People Who Complain About 'Men In Dresses' Are Pointless

It's the tweet that launched a thousand think pieces -- this included. Last week, Vogue magazine revealed pop star, Harry Styles, would serve as the cover model for their December issue, including images depicting the former One Direction member donning two couture gowns, somehow angering conservative pundits everywhere. 

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"There is no society that can survive without strong men," Candace Owens opined to the vast screaming void that is internet discourse in the year 2020. "The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men."

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Despite receiving flack for her comments, even briefly trending on Twitter, Owens doubled down. "Since I'm trending I'd like to clarify what I meant when I said 'bring back manly men'. I meant: Bring back manly men. Terms like 'toxic masculinity', were created by toxic females. Real women don't do fake feminism. Sorry I'm not sorry."

Yet Owens isn't alone. Unintentional "WAP" cover artist Ben Shapiro replied to her statement, emphasizing her point.  "This is perfectly obvious," he replied. "Anyone who pretends that it is not a referendum on masculinity for men to don floofy dresses is treating you as a full-on idiot."

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Yet it turns out that "floofy dresses" and other seemingly "feminine" styles may not be as innately gendered as we may think. "Skirts worn in ancient Greece and Rome projected the ideals of youth and virility, a form of hyper-masculinity that is also projected by the Scottish kilt," according to literature from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It wasn't until the 14th century that pants became associated with masculinity, a shift due to tailoring, with skirts included in fashionable men's wardrobes until the early 1900s, experts at the Victoria and Albert Museum of Design say. However, these garments never fully fell out of trend. Over the years, gowns as menswear have been at the pinnacle of pop culture, worn by celebrities including David Bowie ...

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... Iggy Pop ...

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... Mick Jagger ... 

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... Kurt Cobain ...

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... Brad Pitt on his iconic Rolling Stone cover (20 years ago, no less) and more recently, reggaeton superstar and fashion icon, Bad Bunny.

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High heels, also fall into this category. First gaining widespread popularity in 16th century Persia, high heels were considered the epitome of wartime garb, helping soldiers stay on their horses, according to the BBC. "When the soldier stood up in his stirrups, the heel helped him to secure his stance so that he could shoot his bow and arrow more effectively," explained Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. 

And it's not just men's fashion -- the standards for women's clothing have also shifted over time. Just 100 years ago, Candace Owens' blazer and slacks combos would have been considered scandalous. According to Brittanica, it wasn't entirely socially acceptable for women to wear pants until the mid 20th century. "Some wanted it for purely practical reasons, such as for comfort and ease of movement. For others, the freedom to wear pants was tied to the women's rights movement, a radical and controversial crusade at the time," the entry reads

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Despite Shapiro's claims, we don't know the motives behind Styles' cover look. As mentioned in the tweet, Styles and the magazine's editors could simply be "playing with clothes." Vogue's editorial team could have pegged men in traditionally feminine silhouettes as an upcoming fashion trend worth featuring on their cover. As Shapiro noted, the look could also be a political statement, aiming to subvert the expectations of traditional masculinity. It could also serve as an example of the "Watermelon Sugar High" singer getting in touch with his feminine side, expressing his artistic creativity. More pragmatically, the pop star's getup could simply be a matter of comfort.

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In 2017, men across the U.K. and Europe dealt with extremely hot temperatures by wearing skirts when they weren't allowed to don shorts to work or school. "When it's 50 degrees behind the windscreen all day, those are work conditions which are not acceptable," Gabriel Magner, a bus driver union member said of their fashion choices. Although highly politicized, men in skirts is not always that deep. 

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Just as the notion of women wearing pants hasn't singlehandedly destroyed femininity, it seems that men re-adopting skirts and dresses won't either. The notions of traditionally masculine and feminine styles are ever-changing. Whether a man rocks a suit or a dress or a weird combination of the two like David Bowie, how one expresses their masculinity is their prerogative. In other words? Wear whatever the hell you want. As Drag Race's Michelle Visage so aptly put it ... 

For more internet nonsense, follow Carly on Instagram @HuntressThompson_ and on Twitter @TennesAnyone

 

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