MSNBC discusses a growing trend of stockings for men which many call “mantyhose,” as well as other “feminine” clothing that are renamed and altered in quality to dodge the stigma of being deemed feminine. On the one hand, they’re making the hosiery as masculine as possible. On the other, the way the companies and their consumers humorously embrace its femininity is interesting.
Most companies name their stockings, girdles for men and the like almost indistinguishable from the “feminine version” of the product by completely omitting the use of words like “hosiery” or “stockings.” For example, a product that’s claimed to be “spanx for men” is called a Core Precision Undershirt. There’s also a pantyhose for men called Comfilon’s Activeskin Legwear for Men.
And while men’s pantyhose is used for the same reasons anyone would wear hosiery, including support, comfort, and warmth and yes, aesthetics, the author makes sure to appease the reader:
European men have been sporting hose for several years, but the trend has been slow to catch on in the U.S. (It is important to note that the trend has no connection to men who wear hose to cross-dress, since they prefer to wear pairs that are more feminine.) The “mantyhose” is also part of a larger trend of untraditional men’s underwear designed to lift, sculpt and suck in that beer belly… (Emphasis mine)
It’s of the utmost importance you know that these are manly stockings! No cross-dressers here!
But while their makers and users try so very hard to distinguish themselves from women’s stockings, girdles, what-have-you, they still manage to make a joke out of the fact that – whatever name you give it and whatever manly material you make it into – it’s still women’s clothing. The word “mantyhose” itself could make one chuckle. In fact, simply adding an “m” in front of many of these clothes masculinize but also mock them, like “mantyhose” or the “mirdle” (man girdle). Even the companies use humor in their marketing techniques; the tagline for Comfilon is, “This is NOT your mother’s pantyhose.”
This seems indicative of the general male hetero response to anything they do or wear that’s “feminine” – if you mock it while you’re doing it, you can get away with it. Same thing with male hetero friends who pretend to make out when they’re hugging each other, or skip around the room in their face cream – it’s more or less a way of defying gender norms without having to catch shit for it. And that makes me sort of sad.
At the same time, the article seems to imply that men aren’t embarrassed, but their wives (of course they have wives!) are the skittish ones. Thoughts?