A couple years ago, I read a book called My Husband Betty, about Helen Boyd learning to cope with her husband’s cross dressing. Back then, I knew very little about cross dressing, but my knowledge repertoire rapidly expanded as I delved headfirst into this page turner. Betty quickly became a favorite guilty pleasure the day I checked her out from my university’s library.
The book began with a description portraying the double standard** of how it’s considered sexy when a woman wears men’s clothes, but not vice versa. If a woman rolls around on a bed wearing nothing but her male lover’s button-down shirt, it sounds like the description of a perfume ad. We say she’s sexy, she’s sensual, and she’s acting out of love. In contrast, if a man did the same thing for the same reasons, wearing nothing but his female lover’s satin dress slip, it would be for grins. People would laugh at him, they’d ridicule him, and they might even threaten him with physical violence.
Gender is a social performance.
What’s between your legs is there by nature, but how you recognize and express your own femininity and masculinity is up to you. What it means to be “feminine” and “masculine” are both social constructions, and you probably learned them early in life.
I’ve always been a girly girl, yet I, myself, cross dress frequently. On weekends, I practically live in men’s undershirts; I have a few pairs of men’s jeans which I love to wear cuffed on spring and fall afternoons; and I even wear men’s boxer briefs, both as yoga shorts and occasionally as underwear. For me, cross dressing is very much about comfort in the garments themselves, but there is also a thrill in exploring my own sense of masculinity, as well as in owning garments which I’ve come to associate with my favorite parts of past lovers’ bodies.
Cross dressing has a bad reputation in the American media because of the gender dichotomy we strictly enforce on one another each and every day. We chide women for acting “masculine”, but more often than not, it’s men who behave in ways we call “feminine” who face much greater social stigma and physical and emotional threats. It is unsurprising that some women would strive for greater, more masculine social power, yet it threatens the patriarchy when a man is caught forfeiting — even temporarily — any of his “natural” masculinity. But, we all need escapes from social pressures sometimes, and cross dressing is one way many men find a sense of release.
I would love to date a cross dresser.
I think it would be thrilling to get dressed up together, as a new set of experiences to share with someone I adore. I don’t doubt that I will likely encounter a number of the same trials and tribulations as Ms. Boyd (particularly the annoyance of how expressing one’s inner femaleness is so often in the male mind equated with preadolescent fantasies of stereotyped promiscuity), but I am intrigued nonetheless. The trust, the intimacy, the gender bending…!
Being completely honest, I think it might be a little awkward to see a significant other wearing any of my lingerie — at first. It’s something I’ve never experienced before, so I could see myself having a knee-jerk reaction initially. But, with that said, I would also love to share such a special experience with an intimate partner. I can’t help but feel like there’s something inherently sexy about the juxtaposition of a man’s strong body being enveloped by the same silk and lace I admire on my own feminine form. There’s a certain thrill to deviation, after all. Why not have a little fun with it?
**The full introduction (or, at least the first few pages which describe the double standard I’m borrowing) can be read here on Amazon. Just click the “Look Inside” option by the book’s picture in the upper left corner.
In case you’re on the fence about checking it out, I highly recommend this book! Buy it, borrow it from a library, whatever… It’s an informative, well-researched, eloquent, empathy-envoking read for anyone who has ever been curious about the ins, outs, history, psychology, and much more about average, everyday cross dressing.