women? It’s not a who. It’s an advertising and fashion industry hell-bent on making as much money out of idiots as possible, regardless of their sex or their attitudes about feminism.
And what about those dear, dear men wearing the latest in make-up, stockings and high heels? So long as we have them around, our female-dominated cultural lenses decide they look so bizarre and silly in noble fashions that are meant for the ruling class.