Jeremy Hutchinson is a man who wears skirts. Here he explains why this simple decision to reject the "right" clothes for men, actually reveals profound questions about how society polices men's gender roles.
-- This is article #47 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
For me all the arguments and reasons for why a woman should be allowed to dress in traditionally male styles of clothing, also apply equally to men like me, who want to dress in clothing that’s seen as only being for women. In my view, it is simply freedom of choice.
My wearing a skirt makes me no less a man, just as women who have now embraced “men’s” clothing makes them no less a woman. I'm still a man biologically as they are a woman. As an individual I should be able to dress as I choose, just like everyone else does, and can, without question.
The main barrier is often people’s attitudes and perceptions. It’s almost as if it’s OK for women to change but not for men. But I refuse to bow to the pressure of this double standard. I go to theatres, pubs, restaurants, concerts, even those held at churches. I go to dentists, doctors, opticians, shopping, anywhere except for my work and one of my hobbies fell walking due to practical reasons. I do low level ambles, for example along canal towpaths, and lakeside, while skirted.
Why do I wear a skirt? I feel happier, contented, relaxed, at ease and far more enthused with life, than when I am told by others what I can and cannot wear and what is expected of me. One of my main-stays of life is character and personality, I am an individual. Clothing is just one way in which I express this individuality.
All our friends and most of our family accept me for who I am, but there are two small groups within both my wife’s and my own families, who have expressed discomfort and intolerance at the way I dress. This is despite the fact that they themselves, including their partners, embrace modern freedoms and expect others to accept whatever they say or do.
I generally find that I am accepted for who I am, but quite a few people do stare or even give negative looks and obvious 'behind the back' chatter. Since I have worn skirts in public I have been to social gatherings of friends’ and family, as well as to family formal events like weddings and Blessings. My wife and I have also gained new friends since being skirted in public!
Tradition is regularly quoted when others expect a group or individual to conform but they never use tradition for themselves when it suits their purpose.
As far as I am concerned, a man in a skirt is no different to the modern woman and their adopted and changed dress style. Many within society will shun me for what I do, and the lives of men like me are made doubly harder due to the selfish attitudes of others. But I am just an ordinary civilised human and my life choices are a far cry from those who challenge society in a physical and harmful way. What harm does it do? I can function and survive in this world by my own talents, abilities, logic and hard work. I ask those who would criticise men like me, can you?
"...taboos can change swiftly..." and "...like societies of everywhere, we mock the taboos of others yet fail to see the absurdity of our own..."18th July, 2014 Anne Atkins Thought for the Day - BBC Radio 4.
"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take, the relationships we were to scared to have and the decisions we took too long to make. There comes a time in your life when you realise who matters, who doesn't, who never did and who always will. So don't worry about the people from your past, there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future." Source unknown, on a restaurant wall.
Jeremy writes about his experiences on his blog here
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men’s Day 2014 by clicking on this link—#100Voices4Men—and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
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