Let’s look for a moment at our own context. What do you think, believe or feel about the idea of a man wearing a skirt or dress.
Does it seem appropriate, acceptable, interesting, unsettling, irrelevant?
Answers to this question will likely differ, depending on the context as well as who is answering the question.
Click below to reveal some images and related commentary.
A kilt was standard apparel for a Scottish man from the 16th through the 19th centuries, particularly for men in the military. During WW I, the Germans labelled some Scottish soliders as “ladies from hell” because of their fierce fighting while wearing “skirts”. Kilts have made a big come back in recent years, particularly in Scotland where they are a symbol of national identity. While men wear kilts to work, to pubs and sporting events in Scotland, it is unlikely that a man in Canada could wear a kilt on a day-to-day or casual basis without raising some eyebrows. At the same time, there is some opposition to women wearing kilts. According to traditionalists, the garment is meant to be worn only by men.
The robes worn by Buddhist monks — all of whom are men — have remained virtually unchanged for centuries. They serve a variety of purposes, both spiritual and practical, and they would not be considered unmanly in countries where Buddhism is practised and recognized. Men in other religious traditions also wear robes and other “dress-like” clothing.
The man in this picture is wearing clothing that we might expect to see a woman wearing. Technically cross-dressing is something that both women and men can do because it simply involves wearing clothing, shoes or other accessories, such as jewellery and barrettes, that are commonly associated with a sex other than that of the wearer. There is a long tradition in many cultures of using cross-dressing as a disguise, an act of rebellion, or a form of self-expression. In modern Western societies, the term is most often associated with men wearing dresses and accessories seen as female, because women’s fashions are more inclusive of traditionally “male” clothing, such as pants. Cross-dressing might be acceptable in certain situations, such as dressing up for Halloween, but even then it could cause some people to question the gender identity or sexual orientation of the wearer.