A woman writing for the Guardian recently shared how her unease over her boyfriend's penchant for wearing wedding dresses has challenged her "progressive ideals" and pushed her "to perform a scrupulous inventory of [her] deepest ideas about masculinity."
"I'm quick to blame men for their toxic behavior, but in this case, I, the woman, was part of the problem," the author, Emily Halnon, wrote reflectively.
The story begins like this:
"Emily!" he cried with victorious glee. "I've found the one!"
Ian thrust the white garment into the air like a Nascar trophy. Its lace sleeves sashayed from the tapered bodice and fluffy tulle grazed the dirty tiles of the thrift store floor. A smile stretched across Ian's scruffy face and his blue eyes danced with the giddy excitement of a bride saying, "I do!"
"Oh, wow," I managed to spit out.
Emily recalled that she and her boyfriend were shopping in preparation for the annual Mother's Day Mount St. Helen's climb, a tradition in which hikers sport flowing garments in honor of mothers on their way up the Pacific Northwest volcano.
So, while wearing something like a dress on such a day is customary, Emily said that she knew her boyfriend would be among the especially outrageous. Apparently, wearing feminine clothing was something he had demonstrated a particular keenness for in the past.
"It's not an unusual sight to spot him sporting a skirt, dress, or sarong at a party, picnic, or trailhead," Halnon recounted, admitting that she wasn't always comfortable with the habit.
"I found myself unexpectedly uneasy with his new fondness for feminine frocks — a reaction that challenged the progressive ideals I'd prided myself on for decades," Halnon said. "I'd long thought I was contributing to a progressive shift in how we define masculinity, finally allowing men to be emotional and vulnerable, or to ask for help, or to hug their male friends … or to wear dresses."
Despite her progressive ideals, Halnon mustered up the courage to make a major admission: "I still crave traditional masculinity," she said. "Intellectually, I enjoyed that Ian was rejecting gender norms and expectations. But physically, my desire didn't match ... I realized I wanted less dress and more flannel shirts, trucker hats and sandstone Carhartts."
This was a striking realization for Halnon, who determined to dig deep within to uproot her toxic presuppositions:
My boyfriend's wedding dress pushed me to perform a scrupulous inventory of my deepest ideas about masculinity and helped me identify my shortfalls as a woman who wants to help rewrite gender norms. As I went through this exercise, I chatted with a handful of girlfriends about it, who could all identify their own small hang-ups with masculinity: their need for men who are bigger and taller than they are, or who are better than them at sports, or who don't cry in front of them.
Though she is vexed by this fact, Halnon is not alone in finding traditional masculinity attractive. A recent study out of Australia turned out the jarring and unexpected results that women prefer men with beards because it makes them appear more physically and socially dominant.
In an op-ed for TheBlaze, Courtney Kirchoff wrote about the study, saying, "Women have always liked masculine men, so why is it news?"
Maybe it's news because folks like Halnon are attempting to socially engineer masculinity to be something it is not.
(H/T: The Daily Wire)