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Author Topic: Gender Q
vtkmb27
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Thanks for supply a more open-minded outlook on a lot of things, for starters.
But when it came to your topic on gender stereotypes, and people who consider themselves "genderfucked", I am kind of confused.

For two years now, I have had thoughts and questions about being bisexual. But during this past year, everything has started to become clearer, and I have started coming out to my close friends. Which is great. And I know that this has not much to do with gender, but to me it does. When I'm with a guy I like, I feel all "girly" and "pretty".... but when I'm with a girl I'm attracted to, I can vary between wanting to be "pretty" or wanting to act tougher than normal. Then there is the whole clothing thing...
Most of the time, I dress in rather baggy jeans, t-shirts and overshirts, and various boy's clothing. But there are times every once in a while when I actually feel "girly", and want to look and feel good about being a girl. So I keep switching back and forth between the two.
Yes, I already read about genders not nessesarily being attached to one type of clothing. But when I am forced to choose "girl" or "boy" on a question of gender, I don't really feel right answering to either of those answers. I still identify "girl" as pink, frilly skirts and dresses... or even a cute t-shirt. And "boy" means to me either baggy clothes, or dressed up in a nice button-up shirt and khakis or something. I hate that I identify these two extremes by something as foolish as a piece of cloth.
But I am curious now. Am I just a girl who enjoys being comfortable in boy's pants and shirts, or what?

[This message has been edited by vtkmb27 (edited 07-24-2004).]


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JamsessionVT
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Are you just a girl who likes boy clothes?

While it may seem like a simple question to ask, there might be many different opinions on this topic.

If it helps any, I used to wear boys jeans up until about 7th grade. Most of them were baggy, dark blue Union Bay jeans, carpenter style. My mom and I would go into the boys section of Filenes and buy guys jeans, and I never thought anything of it, because they were comfortable.

After getting in to high school, I decided, on my own free will, I wanted to wear jeans cut for girls, and ditched the guys jeans.

So, I guess my point is, just because you wear the other genders clothes doesn't mean you have to identify as a bi sexual, transexual, or any other type of orientation. Unless you feel an attraction to girls only, or much more girls than guys, chances are you probably aren't a bi. You just happen to like boys clothing, and there's nothing wrong with that.

------------------
Good luck! :)
-Jam

"We're not stupid, we're just not smart"


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Heather
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(It's probably worth asking here what "girls" and "boys" clothes even ARE. Given, there are some items of clothing which clearly are very specifically designed for a biological sex: brassieres, jockstraps. But the buck pretty much ends right there. Which section of a store clothing is SOLD in and that it's gender divided is about marketing, not about clothing, sex or really, even gender.)
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JamsessionVT
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While I can agree with that, I think there are some very general clothing items that one sex wears much more than the other...

For example, men generally wear more open pants than women, who generally wear pants that are more closely fitted. There are most certainly exceptions, since I have seen many a man wearing tight pants and several women wearing baggy pants.

But don't get me wrong, I agree with you Miz Scarlett...I think the marketing business puts a lot of emphasis, too much in fact, on the types and styles of clothing girls and guys should wear.

[This message has been edited by JamsessionVT (edited 07-28-2004).]


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Heather
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And yet, one can buy any size or cut of pants they prefer: that's about how one might wear something, rather than about the actual make.
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Ecofem
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Just wanted to add my two cents; meant cordially of course.

quote:
Originally posted by JamsessionVT:
For example, men generally wear more open pants than women, who generally wear pants that are more closely fitted. There are most certainly exceptions, since I have seen many a man wearing tight pants and several women wearing baggy pants.

Well, that may be the trend in the US but both women and men in Germany and many other European countries wear tight-fitting pants ... and in many cultures men wear what we'd call skirts or dresses and aren't considered any less masculine for it.

Awhile I heard that even in the US, up until a century or so ago, the popular colors for babies were pink for males and blue for females. Tangerine or scarlet, anyone?


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"I'm a cunning linguist" ~Princess Superstar

[This message has been edited by Ecofem (edited 07-29-2004).]


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JamsessionVT
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Yeah, I think the specific colors for babies is kinda sexist. I mean, wouldn't you agree that most people in the U.S, if they saw a baby boy dressed in pink, would find it a bit odd? (After living here all my life, I have yet to figure out why this is...)

And if you see a man in the U.S walking down the street wearing a bright pink shirt and a jean skirt, wouldn't people be a little skeptical of that? (Of course, it could mean he's a crossdresser or transexual, but lets assume he's straight) I guess my point kinda was that in the U.S, from what I have experienced, there is a somewhat definate line of what are considered mens clothes and womens clothes. While pants may not have been the best example, unless a man was a crossdresser or transexual, you will not find very many men walking around in skirts, if you find any at all. There are plenty of exceptions, since women now have the choice or dressing up in suits or dresses for work, and can wear pants cut the way they like. But items like skirts and dresses have stayed pretty much a womens clothing item...


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wobblyheadedjane
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quote:
Originally posted by JamsessionVT:
(Of course, it could mean he's a crossdresser or transexual, but lets assume he's straight)

Just a note, but the majority of male crossdressers are straight. (Here's a decent encyclopedia article on basic terms).

It may be that Canada is a different environment than the States (though we're quite similar) but sarongs in the summertime seem to be quite acceptable for men. I know of a few guys who wear wrap around skirts or pants for comfort during the hotter days, and they barely get looked at twice.

[This message has been edited by wobblyheadedjane (edited 07-29-2004).]


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Heather
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It's also worth remembering that not only is the US a pretty darn diverse place, but:

1) Gender and orientation do not neccessarily have ANY correlation whatsoever. In other words, a person's gender identnity and manner of dressing aren't determined by either, nor is gender ID determined by orientation.

2) Clothing differs massively around the world, in which the US is but one part. There are plenty of places in the world, for instance, where clothing not only isn't divided into pants and dresses, but where items gender ID is being attached to by a given person based on their culture don't have the same meanings at all elsewhere. Moreover, what gender ID or gender roles and status are are not universal, in that ours = how it works everywhere else.


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Dzuunmod
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quote:
Originally posted by wobblyheadedjane:
Just a note, but the majority of male crossdressers are straight. (Here's a decent encyclopedia article on basic terms).

It may be that Canada is a different environment than the States (though we're quite similar) but sarongs in the summertime seem to be quite acceptable for men. I know of a few guys who wear wrap around skirts or pants for comfort during the hotter days, and they barely get looked at twice.

[This message has been edited by wobblyheadedjane (edited 07-29-2004).]


Just gotta chime in and say that that isn't so in my neck of the woods. Maybe for men hanging out in two or three neighbourhoods of the city here, but if a man ventured into the suburbs - or even the blue-collar neighbourhoods, I think it'd be a different story. And supposedly, this is one of the most sexually-liberated cities on the continent.

------------------
"Like a bat out of hell, time has come for you!"
-Ballad of a Comeback Kid, The New Pornographers


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wobblyheadedjane
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Oops, didn't mean to imply that gender roles and IDs are universal; sorry if it came across that way.

Dzuun, huh and my old Northern Ontario haunt is pretty conservative, and I've seen it around a lot. Must be our cottage-country attitude

Edited to add: ah, got it, Miz S.

[This message has been edited by wobblyheadedjane (edited 07-30-2004).]


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Heather
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(Wobbly, that was more for jamsession than for you.)
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windycityskacore
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I guess this is somewhat relivant, but my twin brother and I (who live in different parts of the Midwest) have begun to wear tighter fitting jeans. This isn't a reflection of our sexuality (we're both straight and happily attatched) but its kinda just something that we started doing.

I guess we just think it looks cool, plus we've always been the type to do things a little differently. That could be why we do it. My brother has even begun deliberatly buying flaired pants in the girls section.

Sorry if this is sorta off topic, but I think that clothes HAVE been gendered by society; you can't buy ANY new men's clothing unless its 2 sizes too large (and by that I mean a M tee-shirt fits like a XL and ALL pants are baggy). I went to a Kohls or something to buy pants new (I usually buy used, so this was a big deal) and was pissed to find that they were all loose or baggy, even if they claimed to be regular or boot cut or something. Its not just you who think that clothes have specific gender associations, its the whole industry too!

So if you're comfy in boy's pants, thats cool because we've been conditioned by society to think that boy's pants are baggy and that girls wear pink (we've started wearing lots of pink because of this too...although now thats in fashion). Of course, that's just kinda my post-modern rhetoric, but you shouldn't feel foolish; how can you not be conditioned by your environment?

------------------
...or is that just me being naive
again?


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JamsessionVT
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I like your thinking, windycity...
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Heather
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....then perhaps it's worth asking if gender, and ideas about gender, can even exist outside the framework, status and mandates of a given society or culture?
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JamsessionVT
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Could you elaborate on that, Miz S.? I'm interested in this...
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Heather
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Well, the way I hear most of you talking about gender, for starters, is either all about clothing OR is in terms of clothing common to genders, but only in one area, namely, the US and North America.

In other words, in Bali, people of both sexes commonly wear sarongs. In Thailand, both pants, skirts, and garments that look a bit like long sheer dresses are common to both genders. What the initial poster is talking about: frilly and pink for girls, khaki and baggy for boys is totally specific to this culture, and this TIME in this culture.

I tried to suggest that these customs are not universal, but what I'm hearing is that some of you seem only able to define gender in terms of appearance and clothing to clothing very specific to your time, area and community.

So, for those of you approaching it that way, let's say this: all of a sudden, a super-duper science fiction machine lands you in an entirely different area, culture or time period in which none of what you define gender with in terms of appearances (or perhaps behaviours, status and roles as well, if this discussion isn't just about how one dresses) is present or as you know it.

Do you still define gender by your own time, area and terms? Would a different scenario feel UNgendered for you because of that?


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JamsessionVT
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Hmmm...I see your point...I liked what windycity said, because it is hard, especially in todays society where we live, to break away from what society sees as normal or acceptable. We take on a lot of the values from our surroundings, and it's hard later in life to go back on those. I bet some people in Bali see the way the US culture works and think we are closed minded and domineering because our society presses people to conform to what is the norm or accepted.

But I must say, you've changed my perspective quite a bit, Miz S.


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Heather
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Hey, some of us in the US feel that way. It's a pretty diverse place.

Growing up for me, the gender roles I saw in other people's homes, in books, etc. were often very confusing to me, with the long-haired stay-at-home Dad, the short-haired working Mom and such.

Honestly? To varying degrees, it's not all that hard to break away from norms, especially when you start to get a look at the bigger picture, study a lot of history, look at other cultures, be around very diverse people and communities and such. But that's often based on personality: some people find it harder to be nonconformist than others.

Short point is this: gender is very complicated stuff, and what given genders wear in one given area or community is an incredibly small piece of a much bigger puzzle.


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Spooky4444
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I don't think gender should affect how you dress at all. I was shopping for a bathing suit with my mother a while back, and was looking at a pair of boys trunks that i thought were cute, and my mother snapped, "Why do you always want to look like a boy Tiffany?" because i had just been in Hot Topic looking at a wallet that she called a "boys" because it had a chain.
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ahli
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
(It's probably worth asking here what "girls" and "boys" clothes even ARE. Given, there are some items of clothing which clearly are very specifically designed for a biological sex: brassieres, jockstraps. But the buck pretty much ends right there. Which section of a store clothing is SOLD in and that it's gender divided is about marketing, not about clothing, sex or really, even gender.)

I have to say Mizzy, that while I can understand what you are saying there, I disagree.

For better or for worse, society and culture has developed with male clothing and female clothing in many societies. Excepting the Scottish culture, skirts have been predominately worn by women.

For worse, I believe, society percieves boys who wear women's clothing as psychologically 'disturbed'. Yet, at least in Australian society, there isn't that level of skeptism about girls wearing men's clothing.

That said - societal values and evolution (and yes - marketing and the corporate giants) have led to a clear distinction between "Menswear" and "Womenswear". While I believe that it should be everyone's individual right to wear the clothing they want, unfortunately society on the whole has not adopted those attitudes yet - and it's pretty damned hard to ignore the bulk of society. Don't you think Mizzy?


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Heather
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You're really asking the wrong person.

The older I get, the more intentionally I make my community, the more it becomes clear how "tuned out" from a whole lot of that stuff I am.

I don't watch television, I never really have. I don't read Vogue, save to check out the photograph every now and the for use as tear sheets. I participate in corporate, capitalist culture very, very little. Heck, THIS is part of what I do for my living, and the way I do this work means opting out of funding I could recieve if I'd do it differently. I often work and live on a partial barter system. I'm queer, and most of my community is made up of queer people, artists, people who work and live as activists, etc. Some of my closest friends are drag kings and queens. I moved to a different city so I could live the way I wanted more easily. More times than not, the clothing, food and wares I buy aren't mass-produced. This summer, for example, I bike (I don't drive) a few miles to pick up my produce from a box that gets delivered for a few of us from a local farm. I'm vegan, I'm Buddhist, I'm a pacifist, I'm a female athlete, I'm self-employed, my father was the person who stayed at home to rear me when I was wee... in other words, you're hard-pressed to find much of what I do fitting in with a lot of standard social mandates.

And most of the time, actually, no, it doesn't feel terribly hard to opt out of mainstream culture, but since I've never really opted in in my 34 years, that may be part of my ease. But I imagine that another part of why that doesn't feel very challenging to me is because those social mandates and more "common" culture is grossly unappealing to me and I imagine living in it and by its "rules" would be far more challenging and for me, very uncomfortable and impossible to live in line with my own ethics and needs.

Looking at a lot of things many people struggle with with living by so many social mandates -- poor body image, gross insecurity, health problems, extended states of ennui, feeling like a cog in a wheel, etc. -- tend to valiadte that for me at least several times a day just by reading these boards, so.

(Just a geek: Scotland isn't the only place where men don't wear pants and it's accepted -- and kilts aren't seen as skirts, either. Skirts are different. But in many different regions, there are articles of clothing for men which are not pants. Western culture is actually the exception to the rule for that in many cases, and in some other areas, the rise in the pants/men, skirts or pants/women construct is distincly because of western influence.)


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jaysee
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Hey,

I found this in my first year sociology textbook at the start of this year and I thought it fitted quite well:

(after the author has finished talking about how he dressed his son in pink as a baby as a mini sociological experiment this is a 'script' of how the conversation went)

[QUOTE]
""Oh, she's so cut! What's your little girls name?"
"Zachary"
"Isn't Zachary a boys name?"
"He's a boy"
At this point responses would range from stunned confusion... to dirty looks and outright anger. Clearly people felt that I had emotionally abused my son somehow"
(Newman (2002) Sociology: Exploring the achitecture of everyday life p. 120)
[QUOTE]

Kinda scary that people actually care about that stuff in other peoples kids!


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MiaB
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Okay, I'm hoping I won't get shouted... or typed down here, but I really think quite differently.

I think clothing does have gender roles, and should do, but that they're interpreted wrongly. People think that a skirt is just for women, and a man who wears it would be being girly. I disagree. I think clothing has evolved to do with what suits.

Women have (stereotypically, and as a generalisation of how sexes tend to physically differ) non-hairy, often shapely or slender legs, which look good in a skirt. They also have tight fitting jeans, to make their lovely curves look great.

Men don't wear skirts generally, because a pink mini skirt generally doesn't suit. Not because it's not classed as a man's piece of clothing, but because it doesn't flatter their physique! I really don't think it shows off a man's body. Loose fitting jeans can make a man look taller and sometimes better built (muscleyer, or less chubby), t-shirts can show off a man's chest.

I really don't see it as being biased, or narrowing a sex's selection, just what tends to flatter a sex's body more.

If a woman can look good in an item of men's clothing, it'll start appearing in shops for women. Like trousers, we didn't have them, but someone figured out they were useful and could look good, so women got them.

Admittedly, clothing's more about what looks good than what's comfortable. But in our society, I don't think it's a problem wanting to look good, and with the variety we have we can combine that with comfort too. If you find mens clothing to be flattering and comfortable, I'd just suggest you're a step ahead of fashion, but I don't think it should then be criticised as being sexually biased.

I hope that made sense... I'm not sure if it did .

2 final things, I don't think you can compare too much with eastern countries where men wear sarongs, because that choice generally stems from religious, climatic and often financial reasons. Lastly, not many men wear kilts in Scotland now, walk down a scottish street and you'll be surprised to see any man wearing one. they are generally only worn for weddings or folk festivals nowadays.

Thanks.

------------------
*Mia*


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Heather
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quote:
Originally posted by MiaB:
I really don't see it as being biased, or narrowing a sex's selection, just what tends to flatter a sex's body more.

That approach, however, is 100% arbitrary. In other words, what "flatters" more is dependent on not only what your personal, cultural or historical aesthetics are, but on what your agenda is AND what (usually falsely and far too generally) a given sexes (not genders) body type is thought to be.

For instance: on a personal level, I don't think skirts are more flattering to women, because per my own aesthetics on what I find attractive and appealing, I would far rather see a woman in a men's suit than in a dress. When I still found men sexually attractive, men in skrts made me lose my mind and turned my knees to jelly. Even if my own aesthetics fell in line with that of my current area, culture and time, I wouldn't deign to suggest they were not subjective, because they very much are.

There really, truly, is no prototypical male or female body type. As many men have "shapely" legs as women do, and plenty of women who don't shave have hairy legs, for instance.

That isn't to dismiss or dicount your opinion, it's just to point out that things you seem to be presenting as absolutes or objective aren't. As well, if your theory is that gendered clothing is due to "what looks good" and "what suits" is likely worth asking questions like "What looks good to whom and looks good in what capacity," and "Suits for WHAT and by whose needs and/or agenda?"

One last geek: women didn't "get" trousers. Not by any stretch. Women who strarted wearing them who were not farm hands had to go through a very long period of harassment and trouble, much as men who wear skirts in western culture do now, to get there. But by no means did that NOT meet with very real conflict from men and some women alike.

(An interesting book on that particular matter specific to American women is this.)

I'm also unaware of how the sarong has religious implications, as a tangetial comment. If you're talking about Buddhism, there's no reference to such that I've ever been aware of, and I'm Buddhist.

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 09-19-2004).]


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lizzygs
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quote:
Originally posted by MiaB:
Women have (stereotypically, and as a generalisation of how sexes tend to physically differ) non-hairy, often shapely or slender legs, which look good in a skirt.

i don't know, i've seen plenty of male bodies in skirts and dresses and their legs looked far better than mine...without responding diretly to everyone else's posts (because i could be here all night doing that) my thoughts are that we see clothing as gendered because that's what we've been taught to see. that's why different cultures and different areas don't see clothing gendered quite the same way we do. it's all in what you're exposed to. this isn't necessarily <i>bad</i>, but it is limiting. i'm female; i like to think that my gender is more fluid than that, though. i think of myself as a woman, definately, but i do like when other people question their perceptions. my dress on any given day reflects how i'm feeling at that time. there have been times when i've been perceived as male because of my clothing, this doesn't change my gender. yeah, i'm not sure where i was going with that, so i'll stop now. perhaps i will be more coherant when it's not so late...


Posts: 15 | From: vermont | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MiaB
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Took me a while to check back on this topic...

I completely agree with both posts in response to mine, but I did intend it more from a..... fashion industry-defending point of view. Not that I work for them, I just don't see a big ethical fault in the marketing. I can understand how it can seem that way, but media presents stereotypes that women are most attractive in little clothes that are often floaty, clingy or see-through, and I think they're just trying to represent that.

And I do agree to a point.... it has been scientifically shown that women have larger bottoms than men, and men broader shoulders, so I do agree that some stereotypes of what looks good can be correct, just in that some clothing styles will show off aspects of your body more, and if that's curves or anything else, it's **often** a good thing, because it's drawing sometimes more attention to their body, and what others find attractive.

As for the religious aspect, let me get back to you on that Miz Scarlet, I know I remember it from somewhere .

------------------
*Mia*


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logic_grrl
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quote:
it has been scientifically shown that women have larger bottoms than men, and men broader shoulders, so I do agree that some stereotypes of what looks good can be correct,

All women have larger bottoms than all men? So Kate Moss has a larger bottom than John Goodman?

Uh-uh. What science shows is tendencies - for example, women tend to store fat round their hips and thighs, whereas men tend to store fat in their abdomens first. But that says relatively little about particular individuals and their body shapes and sizes.

And as far as I can see, it has nothing to do with whether you look best in a skirt or a suit anyway (Eddie Izzard looks way better in a miniskirt and stilleto heels than I ever would, that's for sure).

Unless you want to argue that fat-bottomed guys should all wear dresses, or that broad-shouldered women should only wear suits ...

[This message has been edited by logic_grrl (edited 10-05-2004).]


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Heather
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quote:
I do agree that some stereotypes of what looks good can be correct, just in that some clothing styles will show off aspects of your body more, and if that's curves or anything else, it's **often** a good thing, because it's drawing sometimes more attention to their body, and what others find attractive.

But yet again, you seem to be coming to the conclusion that "what looks good" is somehow objective, when it is totally SUBjective, no mtter which way you slice it, the same way that something TASTING "good" is subjective.

For instance, I may think tabouli is the bomb, but if you hate parsley and tomatoes, you're likely to think it's the nastiest thing in the universe. Many folks in England and Austrailia put yeast extract on toast and LOVE it, and when I tried eating that stuff, I literally gagged.

If I told some of my butch girlfriends they'd look better in a clingy dress, they would laugh in my face, and rightfully so, because not only do those clothes NOT look good to them, to the women who admire them, those clothes wouldn't have much appeal, either, no matter how glorious their bodies are.


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MiaB
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Quote by logic_grrl:
All women have larger bottoms than all men? So Kate Moss has a larger bottom than John Goodman?


Sorry logic_grrl, but please don't change what i say. I didn't at all say 'all women' that would blatently be daft, I was saying as trends go, women and men do differ in some ways.

And I can't say I've measured Kate Moss' bottom or John Goodman's bottom recently.

Miz Scarlet Quote:
But yet again, you seem to be coming to the conclusion that "what looks good" is somehow objective, when it is totally SUBjective, no mtter which way you slice it, the same way that something TASTING "good" is subjective.

Yes, that's very true, but I don't agree that it is entirely subjective. Maybe I've read too many articles looking at the female body from a scientific point of view, but I do think there are (noticably) differences in bodies between sexes [[for logic_grrl's sake, i mean tendencies here.]] and I personally just think clothes than flatter someone's body is good.

If I find a woman's curves attractive, and there's a dress for example, or a suit, which will highlight her shape more, I can't see how that doesn't then compliment her.

I never said there wouldn't be exceptions, or that tastes don't come into it. As for exceptions - I'm referring to the Tendencies of different shapes between sexes, not everone. As for tastes - a suit can look great on a woman, of course! But I wouldn't think a suit too big/too small - in other words, badly fitting for a woman's particular shape, would be as flattering as one that was tailored/shaped very well. So, I'm not saying women can't wear suits, just ones suited better to a woman's shape are better than, say, suits made for a man.

------------------
*Mia*


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Heather
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In all honesty, Mia, I think we've just reached an impasse here on this particular point.

I really don't feel that you're hearing me at all, nor understanding the points that I'm making or even all that interested in doing so. You keep leaping to places I wasn't even going, for instance -- I didn't say boo about suits or "mens" clothing on women (most butch women don't spend their time in suits, unless they work in corporate environments). You're making other leaps continually which also just don't hold water, like that there is one type of female body, and that all women are curvy, and using again and again arbitrary terms as if they were not arbitrary, like "flatter" and "good."

So, there seems no sense at this point in continuing to try.


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lizzygs
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quote:
Originally posted by MiaB:
If I find a woman's curves attractive, and there's a dress for example, or a suit, which will highlight her shape more, I can't see how that doesn't then compliment her.

so, an individual with a curvacious, female body should wear clothes that are more form fitting and "highlight shape" because it compliments them in your opinion? does it still compliment them if they don't present their gender as that feminine? for some women that's just plain uncomfortable. and it doesn't matter how well a dress fits a body, if that person is uncomfortable in that clothing, it's not particularly attractive.

personally, i think that a woman's comfort with her clothes and body make her more attractive than what that clothing looks like.


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