A while back I was watching one of Tim Minchin’s videos on YouTube, and against better judgement ended up browsing the comments. One person commented on him wearing eyeliner – calling it “guyliner”. I’ve heard it being called that many times, but suddenly I thought: Why the hell do they call it that? What’s wrong with the proper name: eyeliner? Granted, outside the entertainment industry, it’s generally only used by women … or maybe it is there the problem lies?
Plenty of guys would like to use things only women generally use. Some people push the boundaries, and consequently things change. As long as the guys are manly enough that is. Remember when David Beckham made it cool to wear girly ear jewellery? In 2002 he was called the ultimate “metrosexual”. Cool. I like it. Nothing is better than easing up the strict rules of what’s acceptable for men to wear. Women have fought that battle too, and come much further. Granted, not everything “metrosexual” looks good, but I can go with the spirit of it at least.
This difference between what women and men are allowed to wear begs the question: Why did it take so much longer for guys? Not that they have caught up to women by a long shot, but there has been a bit of progress. A while back I caught a story in a newspaper about football players with ponytails. It was not well received. Football players are real men – strong men. They can get away with this stuff as Beckham proved. It’s like they have a larger pool of manliness to drain from, and the attention they get helps them stand out and helps their career – or so the article claims.
So I’m thinking … I know, it hurts some times, but nevertheless. We have this whole misogyny-by-proxy thing going on. A guy must not be associated with anything feminine. Femininity is inferior, masculinity superior. You know, when a girl “got balls”, she’s cool; when a guy “cries like a girl”, he’s a sissy. Only very secure men wear pink or wear earrings – not to mention “guyliner“ and carry “manbags”! A little of this is reflected in the naming. Why is a handbag for guys a “manbag”? Or how does an eyeliner become a “guyliner” when it switches face? When women started wearing pants, they didn’t start to call them “fants” or something else ridiculous. It seems to me guys want to use things women have traditionally used, but only if they can distance themselves from anything feminine. Cooties is serious business, even in adulthood!
As a huge Seinfeld fan, I remember well the episode about the male bra, the “bro” as it was called in that episode. It was hilarious because it made a very good point about this whole fear of all things feminine – it even made a small point about transphobia when George’s father was caught wearing the “bro” by his mother. At the same time the enthusiastic bra manufacturer realised they were missing out on half the marked potential.
No, guys, wear eyeliner or carry handbags if you want to. It isn’t dangerous, and it will not cause your balls to fall off. This whole attitude towards femininity rubs off on women too. Girls are stereotyped into having to like pink from a very early age. There’s nothing wrong with pink though, I love pink when it’s appropriate (though I like purple more). It is the stereotyping that’s the problem. The stereotyping causes some women to shun things feminine – like pink or bras or high heels. For trans women it’s even worse. We switch from an enforced masculine role to a feminine role. We kinda have to jump that gap, because society wants to maintain two distinct genders. The in-between is no-(wo)mans-land. To many it’s a very scary place, especially in the conservative parts of our society. You’re like a scared deer trying to run across a four lane highway with big fences down the middle. Watch out for those huge trucks from Acme Misogyny & Transphobia, or you’ll suddenly find yourself as road kill with well manicured nails!