Straight-acting and appearing -

a little rant here . . .

i studied cultural anthropology in college, and had an amazing professor, mrs. kaske.
she was the professor who had lived with the tribes,
studied the cultures in the fields,
and loved teaching us, her students,
about how our own perceptions were warped by our culture,
and what we could do to filter culture,
and reach our own decisions.

in some ways, her courses taught me more about how to approach life
than all the other courses combined,
because they essentially forced me to question first
"why does it have to be that way?

without getting too in-depth here about gender roles in american culture,
let's say kaske was clear that the only reason men wear the pants
is because they aren't smart enough to wear skirts when it's hot out.

essentially, she believed that while there are biological truths,
there is no screening out the cultural effect.
american culture has had such tight restrictions on what it means to be a "man",
that the tension playing out in male culture in america for the past decade
has been a fascinating one.

from the rise of the "metrosexual" (i know, i hate it as much as you do.  worn out term.)
to the fact that menswear is actually the largest growing category in apparel,
outpacing women's to the point that dolce and gabbana's sales
are 51% menswear,
there is no denying that men are starting to explore fashion in droves.

perhaps they are exploring themselves.

i also see a distinct generational shift going on.
a younger demographic more comfortable with pushing their own limits,
playing with identity,
and not caring if they appear more self-involved than their peers.
and an older demographic
more comfortable with lines of "acceptable" behavior.

i bring this up on a fashion blog because the pursuit of fashion has so often been viewed as the domain of gay men, and is becoming increasingly less so.

whether watching a trend trickle through the gay community and then out to the straight brethren,
a process that you could almost laughingly track in full year cycles in the nineties,
becoming a blurred timeline with the advent of "hipsters" and the reluctance of a younger gay community to stick to their ghettoes,
men are increasingly, and more rapidly than in the past,
exploring their appearance, their roles, their presentation,
through fashion.

though true fashion is often for the experimental,
and therefore often more relevant in subcultures,
as the gay world becomes more mainstream
("gaybies" anyone?)
and the straight world becomes more liberated
(the culture of the body for the straight male is now more obsessive than in the gay world . . .)
there is a blur between body culture/fashion/masculinity/self-expression/sexuality . . .
it's inspiring.

so let's start small,
and let's try two simple things:

stop calling things "too gay"
and stop aiming to be "straight acting and appearing"

the two phrases are used by opposite sides of the aisle, so to speak,
and ironically,
push and pull to the same ideal.

one that is sorely outdated.

there must be a more modern way,
to be male.

(ok, i'm done.  back to the fashion . . . )


Serg Riva said...

check out Anne Hollander


editor said...

coming at this from a woman's (hee, hee, "woman") perspective, i'm so aware of being preyed upon by retailers and marketing (hey, it's a love/hate relationship, because it stimulates me too, no question about it), and i'm so aware of how underwhelming the efforts are to tackle the male audience in the same way. dolce must be addressing their male customers, must be putting in the design and marketing to earn that high percentage. my message to editors, advertisers, retailers - go get 'em (and give us a little break).