Saturday, June 9, 2012

Clothing and the Gender Binary

I identify as male...barely.  Gender fluid might be a better descriptor, but for convenience's sake I pick one and, in line with my physiology, that one is male.  As you would expect, my tastes are anything but what you would stereotypically call male, especially with clothing.  However, I often find myself limited.

I was shopping at Target earlier today, a store that is know for being pretty decent for LGBT.  The only problem is that the options available at the store leave little for those that don't conform to gender norms, especially men.

I like pink and purple and turquoise and I like rainbows, but you'd be hard pressed to find anything like that on the male side of Target.  Sure you might spot the occasional 'salmon' or otherwise masculine-ized pink shirt, but by and large the choices are the traditional ones, red, blue, green, black, and gray.  Men's socks are the worst...wall to wall navy blue, black, and brown.  Sure I could wander over into the women's section (and often have), but with a long torso, broad shoulders, and arms thicker than an inch (seriously, what is with the thin sleeves on women's shirts?) finding something that fits is all but impossible.

I understand that a store like Target is forced to "play the percentages" and that by and large women will gravitate towards colorful garments and men towards colorless ones, but it's a little dangerous to keep making it so obvious which clothes (or toys, or anything else) are "for the boys," or "for the girls."  It's that kind of thing that keeps getting the kids that don't conform to gender stereotypes bullied in schools.  If we start to associate 'pink' with 'female' a little less, it's not so out of place when that young boy comes into school in a pink shirt.

As I've always said, I am optimistic, and I think we'll get there.  Even with the obnoxious 'salmon,' it is progress to see pinks and purples available for young men, especially when it becomes an indicator of confidence (manliness) to wear a color stereotypically female.  More and more we're figuring out that the best men aren't the ones who exude manliness and the best women aren't the ones that exude femininity, but are the ones that land somewhere in between...and are perfectly okay with that, whatever it happens to be.

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