eMANcipate yourselves men, and wear mantyhose!

18 03 2009

eMANcipate “is a project trying to accelerate the acceptance of male pantyhose as a regular clothing item.”


It’s interesting that they are trying to de-gender pantyhose and make it acceptable for men to wear pantyhose as well but exactly how does this emancipate men? Or what does it emancipate them from? Plus some of the language on the website is problematic especially the way it keeps reiterating that men who wear pantyhose are not feminine, that it’s still mannish. It still plays into ideas about masculinity and what defines masculinity.

The website (which is based in the UK) says:

“Men who wear pantyhose do it to improve athletic performance, energize and revitalize tired, aching leg muscles, and to stimulate circulation if they sit all day. In addition, compression can help reduce swelling and decrease the dangers of circulatory problems. And of course there are many men who simply like the soft material and the comfort that sheer pantyhose provides.”

Ahh, so this is supposed to help male athletes. Or to help the average (or better than average) male worker who has a desk job where he just sits all day. And of course there are men who find the softness of pantyhose to be comfortable. That’s justifiable enough. Who doesn’t like soft and comfortable clothing? But just a reminder, you are not sacrificing your manhood if you wear panty- I mean, mantyhose.

But then if you click on Why do men wear pantyhose? you will read, “So the first time wearing – it just happens. Maybe she makes him try it on a cold, wet autumn day…” This is so heteronormative and assumes a romantic couple has to be a male and a female.

Later on it says:

We’ve been experimenting – and still experimenting – with different styles of hose, making our models try them on and ‘forcing’ the stylist to fit it together, but it’s been a great surprise that even hosiery that is thought to be very femmy could go together with an average outfit without making the whole outfit femmy at all.

So it seems like a priority for eMANcipate and for all men who wear pantyhose is to not wear a “femmy” outfit. Now, what exactly makes a man’s outfit “femmy”? The site asks “Is pink too femmy for men?” And the verdict? Apparently pink pantyhose is too boring on men and “white pantyhose with floral patterns makes you look like a man.”

Oh, you manly man with white floral patterned pantyhose!

Oh, you manly man with white floral patterned pantyhose!

Why is this so? Well, because:

It was not metrosexual by the terms of the sexless-unisex definition; it wasn’t the beauty of some nice boys dressed up in female garments – it was powerful and male! More like a renaissance painting with an elegant gentleman wearing fine clothes with fine patterns on it.

It also bears some resemblance to tattoos men may have on their legs, which is powerful and manly too! So fear not men, white floral pantyhose will just bear witness to and prove your masculinity! The explanation on the site sort of sounded like it was fetishizing men’s legs, which was slightly creepy.

My main problem with eMANcipate is that it doesn’t do a good job articulating the reappropriation of or de-gendering of gendered clothing items. It seems to instead play off and reinforce ideas about femininity and masculinity. What makes pantyhose so femmy? And what makes it so manly? Does/can eMANcipate emancipate men from standards of masculinity as seen in fashion?

Also, personally, I dislike wearing pantyhose. I don’t find it very comfortable. So I’m not sure why women or men would want to wear it.



7 responses

19 03 2009
Chan Krämer / Harisnya

Nice and smart comments, thanks for them!

I’d purely focus on the fashion side, but traditionally – we started in 2003 – we had to explain why it’s not gay, it’s not femmy.

Now that we got such good critics in the classical press – like Metro UK – I feel a bit more free about it.



19 03 2009

Cool. Definitely hope to see men’s fashion include pantyhose or some form of legwear (eg. leggings) .

19 03 2009

Thanks to Chan for designing a web site like eMANcipate. He has gone way out on a limb to try to make male hosiery more acceptable for the rest of us.

20 03 2009

Great comments and I’m sure the owner of the e-mancipate website will change the site around. I believe the original concept was to prove that you don’t have to be gay to wear hosiery on your legs. Femmy or not, who cares! I’m a man and I like to wear hosiery on my legs, period!!!

20 03 2009

Wearing mantyhose! (PANTYHOSE,TIGHTS,STOCKINGS) has stigma and mindset of being a Gay thing, cross-dresser or a fetish . How are you going to get over the stigma and mindset associated your product ?

28 03 2009
Steve Newman

I work for ActivSkin (www.activskin.com), the first company to sell pantyhose designed especially for men. We’re based in the U.S. and I’ve been posting a good deal of background info on this emerging trend in men’s fashion on my blog, called The Nylon Gene (www.nylongene.com). In addition to Chan’s contributions, I would encourage you to check out this blog as well. We’re trying systematically address all these questions you raise in your article. Feel free to e-mail me with any specific questions also.

28 03 2009

Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo

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