Gender stereotypes and rules can be harmful for every gender out there. Girls can’t do this, boys can’t do that. Only girls do this, only boys do that. Little things like this just further emphasize what a fascinating social construct gender is. It can be as empowering as it is demeaning!
But we can take some comfort–or at least some interest–in the fact that today’s gender rules in the west and around the world weren’t always as rigid as they are now. For example, did you know that pink used to be manly? What about the fact that cheerleading was a man’s sport? Surprised? So was I. So here’s a roundup of a few things you won’t believe used to be masculine that are now considered painfully feminine.
The Color PinkBefore WWII, dudes were totally down with pink. It was a color that both men and women happily wore, but according to NPR, a clothing catalog from 1918 suggested that little boys wear pink because it is "a stronger and more passionate color, and because it's actually derived from red." So why the sudden change? It's hard to say, but after the war pink definitely became associated with femininity and daintiness. Honestly, pink is a great color that looks good on both men and women. I just wish it wasn't marketed so heavily towards girls and girls only. Source: TheFader.com and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Leggings And PantyhoseIf Henry VIII was walking around these days, he'd probably be slut shamed to death. Why? He dared to wear leggings! Well, okay, he wore hose, as did many other men in the 16th century of noble and not so noble status. But according to some sources, this trend might be making a comeback for dudes. Bless. Source: live.drjays.com
PursesBefore dudes just used pockets or backpacks to carry all their crap, men--like the Scottish men of yesteryear--carried around small pouches that would definitely rival the cuteness of anything you could get at Forever 21 these days. Sure, satchels are popular for some men but there is still such a sigma against men carrying bags. I mean, let's not forget that purses for men are called "murses." People really need to get over this. Purses are useful, okay? Source: Shutterstock
MakeupAncient Egyptians used makeup for health reasons--like protecting the skin from the sun's blazing rays--and for beautification. Ancient Egyptian nobility like King Tutankhamun used eyeliner in a way that would put your winged liner approach to shame. And don't even get me started about the upper class of 18th century Europe. They wore enough makeup to rival the very best queens on Ru Paul's Drag Race. Having a pale, powdered face was considered the height of sexy, and dudes were all about looking sexy, too. Source: Shutterstock and 18thcenturybodies.wordpress.com
CheerleadingWhen you think of cheerleaders you probably think of bubbly girls in short skirts getting thrown into the air. Okay, well replace bubbly girls with hunky men and short skirts for sensible trousers and you've got cheerleading, 1910s style. Yup, back in the day the aerobatics and leadership that cheerleading is associated with was seen as something that men excelled in. Fun fact: U.S. Presidents Eisenhower, Roosevelt and Reagan were all cheerleaders. During WWI and WWII, women took up most of the slack in the cheerleading department and it slowly started changing. Cheers became "cuter" and pom-poms came into play, leading men to disassociate with the sport in a big way. Source: Shutterstock
High Heel ShoesThese aren't the feet of some dainty little royal lady from the 1600s. Nope, those feet would be that of Louis XIV and his killer heels. Seriously, peep those shoes and tell me you wouldn't consider rocking 'em. High heel shoes were all the rage among the upper echelon of society because they physically--and psychologically--placed you above the lesser folks; otherwise known as everybody else who doesn't have as much money as you. But that didn't stop the lower classes from trying to emulate that look, either, just like we do with celebrities today. Eventually, high heels became associated with women and now they're ubiquitous with femininity and sex appeal. But hey, who knows, they could make a comeback. Source: Sociological Images
WigsWigs have been all the rage for men in several different cultures throughout history. From the Ancient Egyptians to America's Founding Fathers, wigs served two purposes: Lookin' fly and hiding male pattern baldness. Now, men wearing so much as a toupee is out of vogue. Sure, we have the technology to replace those long gone follicles, but wigs have definitely become associated with women and women only in the last 200 years or so. I say we bring back the powdered wig. Source: Wikimedia Commons
CryingI know, it's not a fashion one but I had to include it because it's just so fascinating. In ancient Greece, feudal Japan, the middle ages, and so on, it was seen as a sign of ultra manly masculinity to cry if your honor was at stake. If you didn't go on an adventure without having a good cry, you might as well have offed yourself right then and there. Crying was seen as a sign of strength and healthy vulnerability. So, my question is this: How can we get dudes to see that crying is healthy and normal today? Source: Romeo + Juliet/20th Century Fox
Do you know about any other trends or behaviors that are considered “girly” today that used to be “manly”? Should these things be totally cool for guys, too? Tell us in the comments!