Jaden Smith is one of the coolest and most attractive teenagers in the world – FACT. How could he be anything but with Jada and Will for parents? However Jaden Smith got everyone talking when he stepped out in a skirt, not once but twice, and on a third occasion he was wearing one of his own hoodie-dress designs.
Many negative reactions were voiced on the internet, from the simply ignorant insults to people saying it is wrong for a boy to be wearing a skirt or that his parents shouldn’t allow it. Other internet users have slurred Jaden for only wearing a skirt to grab attention.
The negative reactions I am glad to report were vastly outweighed by the positive. I think the world is starting to change their perceptions on gender clothing and gender variants, although among the mainstream there is still a way to go. When the pictures first emerged a colleague of mine commented that men shouldn’t wear skirts, that it is unattractive and makes them less masculine if they wear a skirt/dress. She laughed and seemed genuinely disgusted at the idea. This makes me angry as this same girl is in love with her skinny jeans – which would not be socially acceptable for her to wear if it weren’t for the big social ideological changes that were made back in 1920!
Women and Trousers
The war years in the UK made massive strides for women and their ability to wear trousers. in 1915 trousers were an exclusively male garment. Women wearing trousers was not widely adopted until the 1920’s-1930’s. Many religious leaders feared that women wearing trousers would become immodest, that no one would want to marry those women and that men would become effeminate, writing that this would result in social chaos. However when it became mandatory that women en-role to perform traditional male roles during the Second World War trousers became the norm and even Vouge provided fashion advice to women on how to wear trousers.
The end of the war saw the mass withdrawal of women from the labour market. Some went voluntarily; Many others were summarily dismissed. Some trade unions began lobbying for a ban on the employment of married women, concerned that the war had all too readily demonstrated that women were able to compete with their male counterparts. Women may have been pushed back out of the labour market but women wearing trousers was here to stay!
So women such as my skinny jean loving colleague should remember that it is less than 100 years since it became acceptable in the UK for women to wear trousers. If society was able to make such a monumental shift in gender clothing norms back then, we can do it again to free men to wear “womens clothes”.
Men Wearing Skirts Through History
Jaden Smith is not the first male in the public eye to cause a media storm by stepping out in a skirt. Back in 2012 Kayne wore a leather skirt to a benefit concert. Some people have pointed at these two men wearing skirts as evidence that women are ’emasculating’ men; this argument is based on the false ideas that skirts are feminine and that being feminine is bad. The perception that an item of clothing can take a mans masculinity is oxymoronic; If anything these men are more masculine for not submitting to convention and cowering the herd of a ridiculous societal prejudice.
The Egyptians of Cleopatra’s time, the Greeks, Romans, Trojans and Mongols, the Vikings, Celts, and modern Scots are all examples of societies where men wearing skirts was a norm. Skirts have been unisex for over 8000 years. In the grand scheme of humanity it is a historically recent, Western idea that “men can’t wear skirts. Therefore men wearing skirts is surely a reemergence of old world fashion and should not be looked at as cross dressing. Jay writes a very convincing article on why men should wear skirts, some of his pro points are:
- Mens anatomy is better suited to the skirt than to the trouser (unfortunately for men the three-legged trouser never really took off) as a skirt provides more comfort for the lower male body as well as health benefits (arguably) relating to reproductive health
- The emerging trend for men wearing skirts is not about feminine skirts for men, but masculine skirt design made for the for male body
Hopes for the Future
I hope that men wearing skirts and having the same freedom of choice over their clothing without fear of revoke comes into mainstream very soon. I envisage that in the future there will no longer be the notion of womens clothes and mens clothes, and that even the existence of womens and mens shops will cease and there will just be clothes and shops with no gender attached.