On Menswear and Gender
Hey loves! Oh man, has it been a while since we last spoke (well, a while being a week... but you know...) As you may or may not have noticed, there were no new posts last week. That was a conscious decision on my part. While I definitely had posts I could've put up, I just needed a bit of a breather. It's been a crazy few weeks- summer classes ended, college apps opened, and school started this week- so it's been non-stop on-the-go for the past... while, haha. Nevertheless, I'm excited to jump back into the blog, back into new content, and back into one of my favorite series on here.
Today, I felt particularly inspired to talk about gender... partially on accounts for the fact that I'm wearing a menswear inspired look (shocker), and partially due to my dear friend Julia's post on Instagram the other day, about being a female biker.
Gender is, essentially, the social traits, norms, etc., that we personally take on in response to our sex. Meaning, if you're born a female, you generally will wear dresses, which is a gendered response to being female. Society tells us that females are supposed to be "girly" and that dresses equate with that definition of girly. Does that make sense?
That leads us to the flip side of things: defining what exactly sex is. Sex, is the biological aspect of gender. It's the chromosomal makeup that determines whether or not you are, biologically, "male" or "female". It is, for lack of a better term, "what's in your pants" and what your anatomical makeup consists of. However, it's important to note that sex and gender are both very different from one another. While you can't choose your sex, you can choose your gender, and what you want to identify as, socially speaking. That's why we have people who identify as transgender, not transsex. ;)
But society tends to muddle these two terms together, which is where the problems stir up. The line between sex and gender has become blurred, making it harder for the general population to understand the distinction.
This, in turn, makes it harder for those who wish to experiment with things outside their traditional gender roles to.. well, experiment. For example, I consider myself a female, wholly and fully. But I also love menswear, and do a great bit of shopping in the men's section of stores. When I tell people this, they're often shocked. "Why would a woman shop in the men's section?" It's not so much the answer that's important (but if you're curious, it's because I like my clothes oversized) but more the fact that it even has to be a question. Why does it matter what department someone chooses to get their clothes from? Why do clothes even have to be distinguished by sex- why can't we just wear the clothes we want to wear?
It's the same for activities. Why do we have to assign a sex to an activity? I recently started watching Game of Thrones (one word: obsessed) and my favorite character has quickly become the sassy tomboy, Arya Stark. In the beginning of the show, Arya is more interested in fighting than being a princess, and is always found waving swords around and stirring up quarrels. Because of it, everyone always calls her a boy, leaving her to yell, "I'm not a boy!" on several occasions. She constantly has to defend the fact that she is a girl, just because she enjoys fighting. Although fictitious, it's completely reminiscent of the gender roles still pushed today. There is still a general idea that women are the weaker sex, and therefore should have men around to protect them, wherein fact there are plenty of women who are much, much stronger than men.
I personally believe that there is too much emphasis on gender roles in Western society, and furthermore, too much emphasis on gender. Gender should not dictate the roles you serve in this world, nor should it dictate how you dress. If my best guy friend came up to me and told me he wanted to wear dresses, I would tell him, "Great! You should check out Reformation. They make my favorite dresses." Or if my best girlfriend told me she wanted to start wearing menswear, I would tell her that Everlane and Urban Outfitters have my favorite men's clothes.
You don't necessarily have to agree with the way any particular person expresses themselves- gendered or non-binary. But It's important that we recognize that gender, like art, like fashion, is an expression. It is a way of expressing ourselves from the inside out. Just like how nobody should tell anyone how to dress or how to write a song, nobody should tell anyone how to express their gender, or lack thereof.
And while this idea is slowly becoming mainstream, we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to educating those who may not fully understand this topic. As I wrap up this post, my advice to you is: lead by example. Never be afraid to break down boundaries. And never, ever stop expressing yourself in the way you want to because someone says it's "only for the boys."