My boyfriend wears skirts. Not tunics, not man-skirts, and for sure not kilts. He wears skirts and he looks damn good doing it. Unfortunately, it took years for him to build up the courage to wear skirts as much as he wanted to. He suffered because of the male standards in our culture. I want to challenge these male standards and claim that continuing to follow them will be a detriment to our society as a whole.
Since around the 1920’s, it has become increasingly culturally acceptable for women to dress in pants. Today, women have access to blazers and suits that look great. Women have the choice to dress in a feminine or masculine way because they fought and earned that choice. Men have no choices at all. They must either dress in a masculine way or face ridicule. In our broader culture it is acceptable for women to want to be more like men, but for a man to give up his masculine power is a disgrace.
Men are culturally trained to reject feminine clothing in our society. This is because if a man wears feminine clothes, it implies the clothing and the people wearing it are as good as men. My boyfriend has been called sissy, fag, and other terrible names for wearing skirts. All these names come from other men. The idea of another man being happy and comfortable in a skirt is such a shock to them they feel the urge to tear down what they no longer consider a real man to preserve their own masculinity and their power.
Men need feminism just as much as women do. The core idea of feminism is that men and women are equal in society. True acceptance of this elevates women to the power of men, but it also unlocks the full breadth of the human experience to men. Feminist culture invites men to feel beautiful and powerful through makeup and clothing forbidden to them in a patriarchal culture. Feminism gives men a choice to be as masculine or as feminine as they wish, and it is not a mandate to become more feminine.
Even worse, modern masculinity standards are a parody of authentic manhood. We tell our boys to restrict their emotional expression, power through their pain, and never act like a girl. In order to preserve some idealized masculine fantasy, men are encouraging themselves to be less than full human beings. This unrealizable standard that men hold themselves to leads to corrupt and toxic masculinity characterized by external violence, hate, and internal self-loathing. Men, if you consider yourself a real man, call out your male friends when you hear them talking negatively about others in any form. A simple, “Hey man, that’s not cool,” is sufficient self-policing and is a start to changing minds. This is important if we want to work towards making our culture a more just and verdant society.