Monday, December 17, 2012

"Speaking to the Choir"

Blurred Youth: Cross-dressing’s dirty laundry: Clothes do not define sexuality.
This is the title from The Daily Titan which is the student voice of the University of California, Fullerton.

The article does not delve into issues such as transgender or transsexual women and men but instead takes a look at more than a couple powerful constants: The history of gender choices and the societal impact today.

Here is a historical excerpt:

"There have been many instances in which society hasn’t placed so much emphasis on clothes in relation to sexuality. Historically, there have been the “two-spirit people”: Individuals within indigenous Native American tribes who lived harmoniously through their blurred sense of gender. They wore clothes and did work that were typically associated with the opposite gender, yet the majority of these people were explicitly heterosexual. In modern terms, countries such as Japan, while essentially holding LGBT rights on the same legal level as the United States, is a bit more lenient in terms of cross-dressing in popular culture. Some of this can perhaps be attested to the historical idea of bish?nen, which refers to youthful men whose beauty transcended that of gender or sexual orientation. The hijra of South Asia are another example, men whose physiological state is that of a male, but who take on female gender roles. Their history is also rich, tracing back to the inception of the Kama Sutra. It was during British rule of India that these people were sought out to be eradicated, further displaying a sense that Western “morality” has consistently been a looming threat over previously relevant gender associations."

And a more current observation:


"Most of the problem people have with cross-dressing seems to not be so much about the person who is dressing, but rather personal insecurity and a fear of being dominated. What this means is that men in our society are afraid to be treated like women, much like the way they sexualize and demean women themselves. This means that when a man encounters a gay man, he assumes that he has become an object of sexuality, and that this gay man is going to try and show dominance over him. Being that many cross-dressers are typically perceived as being gay, this situation is relatable to myself. The initial reaction I encounter with men who are at first convinced that I’m a girl is one of shame, as if they should have known better. However, I find such hindsight to be a poor justification in initially finding someone attractive. Many claim that cross-dressers and transsexuals should not “trick” straight men with their appearance, but perhaps it is actually straight men that are confused about their own sexuality and are tricking themselves. I simply dress the part of a woman and that is all. I am not trying to sleep with you, nor do I find you remotely attractive. The only one who does is you. From that point, the situation continues to take on either one of two forms. The first is that the man feels uncomfortable, much like the aforementioned “gay encounter.” The other is that the man begins to openly treat me like a woman. As much as compliments like, “I would still have sex with you,” reinforce how much I can pull off my appearance, I can’t help but think how such comfortable demeaning mannerisms truly display the general attitude men posses towards women in our society. It’s sickening and, quite frankly, I’m really not that turned on. Cross-dressers are seldom seen as straight men, and until society is able to realize that is not entirely true, then we refuse to let go of irrational judgments based on simple things such as clothing. Ultimately, a piece of clothing is not always a sexual preference; it is a choice of taste and expression."

The post was written by Julie Nitori and you can go here to read more.

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