Hi there, GQ. I have a bone to pick with writer Jake Woolf’s latest sartorial fiat:
Oh, GQ, I know you guys are in need of a #hot #take now and again. It’s hard out there in the men’s fashion world. There are only so many ways your writers can laud the grey suit and navy blue tie combination. The proper pant length relative to boot height is a topic about which only limited words can be devoted. Men’s fashion is boring as shit. It gets hard to write about. I understand. I sympathize actually.
But even with these challenges, GQ and Jake Woolf, do you need to fill space with a tossed-off post that serves only to further restrict men’s already limited fashion options? Does shitting on man-chokers even serve your industry well? To say nothing of the disservice it does to men’s gender norms and their freedom to explore self-expression?
I mean, we’ve all noticed that the controversial accessories and grooming habits men get maligned for are traditionally associated with femininity, right?
People used to shit on men for tanning.
Then for waxing body hair.
Then for makeup.
Then for carrying purses/ “man bags”.
Then for wearing buns.
Now for chokers (which hasn’t even caught on yet, and sadly probably won’t).
Taking men to task for attempting to express themselves with clothing and traditionally feminine accessories is not groundbreaking shit. It’s not progressive. It’s not a sign of your masculine or sartorial bona fides. It’s certainly not a sign of good taste. It’s also not a fun, feminist jab at a damaging masculine gender norm. Mocking dudes for their sartorial choices and forays into femininity has a long and storied history among toxic, homophobic, transphobic shitbags.
If chokers are sexy on Instagram baddies they can be sexy on men. Let men be cute. Let men be fashionable. Let men express themselves. Let men explore how they want to be seen and how they want to feel. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s some trying-too-hard affectation. It’s a good and pure thing for a guy to try and be pretty and cute in a world that says they have no right to those modes of expression.
Guys’ self expression options are so heavily policed that many of them are too boxed in to even feel comfortable giving a shit about how they look. Even the act of trying to be stylish is mocked when men do it. Because it’s seen as “feminine”. And because femininity, especially in men, is seen as perverse, pathetic, or gross. That kind of thinking can really fuck men up. It fucks up how all of us relate to men and people we see as men, too.
So if you’re gleefully delighting in the mockery of dude-chokers, you’re the one who’s actually trying too hard. You can actually calm down about it. Don’t worry, men are already plenty repressed by our shitty hyper-masculine culture.
I know this sounds like a trivial issue, and it is, but it’s indicative of a much larger problem. We give men no leeway to be soft and beautiful. We don’t let them express their feelings. We don’t allow them to explore their self-presentation. Clothing is a significant part of that. It might not be the most vital one, but it matters. Restricting what men can wear is a massive symbolic restriction on their ability to be expressive, tender, sweet, feminine, fluid, and self-reflecting.
GQ, let the boys have some jewelry. Tell them they can be beautiful. Give them their bags, buns, waxes, and tanning booths. Let them fucking contour if they want. Stop asserting your coolness by restricting the comfort of others. Fuuuuuck.