Gender and clothing, the imaginary division

Columns

Arts & Entertainment Editor | o’neilkevin@apps.schoolcraft.com

About two or so weeks ago I found myself roaming the clothing racks or Target. I found a nice sweater and some pants, though I also found something rather annoying; the gendered aspects of clothing and the result it has on the consumer.

For example, in the “Men’s” and “Women’s” sections, I saw a difference in color.

The women’s section had an expansive spectrum of lively bright hues and darks on most, if not all articles of clothing.

Meanwhile, the men’s section was mainly composed of blacks, blues, greens, greys, whites, with a few outlying vibrant colors that were hidden.

I saw a difference in texture.

For instance, in the women’s section, there were fluffy blouses, hard blazers and soft pants. The knitted sweater I got from the men’s section is the most texturally foreign article I managed to find.

Finally, I saw a difference in size of the department.

The women’s section easily takes up twice the floor space as the men’s section. With that being said, the two sections turn out to be pretty good representations for their respective gender binaries; the bright and soft femininity and the plain monotone practicality of masculinity.

You see, it may seem rather normal, but the genders that clothing confines themselves to are mainly language, culture and societally based, which makes them conceptual. Man-made, not a part of the real, physical world.

In other words, gender isn’t real; and the tribal-like zealousness to adhering to these imaginary extremes is rather absurd, given that it’s something that only limits a person’s identity and freedom of expression. Sure, it’s nice to categorize things – feminine versus masculine, outerwear versus underwear.

However, at the societal and cultural level, turning categories into divisions serves only as a detriment to the personal growth and discovery of individuals. People should be able to see their bodies as blank canvases and adorn them as they see fit; you’re already a work of art on the inside, why not make it the same on the outside?

Thank you for reading my explanation of why I was too scared to buy a fluffy sweater from the women’s section.