As women became more empowered, they adopted many of the behaviours associated with the dominant sex. From the late nineteenth century onwards, modern women gradually dispensed with the frivolous trappings and wiles of femininity and began wearing trousers, smoked, wore ties, drank beer, talked loudly, took up sports and became more violent. This was seen as a natural enough process: it is acceptable to imitate one’s perceived superiors.
The debate around male identity was more fierce, and the further women pulled ahead in the sex war during the 21st century, the more it intensified. When power was monopolised by women, how could society forge a new identity for men? It was clearly inappropriate for men, living on their wives’ and girlfriends’ salaries and subordinate to female authority, to strut around as if they were still running the show. The debate was wide open and it was clear that extraordinary change was in the air.
Many commentators, including some male ones, asserted that low status behaviours belonged with the inferior sex, i.e. that men should now start behaving like women used to. This didn’t just mean that they would be stuck in the home cleaning and cooking. It meant acting in a more subservient way, submitting to females’ will and being more passive, coy and soft-spoken, and its most dramatic implication was that men should start to wear ‘women’s’ clothes. After all, men were now the home-makers and the child-carers — why not also the dress-wearers?
This was not a new idea. Ever since the Suffragettes, conservative forces had produced alarming cartoons and doggerel suggesting that if women acquired the vote, they would become dominant and push men into feminine roles, including forcing them to wear dresses. (There is a good article about this on the Femulate blog).
There had already been various attempts in the latter half of the 20th century to introduce skirts for men, for example by individual pioneers like David J. Hall or designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier. All these attempts failed, for a simple reason: the traditional power relationship of the sexes still prevailed, and men still saw the adoption of ‘feminine’ behaviours as degrading.
(Right) Skirts for men became available to the mainstream shopper in the 2010s, such as this example from H&M. But they did not become widely worn until the 2030s.
It took the female revolution to finally set society on a new path. It was clearly illogical for men to boycott women’s clothes on the basis that women were inferior, when women were unquestionably the dominant sex. Also, women did not need to try and seduce men any more. If anything, it was men who needed the financial support of a woman, and therefore counted upon charm and appearance to win attention. Frilly, shiny, lacy, fluttery things and cosmetics were the weapons of the dependent sex, not the ruling one, and that surely made them the prerogative of men under the new order.
[Part two follows]