One day the thought struck me that in some ways crossdressing seems to stem from patriarchy. Feel free to disagree or push me on this. These are just my musings, and I have doubts myself about what I’m saying. I realize that the whole thesis here is incredibly odd, but it’s interesting to think about at least. Even if ultimately we agree together that crossdressing and patriarchy do not have this connection I write about here, maybe in the process of discussion you can help me sort out these thoughts and lines of reasoning.
My thoughts go like this. In our culture, especially in the past, we have been very patriarchal. I actually accept the biblical roles given to men and women, for example that men are supposed to be the head, the leader, in marriage. I’m much more traditional than many people on the issues of gender roles and the general differences between men and women. But I think patriarchy can become overemphasized in society and in marriage, and people can become legalistic about it, pushing women down and stifling their opportunities and gifts. Our society can also become oppressive in trying to enforce the general differences between men and women, not allowing for diversity among individual people.
So in some ways, patriarchy has been negative, as I’m sure most of you would agree with. If we look at the past in our country, men went to work and women were confined to the home. Men had the most power, the most money, and the most fame. And to me, one of the signs of patriarchy was that even in the realms that were deemed traditionally feminine, men were the most famous. So cooking would have been a traditionally feminine realm and yet the most famous cooks on television were men. The most famous painters. The most famous experts on raising children. Whatever the case may be. It’s like, “women, this is your job, your realm. But look, I can show you how to do it better.” My point is, even in the realms we had mostly relegated to women, men were still in a sense invading their territory and getting the spotlight. It’s as if men were not content to have all the power and glory in their own given realms, but wanted all the power and glory in the realms that had been delegated to women as well.
Most of us, especially those of us who have struggled with or are currently giving into crossdressing or transgenderism, we notice the bad signs of patriarchy and sexism still in our culture, and we want to get rid of the negative aspects of patriarchy and get rid of sexism. And yet, I wonder if our desires stem somewhat from patriarchy in ways we don’t consciously realize.
It seems to me to be the epitomy of sexism and arrogance for men to crossdress. Men have always taken over the areas that were relegated to women and taken their glory and power. But crossdressers take that to a whole other level. They take over the very realm of womanhood. They take the very identity of being a woman. A crossdresser is in some ways saying, “let me show you how to be a real woman. I can do it better.” I think this happens especially for married crossdressers. At times crossdressers get disappointed with their wives. They aren’t acting sexy enough, dressing attractive enough, or being intimate enough for the crossdresser’s liking. So instead of drawing close to his wife, a husband will crossdress and become the better woman, the more attractive dressing woman, to replace her. And then he becomes intimate with himself rather than his wife, maybe emotionally intimate with himself, maybe sexually, and maybe both. See my post – Becoming the woman my wife is not.
This has happened on a more public level as well. Most of you know of the male model Andrej Pejic who often models female clothing, even making himself totally over as a woman. I’m sorry to say I know that there are plenty of other male models who do the same thing, or at least model female clothing and/or very androgynous looks. Anyway, someone like Andrej Pejic portrays a disgusting form of patriarchy in our culture. (Since writing this post the first time on my old website, Andrej Pejic is no longer identifying as a male, but as a trans-woman). It used to be that it was women modeling to other women how to look good and skinny and attractive, to the point that women felt so bad about themselves that they developed low self-esteem and eating disorders. And now we have men modeling women’s clothing for them. Now we have women feeling even more letdown and unattractive when they think that this messed up man is looking better in the clothes than they would. Do we have to take patriarchy so far that women can’t even model their own clothes to women, so that now we need men to do it for them too? What vestiges of society are there left that men don’t take over from women?
On a slightly different note, could patriarchy be what originally caused a lot of our crossdressing or transgender desires? Because patriarchy still exists in our culture in many ways, it is difficult at times to be a boy or a man. It’s easy to feel emasculated and put down if you aren’t good enough at sports or if you are too emotional as a boy. And as a man, the pressures and responsibility of patriarchy, of leading, of everyone expecting so much from you as a man can be overwhelming. Patriarchy I think leads us to retreat into femininity. It’s a false femininity, since there is no reason that true femininity has to be passive and weak and irresponsible. So it’s a false femininity, but it’s our perceived femininity in our sexist culture. And we retreat from the pressures of masculinity into this soft comforting femininity away from our responsibilities. The female clothing helps us to get to those feelings of retreat. I think the escaping comes out both in crossdressing as a temporary escape, and in transgender feelings – wanting a more permanent escape and feeling like one doesn’t fit into the masculine culture.
Likewise I think females may crossdress, or struggle with transgender feelings in order to escape patriarchy as well. But this escape from patriarchy is a more literal escape from their position of weakness. They struggle with being thrust into the passive femininity and lack of power. They want to get out of that trap. They want the good power, prestige, and positions men have. And in our patriarchal and sometimes sexist culture that can be difficult for them to attain. So they try to escape patriarchy at times by crossdressing or at least dressing less femininely. Or they may struggle with transgender feelings and think life would be easier as a man for them. Of course they would not say this, they would say that they feel like they actually are men at heart. But I am musing that part of the reason they feel this way is a subconscious desire to escape the pressure against women stemming from patriarchy.
I have heard of many women who don’t struggle with gender dysphoria in any serious way, but who struggled with gender stereotypes. One woman I know grew up loving feminine things and fancy dresses. But as she realized the expectations the culture had for boys and girls, she started resisting.She wanted to be a leader, she wanted to play sports like the boys, she wanted to be strong and aggressive. So she refused to do feminine things and refused to wear dresses. She ended up being a healthy and beautiful woman, who does wear dresses, and she appears to be at peace with herself as a woman. But knowing what she told me, I wonder how many of the women who attempt to live as men do so for the same sorts of reasons. Maybe they felt stifled by the patriarchy and the gender stereotypes and wanted the position of men.
So let’s all keep chipping away at the sexism and stifling gender stereotypes of our culture, and this hopefully would lead to less people developing crossdressing or transgender desires.