Rita Moreno wore a tie to the Golden Globes.
I sometimes wonder about the kind of clothing that excites me. I seem to crave everything Ellen wears, things that some may take as code-words for “I’m gay.” Am I gay? Is Rita?
I’ve only ever had het relationships, and I never pined for women as a youngster, but I do feel a bit fed up with men. A shade of sexism that really gets under my skin is the one where men, at least men my age, feel entitled to be pleased, by women as a given. Whether that pleasure is close up or from afar, they seem to feel my choices should reflect a pleasure they are owed.
I’ll leave a better analysis of the “male gaze” to others more qualified, and guys, I know not one of you wrote me a note telling me how to dress. I don’t have a problem with any person feeling pleased at the existence of any other person, and I support any person’s right to please whomever they want. But the idea that women as a whole class owe the whole class of men this pleasure, should prioritize it, and that women who lack interest in doing that are falling short and even contemptible (or gay) (or un-hirable), is an idea that turns my crank. If I want to wear a tie, because it looks crisp and buttoned-up, I’m not failing men or deserving of derision, nor a freak who is trying to be ugly.
I know I’m not the first person to say this. I just want to be one more person saying it, one more straight person saying it.
Define ugly. Have I really failed my mission of “caring what men like” when I realize that high heels are silly and hurt? I wouldn’t lecture against the silliness or the sacrifice if you, male or female, really enjoy your increased height and elegantly pointed toe, which I occasionally do. If you want to femme out, femme out. But am I willing to endure the physical discomfort and awkward gait of Stilettos only as a worried attempt to blend? When I rock my Docs? The worst fashion choice is the one that appeases. Why the cultural directive that my collarbone be visible?
I’ve even heard from women who take issue with what I’m saying here, translating it as “giving up,” a wish to “let myself go.” Again, define the context: let myself go from what? From unthreatening cuteness and a need to please? While there are gobs of things it feels liberating to give up, I don’t comprehend how a rejection of oppressive norms implicates my health, fitness, self-care, or taste. I think it’s more fashion-forward, if that’s a concern, to crave all the available style without restricting myself to the portion assigned to my so-called gender category. You can apply the same logic to men’s available choices (more man skirts!), and while I take no issue with anyone’s sexy flair, I also can’t fail to see how much mass-produced female clothing consists of impractical, uncomfortable, costumey attempts to solidify a woman’s sense of place around succeeding at pleasing men. When it’s less self expression and more a following-of-rules, that’s decidedly unstylish. To me, sexiness is daring. If I’m going to set a style ideal, it would be to take the dare. I don’t want my clothing to apologize or beg.
I know het men like female body parts, and who can point fingers if they are happy to see them or be reminded of them? But I think we know from thousands of years of procreation that the het deed gets done, no matter who’s wearing what. And dudes, the parts you like are there, I can assure you, whether or not I draw your attention. So a possibility stokes my imagination: maybe they don’t tell us what they like. Maybe we tell them what they like. Really, if a man is going to reject me over the length of my board shorts or the crispness of my collar, then I should give a nod to that red flag and be grateful for time not wasted. The only fashion I want is fashion-forward, and while I want to get laid as much as the next gal, I prefer it with someone who craves my general bad-assedness. If men as a whole class simply lack that ability, if a necktie is really a dealbreaker, well then, golly fellas, maybe I’ll take a pass.
You deserve to enjoy your clothes! If you fancy tomboy style, here are some clothing sites that float my boat:
Wildfang - apparel for modern feminists and badass women (with some great looking ties) Kirrin Finch - real shirts! Read their great blog about the history of women wearing "men's" clothing. Muttonhead - unisex outdoorsy stuff for women and men Skirtcraft - Unisex skirts for women and men - with large pockets! Bindle & Keep - The Brooklyn tailor for all kinds of bodies