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International Men’s Day: Let Men Wear What They Want

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A silly men’s rights activist holiday is my excuse to post photos of men slaying it in dresses and heels.

“Yo Boy” Young Thug wearing a mini skirt and crop top combo

Yesterday was International Men’s Day, mostly according to people who have a bone to pick with feminism. They start you off with talking about men’s mental health and suicide rates, which are indeed much higher, and me, a feminist, nods along happily until I hear “red pill” and “establishment”. Then its clearly not about men’s rights, its about what women have taken away from men. The abuses of other men against men, unless they are somehow allied with the feminists, is largely absent. If you feel like torturing yourself, check out http://www.internationalmensday.com/.

But I couldn’t help myself. On Twitter yesterday, I decided to have my own fun with the hashtag #InternationalMensDay that is both poking fun at Men’s Rights Activism and actually a serious approach to toxic masculinity. One of the privileges I think women truly do hold over men is that society lets us be “pretty” while men are not allowed to be “pretty” and also be men. If a man wears a dress, he is said to be “dressing like a woman”. There’s little space for men to play with traditionally feminine style and still present themselves to the world as men.

Note I am not dismissing or erasing the wonderful artistry of drag queens, but the point of a drag queen is that it is a man becoming a female character. I want to highlight the men who wear make up, nail polish, heels, and dresses and still use the pronoun “he” and are fine with their name being “Steve”.

Eddie Izzard, who now uses the word “trans” in his gender identity, pretty much sums it up.

Of course, Eddie always knew he was trans, but he didn’t always have the most clear language to express that to others. He used to joke about being a “male lesbian”, feeling female but being attracted to women, and also having a butch tomboy mode. But not every man who chooses to wear something traditionally “girly” is trans or gay (and even if they are, that’s fine too).

Another example is Will Smith’s son Jaden who happily wears skirts in high fashion editorials and just out and about. He’s still very young and we know people can still be working through their gender identity at that age, but right now he’s comfortable being a male smashing gender conformity.

Rapper Young Thug has also worn dresses and declared he feels “like there’s no such thing as gender“. One of my favorite people to watch YouTube clips of is dancer and choreographer Yanis Marshall. He is unabashedly gay, but mixes sexy heels and feminized dance moves with a look that is definitely masculine. He and his back up dancers dress from the ankles up in traditional men’s wear and even sport beards. Its a dance performance so they’re obviously playing some type of character but that character is male. Below is him and his dudes dancing to Khia’s “My Neck My Back”. (NSFW lyrics so just put the sound on low)

A friend also alerted me to frequent Beyonce choreographer Jonte Moaning who mixes masculine and feminine styles in his own work. In an interview with Out magazine he dismisses the label “drag queen” for himself and prefers to be a “male” that “looks good in women’s clothes”. Below is a video of a performance where he begins with masculine moves in masculine wear and then sheds them half way through to reveal a clingy bodysuit and heels. And by the way, the bodysuit leaves no room for questioning what genitals are being contained therein. Drag Queens usually “tuck”.

While it is absolutely true that women will engage in the kind of behavior that shames men for wearing what they want, it is other men that pose a clear and present physical danger. Eddie in particular has been vocal about what has happened over the years as he goes out in public as a “bloke in a dress”, and its always been men who have tried to physically harm him. This of course will get lost on the MRA crowd.

That’s probably enough fabulousness for today. Do you have any favorite men who play with traditional gender clothing styles?

**I left out Bowie because I can’t go through photos of him on the internet without crying, but post your faves in the comments!

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