So the way I want this blog to start heading is less about the considered, slow and, above all, painfully delay-prone musings about big asexual issues (though asexual issues will still be central), but to open the scope out to more general ideas about sexuality and gender. The gender bit is important. I have a lot of thoughts on gender.
So today, leaving my basic ideas about gender for another time, I’m going to dive straight into the big questions I have about performative masculinity. I may be inadvertently transphobic in this post. If you think I am, please bawl me out on it in the comments.
I’ve always been annoyed with how women can wear things that look pretty, ornament without merit other than the fact that it’s simply good to look at. Men’s clothing is dominated by status, and prettiness is difficult to work in. The image that burnt it into my brain is this one.
See how all the men wear boring suits while the woman has something original? It isn’t very exciting, no, but that just demonstrates how little freedom men have. Even something as simply-tailored as little white bits on the lapels is too effeminate.
Ok, so I realise this freedom screws women over. It’s the freedom to be dolls, judged only on your appearance, the freedom to be cookie-cutter cute, but still. I want the pretty.
And with this sensitivity to the plight of the poor, ugly and unloved modern man, I’ve been casting my eye over various fashion blogs and internet resources designed for people presenting as male. I won’t link any of them here, because I’m going to be rude about most of them. The ones for straight cismen weird me out. They have a tendency to go on and on about how amazing it is to be a gentlemen, and how much better we are than those filthy degenerates who wear white after labour day, or don’t take a stand on the big ‘how many vents should a suit have’ issue. Because that kind of person is just worthless.
The ones for transmen and butch women are a slightly subtler kind of weird. At first, it seems like almost the same plunge into the world of your grandfather. The same excitement about pocket squares and trilbys, clinging to the relics of a bygone age because there is too little beauty in this modern world. But it’s more of a personal feelgood factor. ‘I have this cool new tie tack, isn’t it awesome’. Everything in the cisgentlemen’s wardrobe is designed to create superiority. Not even that, designed to create a snivelling and imagined inferiority in others. Because that’s what these men get out of clothes. Wheras these people raised as women, they, like me, seek out the pretty. They just want fun and style.
I don’t know how many cisgendered men really wear tie tacks. Apart from the very elderly, there are probably a few. It doesn’t stop me imagining the entire tie tack industry being kept alive by transmen and butch women who buy into this idea of performing masculinity.
Men don’t seem to perform masculinity through clothes. Or when they do, it’s about clan allegiance or status symbols. And I feel slightly sorry for these people raised as women, who’ve thought “Right, I’m going to go out and dress like the best guy ever.” Because that’s applying female principles to the thing. They dig through the history books and the antique shops, looking for ways to perform masculinity, when masculinity is performed through absence.
I see myself in them. Looking for something that will be positive, that will be pretty, when all men seem able to hope for is something simple enough to make them look good, or status-filled enough to make them better than scum like us.