Another Academy Awards ceremony passes and once again the gender politics debate has got up in arms that interviewers focused more on what women at the Oscars wore than their careers. I’m not quite so sure this is the oppressive patriarchy that some feminists perceive it to be, especially when they ask “why does nobody ask teh menz about their clothes?”
There’s a simple answer to that – look at these three men and see if you can spot it.
Yes, with a few very minor variations they all look the bloody same! There’s only so much you can ask a man about his suit and because men have far more restrictions on what we can wear at a formal occasion, and women have far more flexibility at the same event, this is not so much a gender advantage for men, but an advantage for women. One, I daresay, that has backfired.
We can’t deny that as men are valued/objectified for wealth, status and success, women are valued/objectified for youth and beauty. Preening in trying to attract the most attractive mate is far more part of the female routine than it is of the male routine. Therefore, whether it is biological or sociological, women are often given attention based on their looks.
Men, on the other hand, are valued for clothing but in a different way – we want to show not how beautiful we are, but how successful we are and the suit is the symbol of success; the tuxedo takes that one step beyond and there is little to no flexibility; men simply have a much narrower scope of what we can wear – and more so with formal settings. That’s why James Bond doesn’t wear an off-the-peg suit from Peacocks or BHS. We are called to display our “status” (whether real or imagined) and those who step outside of that is often seen as an outlier, a maverick – and possibly even effeminate.
A woman can wear masculine clothing and not lose social credit for it. She can wear a trouser suit and not have her sexuality or worthiness as a woman questioned. She is also therefore less likely to experience violence as a result of dressing as the other gender – a man who dresses in feminine clothes is likely to be foreseen as a homosexual, and homosexual men remain more likely than any of us to experience violence because of their appearance.
When actresses and other event attendees go to so much effort in what they wear, it is naturally going to draw so much attention. It’s not right that women should be judged purely on what they wear, but that’s the same biology in action that women use to excuse for why they simply will not date a man under 6’3″ (for example).
If you don’t like it, stop playing along. The female Oscars attendees complaining about it the other night had an opportunity to not enable that behaviour in the media by dressing down and not being apologetic about it. Instead, they played along – spending hundreds of thousands on each dress to outdo the competition of the woman before or after them and were remembered only for what they wore. They did it to get attention, and then complained when they got the attention they craved.
Physician, heal theyself.