Essays, general essay

I Am #NotLessThan

Why don’t we see boys cheerleading for girls’ sports?

Why don’t guys knit, embroider or sew clothing?

Why is it so funny when a man puts on a dress?

The answer is at the root of sexism in our society and a profound indicator of just how deeply entrenched male dominance is. You don’t see guys doing female stuff because that which is feminine diminishes them. It makes them less male, as if carrying a flower somehow magically sucks a man’s balls away. In short, that which is feminine is Less Than. It’s not as good as being male.

Now, given that I am feminine, I find all this rather insulting, even as I feel a little creepy when I see a guy wearing a man skirt. The reality is, I’m just as socialized into these cultural norms as the next person. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel it when I offer to teach a guy to sew and he gets that tight smile and backs away.

It would be far too easy to remind everyone how insulting this is and leave it at that. Taking umbrage seems to be the National Pastime. But there’s a thought – why don’t we start encouraging guys to knit? Put a big floppy flower on a pen and give it to your guy to use. Why not gently remind them that we really don’t find a guy wearing our clothes funny. I’d suggest encouraging guys to wear man skirts, but that might be pushing things a bit far. But, hey, why not? Skirts have got to be more comfortable on the anatomy than pants, for crying out loud.

The bottom line is that when that which is defined as feminine no longer diminishes a man, then we will have achieved something. That which makes me a woman is not less than, and it doesn’t make a man less than. Because I am #NotLessThan.

Anne Louise Bannon

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