Men have two arms. Women have two arms. Men have two legs. Women have two legs. Legs and arms, in both cases, are connected by a torso which is, genitals included, more or less the same. Tops must have holes for a head and two hands. Pants must have holes for feet. And so on.
So why are department stores separated in clothes for women and clothes for men? Why is there no clothes section?
Penny R. sent in links to a fun project. Kasmeneo is a guy who decided that the entire department store is for him. Accordingly, he buys and wears what he wants regardless of the section it is in. He writes:
Fashion is one of my major hobbies… and mainstream men’s fashion is much too boring. So I take most of my clothes and shoes from the women’s department, as there’s just much more items, styles, colors, and materials to choose from.
That’s also my personal statement regarding equal rights – they include the right of clothing choice. What you see here is what I wear everyday, at work, in town, for shopping, whatever. And I hope that publishing my pics here can convince some men that nice clothes and shoes are not a girl’s privilege. It’s all there, you just have to take it – just like the girls do with our stuff.
Kasmeneo has taken to taking pictures of his outfits nearly everyday. Here are some of them:
Kasmeneo’s project highlights some basic gender rules in our society.
It illustrates how uncomfortable most of us are seeing men in women’s clothes. But also, I think, how uncomfortable we are seeing women’s and men’s clothes mixed and matched. Strict and rigid gender segregation feels right to (most of) us. Such disintegration of the gender binary can be quite disorienting.
The images also reveal a kind of sexism: androcentrism, or the valuing of things masculine over things feminine. As Kasmeneo mentions, girls can wear guys’ clothes without drawing much attention to themselves. This is because we value masculine things over feminine things and aren’t surprised when women want to do them. Nor are we disgusted by their participation because participation in masculine things does not, by and large, say something bad about you. Girls and women are, in fact, encouraged to do all kinds of masculine things: watch or play sports, become a doctor or lawyer, etc. But boys and men are largely discouraged from doing feminine things. Learning to knit, wanting to be a stay-at-home parent, becoming a nurse, and wearing make up or women’s clothes will, often, get boys and men teased, ostracized, or even attacked.
UPDATE: In the comments, Angie reminds me:
Actually, not all men or women have two arms and/or two legs. This makes clothes shopping and dressing occasionally problematic for them, regardless of gender.
UPDATE #2: Kasmeneo came by and added some links to more outfits in the comments. He points out that the ones I chose are about two years old. So, here are the ones Kasmeneo suggests we view.
Thanks for visiting, Kasmeneo!