Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Skirting the issue

In the distant past, clothing was used as a means of labelling the gender of a person. Men wore bifurcated garments to define their masculinity whilst women wore the skirt to denote their femininity.

Oddly, in the middle ages and in the 16th to 18th centuries, it was the clothing of the man that was richer in texture and colour. The woman in her skirt looked like a plain swan by comparison to the male peacock in his elaborate doublets, hats, gloves and boots.

In the late 18th and the 19th centuries, for various socio-economic reasons, that tendency was suddenly and dramatically reversed. Male fashion became largely devoid of colour and texture and became more practical and therefore more masculine.

Female clothing became more exotic and frivilous. It also became far more restrictive and uncomfortable. Women had to wear many more layers of clothing than men. Their bodies were encased in wrappings of satins, silks and lace. Their upper torsos were imprisoned in whale bone corsets in an effort to conform to fashion and have a tiny waist to attract men. The lower parts of their bodies were put into girdles for the same effect. They were forced to perch and mince about in impossibly high heeled shoes. Their hands and lower arms were covered in silk gloves that took ages to put on and take off. Women also perfumed their bodies in sweet smelling scents, painted their faces and wore extravagant and heavy jewellery. Their skirts were so puffed up with petticoats that the only time a woman ever saw her feet was when she was bathing, or in bed.

Dressed in this way, it was almost impossible for women to compete with men. In fact, she was more dependent upon him as being dressed in corsetry and puffy skirts and wobbly high heeled shoes made her almost helpless.

By the early twentieth century, women realised that if they wanted to improve their lot then they would have to wear less restrictive clothing. The world wars of the first half of the twentieth century led to women quickly jettisoning the corset and the girdle and even (with a tiny bit of reluctance) her petticoats. The dress, skirt, high heels, jewellery and cosmetics remained but women were now in a better position to compete with men for jobs, especially as various reforms had been put into place to give women greater rights.

By the 1970's and 1980's, with many more women in the workplace than ever before, and in senior positions, more women began to wear trousers, rather than skirts, and by the early 2000's, women in trousers or pant suits became common and completely acceptable.

By 2010, it was becoming clear that women were becoming the dominant gender, as a result of girls greatly outperforming boys educationally for decades and women becoming the majority of the workforce and more frequently outearning men.

Women had, as a result of seeking to outdo men, become the more "masculine" gender. They now sought to feminise men and one area of attack was in the area of clothing. Men were already adopting more feminine styled and coloured clothes, cosmetics and the "man-bag", a male version of the woman's handbag.

Women, by adopting trousers and the pant suit, had made themselves equal to men in what they could wear, but now they wanted to see what they now saw as the weaker sex in skirts as ultimate proof of their superiority over the once dominant male. Men had by now declined so far and so fast in a few generations that they could no longer claim to be the dominant sex. Girls outstripped them at every level of education, not so much by a wide margin as by a massive chasm. Eventually, the only jobs males could get were the jobs women used to do - and did not want to do any more. Jobs such as nurse, secretary, maid and cleaner were beneath women nowadays and left to the men to fill.

By the 2020's, male secretaries, maids, nurses and cleaners etc, were gradually being forced by their female bosses to adopt feminine clothing. They had to wear the traditional uniforms of those professions. It was deeply humiliating at first for a man to have to put on a skirt - many men left their jobs rather than conform - and in his mind lose his masculinity. But ultimately, men had little choice in the matter. They had lost the battle of the sexes and had to accept the penalty of being on the losing side.

By the 2030's, it became common to see women in trousers and pant suits and men mincing about in tight skirts and high heels, fully made up and wearing a pretty blouse and having their shaven legs encased in hosiery. Women, as men had done before them, were intrigued by what the men wore beneath their seductive, swaying skirts.

Women had managed to inverse the traditional dress for genders that had prevailed in the twentieth century.

But women were delving into the history books of fashion and looking for more ways to humiliate and control men. By the 2040's, the fashion world saw the comeback of the corset, petticoat and girdle, but for men!

By 2050, the typical male found his body imprisoned in layers of silk, satin, lace and tulle, his waist reduced to tiny dimensions by crushing and oppressive corsetry and girdlery. He wore huge, swishing skirts, puffed up by a mass of lacy petticoats. Underneath his skirts, he wore exquisitely lacy lingerie. By now, the male was used to wearing high heels, cosmetics and jewellery, but the introduction of corsetry and petticoats, added a totally new level of humilation and degradation for the former masters of the world.

Women everywhere smiled as they saw prettified men so restricted, controlled and feminised by the very garments that men had once used to keep women in their place.

Revenge is sweet - and very female.

2 comments:

  1. As always I like your vision of gender role reversal world.

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  2. clothes like bras and skirts were designed for women with breasts and less hairy legs so why would men with no brast and hairy legs wear them. Their designs have nothing to do with masculinity and feminity but with the practicalities of the female and male anatomies in mind.

    you also seem to value femininity below masculinity which isn't the case I normally associate feminity with being emotional, taking longer to decide things, being sexually powerful and artistic and creative whereas I associate masculinity with being physically strong un-emotional, impulsive and academic. These qualities are different not in-equal. You also tend to associate these with the a particualr gender femininity with women and masculinity with men whereas I know many effeminate (and straight) men and many masculine women. You also wrongly associate these traits with the different positions of adults in a nuclear family saying that homemakers are feminine while breadwinners are masculine which is not true as manyhigh-earners take time to make artistic and creative decisions which they put emotion behind while many stay at home peopele are physically strong and do the housework with an almost militaristic style as well as solving lots of problems logically qualities typically masculine and feminine respectively

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