Gender and culture.

Now more than ever, clothing is not being restrained by gender. In the modern day society, it is acceptable to wear pretty much whatever you would like. This stems from the recent social awareness and acceptance of sexuality or gender, for example, transgender, transexual etc.


High heels were originally worn by men during war in the near east as support when they stood up in their stirrups on their horses and took a bow. In this modern day, it is much less common to see a man wearing high heels and they are certainly not regarded as a male item.

High heels were often associated with wealthy men and aristocrats. They wore high heels to show that they would never have to walk very far or work. They could wear very unpractical shoes because they simply didn’t need anything to be practical.

Charles II - coronation portrait by John Michael Wright

In the 1630’s in France, women were trying to masculinize their outfits by cutting their hair, adding epaulettes and inevitably wearing high heels. This filtered through into the rest of Europe and subsequently became a much more female item. Men started to wear much more low, square shoes and women, pointed, higher shoes.

Since then, high heels have become a much more sexual item in a ladies wardrobe and very recently, you would not have seen many men openly wearing them. I would like to point out that there are still some cultures that do not accept homosexuality, transsexuality etc. and so would not deem it acceptable for men to be seen in ‘female’ dress.

In Africa, it is illegal to be gay in most countries. Gender identity/expression is legal in 1 out of 56 states. In Sudan and Nigeria being gay is punishable by death. Living in the country that I do, England,  with such a different culture makes you realise how lucky we are and how expressive everyone can be. Communities such as LGBT are always actively trying to open peoples minds to equality across genres and sexuality. In Africa, this may not have happened yet, but it will at some point.





Other sources used;




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