Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fashion and the Heterosexual Male -- Are You Kidding Me?

Linked via a user on Lookbook's forum, my attention was drawn to this guest written article on AskMen about "Fashion and the Heterosexual Male." Written by Miriam Brown, a mere audience member for the site, who had left a comment on another article that somehow inspired the editors to prompt her to write a stand alone article explaining that if you're a man trying to attract females (hence, heterosexual) then wearing anything that breaks the gender binary is akin to breaking some unknown law -- when it's really her just spouting off her own personal preference in a man, yet wording it as 'what a girl wants,' literally.

Basically, her beef is with men who dress something like this:

You know...anything not conservative, or 'masculine' -- because the latter isn't relative at all, of course. This matter is so pressing to her, that she wrote another article about it on her site before writing for AskMen.

Here are just a few gems from the article from AskMen:

"I can't say that I am pleased with or excited about this phenomenon, as this flamboyant garb takes away from the ruggedness and simplicity that makes men, well, men. ... Traipsing around in these overly exuberant colors and jewelry would definitely scare the average woman away, and maybe that's your intent. However, men who are looking to attract women should take the wardrobe suggestions from said blogs and media outlets with a grain of salt."

"Fortunately, it seems that this phenomenon has been confined primarily to the East Coast. Hopefully, it stays there. As a West Coast girl, I can't say that men dressing in this manner would do well for the dating scene here -- it's already in dire straits." (Having lived in California for over four years of my life, I have a hard time believing she even lives there.)

"...but much like runway fashions for women, heterosexual men would look ridiculous if they actually wore this stuff in public."

"What's scary is that these blogs [Street Etiquette] are actually being read -- by men. Street Etiquette alone has been featured in articles for GQ and Urban Outfitters..." (Umm, yeah, because people legitimately like this 'phenomenon'.)

"In an attempt to prevent the spread of this epidemic, I feel it is my duty to let you know that women do not want to date men who dress like this." (Thank you for telling me what my opinion on attractive men is; I would be so lost otherwise!)

"Not only that, some of the pieces shown are also 'female friendly,' meaning I could see myself wanting to borrow a necklace here and a bracelet there. Problem? I think so."
(Ever heard of Jean Greige, one of the biggest fashion bloggers online and on Lookbook? She doesn't seem to think it a problem that she borrows clothes and jewelery from her boyfriend...what a heretic!)

It just really disturbs me that Miriam flaunts her 'conservative' mindset in the same breath as stating what she wants in a man as a universal voice amongst women, not to mention how painfully sexist she is. She constantly points out 'heterosexual men' who 'want to attract females' as well (even though it's obvious that the translation to that is, 'men who want to attract me') -- because we all know that straight men who dress up are simply trying to appeal to women. You know, just like how every fashionable woman dresses up only to appeal to men, right? (No.)

Case and point: "Furthermore, the high-water trouser look would guarantee rejection by the average woman but seems to be popular among many of these male fashion bloggers." Miss 1950, consider this: perhaps these fashion bloggers are simply encouraging men to dress stylishly for themselves, and not just to attract a potential wife and baby-factory? Perhaps, bear with me, he doesn't want an average, closed-minded, dull woman who is attracted to stark lines and minimalistic style? Maybe -- just maybe -- he wants a girl who can appreciate warm colours, daring patterns, and a guy who wants to wear a fedora and a scarf around his neck? So who are you to judge? If a woman is shallow enough to judge a potential significant other on his manner of dress, she's not worth dating.

I may not be a man, but I am engaged, and drastically changed my style in the past year. My fiancée was initially shocked by how I chose to dress, but did she leave me? No; she now prefers my confidence and commends me on it often. She takes my photos for my blog, loves my outfits, and helps me pick out things to wear. This mutual understanding and approval (which in turn draws us closer) is part of why we're getting married.

And what about homosexual men, or bisexual, pansexual, 'openly sexual', or curious men? Does Miriam think it's okay to let them 'embarrass' themselves to wear such horrible things? Considering her pride in her conservative personality, I shudder to imagine what her opinions on not-straight-males must be.

There are over six billion people on planet earth, and the number is growing by the minute. In a world so vast, fueled by free thought and originality, there is no true foundation where one can look at another person's style and say "this is not right." Many people can group together and dislike a certain thing, but what it all boils down to is opinions, not facts. While I personally thought Lady Gaga's meat dress was really just blah, many liked it. Did I go on a tirade about how bad it looked? No, because there's no damned point. It's a matter of opinion.

For many women, men who can dress so confidently and dare to test the norm is attractive. Besides that, a man who wears one thing is perfectly capable of wearing something completely different. People change, and are very complex. Here, I can prove it.

Lets just briefly take a look at one of the most lusted after men in our modern history: one of the Beatles. I'll use George Harrison. You know, that guy from that band where they all wore suits? Even after wearing crazy outfits like these, he still maintained a marriage to a famous model, and later on a whole other wicked attractive woman, and still had millions of fans who thought he was hotter than the sun in the middle of summer.

And this is just an extreme example. Let me bring it down to scale: on Lookbook, where the community is predominately female, these following looks were on the hot page, with between 100+ to 1100+ hypes. 1 hype = 1 person. I'd call this fairly significant.

And we are all entitled to our opinions -- but when you get to a point that you are standing on a soap box spouting off your opinion on fashion at people saying, "this is what people SHOULD wear," you're going overboard. It's a free world, and people can dress how they want, and no one has the power to tell people what they are or aren't allowed to wear on their own time. It's people like Miss Brown here that are spreading such ignorance in the world, and not just in fashion, but in other aspects of our society. Challenging and breaking the gender binary will help our society move forward; holding anyone back is just oppressive.

If you're a single woman looking for a boyfriend, and your game plan for pinning a guy down is to look at what he's wearing instead of say, striking up a conversation and building a connection, then you really need to reconsider your tactic. I'm pretty sure we were all told in elementary school to never judge a book by its cover. Lets all be mature adults here.

It scares me that there are probably some men who read her article who took her advice and have decided to change. It really saddens me, that possibility.

In addition, if someone is wearing something you don't find attractive, but are still happy, living it up with friends, finding niches of genuinely good, like-minded people, then what's more important here? Attracting a female? Being right? You tell me.


  1. Oh LORD! What an absurd article. Any point of view that stems from or reinforces the idea that "All men are always like this, and all women are always like this" makes me RAGE. For all the obvious reasons. This gender essentializing nonsense is just...well, nonsense. Whatever, more interesting, creative, fun, well-dressed dudes for folks who like dudes. :)



  2. An excellent response to an incredibly ridiculous article! Notions of gender "norms" make me more than a little crazy. Bring on the fedoras. :)

  3. You go girl. I was actually cringing at some of the things she'd written. Heaven forbid anyone, let alone a "heterosexual male" take a fucking risk, eh? I find a man who dresses well very attractive, but that's my opinion. It's so frustrating when people think that their opinion is the only one that exists/matters. I'm going to share this post with my followers in my next post.
    Congrats on the engagement! That's so exciting. <3

  4. Bullshit to this. I'm a hetero woman and have no fucking issue with men who dress less masculine. In fact I probably prefer them to look somewhat androgynous, and possess plenty feminine traits both visually and in their personality. But that's just me, and I aint in the market to compound stereotypes like this asshat. Perhaps she speaks to her own insecurities, crap she heard throughout her own childhood....or more likely, she is merely spouting the usual media drivel that is designed to keep us all under control and homogenous.

  5. you're engaged??????? yooo! congratulations darlings! xxx

  6. This is SUCH a great post, and I agree with every word you said. It's completely stupid and narrow-minded to assume that all men dress to attract women, or that all women dress to attract men. What about personal style? Self-confidence? Self-satisfaction? And don't even get me started on how rudely she approached gender norms...this whole thing just infuriates me. Fashion is a matter of personal opinion and personal style, and to throw stupid ideals of our society like gender norms in the mix is pointless. People dress how they do because it pleases THEM.

  7. This article actually infuriated me. She's welcome to her own opinions but when given a platform like she shouldn't claim to speak for women as a whole :T

    Fantastic blog post btw, incredibly well written and spot on. I couldn't have said it better myself