Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Clippings from news sources involving fashion freedom and other gender equality issues.

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby Stu » Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:01 pm

Interesting article. But the writer's thinking is a bit confused and we have to be careful on where we stand.

1. If the article is challenging the existing limits of dress, and demanding that both sexes should have access to all types of garments, i.e. in this case removing the exclusivity of dresses from the female domain to every human being, then count me in on that. Existing limitations on what males can wear have become far too narrow and that means - sorry, ladies - you can no longer demand that such simple garments as skirts/dresses are considered entirely feminine any more than trousers are exclusively masculine.

BUT

2. If the writer is making a narrative that gender norms as a whole should be scrapped then, sorry, I'm not playing that game. Of course we can and should tolerate the exceptions, i.e. the minority of girls who exhibit what we consider masculine traits and the boys who exhibit feminine traits, but it should be remembered that these remain the exception.

So why does the writer's son want to wear a dress? Is it because he thinks the garment looks great, or he wants to pioneer a challenge against the sartorial unfairness imposed against males while his female counterparts enjoy unlimited choices? If so, he's an individual, a brave lad and so on. If, however, he wants to wear a dress expressly because he perceives it as a feminine garment, then he has gender issues and ought to be referred to a professional to find out what's going on in his head. It may, of course, be nothing - a passing phase - finding himself etc, or else he could be presenting with gender identity disorder.

So, as i said, the writer seems somewhat confused - but we mustn't be.
Stu
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 581
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 8:25 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby Caultron » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:32 pm

I think this is a good article.

I get the sense that the author wants to support his son and that's certainly commendable. It would be interesting to know how he came to that decision but in a way it seems he doesn't completely know and possibly wrote the article to explore that.

But the key issue, of course, is granting individuality rather than stereotyping.
Courage, conviction, nerve, verve, dash, panache, guts, nuts, balls, gall, élan, stones, whatever. Get some and get skirted.

caultron
User avatar
Caultron
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 4121
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:12 am
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby stevelous » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:24 pm

“Most nonconforming adult men, when they talk about their upbringing, say their first bully was their dad,” reports Matt Duron, whose wife, Lori Duron, wrote the book Raising My Rainbow, about their gender-creative son.

More power to great parents such as these, sadly the vast majority see 'nonconforming' sons as an affront to their masculinity and remain bullies all their lives refusing to accept the simple fact we are all individuals, have feelings and emotions.

I have always admired 'so called' girls clothing, just so much nicer than the things I was forced to wear as a kid. I was even told that it was illegal for boys to wear skirts or dresses, talk about total rubbish.

As a child, my Father, did his best but the prejudice he displayed for anything he considered 'abnormal' especially emotions drove me into depression and eventually Alcoholism (now sober 17 years 7 months a day at a time). Recently my nephew married his boyfriend and I was surprised he behaved himself, mind he had been warned by my Mother to behave or else.

For my part I have raised my son to be able to show his vulnerabilities and embrace them as strengths, show emotions and just be himself. The result is a lad who is sure of himself, emotionally stable and is respected by all who know him.
stevelous
Active Member
 
Posts: 83
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:51 am
Location: Northern Home Counties, England

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby crfriend » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:46 pm

stevelous wrote:For my part I have raised my son to be able to show his vulnerabilities and embrace them as strengths, show emotions and just be himself. The result is a lad who is sure of himself, emotionally stable and is respected by all who know him.

Do you have any idea as to precisely how rare that is in today's world?

Not all that long ago, men possessed -- and sometimes showed -- the entire range of human emotion. Today all they're "allowed" is rage and sex (the latter under very tightly controlled situations). That's no way to encourage sane behaviour and decent societal viewpoints. The sad thing about it is that men today go along with it and don't buck modern interpretations of what it really means to be a whole and fully-aware man.
Retrocomputing -- It's not just a job, it's an adventure!
User avatar
crfriend
Master Barista
 
Posts: 9977
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 9:52 pm
Location: New England (U.S.)

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby SkirtsDad » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:01 am

Stu wrote:Interesting article. But the writer's thinking is a bit confused and we have to be careful on where we stand.

1. If the article is challenging the existing limits of dress, and demanding that both sexes should have access to all types of garments, i.e. in this case removing the exclusivity of dresses from the female domain to every human being, then count me in on that. Existing limitations on what males can wear have become far too narrow and that means - sorry, ladies - you can no longer demand that such simple garments as skirts/dresses are considered entirely feminine any more than trousers are exclusively masculine.

BUT

2. If the writer is making a narrative that gender norms as a whole should be scrapped then, sorry, I'm not playing that game. Of course we can and should tolerate the exceptions, i.e. the minority of girls who exhibit what we consider masculine traits and the boys who exhibit feminine traits, but it should be remembered that these remain the exception.

So why does the writer's son want to wear a dress? Is it because he thinks the garment looks great, or he wants to pioneer a challenge against the sartorial unfairness imposed against males while his female counterparts enjoy unlimited choices? If so, he's an individual, a brave lad and so on. If, however, he wants to wear a dress expressly because he perceives it as a feminine garment, then he has gender issues and ought to be referred to a professional to find out what's going on in his head. It may, of course, be nothing - a passing phase - finding himself etc, or else he could be presenting with gender identity disorder.

So, as i said, the writer seems somewhat confused - but we mustn't be.


I thought the article was interesting, well written and clear and, to boot, on a subject that I find fascinating. However, I am a bit lost Stu. From how I read your comment, you seem to have shown how you are confused about what the writer is saying, not how the writer is confused. Perhaps you could kindly expand a bit on what you mean. Also, you mention masculine and feminine traits that you say are being exhibited by minority non-conformists, so, are you able to give any example of these and say how you can be certain that these are intrinsic and not as a result if social conditioning?

stevelous wrote:As a child, my Father, did his best but the prejudice he displayed for anything he considered 'abnormal' especially emotions drove me into depression and eventually Alcoholism (now sober 17 years 7 months a day at a time). Recently my nephew married his boyfriend and I was surprised he behaved himself, mind he had been warned by my Mother to behave or else.

For my part I have raised my son to be able to show his vulnerabilities and embrace them as strengths, show emotions and just be himself. The result is a lad who is sure of himself, emotionally stable and is respected by all who know him.


Great that you've turned things around for you and your family and broken the mould. I was born in the Midlands (but my parents moved south at an early age), and, although my parents were very modern thinking for the time, some of my working class relatives had definitely gender expectations. One particular uncle was regularly rude about the way I dressed and behaved and he wasn't even that much older than me. He would probably be turning in his grave if he knew I wore skirts lol.
User avatar
SkirtsDad
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 502
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:03 am
Location: Hampshire, UK

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby oldsalt1 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:22 am

stevelous wrote:“Most nonconforming adult men, when they talk about their upbringing, say their first bully was their dad,” reports Matt Duron, whose wife, Lori Duron, wrote the book Raising My Rainbow, about their gender-creative son.

I am sorry I am trying to follow your thoughts but am a little confused. Just because you are nonconforming doesn't mean you were bullied
Recently my nephew married his boyfriend and I was surprised he behaved himself, mind he had been warned by my Mother to behave or else.

Behave himself how. who are you to pass judgement as to whether or not he was behaving. and what is your mother doing sticking her nose into his business was she raising or supporting him
Last edited by crfriend on Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Tried to fix botched quoting
User avatar
oldsalt1
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 1802
Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:25 pm
Location: Long Island, New York

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby crfriend » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:51 am

oldsalt1 wrote:Just because you are nonconforming doesn't mean you were bullied.

It would be fairly safe to say that all of us on this forum -- if we are to use modern terminology -- are "nonconforming". The problem is that the use of the term is inaccurate at best and outright misleading at worst. "Non-conformance" to an unrealisable notion cannot really be construed as such since the idealised notion is, by nature, unrealisable. It's just another bully-word to shame the typical bloke who has the independence to figure out that what he's been force-fed by the mass-media and general "culture" is utter dross when it comes to the notion of true manhood.

So we're "nonconforming". Big fat hairy deal. So what. But, the words are still there, and the words are explicitly designed to bully us into conforming. The simple fact that we don't points up one of the fundamental things that's been conveniently discarded from the lexicon of masculinity -- the bravery to march to his own drummer and take on all comers. Except that we're not "allowed" that any longer.
Retrocomputing -- It's not just a job, it's an adventure!
User avatar
crfriend
Master Barista
 
Posts: 9977
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 9:52 pm
Location: New England (U.S.)

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby Fred in Skirts » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:10 am

crfriend wrote:So we're "nonconforming". Big fat hairy deal. So what. But, the words are still there, and the words are explicitly designed to bully us into conforming. The simple fact that we don't points up one of the fundamental things that's been conveniently discarded from the lexicon of masculinity -- the bravery to march to his own drummer and take on all comers. Except that we're not "allowed" that any longer.

I have always marched to a different drummer and not all of them were playing the same tune! I was and still am to an even greater extant marching to a drummer of my liking. Now I wear skirts and dresses and don't let it bother me when some pinhead decides it is not right (at least to him or her) that I wear skirts. I enjoy the good comments and questions and ignore the bad ones. I am the boss of me!!! And we should all be the bosses of ourselves, otherwise we will lose and be stripped of our true self.
Fred :kiltdance:

:whistle: Hi I am Fred and I wear skirts and dresses all of the time. :hooray:
"It is better to be hated for what you are than be loved for what you are not"
Andre Gide: 1869 - 1951
User avatar
Fred in Skirts
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 1929
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:48 pm
Location: Southeast Corner of Aiken County, SC USA

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby Stu » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:44 am

SkirtsDad wrote:
Stu wrote:From how I read your comment, you seem to have shown how you are confused about what the writer is saying, not how the writer is confused. Perhaps you could kindly expand a bit on what you mean. Also, you mention masculine and feminine traits that you say are being exhibited by minority non-conformists, so, are you able to give any example of these and say how you can be certain that these are intrinsic and not as a result if social conditioning?


Hi SkirtsDad

I will try to expand, but I'm not sure what else I can add. I am saying there is a natural gender binary - male and female from a biological perspective and masculine and feminine as social markers of gender. In the vast majority of cases, there is a reasonably close alignment between the two axes, i.e. males conform to masculine traits and females to feminine ones. Some gender norms are directly related to biology/evolution while others are dictated by the conventions of the particular culture or society. While the conventional aspects can work beneficially, as gender markers or signifiers and to enhance sexual attraction, sometimes they can become limiting in some respect. From a woman's perspective, for example, moderate high heels can enhance appearance and not be onerous to wear, but extreme footwear can be damaging to the feet. In Chinese culture, of course, foot-binding was such a practice. In the case of modern western males, the limitations take the converse form. Rather than limiting movement, health etc as with high heels for women, they limit dress options for males, dictating that the only garment a male of any age can wear below the waist is trousers. I believe Skirt Cafe should challenge these.

I am not, however, in the business of scrapping all gender norms or seeking to diminish the gender binary that exists. And it is a binary. There are clear biological male/female differences and these are both in opposition and also complementary. Basic structuralism teaches us that there is no point in having male if there is no female, and vice versa; there is no point in having masculinity if there is no femininity, and vice versa. Attempting to erase gender norms, as some are trying to do, is absurd and likely futile as it works against our natural disposition and the way we are necessarily attracted to the opposite sex in order to reproduce. The well-known French expression vive la difference applies.

You ask for examples - OK, lets take one example of a natural/evolutionary gender norm and another that is purely down to convention. From a natural perspective, why do women wear eye make-up, false lashes etc? The answer is evolution and something called facial neoteny. Male humans are attracted to child-like characteristics of women (big eyes, clear complexion, rosy cheeks etc) because that indicates she is of the prime age as a breeding partner, and make-up seeks to achieve this look. There is plenty of research on this, e.g. https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://duckduckgo.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1601&context=fchd_facpub
Gender norms that occur purely from convention might include the taboo on men carrying handbags, or women spitting. These have no discernible link to nature or evolution, and they are not culturally universal.

My last point related to tolerance of difference, which is something I advocate. That runs along the lines that (a) most people share norms and dispositions and behave in a certain ways according to their group categories (in this case male or female), but (b) we should recognise exceptions exist and be fully tolerant of the minority who do not, so long as they aren't harming anyone. In nature, men are typically physically stronger than women, but that does not mean we should think less of a physically weak man or an abnormally strong woman. In terms of convention, men don't wear dangling earrings and women don't smoke pipes, but that should not mean these unconventional behaviours should be regarded as unbreakable taboos. I hope Skirt Cafe exists for this same reason - prohibiting such a vast range of garments to 50% of the human population is inherently unfair and we have the right to challenge that.
Stu
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 581
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 8:25 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby denimini » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:41 pm

Thanks for posting that link. Makes me feel a bit more optimistic after reading that. He was a very confident little boy indeed, probably due to supportive parent(s).
Anthony, a denim miniskirt wearer in Outback Australia
User avatar
denimini
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 1277
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:50 am
Location: Outback Australia

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby moonshadow » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:00 pm

From the article wrote:If it’s difficult to imagine a boy aspiring to the Girl Scouts’ merit badges (oriented far more than the boys’ toward friendship, caretaking, and community), what does that say about how American culture regards these traditionally feminine arenas? And what does it say to boys who think joining the Girl Scouts sounds fun? Even preschool-age boys know they’d be teased or shamed for disclosing such a dream.


To me it says that in 400 years we'll more likely resemble Klingons rather than humans.

More thoughts on this later... very interesting article. But for now... lunch is over
"Our task is not to destroy but to build; not to hate but to find a place of yielding; not to polarize but to discover the points of commonality so that we can work together. Learn this lesson, dear friends, it will serve you well"
-Rebbe Zalman
User avatar
moonshadow
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 3764
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 1:58 am
Location: Lebanon, Virginia

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby moonshadow » Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:28 am

Now that I'm on a proper computer, I can continue my thoughts on this article:

But first, a bit on the debate about gender, if I may inject my two cents:

Stu wrote:I will try to expand, but I'm not sure what else I can add. I am saying there is a natural gender binary - male and female from a biological perspective and masculine and feminine as social markers of gender. In the vast majority of cases, there is a reasonably close alignment between the two axes, i.e. males conform to masculine traits and females to feminine ones. Some gender norms are directly related to biology/evolution while others are dictated by the conventions of the particular culture or society. While the conventional aspects can work beneficially, as gender markers or signifiers and to enhance sexual attraction, sometimes they can become limiting in some respect. From a woman's perspective, for example, moderate high heels can enhance appearance and not be onerous to wear, but extreme footwear can be damaging to the feet. In Chinese culture, of course, foot-binding was such a practice. In the case of modern western males, the limitations take the converse form. Rather than limiting movement, health etc as with high heels for women, they limit dress options for males, dictating that the only garment a male of any age can wear below the waist is trousers. I believe Skirt Cafe should challenge these.


I think I understand what you're saying. However, as I have grappled with my personal situation, I have become sufficiently confused with all things gender, to the point of flushing the notion completely from my mind. To me, trying to pin down exactly what gender is is like trying to grab a hold of fog with your hands. We see it, we know it's a thing, and yet it eludes us. There is no doubt when it comes to biological sex. You're either a male or female, and that's just it.

With gender roles however, where I run into problems is when I try to determine who came up with these various roles. For example, who decided women should wear heels, or that Chinese women should bind their feet? And then, what happens when a man comes along who likes to wear heels, or for some odd reason, wants to bind his feet? Now suddenly he's broken and needs professional help.

Speaking for myself, I'm sure I've attracted the attention of a few people that thought I needed to be sent away to a mental institution. I'm sure I've had a few people be kind or mean to me because they figured I was transgender.

How have I gotten around this? Because I realize that it just doesn't matter what people, especially strangers think about me. People are always trying to put other people in little boxes. I realize I can't stop that. They will do it anyway. So I've been working on training myself to just forget about it and let them think what they want. I don't try to change minds anymore. If someone ask me why I do this, I tell them, if they want a deeper explanation, time permitting, I will oblige. They either accept it or they don't. If they do, then that's great, if not... oh well... go-won somewhere then...

When someone ask me about my gender when I'm wearing skirts, I just tell them it's whatever they think it is. In other words... "I have no Earthly clue". How can I define my gender using our societies thousands of definitions? It's just too frustrating to try to come up with a box to put myself in. Ultimately it's just not worth the effort.

I really enjoyed the article. It made a lot of good points. I even came close to sending it to Mom, however when I got to the end and realized it was written by a Californian woman... well that axed that notion. People around here don't take Californians seriously. It might as well had been written by Homer Simpson...

And I must apologize, as I realize the author was a female. However in trying to find a pop culture female who is/was portrayed as a bumbling dunce, I came up short. 'magine that! :roll:
"Our task is not to destroy but to build; not to hate but to find a place of yielding; not to polarize but to discover the points of commonality so that we can work together. Learn this lesson, dear friends, it will serve you well"
-Rebbe Zalman
User avatar
moonshadow
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 3764
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2015 1:58 am
Location: Lebanon, Virginia

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby SkirtsDad » Wed Jun 20, 2018 3:43 am

Stu wrote: I am saying there is a natural gender binary - male and female from a biological perspective and masculine and feminine as social markers of gender. In the vast majority of cases, there is a reasonably close alignment between the two axes, i.e. males conform to masculine traits and females to feminine ones. Some gender norms are directly related to biology/evolution while others are dictated by the conventions of the particular culture or society......

..... (a) most people share norms and dispositions and behave in a certain ways according to their group categories (in this case male or female), but (b) we should recognise exceptions exist and be fully tolerant of the minority who do not, so long as they aren't harming anyone. In nature, men are typically physically stronger than women, but that does not mean we should think less of a physically weak man or an abnormally strong woman. In terms of convention, men don't wear dangling earrings and women don't smoke pipes


Thank you for your reply Stu. The link about neoteny was interesting.

Unfortunately I am still none the wiser why you think the writer of the original article on Today's Masculinity was confused as you didn't seem to cover that. Regarding masculine and feminine traits your example shows why biologically men find women who 'dress as children' attractive.... quite interesting given the outing and prosecution of some well know figures and their improprieties with young girls around the 1970's. However, apart from being a very dubious characteristic, is this not sexuality? How does it work if the male in your example is gay? If he is not biologically attracted to the women with make-up then is he therefore not masculine?

The other potential issue is cultural influences.... which was my first point when I asked how you ensure that these traits are not as a result of social conditioning, which will be typically be different between countries. You mentioned foot-binding in China and seem to imply that this was attractive, however, once it had fallen out of fashion, women with bound feet were essentially abandoned. The 'attractiveness' in this case does not seem to relate to a biological attraction to small feet. In the opposite sense, once a male preserve, wearing high heels for women became 'attractive'.

It is easy to come up with rules when you are predominantly studying Western culture. When you look for evidence in other cultures it is often not there. It may not be the done thing for women to smoke pipes in the West, but it is well documented that it occurs elsewhere.


Image
User avatar
SkirtsDad
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 502
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:03 am
Location: Hampshire, UK

Re: Imagining a better boyhood - article from the Atlantic

Postby Stu » Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:04 am

skirtsdad

Regarding neoteny, my point was that there is an evolutionary root for the reason women wear eye make-up (and men don't). It stems from their value overall as a member of the family or tribe. Originally, her value depended on her ability to breed and maintain health, and that required youth - neoteny is the semiotic for youth. Neoteny doesn't just attract possible mates; it also enables women you get their own way with other men, including those with whom they will never be breeding partners, by playing on their childlike appearance. I contrasted this with purely social gender norms which are, as I said and as you said, cultural. To some extent, we can change the cultural ones - the evolutionary ones we are stuck with. The cultural ones for women would include the Chinese foot-binding and Islamic garments. In western countries, it is not conventional for women to smoke pipes at this point in history (they did in earlier centuries). For men, western culture at this time dictates you can't wear skirts. Unless it is a tartan skirt and you have a Scottish accent. This is an entirely arbitrary convention and is an absurdity, and as such it should be amenable to change. That change does not in any way necessitate questioning notions of gender identity.

The writer clearly suffers from a reasoning deficit by virtue of being a feminist. She says: "Why would a boy, born into all the power of maleness, reach outside his privileged domain? It doesn’t compute." What she can never explain is precisely what "privileges" her son has that a girl of the same age lacks. She says "children can resist or challenge traditional masculinity" as though there is something wrong with traditional masculinity. Of course, being a feminist cultist, she has been brainwashed into believing traditional masculinity is "toxic". I find that idea both illogical and offensive. I don't know why her son wants to wear a dress. It may be that he just likes the style of the garment, so his desire is purely sartorial. It may be that he wishes to make a stand against society's discrimination against males in terms of dress, in which case his desire is to make a political statement. It may be that he has gender issues, in which case he might benefit from seeing a therapist. Or it may be the case that his mother has taught him to despise all things masculine as she clearly does, in which case he needs rescuing from her clutches.


moonshadow

You say: "When someone ask me about my gender when I'm wearing skirts, I just tell them it's whatever they think it is." That's absolutely fine. You have every right to take that view and I would respect that. However, I am not so disposed. I am male and I am masculine. I like being male and masculine. My gender is there for all to see and I express it, among other ways, in the way I dress. I am pretty sure you will find around 95% of other men and boys feel as I do while those who harbour any degree of ambivalence about their gender comprise a tiny minority.
Stu
Member Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 581
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 8:25 am
Location: Sweden

Next

Return to In the News / Advocacy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest