Boyfriend Clothes

I’ve just read a discussion about what ‘boyfriend clothes’ means. It has highlighted why I have had such difficulty understanding fashion and dressing up in general. Boyfriend clothes were described as ‘like jeans and a comfortable baggy top’, my immediate thought was ‘sexier clothes for their partner’. Yet actually, no it was the opposite it was meant as ‘comfortable clothes, not having to try to impress, just being yourself’.

The thing is, I am strange, I don’t know why, but to me jeans and a baggy jumper are simply the sexiest things a woman can wear. I really have never seen the point of the clothes that women wear on a night out. It is only when I see a woman in their everyday clothes, that I may notice how attractive they are. This has perhaps caused quite a number of dating problems for me, because I am perhaps the wrong way round.

I have talked recently about being posh and making the effort for social occasions when meeting new people. Respecting the opportunity to speak to new people, explore fresh thinking, to play with the world in a slightly different way. That is what people do when they dress up, as do I on very rare occasions, at times apart from when they invite people around for tea.

I do get it. I have been to a fair number of ‘fancy dress’ parties. On these occasions you make some effort on your costume and when you arrive at the party you expect people to take a proper look at what you are wearing and you expect people to comment on it, finding something positive to say about your efforts. Perhaps for most people, going out out is used as a posh occasion, to have fun dressing up and expect their clothes to be looked at and commented upon, it’s socially acceptable to so do. Whereas  for me I have often yearned to comment on the jumpers people are wearing, but I know people often find this odd, but they get to learn that I am odd, so that’s okay.

I do try dressing up sometimes, to respect occasions. The only times I wear a suit and tie are weddings, funerals, bar-mitzvars and job interviews.  I just dislike wearing uncomfortable impracticable clothes so much and I don’t like seeing them on other people either. All I think about is when i can take the ruddy things off and change into somethign more comfortable. I think it’s worse as an introvert. I know my social energy is always running down and wearing uncomfortable clothes just burns that energy all the more quickly.

Really, the whole concept of ‘boyfriend clothes’ is a bit repugnant as it implies that all other styles are for those seeking relationships. I suppose the real question of this marketing is whether the label is trying to be simply descriptive of the fit or style or whether trying to direct people into lifestyle choices to suit their own ends. There is this whole world of fashion that operates in exact opposition to my individual preferences, so that dressing up is mere play and serious life stuff happens in everyday comfy ‘boyfriend’ clothes.

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Binary School

Some people get the whole being smart and wearing a shirt and a tie thing and some people don’t. I am one of those who don’t. The best answer I was ever given was that on relevant occasions you should wear a collar and tie for the people who do get it and think it’s important and these people were family, so I learnt the times when it was expected, when you had to.

The other night I was listening to a radio discussion about the old chestnut of school uniforms. What was interesting was that instead of an advocate of no school uniform against  an advocate of school uniform, one of the protagonists argued for a balanced position, the other for strict uniform.

There is very much a middle position on this, a sensible compromise, so i was very much on the side of the gentlemen who argued for the  middle way. The most practical argument for school uniform is that it is cheap for parents to kit out their children in a school uniform. However there are educational arguments too. On the one hand it teaches that there are occasions when you represent an organisation other than yourself that you are required to dress in a particular way. On the other hand it helps children develop style, by which the child can make decisions on how to wear the uniform, which usually involves some rakish way of wearing the tie.

The gentlemen arguing for strict school uniform argued for no adornment, no jewelry, which seems overly harsh. When I was at school you were allowed one earring per ear, one neck adornment and one bracelet per wrist. Many children at my school wanted to wear more than this, but that there was a compromise, enabled compromise. It allows experimentation with style without the onus to take things to an extreme position.

I very rarely wear a suit, but I do see men who do wear suits stylishly. These gentlemen have a tendency to be Italian, it is indeed rare for me to see people in this country pull off a suit well, yet people seem to persist. I always imagined that this suit wearing thing was just old-fashioned and by the time my generation had grown up, the practice would have fallen by the wayside, but it hasn’t. Enough people still expect people to dress a certain way. Really it takes some effort to get away from these stereotypes. For example I have a bright yellow high-vis coat. Whenever I wear it, I can almost disappear in a crowd, I become unnoticed, I’m assumed to be working. rather than being myself.

Yet there continues to be a dark side to all of this. Particularly women for whom the rules are so much more complex, especially if they are in a public facing role. There have been cases of women being asked to go out and buy high heels for roles that involve traipsing up and down stairs. I have been in a situation where a female host was escorting me in high heels, which is daft and I just felt really uncomfortable.

I get the idea that when you are working you are not supposed to be stylish or express yourself. You are there to be the organisation you are working with, so you wear the uniform to blend into the background, so your personality doesn’t distract from what you are doing. However does this really have any meaning in most modern organisations, as surely we are usually trying to attract peoples interest, to be novel rather than bland?

The middle way is interesting, as those with a developed sense of style seem to have a lot of fun, like children with school uniform of doing just enough to blend in and just enough to stand out. These are the skills that a moderate school uniform helps develop. I at least get school uniform now. I am coming around to the idea that style in clothing and fashion in general is about this finding a reaction to recent past styles, to conform to where things are whilst expressing a difference in a new direction. After all being able to express yourself is important for your own well-being. The difficulty with style is that there are those few who are naturally really thoughtful about it and have a well developed sense of style , whilst people like me blunder around shops wondering how on earth to replace my tatty old garments. You have to wear clothes, it’s too cold most of the time, so having some sort of style is unavoidable and people will make judgements about how you look. So, it is really important that as a society we do what we can to help young people explore this and school uniform does seem the best way of doing it.

Curing Masculinism

You do occasional here about so called ‘masculinism’ these days as a ‘response’ to feminism, from people who don’t appear to understand feminism in the slightest. As a male myself, collectively men seem so far behind women in getting over trying to be something expected of us by our birth gender role. Both men and women are swamped by images of how what our gender should dress like, behave, enjoy etc. and if you don’t quite fit within this definition or at least play along with it, tough, you’re an outcast. Not only is this limiting and destructive, it is so boring and limiting. For example the idea that I grew up with that ‘Boys don’t cry’, beautifully parodied by my favourite band ‘The Cure’. It took me years before I regained the ability to cry when I was upset. How is it great and ‘manly’ to not feel sad about sad things because we are ‘tough’ that we are don’t want to be affected by anything or have to actually deal with it. So many men, never get over this restriction.

Children very quickly pick up these gender stereotypes and very quickly conform to them. There is evidence to suggest that this conformity is the child demonstrating that they have understood. Society does indeed seem to encourage the development of ‘masculine’ traits for boys and ‘feminine’ ones for girls. However in Western culture particularly we have started to question these gender roles. Really, back in ‘cavemen’ times [or should it be cavepeople? oh wait they didn’t actually live in caves (sic)] it helped society together than the generally larger stronger sex went out hunting. However in an increasingly urban world, there is no need to encourage hunting skills, so why does society have this tendency to stick with these traditions?

Then there is a form of sexism that some men have of expecting women to behave in a ‘feminine’ way, which I don’t get at all. The logic seems to be well I have chosen to conform to a definition of masculinity, so I expect everyone else to conform this way too, even the other gender.Or is it more than this, there is this idea to teach people to conform as the idea as doing this will make your life easier, you will fit in and not stand out. However, it seems that these days success is achieved by the people who do stand out, who do take a different direction.

Often other men ask me “But don’t you like women wearing pretty dresses?” because what I find attractive in women, doesn’t fit the algorithm for how it seems most mean assess or a woman’s attractiveness.

Well I do like women wearing pretty dresses, wearing make up and having done something with their hair, but, only if I have seen them wearing normal clothes first. I like to see the change, the difference. Because most of the time the most attractive thing to me a lady can wear is jeans and a woolly jumper.

As a biologist I have spent some time working in jungles. Working in a jungle is hot and damp and in order to protect the ecosystem we don’t wash clothes in ‘modern’ detergents and th eonly way of gettign them dry is for them to get very smoky drying by a fire. So our clothes are always stained, and holey (from brushing past spiky plants regularly). This did not prevent me from finding some of my female companions attractive. When the project was over and everyone returns to a city, there is often a final social get together in a restaurant before everyone goes home. There is an opportunity to wash properly, wear clean clothes and often the women put on make-up. For me these are special times, to be able to see women I’ve been working for for several weeks in a completely new light. They are not more attractive than they were before, it’s just nice to see them having done something with their appearance. However I gather from other men that they suddenly notice how attractive these women are, I don’t get this at all.

I visited Germany last year. In a sense it was wonderful as the women in Germany dress normally (dress down?) most of the time and usually only have a few dresses for dressing up once in a while. I did indeed think that this was a place I would like to live, a society where my preferences were less different. Having said that a guy shoulder charged me for wearing a floral shirt, anyway German men dress appallingly, stripes everywhere) However some people complain that such Northern European women are somehow ‘less feminine’. They are just as feminine as women anywhere else, what perhaps they mean is that such women do not conform to some traditional view of femininity as in other places.

There are some obvious avenues to explore to explain this. Firstly Northern Europe is densely populated and industrialised a long time ago, so there is a bigger gap to a world where hunting was possible, the culture has had time to develop in new post-industrial ways. Secondly there is language. I’m been learning Welsh recently. Welsh like many other Indo-European languages assigns nouns a gender, masculine and feminine. So the language itself encourages speakers to view things in a gendered way. It is interesting that each language assigns these slightly differently, but there is a broadish conformity with traditional ideas of gender. However, in the Germanic languages of English and I believe the Scandinavian languages, this focus on gender has been lost or is rapidly disappearing. For example we now use ‘they’ for a person of unknown gender, or when the gender is not important (even in Welsh nowadays), whereas in Spanish, such a ‘they’ is masculine, unless the group only consists of females (‘ninos’ (male or mixed group of children) and ‘ninas’ (female only group of children).

How gender is dealt with is hugely complicated. We still live in a world where there are gender expectations. If for whatever reason you don’t fit the traditional roles, you have to find a way to deal with the stereotyping. Personally I have got myself into difficulties with women  who have misinterpreted my attention as seeking a relationship with them. I don’t know whether it is always a mistake to let women know that you find them attractive and then quickly ascertain that they are not interested in exploring a relationship with myself or not. However I often find that some women continue to believe I am seeking a relationship when continuing a non-sexual relationship. It is difficult, because I now see how much negative attention women get from men that is pursuing a relationship. It’s kind of like I had to come to terms with being different and to not be concerned that I was being treated in a seemingly strange way.

I think my conclusion that a traditional model of what masculinity and femininity is not wrong, or something that needs to be cured or got over, however not thinking about it at all can have negative consequences. If you happen to fit in, that is a wonderful gift, yet it is still worth understanding how much of that is really you, how much you are happy to conform and find out where you are different. What I would suggest though is that we do all need to discover who we are for ourselves and not blindly adopt roles. Even if you are an outsider, to function socially you require an understanding of the way the majority behave; which is perhaps why children learn gender roles at a young age. Essentially what I am saying that understanding is good and that we need to understand ourselves better and also find what grounds us, what roots us to ourselves and our communities, to realise that everyone else may be on such a journey too.  We should not criticise others for their choices in how they ground themselves, but we should be wary when others try and pressure people to behave to conform.

 

 

Fashion Attraction Preferences

Often, I have been asked ‘What kind of women are you attracted to?’ I never used to be able to give an answer. When people offer lists of ‘attractive’ women, I tend to agree with some of the selections,but don’t find the others attractive, The women I have had relationships with and those women I find attractive,  didn’t seem to fit into any general category, there are always exceptions. My basic belief is that it is individuals that are attractive, I imagine that there are a wide number of spectra of traits that i have preferences for, however that any individual person can transcend what may appear a huge incompatibility based on any individual spectra. Really, i make an effort not to judge people based on their appearance, although I do to some extent when ‘checking someone out’ to see how attractive I find them.

Nonetheless, I have found online quizzes that I found interesting, in that it enabled me to actually define the kind of women I generally find attractive, based on a number of attributes, both physical and personality traits. It’s called the ‘Beautiful faces test’ and the ‘Your kind of girl test’ on the dating website, http://www.OKCupid.com. Basically, three pictures of the same famous woman are shown, each picture features more or less of a particular trait and you choose which you find most attractive. For example, in one picture the nose is prominent, the second less so and the third where the nose appears less prominent. Your attraction based preference is indicative of whether you have a preference for prominent noses or smaller noses.

One of the most interesting preferences was for dress, again selected by showing the same woman wearing three different styles of clothing. In this case it’s wasn’t a simple spectra, rather it was based on a favoured style and least favoured style How people dress is a product of many forces, but ideally, I feel people should dress to reflect their own personality. Nonetheless dressing a particular way does have an influence on the sort of people you attract. It seems my preference is for women who wear ‘artsy’ cloths, women who strive for individual looks that they find by mixing and matching from vintage shops and charity shops, and  would agree that this is a reflection of what I like to see women wear. Whereas my least favourite style was stylish/smart/fashionable. What is perhaps interesting, is that the very clothing style that is advertised most heavily is the fashionable style. This is possibly a reflection of that this style is where the fashion industry makes the most money from, and partly that this style is generally more widely popular amongst women.

These tests are heavily based on physical attributes, though it would be interesting to consider personality traits, which dress is indicative of. For example, preferences for quiet activities, group activities, athleticism.

The other issue is dating sites themselves. Generally the only preferences they ask about are about physique or ethnic background. It seems discriminatory, focusing on attributes when they are lots of other , arguable more interesting and indicative of personality, preferences people can have.

Anyway, for the record, using the limited spectra offered by these two tests, this is the kind of woman i am generally attracted to:

I am slightly towards the cute end of the sexy- cuteness spectra, the middle of the dark – light spectra, I do have a strong preference for Artsy over stylish. I like big eyes, prominent noses and small mouths.

Actually, I don’t really think this is the sort of answer people are seeking when they ask me what kind of women i am attracted to.

A furry generation

In the news today was an article on the resurgence of people buying fur coats in Britain. I was surprised by this as in the 1980s and 1990s there were massive campaigns against this cruel, abominable trade. New fur clothing became taboo, the animal welfare argument in this arena had seemed to have been won, only for the issue to come around again,  Why?

The article was published in a British newspaper, which contained a lengthy comments section which was filled with criticism of this phenomenon on animal welfare grounds. The comments section was later taken over by trolls. Internet trolls have been around since the early days of the internet, I’ve never quite seen the point of deliberately creating arguments and seeking to rile people up, when this surely has a negative effect on the trolls well being.

In the comments section, there was also genuine debate. Having dabbled on internet forums, these are often places where much misunderstanding occurs anyway, even without the trolls. I think that this is due to people not knowing the background of the commentators and many false assumptions are made. Perhaps especially in a generally British forum where sarcasm levels run very high, which is harder to detect in a solely written format. These misunderstandings are perhaps due to different positions on spectra.

The spectra of opinions on animals welfare are perhaps much like any other spectra. You have the two extreme ends, with small but passionate minorities: Those that believe all farming of animals is wrong and those that support all animal farming with no regard for animal welfare. Both of these extreme positions are coherent and defensible as creeds and you can respect adherents for the moral consistency. However the majority of people, probably, like myself, lie somewhere in between. Unlike a normal bell curve distribution, there are peaks at the two extremes. So when those in between people debate without knowing each other misconceptions arise. It seems that people adopt lifestyle positions without researching the facts, how they act and what they believe become different, which is much harder to defend in an argument.

In the case of fur, it has many similarities with the meat and dairy trade. There is traditional hunting of animals for their pelts to provide clothing for those who live at high latitudes, from sustainable populations of prey animals. I personally approve of this, but with the wildernesses of Russia, Canada, Scandinavia and invasive possums in New Zealand, it cannot provide enough fur to satisfy the demands of the world fashion market. Fake fur has been developed, so this should be the mainstay of the market. Fur lasts a long time, so I think vintage fur clothing can be re-sold. What I strongly object to is the intensive farming of animals for their pelts, in cages where often the animals can’t even turn around. The issue is that the farmed fur trade is very much near the extreme end of low animal welfare and one the vast majority generally find unacceptable.

A difficulty for my position is distinguishing ethically sourced fur from the cruel stuff, again much like the meat and dairy sector. This was the argument in the 80s and 90s; As you couldn’t source the fur, you had no idea if people were openly supporting cruelty to animals or not, so the argument ran that it was better not to wear real fur at all, rather than risk offense.

Some would argue that it is simply the fashion industry. This being the industry that profits from people buying more clothes than they need, made affordable to those in the Western world by being manufactured in sweat shop factories, akin to the Victorian mills of the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Has models who are unhealthily thin to be coat hangers and tell young women that making yourself thin is somehow acceptable. This is one of the reasons I’ve never really been into fashion and happy to wear somewhat raggedy clothes on an everyday basis. Really, I don’t understand why there aren’t more charity shops for exchange of clothes, as much fashion clothing is often only worn a couple of times. Being a chap, my choice in charity/ vintage cloth shops is relatively poor.

is it perhaps a generational thing. I wouldn’t suggest that the younger generation are less moral, but maybe how morality is expressed has changed. I am often disappointed with my generation in failing to achieve all that much progress in moral issues against corporate power. However what my generation did perhaps achieve was the acceptance of individuality. My generation cherish individuality, the freedom to pursue our dreams and to be ourselves. Listening to people in their late teens and early 20s, I am so impressed with their acceptance of other peoples sexuality and diversity of lifestyles, they seem to feel less obliged to do things they don’t want to. To some extent this only came about because my generations challenged traditional views and those people that rigidly adhered to them.

Perhaps this individuality has been taken to an extreme beyond the motivation behind it’s development.  my generation did view the world as a society, there was a feeling that we wanted to make the world a better place, here we failed.The younger generation have come to accept more that the world/ corporate power can’t be changed. There is less a sense of the possibility of the mass of the democratic public simply saying no to something in sufficient numbers with enough vigour to bring it about. That people feel that there is no longer a society to look after if you are able, a sense of local and international community. That one can perhaps only act at an individual level or within a peer group. Hence, whilst there may be as much despair at people wearing fur, people are perhaps less willing to challenge people who wear it. With the powers that be, monitoring us all on the internet and in our daily lives with CCTV, everyone is perhaps too afraid to challenge immorality.

What happens if no-one challenges immorality, if there is no cost to anti-social behaviour. I believe in animal welfare because I believe how people treat other sentient beings reflects on how we treat each other. It is only a small step between keeping an animal in a cage to having no qualms about a child being injured whilst working for a pittance in a factory on the other side of the world. Isn’t it time society stood up again for something? Fashion should be about fun, style and looking good, not draping yourself in the skins of mistreated animals.

Generally Separate

When people get into a fight, there is often a cry to separate, to step back, provide both parties to stop and reflect upon their actions. Many arguments and conflicts are caused by misunderstandings. Many misunderstandings arise from a tendency to generalise. People generalise to make help make sense of the world, to simplify.

In my recent conversations with people about the murder of journalists in Paris this week, I have often found myself as the standard barer of the idea of separating and not generalising. It is wrong to cast aspersions on an entire group of people, or people who identify with a particular belief. It is also wrong to suggest that all ‘members’ of a group are responsible for the actions of individuals with whom they share some label. For example if a murder occurs in Wales, as a Welshman I am not to blame for the murder, nor should I apologise to the world on behalf of Welsh people. Whilst all Welsh people are Welsh, as individuals we all define that sense of identity in a different way.

People often get upset or angry by events. When  we become upset, there is a tendency to blame others, there is often no immediately apparent cause of the problem so people look for generalisations, and the labels generated from generalisations come to the for. One might, for example blame all women for a relationship floundering. However, it is perhaps neglected that when there is a misunderstanding it is due to the failure of the generalisation, than some more rare personality trait is not understood.

There is a sense of the tyranny of the perceived majority, which is often heightened by the media. For example that men are only after sex and not committed relationships. Sometimes, people take comfort from the logic of using generalisations to form conclusions for a communication breakdown, it gives a sense of a matter being settled. i would argue that often misunderstandings arise from people making generalisations and a disregard for the separateness of individuals, for ‘exceptions to the rule’. Really because as humans we generalise, we often fail to be aware that we are dealing with an individual who is different and not all generalisations apply to any individual.As a society we are not less homogenised, we live in a multi-cultural society, yet still retain the trappings of class, the traditional form of difference in a society.

This loss of social rules and social conformity is a triumph. It has freed individuals from feeling that they should act or think in a particular way. It also places a burden on the individual to assess the morality of their thoughts and actions individually and often there isn’t the time and space to do this thoroughly. Often a solution is to adopt or buy into a particular philosophy as a general way to simply exist and get on with things, whilst recognising that every system has it’s flaws and weaknesses as well. However following the dictates of any particular creed or rule system, will inevitable cause the followers of another system harm, inadvertently at some point.

For example, wearing of the burka. To me, as a western feminist, women should be free to wear what they want and not have their choice of clothes  dictated by any particular greed or gender group. Men should respect women by not harassing them for any choice of clothing they may make. So, if I were to completely adopt this creed I would be disapproving of women wearing the burka, advocating that the burka has no place in society. This is wrong, as I would be applying my creed to someone else. Women have the right to wear the burka if they wish to. in any case, the feminist creed has not fully succeeded in removing the harassment of women in the street in society, no creed can claim any superiority over the other.

I was once involved in a rather farcical clash of cultures once on a London bus. I got onto the bus, there was only one spare seat, next to a woman, which I sat in. The woman got up from her seat, presumably as her creed was that she shouldn’t sit next to strange men. My creed dictated that I should give up my seat for a woman, so I got up and indicated that the lady should resume her seat, which she did. On my last visit to London, on the tube (underground railway), the lady opposite who was nursing a young child, gave up her seat to an elderly lady who had just got on the train. I then gave up my seat to the lady with the child!

I am British, the British are often criticised for apologising whenever things go awry. Actually this is healthy thing to do, it is a correct admission that no-one is perfect, that this lack of perfection has caused some trouble to someone else. That the reasons or a difficulty is that we are all different and working out the exact thing we are apologising for is most of the time not worth trying to work out, or at least should be remembered for when the person has to time to stop and reflect.

My own problem was that I would overly worry and assess my own failings, rather than admit to never being perfect and get on with living, to accept that people are always going to misunderstand me and I others, with no intended malice. I didn’t do this partly as I allowed the differences and misunderstanding to effect me, when it is something that just happens. Learning to tolerate the differences in others is something i could always do, what i lacked was freeing myself of the fear of my own status as someone separate of inadvertently offending others.

People should be less hasty to judge both other individuals and labelable groups, not try and dictate how others from different backgrounds should behave (all our backgrounds are different), but rather accept the separateness of us all as individuals and do our best to get along with one another.

Bullying and Fashion

I think this topic comes from this emerging theme of being part of misunderstood minority groups. I’m defining bullying here as: repeated actions which make someone bad about themselves and pressured to change.

When I hear the word ‘bullying’, my mind is transported back to schooldays. It is perhaps true that high school is where most bullying occurs and then everyone spends their twenties getting over it!

I was mentally bullied at school, but I was aware that is was without malice. There is this notion of ‘only taking the piss’ or poking fun at a perceived desire. I’ve never quite understood this and people generally grow out of it. For me, at school, it seemed as though everything I thought or wanted to do was taken the piss out of. This only became bullying because it seemed to cover everything I did, to the point I stopped engaging with things to for it to happen less. Which I now see as being quite daft of me.

Piss-taking is something that occurs in group behaviour. When one member of the group is veering away from the main direction of the group they are ‘taken the piss out of’ to re-focus them onto the group activity. For example, in a group activity, someone starts daydreaming, so the piss is taken simply to wake that individual up. Harmless fun and a group bonding thing isn’t it?

However in a school setting, whilst the class is a group, it isn’t a voluntarily joined group.  The group has powerful common features, specifically age and geographic location.  Teenagers are individuals developing their own personalities and interests, whilst constantly scanning their contempories to ascertain where are at relative to this grouping. Over time the diversity in interests/ groupings becomes wider. Young people are both learning who they are as an individual and how to operate socially in groups.

It could be said that groups work better as a team to collectively produce maximum efficiency and the bonding of team spirit facilitates this and is a positive experience. My point is that a class at school isn’t a team. What exists is perhaps a sense of fear in taking a different path to the mainstream, to not be in the group, to be alone (Not everyone is an introvert). Sometimes that different path is the one to take if that is who you are, whether that be by choice or not. In some ways, bullying is a fear of the different, a fear that the main path maybe isn’t the ‘best’ way, that being different in a particular way leads to greater rewards than being part of the majority, a desire for everyone to be one big group, for bigger groups have more power and influence.

I have regarded ‘piss taking’ as a check. It’s a questioning from the group of whether the individual is slipping in a particular direction away from the mainstream. The individual may not be, simply exploring and a quick piss take returns the person to the fold and perhaps ‘warned’ that they are not become to ‘up themselves’. However when the person makes a personal commitment that this is a direction they are going in, often the group will accept this as a new facet of that persons character and desist the piss taking; This is reasonable. I think I only found it difficult as I was towards the boundaries, the outside, in so many areas and I wasn’t mature enough to realise it.

An example. I’ve never been particularly interested in fashion or dressing up. However, this may have been due to it being regarded as ‘not masculine’ and hence any exploration in this area I may have made, was taken the piss out of and I didn’t see it as an important enough part of who I am to pursue further and didn’t want to be perceived as even further outside. If I didn’t commit fully to it then it would be subject to ‘piss taking’.

I often expand from the individual to the general. So do men generally not take an interest in fashion to be more of an insider in heterosexual male groups. If enough people were interested it would happen, but there is this big weight of mainstream culture and ‘acceptability’ to overcome, it could be simply not to have reached a critical mass. Men go to costume parties and generally relish the opportunity as it’s acceptable behaviour, especially if cross dressing is involved! it’s one thing men can do that women can’t and always lots of fun! but why?

In history, men wore much more flamboyant clothing. Maybe due to honest sexual signalling, a man rich enough to have fine clothes, signals power and wealth to potential mates. It is perhaps surprising that clothes form virtually no part of men expressing their power and social status nowadays apart from the odd expensive watch. Perhaps due to how we function in schools in contemporary society.

It’s almost as if heterosexual men never get the chance to explore this as once they leave school there is a pressure to be ‘smart’ to get through working life. I’ve always been envious of girls in that they have the time all through their teenage years and their twenties to experiment with wild clothing, bright brash colours, hair styles, accessories and have the clothes available relatively cheaply in shops. This allows women to experiment and find styles that they look really good in. Heterosexual men (I’m being typically/general here) don’t get this opportunity to go through this experimentation , so just wear what they can get away with, or what their girlfriend advises (which is what I generally do).

Further questions: Is there a spectrum between individualism and communalism in humans? I don’t think there is, why choose to try and be like everyone else, I’ve learnt that this is a fools way of trying to gain social acceptance and drains self-confidence. I think you are who you are, and what is important is being you you are without fear.

Make-up

As a teenager I wondered why women wore make-up, I concluded that that they wore it for themselves principally, for other women secondarily and not really for men.

I read recently that this view has come to acceptance. From this is seems odd that women do something to their appearance that has no effect on the opposite gender. As a heterosexual man I have learned that making some effort with my appearance does alter peoples behaviour towards me, i.e it provides social benefits for myself, so when I make an effort with my appearance it is purely for myself. Hence it makes sense to do this when going out to socialise or meeting important people at work. Really these functions are provided by dress, so why make up?

A couple of years ago I realised that I do like it when female friends of mine  put make up on. Because it is someone I know making themselves look different and projecting a different image. I’m usually amazed by what a good job they have done. To me then make up is only relevent when it’s people you know, people who you know what they look like ‘naturally’.

There is something else than women do. the majority of women shave their armpits, bleach moustaches etc. The ‘feminist’ argument that I grew up with was that women did this for men and hence they should not.

I define feminism as simply parity between the sexes. I am also happy to extend this to include that no-one should do something simply because the other gender desires it.

Personally I feel it doesn’t matter whether a woman shaves for armpits/legs or not, people can do it if they want to. But does it matter?

At some point in growing up we learn not to judge people by their appearance. However we have to come to terms with the fact that humans seem to be pre-engineered to make rapid judgements about people. For example if I  meet a lady and I notice that she has armpit hair, thoughts are triggered in my brain that bring back memories of thoughts about the subject. So for a split second I have set of pre-conceived ideas about this person. However these thoughts quickly pass. so it does matter, but only in influencing thoughts on an initial assessment of appearance. So, is there any difference when it comes to sexual attraction?

Sexual attraction is something that happens in that first split second of seeing someone. so all these initial triggered thoughts are there. If something in their appearance triggers a negative association (e.g. careful they might be some hardcore feminist and start screaming at me), that can stop the initial sexual attraction. Though a sexual attraction may still come about, but it will then depend on gathering information about the persons personality.

I often wonder if women and people of non-heterosexual persuasion have similar processes of sexual attraction. I find it wonderful that once I  decide that I like someone any imperfections that they have no longer matter, are not unattractive or trigger any negativity.

What make up can do is hide imperfections, so any initial negative thoughts don’t happen, positive relations are established and so when imperfections are revealed, they no longer matter. For a non-sexual relationship, the imperfections are known about, so don’t trigger any pre-engineered assessment.