Let’s get away from sports, music, and film for a moment.
These two stories have caught my eye recently. This one, http://yhoo.it/hBZaSK, is about the uproar over the boy with pink toenails in a J Crew ad. And this one, http://nyti.ms/mrXik, from the June 12th New York Times is about parents getting accustomed to their children’s broader notion of gender boundaries.
What strikes me is that all this is news in the first place. If masculine and feminine connote equal rather than hierarchical regions of cultural expression then members of both genders should be willing and enthusiastic about choosing elements from each. I mean it was 46 years ago that Mick Jagger sang “He can’t be a man cause he does not smoke the same cigarettes as me,” and yet all it seems we’ve done is switch out the cigarettes for other insignia of gender authenticity rather than abandon the concept as unnecessary and limiting.
Of course, no one is lecturing women about this. I’ve seen more Chicago Bulls #23 jerseys on women than men. In addition there are scores of women wearing clothing and concepts borrowed from male wardrobe and sartorial trends. What should concern us that there are so few men borrowing from the feminine arsenal.
With summer upon us and many women in New York City chilling in big light fabric shirts, shorts, and flip flops while men wear jeans, belts and heavy t-shirts, it’s high time to wonder about the counterproductivity of maintaining this archaic level of patriarchal thought.
In other words, Lenore Skenazy was right four years ago; men should be in dresses, leggings or whatever. It will mean taking care of our bodies a bit more aggressively but I think it can be done without suddenly obsessing about getting married or caring about Jennifer Aniston.
All too often heterosexual masculinity is defined as what isn’t feminine or “gay.” Defining yourself by what you’re not is called fear, and there isn’t a positive masculine or feminine concept that embraces fear.