Why is it perfectly fine for a girl to wear her boyfriend’s baggy sweater, but does the idea of a guy wearing a tight-fitting dress shock a lot of people? This question seems to pop up a lot when talking about crossdressing and, in my opinion, is quite an interesting one. I don’t know the answer myself, but being a crossdresser and being a member of several online communities regarding crossdressing, I do have some possible explanations.
Although The Netherlands is probably one of the most liberal and open-minded countries in the world when it comes to gender roles and gender equality, being a crossdresser in The Netherlands means you’re subjected to quite a few taboo’s. But where do these taboo’s come from?
Let’s imagine a guy called Dave. Dave is a middle-aged man who has been single for most of his life. Dave likes going to pubs and has developed a beer belly as a result of that. Personal hygiene isn’t Dave’s strong suit and neither is his sense of fashion. Without the people surrounding him knowing it, Dave has a fetish for wearing latex skirts, rubber dresses and glossy heels.
During the many hours I spent in online communities about crossdressing, I met a lot of people like Dave. So much so, that I learned that the vast majority of people visiting these online communities are people like him. Although there’s nothing wrong with being like Dave, I don’t like to be called ‘Sweety’, ‘Dear’ or ‘Sexy’ by grown men wearing latex dresses and I don’t enjoy pictures of people like him wearing latex skirts with their junk hanging out, which is why I left most communities pretty quickly.
The sheer amount of people like Dave I met online, made me think that the taboo’s on crossdressing are a result of the oversexualization that crossdressing seems to be subjected to. When most people think about crossdressing, they don’t just think about a guy wearing a dress, they think about guys like Dave, guys with beer belly’s, wearing latex skirts and swinging their junk around whilst performing all sorts of sexual acts.
I think most people (unconsciously) think that everything that has to do with sex, is something to remain private and is not something that has to be shared with the rest of the world (I’m one of those people). I think that openly admitting that you’re a crossdresser or talking about crossdressing automatically puts the mental image of someone like Dave in people’s heads, which makes them think of sexual activities, which results in a taboo.
Maybe, just maybe, if people saw a guy wearing normal and decent female’s clothing (which means that in that situation, there’s no oversexualization of crossdressing) the mental image of stuff having to do with sex wouldn’t be put into their minds and there would be no taboo. It would kind of make sense, because if a girl is wearing normal guy’s clothing (meaning that there is no oversexualization) people don’t make a fuss either.
The ‘problem’ is however, that most man that crossdress publicly tend to be dragqueens or, in other words, people that cause the oversexualization of crossdressing. Elaborating on this, I think most people have no problem with the idea of a man falling in love with another man. I think the taboo that rests on gay people might be the result of the effect that hearing the word ‘gay’ makes people think of sexual acts (which might be a unwanted side-effect of the oversexualization of gay people that takes place during Gay-prides and Gay-parades, but that’s another topic altogether) which in its turn leads to the taboo.
I can’t stress enough that all the stuff I wrote above isn’t based on any research whatsoever. It just depicts my thoughts and ideas, which are a result of my personal experiences.