This is one of my longer articles, and the real reason for this blog insert is closer to the end.
Stick with me and enjoy the read!
It’s a thing! Men wear skirts – didn’t you know?
I’m not talking about kilts, sarongs or kikois. I’m talking about real, tailored and sewn SKIRTS!
An Exceptionally BRIEF History of Trousers
In ancient times, around the sixth century BC, trousers started showing up in our history books. They were developed because of two reasons: they gave you the advantage in battle, and were more comfortable when riding on horseback. Trousers were never developed because they were more modest, or were more practical for everyday use: their use was simply for the barbaric purposes of war and defeating an enemy.
Since then, trousers have been adopted by all walks of life and nowadays men, women and children wear them everywhere. “I wear the pants in this house” has become a joke, because in some households it is the wife who tells you which pants to wear.
Why go back to wearing skirts?
The male anatomy does not really fit all that perfectly into pants. We have balls that get in the way. If I had to count the amount of times I have sat down on one of my boys by accident while wearing pants, I promise you this week alone would not afford me enough fingers to count on both hands! And how many times has Mr Willy got cut in half by a bluddy crotch seam? Ouch, man! Just fucking OUCH!
To further my point: in our (waning) patriarchal regime (no, it’s not a society, it is a REGIME!) the workplace only allows women to wear anything shorter than calf length, and some companies even allow them to wear skirts that sit above the knee. Men are expected to wear, at the very least, a pair of pants that covers you down to the ankles and beware the one who dares to wear anything shorter than that.
This got me up in arms, and I have been brooding on this for more than two years now. And we all have dear ESKOM to thank for this!
Where it all started (for me)
It was the summer of 2018, and we suddenly had to survive a heatwave within the first weeks of December, a peak time for most retail businesses. In my part-time job as a shop assistant, I am supposed to work in a store with airconditioning. But then… LOADSHEDDING! (Or, as I prefer to call it in Afrikaans: ladingsbekakking). ESKOM had apparently sent out a notice to all shopping malls to switch off their airconditioning for the duration of the loadshedding period, and no amount of complaining from either customer or shop owner could get them to turn it back on.
Now, I ask you: how well do you know me? If I am going to be expected to run after snobby, snotty shoppers in 45+ degree heat, I want to at least be comfortable doing so! I did NOT ask permission, but instead stated that for as long as there is no aircon running in the mall, and management refusing to install a proper fan, I will be working in shorts! Despite our company dresscode prohibiting (male) staff from wearing shorts while on duty, I went ahead and got myself some decent shorts and rocked them like a rebel!
I noticed, though, that my female colleagues were wearing shorter and shorter dresses and shorts. It got me thinking: surely I should be able to do the same? Our company dress code only prohibits female staff members from wearing skirts and pants that are above the knee. In other words, they are not allowed to wear daring mini skirts, but modest skirts and knee length pants are totally okay.
I started investigating the idea of wearing skirts with fervour. Someone also mentioned to me that there are even some celebs like Jayden Smith who have been seen wearing a dress to school, and in Europe some bus drivers also adopted denim skirts during a heatwave, having found the exact same loophole in their dress code. My fascination grew!
No manskirts in the shops – what now?
The next step was to find someone who would be willing to make a few skirts that would fit the male form – you know: no darts or pleats, not too feminine looking or flouncy – and everyone thought what a novel idea… but no takers! Eventually I decided that I am going to try and make my own!
And I did it!
I started off with an old and ugly sarong that I ‘inherited’ from somewhere, folded and cut it in half, sewed the side seams together and sewed a waistband with a drawstring. This worked rather well, and gave me the courage to convert another sarong, and this time I used a black one that I could wear to work.
It looked AWESOME! Understated, with a slight grunge feel but completely cool and comfortable. Mission accomplished. Well… sort of!
I had also started experimenting with A-line skirts, working off some patterns I got from a book. These were a little less successful due to the material I used. Let me just say: black denim is a stiff fabric and although the finished product was fairly neat and well stitched, I ended up looking like a 1950’s rock ‘n roll Elvis dancer: the skirt belled out like a ballgown!
The plot thickens…
So, why am I telling you all of this? Didn’t I write a short thang in my newsletter about this?
You are absolutely correct: I did write about it in this month’s newsletter. And I thank all of you who congratulated me on my ballzy act of patriarchal defiance. But there is a bit of a niggling negative twist to this story.
You see, I posted pics on Facebook of me and my new outfit. So many people commented and liked the post and encouraged me… except one person: my father.
For the past few years my relationship with him has grown. As many of you know, most gay men from the 80’s and 90’s have “daddy issues” and I have had my fair share of conflict with my father. But in the last decade or so, I have come to new realisations about how my father really feels about me and Elford and our relationship and it has been a pleasant awakening.
Checking my Facebook notifications the day after my post, I saw that my dad shared something that I had posted. Curiosity killed this cat, and I clicked on the notification to see what it was that he had shared. The repost opens, and there on my screen is the photos of me in my sarong-skirt, petting our dog Cairo and smiling for the camera. The top of the post indicates to me that my father shared it directly to my middle brother, with the caption “Vra ek jou” (translation: I ask you).
And my heart drops down to my knees, which is more or less the hemline of that same skirt.
It bugged me, and it didn’t because I know my father, his background and how he thinks. I thank fuck that I am aware enough to figure this out and not to let it consume me. It also warns me that there will always be someone out there who doesn’t get it, who doesn’t see what I am about.
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean that person doesn’t love you, it just means they don’t like what you’re doing, and that is not YOUR STUFF! Meet people where they’re at, and accept the journey they haven’t travelled. Me wearing skirts has nothing to do with shocking my dad out of his wits, and everything to do with encouraging people to do what they feel is necessary to lead a more exciting, purposeful and meaningful life.
It is important to me to recognise that something that I find beauteous and wonderous, will ultimately offend someone else. I never have those people in mind when I do the things I do because if I do think of them before or during whatever it is I am planning to do, I will never get to do the fucking awesome shit I do!
So, if you are reading this, and you managed to finish reading it, this is my message: just keep swimming and flap those flippers any which way you want because you can’t please all the people, all the time, but you HAVE to please yourself MOST of the time.
Answer me this question: are you genuinely nice, or are you just a people pleaser?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have at least three more skirts to make!