Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I don't date non-hot guys....just doing my part

Matt Yglesias has a little fun with Andrew Sullivan. Topic: Why is it that men are generally more slovenly and less careful in their appearance than women? Sullivan knows everything, of course. As we know, nothing could ever be a man's fault ever, so if a man is a slob, than it must be women who are to blame:

Much of this is true - but only for straight men. And that reveals the real source of male slovenliness: women. If women weren't so damn forgiving of slobbiness, if they weren't prepared to look for the diamond buried in the rough of a man's beer-belly, men might have to shape up a little. The only reason gay men are - on the whole - better turned out than straight men is because they have to appeal to other shallow, beauty-obsessed males to get laid, find a mate, etc.

An interesting point and true in a sense, but he has the whole situation backwards. It's not that women are so weak-willed that they don't hold men to a standard. Sorry, fellas, once again it's good old-fashioned sexism that's the cause.
Lemme see--two sexes, one more powerful than the other. Which one do you think will be able to dress and groom with comfort in mind and which do you think will dress and groom with the aim of pleasing the other in mind? If you guess that the one more powerful will be spending endless amounts of time and money in improving its appearance to kiss up to the one that's less powerful, you might just know exactly nothing about human nature.
Now, I realize that it's more complex than that. For one thing, as I've pointed out repeatedly, it's fun to dress up and look nice and get attention. But it's also true that men have themselves always had a dressing up, having fun, getting attention mode and that some men were snazzier dressers than others.
What's different is what seems to be required. Most women, whether they like it or not, have to dress to appeal to men or be rejected to some degree, and not just in the sexual marketplace, but in all social and professional enviroments. Men who dress for women are derided in a lot of ways; witness the derision poured on the stereotype of the "metrosexual". Men don't have to kiss up to women and make themselves sexual objects--hell, we still live in a society where alot of men figure that women are objects to be bought, the prettiest ones going to the richest men.
But hey, it's nothing to despair over. Feminism has had a profound effect on society and how we feel about dressing ourselves. Most women don't think solely of male tastes when dressing anymore and are likely to have clothes for comfort, clothes for themselves, and clothes to please others. And men, who dressed to get the approval of other men in the past more than anything, seem happy to dress for women's approval at times. It's freeing for everyone to think of the way they present themselves and put on different hats for different occassions. And I daresay it's been outright fun for straight men to learn what it's like to present oneself for admiration of the opposite sex and actually get it.
It's only spoilsports like Sullivan who are looking for ways to blame women for absolutely everything that stand in our way.

39 Comments:

Blogger Eric V said...

Hi.

Yes indeed, the issue of male versus female dress is more complex than simply saying that women have to look good and men do not. Maybe it's different in the States but here in French Canada we guys are held up to certain standards of dress and appearance at least in professional and formal milieux. I remember in engineering school (one of the last pure male bastions in academia) when one team showed up in jeans and sweaters for a project presentation they were slapped down hard before they even opened their mouths.Similarly, politicians who dress casual to appear folksy do not impress anyone here.We have an expression here that we use when someone shows up looking like a bum or presumes inappropriate familiarity: "On a pas eleve des cochons ensemble", we did not raise pigs together. So maybe when we say that heterosexual males are slobs we would be somewhat more accurate to say heterosexual American males are slobs.

That being said , it is obviously true that (heterosexual) men and women are held to different standards in dress and that these standards reflect the different roles the genders are traditionally expected to play. A woman is expected to dress in a pro-active way , that is to attract attention. A man is expected to dress defensively , that is , to appear sober , serious and professional - in short - a good potential protector and provider. Therefore if you , a guy , spend too much money and effort in your dress (above and beyond the minimum necessary not to appear as a slob) , how can I , a traditional "family values" woman expect you to be serious enough to provide us with the house, cars , college education for the kids etc..

Now why is it different for gays ? Well, in a gay relationship , you do not have the centuries of tradition , obligations and stereotypes that accompany and burden heterosexual relationships. And (somewhat OT) that is why I believe that the religious whackos are so batshit crazy scared of gays being seen as normal human beings and not as animals to be hunted down . It's the ultimate "why buy the cow ?" argument , why would any man (or woman) settle for all the obligations of a heterosexual relationship when a gay relationship offers all of the benefits without the obligations ? So getting back to the topic of appearance , I would guess that ( and I am guessing since I am not gay) you do not have a situation where one partner is always expected to dress to impress and and the other not. In a way they both have to and do not have to dress to attract.It's more a matter of taste and personal preferences. This , I believe , also creates a backlash among young het males who dress in such baggy , drab clothing in order to make the statement and that statement is : "I'M NOT GAY !!!!!!!!!!!"

6/17/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

Well put! I didn't address how expectations are put on men by other men in public life to dress soberly, etc. because that was sort of outside the realm of what I was talking about. But I've heard from a number of people from outside the country that American men reach new lows in slovenliness, leading me to think that they aren't just saying, "I'm not gay!" but also, "I'm not foreign!" Well, maybe.

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