Stressing re: Cross Dressing

Mar 8th, 2010

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cryinggameIt’s been about a week since the Jewish festival of Purim, but I am still thinking about my broad shouldered and hairy (male) neighbors who, although upstanding citizens in general, year after year insist on observing the custom of dressing up in costume (fancy dress for you Brits, who are in any case the worst offenders here) by putting on lipstick, a bra, a dress, and a wig…to rather hideous effect.

I am assured that this is universal, and not only a Jewish thing; Halloween brings similar travesties (no, I did not mean to add an “ns” and a “t”….) of back hair under evening gowns to suburban enclaves everywhere. It’s a gag that’s as old as the hills. (Excuse my need to be immature.)

My unofficial Facebook poll suggests that the reasons for consistently pursuing this particular costume rank thus: 1. laziness (Easily available raw materials – when you can’t think of anything else…just grab your wife’s maternity dress…); 2. antisocial thrill (AKA: shock value); 3. long tradition of low humor (Dude, it’s funny, relax…Shakespeare did it, too); 4. sanctioned forbidden boundary crossing (Men who are usually Very Vanilla get to Vary their Vistas and “get in touch with their feminine side,” as one sex therapist friend put it. Another friend noticed that the truly more nurturing, homebound men rarely put on a dress. Hmm. In any event, whether this is an emotional or sexual Validation of the Veiled inner self is unclear, but notice how much I am liking the letter “V” for this item; 5. attention seeking (This may be the same as #2…not sure); 6.possible repressed tendencies / early female-dominated home experiences (“These guys are just a little bit gay,” one friend wrote.).

My objection to the practice is not moral, but mainly aesthetic. As such, women gluing on facial hair to play men similarly gets under my skin. (One friend noted that this is probably the only way for women to look distinctively male, since wearing a suit evokes Annie Hall more than anything else, and probably wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow nowadays. What would be the point, then?) Another friend observed, apropos the facial hair and fake bald heads being sported by some of our neighbors, “Why would I want to make myself look ugly on purpose?” I agree. That’s territory for starlets seeking an Oscar, but I’ll pass.

Which brings me to this: If men tend to go for shock value, convenience, and laughs, women have a fairly predictable habit as well: They go for slutty. Slutty cowgirls, slutty rock stars, actual hookers, slutty nurses and devils and witches and barmaids. The last 3 years, I’ve been a parochial school girl, Alice Cullen, and Jackie O. Not quite slutty, but definitely picked for the ability to put on a cute skirt and interesting footwear, instead of a beard. To me, this means that women are way into #’s 4 and 5 above, but not many of the other reasons resonate on a broad scale.(Get it? Get it? A Broad scale?)

There’s a surprise (cue the irony font): When we reach out of ourselves to be someone else – men go for easy, cheap laughs and women go for complicated, cheap attention. Both of us like to cross boundaries with gusto. (I am obviously generalizing, but then again, that is the job of bloggers.)

Readers: Do you gender-bend on dress-up occasions? What makes you do it? Please: Do *not* send pix. Really.

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  1. 3 Responses to “Stressing re: Cross Dressing”

  2. OK, I love having been a part of your poll… and I definitely don’t go for the cross-dressing thing. This year I definitely went for the convenience aspect… I dressed as a baby – wore (very modest) pajamas, put my hair in pigtails & held a teddy bear. Not terribly impressive, but it did allow me to wear(thick velour) pants to shul, which was good for holding both girls on my lap for most of megilla reading.

    By Rachel Inbar on Mar 8, 2010

  3. Wow – you went “Uncle Normie on Steroids” for this post. Seriously punny. Otherwise, top-notch work as usual. Happy to have been part of the poll…and a non-gender-bender…for any reason.

    By Your bro on Mar 8, 2010

  4. A little gender fluidity cant hurt. Things dont always have to be so absolute.

    By Rebitzen Talli on Mar 8, 2010

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