Real MUGs for Real Men
Men's freedom from Trouser Tyranny
won't be found in the Women's Department. We must buy and promote kilts, skirts,
and other unbifurcated garments that are designed and intended specifically for
Old Baggage in the Way of Progress
Stripped to its fundamental core, the argument for male unbifurcated
garments ("MUGs") - such as kilts and other skirts specially designed for
men - is so simple that it should be self-evident: Unbifurcated garments are
more comfortable and more compatible with male anatomy than trousers are.
Trousers cramp, confine, and irritate the male genitals and crotch, sometimes to
the point of causing rashes and other conditions, whereas unbifurcated garments
don't. Therefore, males should have the option of wearing unbifurcated garments.
Confining men exclusively to trousers is patently absurd.
If reason prevailed, every men's clothing store in the world would be selling
MUGs, and every man or boy would have at least one in his wardrobe. But
(surprise!) reason does not prevail. Instead we have baggage.
The first and biggest piece of baggage: Society has come to
associate unbifurcated garments exclusively with females.
When people see a skirt, they expect to see a female wearing it, and they may
be quite disturbed to discover a man instead. Men who become sexually interested
upon seeing a skirt and pair of legs may become even more upset upon discovering
that they have been deceived by some guy.
How can we overcome this baggage? Logically, we should try to reduce the
confusion by choosing unbifurcated garments that are distinctly masculine and
less likely to be associated with female clothing. That is why I myself have
stuck to men's kilts, and why I am now so enthusiastic about the Utilikilt. We
must support the development and marketing of unbifurcated garments that are
designed and intended specifically for men.
That is why I think the men-in-skirts movement will go nowhere if men simply
amuse themselves with skirts, dresses, and other garments found in the women's
department. Wearing clothing that is designed and intended for women does
nothing to establish unbifurcated garments as male clothing.
When men prance about in women's miniskirts showing off their pretty, shaven
legs, it simply reinforces the public's perception that they are trying to
confuse themselves with women. To do this sort of thing may be daring, it may be
exciting, and it may get people's attention. But it also perpetuates a negative
stereotype that impedes our progress on the road to MUGs. This is not
what the "Bravehearts" are about!.
The next piece of baggage: The public perception that men who wear skirts
are in some way sexually deviant, abnormal, or perverted.
People often associate male skirt-wearing with drag queens, transvestites,
transsexuals, or homosexuals. They may wonder if you are gay, if you feel you
are a "woman trapped in a man's body," or if wearing women's clothing is a
fetish that gives you sexual stimulation.
The logical way to deal with this baggage would be to disassociate our
unbifurcated garments from women's clothing and female sexuality as much as
possible. "Bravehearts" wear MUG's because we are men, and because MUG's are
more comfortable and healthier for our male genitals.
However, not all skirt-wearing men follow the Braveheart approach. Some wear
skirts to express their feminine side, and others simply because they find it to
be sexually exciting. Some post pictures of themselves on the Internet in the
shortest of miniskirts, in provocative poses that would be considered
"cheesecake" if done by a woman. Sure, it's harmless fun. If women can show off
their legs like this why can't a man, right?
At the same time, this kind of activity reinforces the public's notion that
skirt-wearing men are simply doing it for the sexual excitement. This impedes
the legitimization of MUGs.
Even kilt-wearing has its own baggage - the Scottish association.
People assume that the only reason a man wears a kilt is because of his
Scottishness, or because he plays the bagpipes. This limits the appeal for men
who aren't Scottish. Then there are all the traditions about tartans and what to
wear with the kilt, etc.
That is why I am glad to see kilt variations, like the Breacan by Kinloch
Anderson and those of 21st Century Kilts, and a really new masculine garment
like the Utilikilt, which goes beyond the Scottish connection and establishes
something comfortable and practical that all men can wear. We now have realistic
options for masculine, unbifurcated clothing that simply did not exist only a
few years ago. We should take advantage of these new opportunities and keep the
Women's Skirts Won't Advance the Ball
I realize that some skirt-wearing men will disagree with my opposition to
women's clothing, arguing that gender distinctions should be irrelevant. Let me
emphasize that I am not personally against individual men wearing women's
skirts, dresses, or whatever they want, within the limits of decency. That is a
matter of personal expression, which should not be suppressed. My comments are
aimed simply at the question of what strategy is most likely to promote general
public acceptance and availability of men's unbifurcated garments (MUGs). The
following are the main reasons why I strongly believe that women's skirts are
not the way to go:
Most Women's Skirts Are Ill-Suited for Men.
They usually don't look masculine. Women's skirts are designed
specifically for expressing a woman's feminine sexuality and for displaying the
female body to good effect. The vast majority of skirts are blatantly feminine
in their style, colors, flowers, and frills. Therefore, they would simply look
incongruous on a man. Some skirts are more "masculine" in design - perhaps even
having a trouser-style front fly and belt loops - but may have other
They usually don't fit right. Women's skirts just aren't designed for
men to wear. They are tailored to fit female bodies, which are significantly
different in proportions, shape, and size than male bodies. Since women
generally tend to be smaller, many men would have a hard time finding women's
skirts they could squeeze into.
They aren't practical. Women's skirts are rarely designed with
practicality in mind. (Nowadays, when a woman wants to be "practical," she wears
trousers.) Instead, women's skirts are intended to be fashionable or
sexy. In the world of women's skirt fashion, "practical" is definitely
unfashionable and unsexy. Therefore, women's skirts are usually
incompatible with men's activities, habits, and behavior.
Take pockets, for example. A man is lost without pockets to carry things in.
(Although the traditional men's kilt doesn't have pockets, it at least has a
sporran.) But women's skirts are designed to show off the smooth curves of a
woman's body - an effect that would be ruined by bulging pockets. So most
women's skirts have no pockets at all. Some have dainty little pockets that
could barely hold a hanky. Others - such as denim skirts - may have multiple
pockets that are mainly for show. So a man wearing a woman's skirt will
generally have to find some other means for carrying things - such as a purse or
fanny pack - which could be somewhat of a nuisance.
Furthermore, women's skirts are frequently made of skimpy, fragile material,
all in furtherance of displaying the feminine body to the best effect. They
generally lack the rugged construction needed to withstand the kinds of
activities that men are used to.
They are often difficult to sit or move in. Some women's
skirts are ankle-length, which the wearer must carefully lift when going up
stairs, to avoid tripping. If a long skirt is loose, the fabric gets in the way;
if it is tight, it restricts the length of one's stride. If it has a slit, it
flashes one's legs. Other women's skirts are shorter and tighter. These are
awkward to sit in. The hem rides up your thigh when you sit, exposing a lot of
leg. A man can't comfortably spread his legs, as he is accustomed, without
exposing his underpants. He must uncomfortably hold this knees together or cross
his legs at his knees as women do - which exposes nearly all the underside of at
least one of his thighs. When a woman does this, she appears sexy and exciting
to look at. When a man does so, he feels awkward and foolish.
I have no doubt that some women's skirts have been made with comfort and
practicality in mind, but I very rarely see them being worn - probably because
they simply aren't sexy enough.
Women's Skirts Send the Wrong Message.
In many people's minds, a man wearing a woman's skirt is not expressing his
masculinity - he is either "gay" or getting his sexual kicks from
cross-dressing. This may be totally false and unfair, but that is how most
people will interpret it. That impression is further increased if the man is
wearing a miniskirt with shaved legs and pantyhose. While it may not be fair,
such activities simply reinforce the negative stereotype that skirt-wearing men
have either a fetish about women's clothing or a gender disorder.
In contrast, the public nowadays has a much more positive reaction to a man
who expresses his male sexuality by wearing a masculine kilt. Many women drool
over men in kilts. However, this does not mean that traditional Scottish kilts
are the only way to go. I am simply pointing out certain practical things we
must keep in mind if we want to move MUGs into the mainstream.
Buying and wearing women's clothing will not accomplish this. While I suppose
that the first women to wear trousers must have borrowed them from the men, I do
not find this to be a convincing analogy. There wasn't the same kind of social
stigma against women wearing men's clothing (which symbolizes power and
practicality) as there is to men wearing women's clothing (which symbolizes
submission and passivity). Women were discouraged from wearing trousers because
trousers were viewed as a symbol of men's elevated status and power. If there is
any "power" in women's clothing, it is the way in which it expresses female
sexuality, by showing off a women's body or femininity to good effect.
Therefore, women's clothing on a man looks incongruous to most people.
If we wish to overcome Trouser Tyranny, wearing a man's kilt or other MUG
sends a much stronger message to the public than wearing women's skirts. When
asked what your objective is in wearing a kilt or MUG, you can explain that you
want "the freedom to wear a man's garment that is more comfortable for a man's
anatomy." In contrast, the Freestylers' "fashion freedom" objective basically
boils down to allowing men the freedom to wear women's clothing. This
message does not advance the public's acceptance of unbifurcated garments as
Buying Women's Skirts Won't Influence the Fashion Industry.
Some people have suggested that, if we men went out and openly bought women's
skirts, admitting to the sales clerks that the skirts were for us, sooner or
later the merchandisers would move some of the same skirts into the men's
department, with men's sizing. That scenario just isn't realistic. Mainstream
clothing merchandisers sell hundreds of millions of women's skirts and men's
trousers every year. If a thousand of us openly bought women's skirts for
ourselves, it would be negligible in the grand scheme of things. Why would the
merchandisers screw up the system because of a few oddballs?
Even if we adapted women's skirts to men and hung them in the men's
department, there would still be a stigma because they are derived from women's
clothing. To reduce the stigma, MUGs must be perceived as being totally separate
and distinct from women's skirts.
Therefore, I think we will have much more success if we start with
unbifurcated garments that already have a solid masculine tradition, such as
kilts, sarongs, caftans, etc., and go from there. We are already seeing
variations on the kilt aimed at making it more practical, more affordable, and
more acceptable to men who aren't Scottish. Garments like the standard Utilikilt
don't even wrap around, but still maintain the rugged, masculine spirit of the
kilt, combined with the convenience of cargo pants. But kilts need not be the
only model. For example, LungiMan makes sarongs for men, and Men in Time makes
long skirts for men.
These kinds of efforts deserve our support. While we Bravehearts are still
too few in number to have much impact on the big clothing merchandisers, we can
be of crucial importance to the success and survival of smaller enterprises
devoted to making MUGs a reality. I myself already have three standard
Utilikilts (green camouflage, black denim, and green khaki) and expect to get
If enterprises like Utilikilts succeed in making MUGs popular and profitable,
even in a relatively small way, others will follow suit. Eventually, the bigger
companies are bound to take notice and try for a piece of the action. MUGs will
then be mass produced, the prices will come down, and men in MUGs will become a
On the other hand, if we simply patronize the women's departments for our
skirts and allow enterprises like Utilikilts to fail, then the dream of MUGs
will die. Except for traditional Scottish kilts, the only source of unbifurcated
garments will be the women's department, and men in skirts will continue to be
viewed as just a bunch of "cross-dressers."
I want - and I believe we are entitled to have - unbifurcated alternatives
that are especially designed for men and readily identifiable as men's wear. If
we are to be free from Trouser Tyranny, we must also be free from dependence on
women's clothing. We must have unbifurcated garments that we can call our own.
The Price Factor
A constant complaint about men's kilts and men's skirts is their price. Some
men feel that it is ridiculous to pay for a genuine man's garment when women's
skirts are so much cheaper. Although kilts and real MUGs tend to be expensive,
we should not assume that those who make and sell them are being "greedy."
Persons who are really greedy wouldn't commit themselves to such a risky venture
as making MUG's to begin with.
It is an inescapable fact that, absent an independent source of income,
people have got to make a reasonable profit in their business if they are going
to survive. The same applies to making and selling MUG's. We have already seen a
number of MUG ventures bite the dust.
Traditional Scottish kiltmaking will probably survive, regardless of high
prices, thanks to continued interest in Scottish heritage, bagpiping, Scottish
dancing, etc. But this will continue to be a very narrow specialty market,
limited to a relatively few kilt enthusiasts who are willing to pay the price.
Sarongs are sufficiently masculine and reasonable in price, but they are
probably too informal and lightweight for most purposes in Western society.
MUG's will not become mainstream until good-looking, comfortable, practical,
and reasonably priced MUG's are readily available, so that enough men are
willing to set aside their fears and try them out. Most men will not have the
courage to do this until there is a sufficient number of other men already
And here is where the price factor presents a dilemma. The cost of making
quality MUG's is going to be high, because MUG's are a specialty item with a
very limited market. The high price will deter many men from experimenting with
such a garment, because they aren't sure about wearing one to begin with.
We know how the big clothing merchandisers are able to stay profitable while
keeping prices competitive - they mass-produce tens of thousands of the same
item in sweatshops in third-world countries. It will be a long time - if ever -
before we see MUG's being produced on the same scale.
Therefore, the prices of quality MUG's will not substantially come down until
MUG's are mass-produced and competitively mass-marketed like trousers, women's
skirts, and other popular items of clothing. This will not happen until there is
a mass market for MUGs. And there will be no mass market for MUGs as long as
price remains an obstacle, together with men's fear of wearing alternatives to
Even though men could buy women's skirts for much less, very few men are
willing to wear women's clothing. In fact, this is exactly why most men are
still reluctant to wear kilts - they are afraid it would look too much like
cross-dressing. Therefore, MUG's must be clearly understood to be male
clothing if they are to become mainstream.
If we are serious about overcoming Trouser Tyranny, I think we should
reconcile ourselves to the following:
Yes, I know that we chafe at the high prices. But I remember a time, about 30
years ago, when hand-held electronic calculators that did multiplication and
division originally came on the market. They cost more than $100 at Radio Shack.
But I seriously wanted one, and I paid the money for it. Now we can buy
calculators that do much more than that for less than $5.
The same will be true for MUGs, when and if they ever become popular. But in
the meantime, we are the ones who must shoulder the responsibility of keeping
the concept alive until it builds up greater momentum, and until MUG-wearing men
reach the critical mass necessary to bring the prices down. In the meantime,
we've got to give all the encouragement we can to the pioneers who take the risk
of marketing MUG's, even if they cost a lot more than a pair of trousers or a
woman's skirt at the Gap.
A Brave New World of MUGs
If Utilikilts and other MUG's catch on and go mainstream, they may help to
resolve the frustration felt by males like me, who have found trousers to be
irritating in the crotch and who realize that unbifurcated garments are far more
comfortable and better adapted to the male anatomy.
In the past, if a boy was curious about what it feels like to wear an
unbifurcated garment, his only feasible option was to try on a girl's skirt or
dress - a forbidden activity about which most boys would feel guilty or ashamed.
When he discovered that he actually preferred the feeling of a skirt or dress as
opposed to trousers, he was likely to feel that there was something horribly
"wrong" him. Actually, he has simply discovered a physical truth that Western
society has tried to repress: that fact that unbifurcated garments really are
more comfortable and more natural for a male than trousers.
The boy may come to envy girls for being able to wear skirts and dresses. He
may find himself wishing that he were a girl. Because boys aren't allowed to
wear skirts, the only option may be to disguise himself as a girl (such as for
Halloween or a costume party). The Internet is filled with TG fantasy fiction
about this sort of thing, where boys end up allowing themselves to be feminized
by their mothers or other female relatives.
A male's desire for the comfort of unbifurcated garments has been routinely
equated with transvestism or transgenderism. But what if the boy is perfectly
happy with his sexual identity, and simply finds unbifurcated garments more
comfortable than trousers? He will nevertheless be taken to a shrink, who will
probably diagnose him as having a gender disorder. He may come to believe this
himself. He may end up confused about his sexuality and obsessed about female
Of course, there are many reasons why persons may have a gender disorders,
and some people are probably born with it. But I feel that the situation is
unnecessarily complicated by Western society's absurd notion that males must
only wear trousers and that any male who feels otherwise must be perverted.
Now imagine a world in which MUG's have become mainstream. Notice how the
following scenerio becomes much different from what the typical reaction would
A boy asks his dad, "What does it feel like to wear a skirt?"
"Why do you ask?" replies his dad. "Are your jeans feeling too confining?"
"Yeah," admits the boy.
"Well, why don't we drive over to Wal-mart, and you can try on one of the
Utilikilts in the boy's department."
So they hop in the car, drive to the store, pick a Utilikilt off the rack,
and the boy takes it into the changing room to try on. He soon comes out wearing
the Utilikilt to show his dad.
"It looks really handsome," says his dad. "How does it feel?"
"Awesome!" exclaims the boy. "No wedgies! Can we buy it? I can't wait for the
other guys to see! It'll be great for going on hikes and stuff."
So they make the purchase and go home. The boy proudly wears his Utilikilt
around the neighborhood and to school, receiving much admiration.
One of his friends remarks, "My dad has one of those. There're really cool.
I've been begging him to get me one. I'm tired of wearing blue jeans like my
Doesn't this story sound a lot healthier and more natural than the
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