Crossdressing: What's Good For The Goose Should Be Good For The Gander
Widespread among crossdressers is the feeling that it is unfair that
society discriminates against them for choosing to wear feminine clothes.
There is good reason for this feeling that male crossdressers are
unfairly discriminated against; after all, women frequently dress in masculine
clothing - the woman truck driver wears jeans and a plaid shirt and the woman
executive wears a smart suit and carries a briefcase.
crossdressers - women who choose to dress in clothing normally worn by men and
to thereby bring out the masculine aspects of their own personality - are so
numerous and so open about their crossdressing that they face no problems from
Every woman who has ever worn a pair of slacks or jeans or a
male-style shirt is a crossdresser. Modern fashion designers now recognise the
importance of crossdressing to women by producing large ranges of male style
clothing (trouser suits, jeans and so on) but despite the wide availability of
ersatz male clothing many women still prefer to wear the real thing; the
original, male articles made out of rougher materials and with a chunkier more
masculine style. This is not surprising since the unspoken, and very possibly
unrecognised aim, is after all, to find the greatest possible contrast to
normal, female clothing.
It is no coincidence that women have started to
dress more and more in men's clothing as they have become more and more
liberated; the rising role of women in business, politics and sport, and
increased crossdressing by women, are twin, important features of the twentieth
century which go together as well as a bra and pantie set. While men crossdress
to bring out the allegedly `feminine' qualities of their personality, women
crossdress to draw out the harsh, allegedly `masculine' qualities of their
`It's perfectly OK for women to wear trousers, men's
shirts, and boots,' said one crossdresser who wrote to me. `But people get
terribly excited if a man dares to wear something delicate or frilly. I don't
mean to sound as though I'm whingeing but it's simply not fair.'
right. This discriminatory attitude towards male crossdressers is quite
ridiculous.Women have entered all areas of a once `male' part of the world; why
should anyone now object when men attempt to enter a once `female' part of the
If a young girl exhibits any masculine qualities she is
described, rather affectionately, as a tomboy. And if a woman exhibits strong,
typically and traditionally male qualities she is admired for taking a stance
and congratulated for sticking up for herself.
A woman can be tough or
gentle and still be considered a woman. Women today can do whatever they want.
They have won the right to smoke cigarettes in the street, to drive buses, to
take the highest political office, to fly aeroplanes, to operate factory
machinery, to drive trains, to run huge, international businesses and to do just
about anything that takes their fancy. Women are in a wonderful position for
they can be competitive or ambitious as and when they want to be and yet if they
fail they can slide daintily back into femininity.
Men have no such
choice: they must be constantly driving forward, fighting their way towards the
goals which have been set for them by society.
Why should it be
considered perfectly right and proper for a woman to show her emotions by
crying, and to show consideration for others or for animals, and yet considered
rather odd for a man to show the same emotions and feelings?
Women seem to regard the freedom they now enjoy as a
natural right. But a mere century or so ago women did not have these rights.
Women had to behave daintily; as `women'.
Today's men are in a similar
but contrasting `mirror image' position to the one women were in a century ago;
they have to behave firmly and aggressively - as `men'. A man still has to be
tough if he wants to be regarded as a man. If a boy or man exhibits feminine
qualities he will be described as `girlish' or as a `sissy' - and there is no
doubt that the words are being used in a pejorative, condemnatory sense.
Many men, when faced with the fact that they cannot safely exhibit
personal feelings and emotions which they know to be genuinely held, feel
concerned that there must be something wrong with them. It is this dichotomy
which often leads to alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness.
female who feels strong male qualities can dress and get a job where her
qualities will be recognised and rewarded. The male who feels feminine qualities
rising within himself, and who feels uncomfortable with society's constant
expectation for him to exhibit strong, male qualities, may well have a nervous
breakdown (or, in order to avoid the inner conflict end up running away from
society in some way).
And yet it is perfectly natural and healthy for a
man to have feminine feelings. Every human being is a mixture of `male' and
`female' qualities. Anatomical males are not exclusively aggressive and tough
any more than anatomical females are exclusively dainty and compassionate. We
all contain elements of `maleness' and `femaleness' and it is dangerous to
attempt to suppress some of those elements. It is, indeed, the widespread
suppression of femininity among men which explains why males live such
noticeably shorter lives than females.
We describe human qualities as
`male' or `female' according to social rules rather than because they are
genetically associated with men or women. Aggression and dominance are not
inherently male qualities. In matriarchal societies where women are in charge
they adopt aggressive, dominant qualities. Even though all the qualities
associated with both maleness and femaleness are present in all human beings it
is easy for some qualities to become dominant. Men are expected to be aggressive
and so tenderness and compassion are repressed.
The male began to regard
himself - and be regarded - as an aggressive, bold hunter when the lack of
vegetarian food turned man, through topical necessity, into a temporary
carnivore. The female, who stayed behind to look after the children and the fire
while the man went off looking for animals to kill, acquired a powerful, social
image as a gentle, caring `mother' figure.
In today's society maleness
and aggression are virtually synonyms, but aggression is present in both sexes
and is only more obvious in men because our society trains and expects men to be
aggressive. It is male misfortune that they have adopted (and are expected to
display) the more hurtful and damaging emotional qualities. We are all human
beings and as human beings we all have within us both male and female qualities.
We are not as `male' or as `female' as our physical form might suggest. The
qualities which society tends to regard as `male' (strong, silent, unemotional,
unwavering and reliable) are combined within us all alongside the qualities
which society tends to regard as `female' (gentleness, tenderness, sympathy,
emotional, soft hearted and unpredictable).The only difference is that women now
express the full range of emotions available to them while men still suppress
those emotions which are considered inappropriate.
It is ironic that
women, who normally, naturally and traditionally express the healthiest
emotions, (crying and allowing oneself to be seen as vulnerable is healthy both
because crying liberates toxic substances from the body and because it attracts
sympathetic support from bystanders) should, in recent years, have been
encouraged to explore and express their previously hidden masculine emotions
while men, who normally and traditionally suppress the healthiest emotions (and,
as a consequence become liable to problems such as heart disease), should not
have been given any sort of social permission to change.
expected to be aggressive; to fight for themselves, their families and what they
see as their rights. Men are expected to be forceful, ruthless and strong. Our
society expects every man to be constantly competitive but does not expect him
to exhibit any signs of tenderness - indeed, these are likely to be dismissed as
signs of weakness and unsuitability.
When dressed in feminine clothing a
man can temporarily put aside the aggression and allow himself to feel more
tender and more gentle. Crossdressing, in its various forms, is a totally
healthy and honest way of tackling a very real problem. Crossdressers are
fighting for the freedom to express all aspects of their own personalities.
Crossdressers do not want to give up their male qualities and nor do they want
to stop being able to live as men; they simple want to adopt and enjoy their own
female qualities. Most crossdressers enjoy all the usual male activities, such
as sports and messing around with cars; wearing feminine clothing is an
extension of their lives, and not a substitution for their masculinity.
Most men still don't feel able to exhibit traditionally female
qualities. Most men still hide their emotions from one another and from
themselves. It is the burying of their emotions which results in men suffering
so much damage from stress.
At heart most men are just as romantic,
compassionate and sensitive as most women. But most men dare not admit their
gentleness, their sensitivity or their femininity to themselves - let alone show
it to others. They cover their sensitivity with crude jokes, innuendo and
As stress becomes increasingly invasive and
inescapable so men suffer more and more from stress-related disorders. Men are
every bit as soft and as emotional as women; they need sympathy, support and
encouragement just as much as women. There is a man inside every woman and a
woman inside every man. The physical manifestation of an individual's sexual
being is just the start.
Copyright Vernon Coleman