This quote from our interviews with men about their gendered experiences really caught my attention. As a woman I can’t count the times I’ve thrown on clothing from the men in my life, but I struggle to remember a single occasion where a man put on one of mine without it being a giggly impulsive game or a joke.
My experience within the fashion industry is very limited, but I'm keen to understand why my garment would be reduced to an instrument of embarrassment when placed on the men in my life.
Maybe it's because the fashion industry is focused on practicality and upscale uniformity for men while female attire is meant to flatter the figure, elevate beauty and express stylised ideas of her identity. Clothing that is designed to be beautiful rather than practical might therefore express that the man wanted to be admired, and announce him as a target for objectification. After all, we have been taught by our justice system and media that women's clothing is a welcome sign to harassment and abuse.
I remember years ago a story circulating on social media about an Icelandic man who was shouted at and threatened for wearing floral pants on a stroll through the city centre. He was dumbfounded that an impulsive pattern choice had been perceived as a vocal political expression and compromised his safety.
Pants had innocently threatened the masculinity of Reykjavík's male population. It seems that masculinity in fact needs so much protection that a whole colour has been deemed off limits to men. While pink used to be perceived as a strong, decisive colour relating to red, the colour of blood and war, modern men tend to avoid it due to it being perceived as political statement or a submissive sign of femininity.
This, and other personal accounts of men's gendered experiences is one of the reasons I so enjoy our project Them - A research and development production where we sat down with men to learn about how they experience their gender identity and how it impacts their daily life.
- Sólveig Eva