In my post about Shibaricon, I noted my frustration of the double standard that exists in “the scene” for men and women when it comes to clothing and appearance. I’m quite sure other bloggers more eloquent than I have written about this, but it’s not something I hear talked about very often. So here’s my extended rant on the topic. 😛
At any given BDSM-related event (party, convention, even some classes), this is what I see when I look at the men in the room:
- Men in leather gear
- Men in t-shirts with words on them (or band t-shirts) and jeans or shorts
- Many men with a paunch and an ill-fitting t-shirt
- Men in sleeveless undershirts
- Men in need of a haircut and/or shave
- The occasional man in a decent shirt and jeans
- Some men who are fit and trim
In other words, I see a wide range of bodies, clothing styles, and grooming standards among the men. This is true regardless of which side of the slash the men are on (finding any solely on the s side is exceedingly rare, however). ALL of the men identifying as dominant are accepted as such without a second thought by anyone. Women flirt with them and hang on their every word if they’re presenting, regardless of how they’re dressed. Their appearance appears to have NO BEARING on the level of respect these men engender. I’ve been to numerous classes and presentations given by men in shorts and a loose tank top or t-shirt.
Well great, you’re saying. This is how it should be, yes? Absolutely – people should be valued for things other than their looks and wardrobe. But guess what? When I look at the women who at these same events here’s what I see:
- Garters and hose
- Carefully done hair
- High heeled shoes
- The occasional leather-gear wearing butch Domme
- Short skirts
- Cleavage-revealing tops
- Femme dresses
WHY? Why is this the standard for women? Now I have had this conversation with some female dominant friends of mine from all over the world. And some of them got defensive. Some said, “dressing like that makes me feel sexy”. Well great! If rocking a corset gives you confidence, go for it!
But to those women I say (and said at the time): Ask yourself WHY. Why does dressing like a stereotypical porn-Domme make you feel attractive and sexy and confident? Who are you really dressing for? Why does catering to men’s fantasy ideals of how a dominant woman should dress work for you? If you’re OK with your own answers to those question, go forth and rock that corset and 6” heels! There are days and times when I like how I look in a corset and skirt, too. But they’re rare.
I most often feel comfortable and confident in boots, decent jeans, and a plain black t-shirt. It’s also infinitely easier to swing a flogger or deal with meters and meters of rope wearing a t-shirt and jeans than it is in a corset and tight skirt. And guess what? Almost every single dominant woman I know says the same thing. In the privacy of our own homes, or maybe among our own small circle of friends, that’s how we dress – comfortably. Many dominant women proudly say they can be just as dominant in sweatpants as in fetish wear.
But when we venture out into the greater community….we feel pressure to dress a certain way. To pull the laces of the corset tighter, to try the higher heels tonight, to dye our greying roots and buy fresh mascara and lipstick. WHY?
It feels an awful lot like dominant women are held to a different standard when it comes to physical appearance than dominant men are. Before you get your knickers/jockey shorts in a bunch and send me indignant emails asserting YOU aren’t like that….I know. I do know that quite a lot of people don’t give a rats’ ass what anyone is wearing. And I’ve heard tell of events and parties that have dominant women in a wide variety of clothing and with a wide variety of body types.
I have a strong suspicion we women do this to ourselves. We tell ourselves we “have” to dress a certain way. We silently judge each other or imagine we’re being judged by each other for the shape of our bodies, the style of our hair, the cut of our corset, the height of our heels. We’re our own worst enemies.
I hate that I fall prey to this line of thinking before I go to any party. Some parties/events specify a dress code of “fetish wear”, which doesn’t help. Because men can get away with wearing black jeans and a black t-shirt and call it fetish wear. Women? Not so much. But that’s what I wear anyway, most of the time (I don’t go to a huge number of such events, however).
I’m hoping to see more dominant women dressing for themselves at future events. And I’m going to work on rocking that t-shirt and jeans wherever I go.
TL;DR: Dominant women should not be held to different/higher standards than men when it comes to clothing at parties.