so coming off the comments in this fine post by Cassandra wrt the double bind faced by women--Kim has a number of thoughtful posts on the subject as well--I was reminded of another recent conversation I had elsewhere, among a group of mostly gay men, wherein several opined that the male dress code is oppressive and stifling--one in fact was convinced that women have it better in that regard, these days.
I argued with him a bit about that last point--if only he could see the reams of posts about this that have flooded the feminist 'sphere, I was thinking--but on the whole, I agree that it's a real point, and an underdiscussed one. In -this- instance: what -about- the men? No one's ripping makeup out of anyone's trembling hands, no; but if you're a dude and you decide to paint the face outside of very particular and narrow contexts...or wear a skirt, whether micro latex "sexbot" or crunchy granola flowing floor length earth mama, or any number of other gender trangressions...well, there are Consequences, aren't there?
I'm not talking about transgendered folks or even cross-dressers here, understand; just dudes who might want to wear a skirt or lipstick, and still be dudes.
so, yeah. There are many Rules, for all of us. Some formally codified into law or company policy, but most more unspoken...until you break them.
and it does beg the question, you know, formal policies like at a fancy jacket-and-tie requiring restaurant, or y'know more applicable for more people at the office, aside (and obviously State regulations wrt nudity or toplessness here, or the Islamic regulations in various countries): who really are the enforcers for these rules, really?
I mean, call it the "patriarchy" if you like. But (as we're so often reminded), "patriarchy" doesn't mean "men," here; so what exactly does it mean? More to the point: if it's mostly a question of, I don't dare to go down the street wearing ____, who's doing the enforcing? Men catcall to and harass women (and worse), true, and may well use what she's wearing as an excuse; but women can be plenty rude about other women (omg look what SHE'S wearing) as well, as we've seen; and can make their opinions -very- clear even if they don't holler down the street. Is that meaningless? Is there not a power transaction going on there? As Cassandra was getting at, does it only "count" if it's men? And, well, says who?
and men wearing makeup? well, the threat of getting beaten up is a pretty fucking big enforcer, and v. likely it'll be men doing it;
but say it's i don't know a less "dangerous" situation, you know, a cafe where fisticuffs are frowned on, or a not-too-dysfunctional family gathering...
if the waitress sneers, if the little girl yells about "why is that man dressed like that?!" and her mom answers something less than helpful, if the teenage girls shout "faggot!" from the car, if Mom and little sister pointedly avoid speaking to you the whole afternoon...
well? who's upholding what, here, and why?