August 21, 2013

Eddie Izzard on Crossdressing

British comedian Eddie Izzard has created a meme on Tumblr based on his appearance in the Australian TV show, the Project.

Izzard is asked about dressing up in women's dresses.

Izzard gives a reply that in a very clever way exposes the way our sexist societies differ between male bodied and female bodied "crossdressing":

"No, I wear dresses. They are not 'women's dresses'. They're my dresses. I buy them. It's like when women wear trousers. They're not cross-dressing. They're not wearing 'men's trousers'."


The retort shows us what a rhetorical master Izzard is.

And he has a point: Female to male crossdressers and crossdreamers get away with dressing up as men, mostly because crossdressing women are seen to be moving "upwards" in the social hierarchy. Being a man is good.

Crossdressing male bodied persons, on the other hand, are embarrassing both themselves and their social circles by appearing as something as humiliating as a weak and vulnerable woman. Even women may despise a man who wants to be a woman.

That being said: Izzard's comment misses the whole point of crossdreaming. Putting on a dress for a male to female crossdreamer is not the same as putting on trousers for a woman who is not a crossdreamer.

This is not a practical choice. This is not about dressing up comfortably.

No, this all about using stereotypical female clothing in order to express another side of the psyche, a side that most crossdreamers and crossdressers percieve as female and/or feminine.

This is also why so many women spend so much time on dressing up as women. They use fashion and make-up to express themselves as women. And yes, one of the objectives is most likely to appear beautiful, sexy and attractive.

If all men were expected to wear dresses (as -- let's say -- the Romans did with their gender neutral tunicas) the dresses would lose much of their power to symbolize femininity.

Female to male crossdreamers also crossdress, but if they want to express their inner masculinity they have to add more than a pair of jeans.

In subtle ways, they may add masculine looking shirts, belts or caps. If their need is stronger, they may flatten their chest. Like some lesbians, they might even be "packing".

Izzard knows this, of course. But he also knows that by sowing confusion in this way, he may get some of the viewers to take a minute to reflect on the topic of sex, gender and clothing.

That is a good thing.

I have not been able to find the original program; Nor am I certain who made this animated GIFs originally.

UPDATE
tg_captioner gave me the URL for the interview. Thank you! Here it is:
Go to 2:20.
Eddie Izzard en femme. Photo: EddieIzzard.com

8 comments:

tg_captioner said...

Original video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHPh9j7lc58

The discussion starts at 2:20.

Jack Molay said...

@tg_captioner

Yesss! Thank you!

Jonathan said...

Yes, he's somewhat disingenuously positing a freestyle position. But he's a transvestite not a freestyler, so it's a bit more complicated than that. But as you say, Eddie knows this and is just fucking with people's heads ;)

Senrub said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
taliah said...

@Jack Molay
Feeling aroused and feeling sexually attractive are two completely different things. This unequivalence is something you seem to repeatedly ignore/obscure almost as a running theme, in your otherwise excellently articulated posts.

Jack Molay said...

@taliah

"Feeling aroused and feeling sexually attractive are two completely different things. This unequivalence is something you seem to repeatedly ignore/obscure almost as a running theme, in your otherwise excellently articulated posts."

Yes, you are right, I do not believe feeling aroused and feeling sexually attractive are two completely different things.

The more I learn about women's sexuality (and men's and children's sexuality for that matter), the more I realize that the experience of being attractive and desirable is an integrated part of arousal.

The distinction you present is a useful analytic distinction, but in real life the lines are extremely blurry, indeed.

theautogynephiliac said...

Ideas (such as feeling sexually attractive) can stimulate sexual arousal and vice versa. They are separate phenomenons which function codependently.

Sandi said...

Izzard is one of my heroes.

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