Posted by: Ophelia | August 8, 2008

“There’s something seriously wrong with you”

There was some soft newstory this morning about men in kilts and or pantyhose. My father loudly opined “Ugh, why would men want to wear skirts? That’s just strange.” I replied that kilts were traditional male dress. He tried again offering that, “no woman wants to see a man in a skirt.” I responded that obviously some do, since I’ve seen many men get married in traditional garb before. Frustrated at his inability to get me to agree at the obvious unmanliness of this dress, he asked about pantyhose. “Why would a guy want to wear pantyhose?”

“Why would a woman? What makes pantyhose feminine exactly?”

“Don’t you wear pantyhose?”

“They made me during Catholic school so again I ask–what’s so feminine about pantyhose?”

He turns to my mother and offers, “there’s something seriously wrong with your daughter.”

Apparently there’s something seriously wrong with not rightfully recognizing the gender dichotomy as it appears in clothes. As it is, he still couldn’t explain what’s so womanly about thin material with holes in it worn over the legs. It simply is. That’s usually the answer one gets when one questions closely held notions of gender appropriate behavior. When you ask “what makes this male or female” the response will generally be “only men do this, only women do that, it just is!” Its frustrating. At the same time failing to recognize gender norms as infallably correct frustrates others. Fitting in requires unquestioning adherence to the rules. Asking why frustrates the whole point of the rules–you’re thinking. You’re not supposed to. There’s something wrong with you and you’re ruining it for everyone else.

That’s feminism for you, always ruining a good time.



  1. Wow. I think the thing that struck me most about this post was “there’s something seriously wrong with YOUR daughter”. Maybe I’m just reading this wrong?

    I know plenty of guys who will happily wear kilts, and at least one guy who wears pantyhose regularly. I don’t doubt their masculinity!

  2. You should’ve just directed your father to my post about this.

    Asking why frustrates the whole point of the rules–you’re thinking. You’re not supposed to. There’s something wrong with you and you’re ruining it for everyone else.

    That’s what I’m counting on! For as long as this is still true, I’m going to be ruining it for everyone. Their discomfort doesn’t make us any less right.

  3. I’ve had several similar encounters this summer! Though not with parents. The most recent incident was last week at work, when I was sharpening a pencil with my pocket knife (I work at a historical village, so I have to do things without electric appliances and plastic, etc.).

    My male co-worker turns to me and says: “You really are a tomboy aren’t you?”

    Confused, I respond, “Why do you say that?”

    “Well, you have a knife in your purse. Most of the girls I know don’t even know how to use those. What do you have one for anyway?”

    Me, incredulously still grasping the pencil, “Because it’s a practical thing to have.”

    You heard it here first–women (or, I should say, “girls” ) who know how to use knives are tomboys, that is, there is something seriously wrong with us. If you didn’t know, now you know.

  4. Its like woman that chooses to wear jeans and a t shirt more often than not…she is considered a tomboy or masculine…or at least not very feminine. When did jeans and tshirt become strictly masculine clothing?

  5. Amy, you’re not reading it wrong. Anytime I do something unacceptable I’m suddenly my mother’s sole responsibility.

  6. People have been surprised that I know how to check all the fluids in my car. *gasp* A WOMAN knows how to CHECK HER OIL. OMG.

    Also, I am a “tomboy” because I only wear high heels for extremely special occasions. Or, um, I don’t wear heels because I already have arthritis in my 20s, and wearing heels is incredibly painful.

  7. I was at the Minnesota Irish Fair last night and there were plenty of men in skirts there. I told my boyfriend he should get one because I think they can be super attractive. It may have been the beer, but probably not.

  8. If people would only understand that giving up the gender binary would lead to more freedom for everyone it would be a lot easier to get along in this world.

  9. “Amy, you’re not reading it wrong. Anytime I do something unacceptable I’m suddenly my mother’s sole responsibility.”

    Sorry to criticise your family but WTF? That’s really awful. I know everyone’s family is different but his attitude is so unhealthy on so many levels.

    Reminds me of my co-worker being horrified by cross-dressers though. He was all vehement about it because he knew it would piss me off and didn’t want to discuss it. It made me angry for days, that every wanker around me has SOME prejudice.

    I wanted to point out that as far as a lot of people are concerned interracial relationships are “unnatural”, so where does he get off labelling anyone else like that (he’s a white boy and none of his girlfriends have been white)… not to mention feeling like saying “and once again it’s shown that being willing to be feminine in anyway is THE WORST THING A MAN CAN EVER DO”


    Yeah, OK, this is like 2 weeks late. I’ll stop replying to old threads now.

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