Skirting the Issue: Men in Heels

What is this gender equality if a man cannot wear a pair of heels without attracting questions of sexuality?

Feature by Matthew Bobbu | 26 Sep 2011
  • Skirting the Issue

We are moving inexorably towards gender equality, but there are many things still to change before we reach that distant goal. One is this: when women wear trousers they are considered emancipated, but when men wear skirts they are mocked.

When I go out wearing a sharp suit, splendid hat and a pair of high heels, why do people ask if I’m a fetishist, gay, or a transvestite? Why does my taste in footwear imply these kinds of sexuality, when I just like high heels?

There has been pretty equal freedom of choice with hairstyles for a while now. You may look twice at a woman with a shaved head or a man with waist-length hair, but you’re not likely to make assumptions about their sexuality from it. So why is a man wearing even one item of female clothing not considered as acceptable as a woman wearing jeans & a t-shirt?

I don’t think I know a single man who hasn’t worn women’s clothes at some point, especially for a stag do or birthday. No one feels uncomfortable doing it “for a laugh,” but my simple pleasure in tall shoes is apparently derisible.

Sure, clothes have to be designed differently to fit the different shapes of the sexes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t design high heels in a larger variety of sizes or make dresses that suit the figure of a man just as well as the figure of a woman.

Alright, I’ll come clean – I know why my outrage is funny. I understand the humour behind a man in a dress or high heels. But that’s why I get peeved: we still treat gender like a black and white issue, when there are far more colours to the palette.