1.30.2006

I blame the Scots

Certainly we can agree that Ewan McGregor is all man

Oh, the fundies are going to be in an uproar about this...

A male high school student can wear a skirt to school after the American Civil Liberties Union reached an agreement with school officials.

[…]

Coviello first wore a costume-style dress but high school officials told him to go home and change. The district’s superintendent then advised the Coviello to purchase everyday dresses and skirts at a retail store, which Coviello did, the ACLU said.

But after a few days, he was sent home with a note from his principal saying if he wore a dress, kilt or skirt, he could no longer attend school.

Oh dear! What’s next, girls wearing trousers? Oh, wait...

The Concerned Women for Patriarchy America have already weighed in, proclaiming the decision another win for the gender confusionists—you know, the same people that created that Barbie website. What they have missed, of course, is that the student, Michael Coviello, was only wearing the skirt to protest the school’s no-shorts policy. You see, he’s not a tranny in the making, he’s the Che of the Great Short Pants Revolution. The Avec Culottes, if you will.

Seriously, though, I’m looking for a little insight here, and maybe our dear BOMT readers can shed some light on this issue for me. The CWFA seems to think that men wearing skirts will somehow emasculate them, or at the very least, generate some kind of gender confusion which obfuscates the very real differences between men and women. My question is this: What is inherently female about a skirt? Is there something about the vulva that requires airing? Let’s assume that I see Mr. Coviello walking down the street wearing a skirt, what is the greater social implication of my confusing him with a woman? Does this cause some kind ripple in the space-time continuum? Will the world as we know it end? It’s winter in Michigan, and despite an unseasonably warm January, I wear pants everyday. I’ve never been mistaken for a man. Granted, I have long hair, jangly earrings and tits, so those are pretty good indications that I am a woman, but I’m willing to bet that Mr. Coviello wasn’t pairing his protest-skirt with a lacy blouse and heels. So, enlighten me my non-radical feminist friends, ‘cause frankly I’ve read too much gender theory to even pretend to understand why this is even an issue*.

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*I’m going to clarify this: as a radical feminist who has a read a good deal of gender theory, I understand what the big deal is—the gender binary, and its conflation with biological sex, is a necessary underpinning of a patriarchal system. As long as we believe that men and women are inherently different (in ways other than basic reproductive biology) and that gender is a natural and normal occurrence which always correlates with biology, then we can continue to justify gender discrimination and oppression. Makes sense, right? However, I’m pretty sure that your garden variety misogynist/homophobe doesn’t tread too far into the theoretical waters gender politics. What I want to know is, why does your average guy/gal on the street freak out at the notion that a man might wear a skirt? And how do they avoid cognitive dissonance when they ignore women in trousers? What do they see as the inevitable consequence of ignoring gender mores? I see liberation, but I have a feeling that’s not the popular opinion.

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annamaria at 1:08 PM

6 spoke

6 Comments

at Monday, January 30, 2006 2:31:00 PM Anonymous Rich. said...

Just ask my Scottish friend Angus McMadhooligan if wearing a skirt is "girly".

I bet there are one or two southern islanders who'd be less than happy with the suggestion, too!

(Not that being girly is anything to be ashamed of, of course. I just think that wearing a skirt has, to paraphrase Ghost World, gone past homo and metrosexual and back to being hetero again...)

 
at Monday, January 30, 2006 6:25:00 PM Blogger Kurt said...

i'm pretty sure the liberation depends on what is on under the skirt...but seriously. I am on my way out of work now and will consider this thought my entire drive home, which will take me 45 minutes in my pickup truck - alone of course. we don't car pool in texas. (But it is a little truck - that other company Ranger)

 
at Monday, January 30, 2006 11:54:00 PM Blogger Kurt said...

Ok, you got me. I'm not sure there is anything inherently female about a skirt. And I'm sure the threat isn't as much the prospect of more males deciding to wear skirts as it is the prospect of independent thought beyond the control of the state or the fundies. It seems that anyone who questions or disagrees with the President is labeled a threat to our country and way of life. Ugh.
It is no longer allowable to have an opinion - or at least not express it without this prospect - federal prison.

 
at Tuesday, January 31, 2006 11:11:00 AM Blogger Wake of the Flood said...

I sense the fundies you're refering to are the ones who have absolutely no sense of history and who think that their cultural expressions are universal truth. The trouble with these folks is, no matter what you say, they're never gonna hear it, and you could put a mirror in front of their face and they'd deny it's their reflection. I mean, c'mon, what are you gonna do with folks who insist that the King James bible is the only true version because it's the one Jesus read?

As for gender being solely a social construct, I'm sorry, but I can't agree. Too many studies dealing with the gender differences in patterns of thought, communication, and emotional response all argue for there being more to gender than a construct used to uphold patriarchy. Do they support male dominance? Hell no! But men and women are different in a lot more ways than simply reproductive biology. So, does my rejection of gender as construct make me patriarchal? I guess it does in the same way that anyone who says that homosexual acts are immoral is homophobic.

Last fall the Hartford Courant ran a long piece on a Yale student who was challenging the University's use of gender as a form of classification for students. After your post I may have to go back and read it again.

 
at Tuesday, January 31, 2006 11:28:00 AM Blogger annamaria said...

Wake, I'd be interested in reading that article from the Hartford Courant--sounds interesting.

As for gender being a construct, I'll admit that there are many things that we define as feminine and masculine that correlate to biology, but I've never seen any convincing evidence that gender stems from biology. There is nothing inherently nurturing about women, and nothing inherently aggressive about men, for example. We all exhibit these traits in varying degrees, but we ascribe certain behaviors to certain genders based on our own social conventions.

I think the best evidence that gender is constructed rather than innate is that there is far more variance within men and women than between them. If gender correlated exactly to biology every time, you would see the opposite result. I'm going to do some research and find you links about this when I'm not so busy at work. In the meantime, check out Arjet, who I almost always agree with, and am usually insanely jealous of his ability to say what I am thinking so much more clearly.

At any rate, I don't think that a belief that gender and biology are interrelated makes you patriarchal--it makes you a person raised in a patriarchal system. Hell, so am I! So, while we might disagree on this point, we're in agreement on a much bigger issue--gender does not justify male supremacy. We can quibble about the specifics so long as I know you're on my side there! :)

 
at Wednesday, February 01, 2006 11:02:00 AM Blogger ID said...

They're kilts not skirts damnit. No there is no real gender associated with a 3 x 5 piece of fabric that one wraps around their waist.

Like Rich said, go tell a 400 lb. Samoan he looks girly in his wrap.

 

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