Friday, 21 December 2012

A pansy speaks, part 4

(The fourth and final part of ‘A Pansy Speaks’, originally published in Boys Today! magazine, February 2038.)

Part Four: Boys’ future is frilly
By Daniel Maybright

The mid-21st century is a confusing time to be a boy. Society is changing incredibly fast and it’s hard to adjust. Girls grow tougher, bolder and get all the jobs, and their assertiveness is terrifying. Boys have performed worse than girls in education since the turn of the century and we’re still falling behind. The typical state of mind for modern males is anxiety, because females are becoming the dominant sex – if they aren’t already. 

It’s a lesson of history that pretty clothes, makeup etc are worn by the less powerful sex to please the more powerful one. When girls and women started wearing trousers over a hundred years ago, it was symbolic of a great step forward for their social liberation. That’s the opposite of the current situation for boys. Boys are losing their rights, opportunities and independence, and wearing newboy is symbolic of their dis-empowerment.

It’s not that women are evil and deliberately trying to crush the male. But the logic of history says boys can’t win. Only if we accept that the war of the sexes is lost does the confusion fade away, and then we know exactly who we are: the pretty, submissive, dress-wearing sex. Humiliating, yes, but better than constantly agonising over our role and identity.

I know some boys are forced to wear dresses because their mothers or girlfriends insist on it, and they get very resentful and think it a terrible indignity. It’s preferable if boys adopt dresses in their own time. Personally I don’t know why any boy would stick to the boring old trad t-shirt-and-jeans when he could wear gorgeous dresses.

Girls love to see boys in their new role.

Pansy has changed my life. As a boy you’re always described as a problem or failure and girls always seem to be better. Girls have taken over the things that used to define male identity: high grades, confidence, trousers, breadwinning, political power, etc. If you stay trad, there’s nowhere left for boys except to shrink further and further into a dead-end. Pansy gives you an identity. It’s great meeting other pansies because we immediately feel this bond of a shared predicament, and of course a mutual delight in pretty dresses! I’ve met lots of new friends this way. You discover aspects of your personality you didn’t know about before, and there are opportunities to do all sorts of new things. Every pansy should learn to bake, for example, and iron, and put on makeup, and sew, and even to make his own dresses. There are classes and groups now that will teach a boy his new skills. For boys with more ambition, beauty contests like Dream Boys UK are springing up everywhere.

Girls were uncertain about boys wearing ‘their’ clothes at first, since it’s not what they were traditionally encouraged to admire in boys! But they are very quickly warming to seeing boys wearing the dresses, and the more girls expect it, the more boys will wear them. I know girls now who won’t even date a boy unless he wears skirts, and lots of girls won’t be seen dead in them because they are seen as boys’ clothing. You know how girls think they’re so superior (sorry girls – but you know it’s true!) They won’t even wear anything pink.

What is the future for boys? Well, pansy is a minority fashion bought in specialist shops, and I suppose it will remain so. But several high street stores have followed M&H’s lead and stocked newboy in the last couple of years, and there are good quality ranges now in places you’d never expect, like Marks and Spencer. Newboy is not quite the norm but it’s spreading remorselessly. Every month there seem to be more shops, more courses, more adverts, more newspaper articles, and, most importantly, more boys in the streets wearing dresses or skirts. And it’s not as if boys are making progress in earning better grades, getting degrees, and fighting back into the jobs market – on the contrary, all the predictions point to us becoming weaker and weaker relative to girls. So I think the dress conventions for the sexes are swapping over. ‘Trousers for girls, dresses for boys’ is becoming the rule. At this rate of change, in a couple of decades it will be expected that a boy should wear a dress and ‘boys’ trousers’ will be an anachronism.

Yes, newboy is the future for all boys, I’m sure of that! It won’t even be called ‘newboy’, it’ll just be... boyswear. And when that comes true, life for boys won’t be complicated any more, it’ll be beautifully simple. Your role as a boy will be... to be pretty, and love it. Imagine walking into a shop dedicated to boys’ clothes where there is nothing for sale but dresses, and skirts, and stockings, and petticoats, and lots of lovely accessories like bows and makeup and bracelets.

My love of pretty clothes grows and grows. You can’t wear pansy forever – it’s for kids, after all, and you look weird if you’re still wearing pansy when you’re hitting twenty. But there are so many beautiful dresses out there waiting for me, not to mention one day the ultimate: my wedding dress, and the alpha girl who will provide for me and protect me.

My message for every modern boy would be, try not to feel ashamed or humiliated when you’re expected to live life in skirts. Every morning, I pull on my tights, put on my petticoats and step into a lovely bunchy dress. I brush my hair and tie it with ribbons. And when I look at myself in the mirror what else can I think, except… it’s wonderful to be a boy!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A pansy speaks, part 3

(Part Three of ‘A Pansy Speaks’, originally published in Boys Today! magazine, January 2038.)
Part Three: Facing the world
By Daniel Maybright

Wearing pansy at home is one thing. For a boy to go out in public wearing a flouncy dress is another, and it’s not easy! It’s true people should be used to it by now but lots of them are not. We all know dress-wearing boys, whether pansy or not, who have been ridiculed or threatened in the street.

When girls started wearing masculine clothing in the 20th century that was mostly accepted, because the girls were being empowered. When boys dress in ‘girls’’ things they are, let’s face it, being dis-empowered. The hardest thing for a boy who’s wearing dresses for the first time is to overcome his own embarrassment. All boys know that the only reason we’re wearing dresses now is because girls have crushed us in the sex war. Plus we’ve been fed macho rubbish for hundreds of years and it doesn’t go away overnight.

I love dresses and I wouldn’t give them up for anything. So here is my advice for boys who are starting out. This is not just for pansies. It’s for every newboy too.

Having a girl’s protection gives you confidence. 

The first thing is that newboy is not a minority. About 50 per cent of boys in Western countries own a dress these days, though many are shy about wearing them in public. Boys across the world are discovering newboy and the number choosing to wear skirts instead of trousers is constantly rising. So you’re not weird! It’s slowly becoming normal.

Right now, however, the reality is that even after two years I still get anxious when I go out in pansy. My first time, I tried stepping out the front door and found I’d forgotten how to breathe. Once you’ve managed to get through the door, you do get reactions like double-takes, stares, whispering or giggles. Nobody thinks you are a girl, because no girl wears anything resembling pansy these days.

The attention from girls can be intimidating. Some of them wolf-whistle, and the more triumphalist ones will jeer at a boy in a dress. I once had a couple of girls come up to me and demand a kiss; they were very pushy and wouldn’t leave until they’d each had a peck on the cheek. On the whole, though, girls are chivalrous and appreciate the effort you’ve made to look pretty. Wearing newboy declares that you accept you’ve lost the sex war, and most girls know it’s not big or clever to kick someone who’s down.

The real problems come from other boys – trad boys. You know the catcalls: you’re “a disgrace”, “letting the side down,” “a homo,” “sucking up to feminazis” or other such rubbish. There they’ll be in the shopping centre with their bumfluff tashes and scruffy jeans, shouting nasty things, and I’m just like, “this is what boys wear now, you moron. What century do you think you’re living in?” The stupid thing is, at home their mother’s the breadwinner and their father’s doing the housework. Their idea of masculinity has been smashed and they can’t see it. But they are the worst because they will sometimes come up and push you or even hit you, especially a pansy. All you can do when that happens is wait until they go away, which they soon will if you start blubbing. It makes me cross when boys are aggressive towards pansies, because a pansy is shy and flouncy and sweet and it’s unfair to pick on us. I think that boys should support each other instead of being divided by a lost cause.

I’ve also heard stories about newboys being harangued by Men Matter types about ‘surrendering to the female yoke’ and so on, but those men are more despairing than violent.

I would like to emphasise that it’s really not too scary out there, because you know what? Most people don’t care. They know boys are changing, so it’s no big deal! When I started going around in pansy, meeting family, going to movies, and so on, I found that people were much more accepting than you’d think. Discovering that is great for your confidence. Some people just want to chat, and they’ll ask you why you’re dressed ‘like a girl’, and you can explain why you like it. One old man told me in Asda that he was incredibly envious of boys these days because he’d always wanted to ‘crossdress’, as he called it, and hadn’t been allowed to. That was sweet.

Pansies have a harder time, so here are a few tips for pansies in particular to make going public easier.

The first is to do pansy properly. Pansy isn’t just about putting on a dress. If you’re developing hair in visible places then you have to shave. Be fresh and clean. Tidy your hair and put a nice ribbon in it. Don’t wear a lovely petticoat dress with a pair of old scruffy trainers – get some pretty shoes. Look after your clothes and don’t get them dirty. Smile! If you feel good about yourself, it will show.

The next thing is simply to expect that you will get attention, both good and bad. Some people will jeer or laugh, others will fawn over you and want to take you home with them. If you do get negative reactions, don’t act on it, don’t take it to heart… ignore it. You’ll probably never see that person again, so who cares?

It helps to go out with company the first few times. It doesn’t have to be with other pansies. It could be with trad boy friends, girl friends, it doesn’t really matter who, so long as they support you. The best thing is to go out with girls, because if those trad boys in the shopping centre shout at you when you’re with an alpha girl, they will get their balls broken, period. Having a girl’s protection gives you confidence.

Confidence is very important when you’re on your own. If you look frightened or ashamed then you’re an easy target. That doesn’t mean you must swagger or try to look tough. It means you must get on with your life, safe in the knowledge that you’re perfectly normal even if some dinosaurs don’t know that yet.

In the final part, Daniel will be speculating about lies in the future for boys…

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A pansy speaks, part 2

(Part Two of ‘A Pansy Speaks’, originally published in Boys Today! magazine, December 2037.)

Part Two: How to be a pansy
By Daniel Maybright

How to define pansy? The most important elements are childlike innocence and old-fashioned femininity. Its influences come from the clothes girls wore in the 18th century and the Victorian period, and from the 1950s. There’s also a debt to the ‘lolita’ fashions that started in Japan in the late 1980s. No one outfit says everything about being a pansy, and it’s not only about clothes: there’s also a pansy lifestyle which I’ll say more about later.

Why are some boys choosing pansy? It is an escape from the dullness of real life, and from the desperately outdated cliché of the rough, tough boy. When a boy puts on a dress covered in frills and bows, ties a ribbon in his hair and slips his feet into mary janes, he is kissing goodbye to the pressure to be aggressive, to get dirty or drink too much, to chase around fields doing sports, to be competitive with girls, and generally swagger about like a moron. Putting on pansy is like stepping into a fresh spring garden where your anxieties swish away.

Of course, dressing ‘like a girl’ is historically very humiliating for a boy and means he is admitting defeat in the battle of the sexes. This is the most difficult step of all. Most boys are scared stiff of having to dress and act like pretty girls! But nowadays it’s the girls who will get jobs and earn money and rule in the big wide world. Let them! If girls want to be like boys, pansies say, then we boys will become like girls… trad girls, anyway. If a boy can accept that girls come first and his own role is secondary, he can enter a sweet and simple world.

Above all, pansy lets a boy wear some of the most gorgeous clothes ever made. Wearing pansy is a dreamy, delightful experience. I love putting an outfit together, from the hairbow down to the dress, tights and shoes, and it makes me excited to be so pretty. I can look through boyswear catalogues for hours, dreaming – my parents would say ‘obsessing’! – about how I’d look in this or that dress. I don’t even own a pair of trousers any more. There are so many little extras, like makeup and earrings and pretty gloves, that you can easily get lost in it all. Things aimed at boys are becoming so adorable now, and not just clothes. Even alarm clocks or mugs with our names on are available in pink or with hearts on. Obviously not all boys are pansies like me. You can be newboy without being a pansy. Either way, if a boy wants, everything in his little world can be enchanting and pretty.

Advertisement for a Candyboys dress.

I’ll talk readers briefly through pansy fashion.

My hair was quite short when I started and some boys like to wear wigs or hairpieces to give them lovely long hair they can tie ribbons into. Personally I prefer to keep it real. When I started wearing pansy it was enough to wear a hairbow while my hair grew longer. Now it’s longer I can crimp it, wear it in pigtails or try other nice things. You notice straightaway that pansies are constantly preening their hair! We’re proud of our pretty hair as it’s one of the marks of what we consider a proper modern boy.

Some pansies love bonnets, but personally I find them a bit childish. There are some really adorable bonnets and they work for some boys. More common is a headdress, a piece of cloth you can tie around your head with a ribbon.

The most important thing after your hair is a dress or a skirt. This is what really marks you out. Obviously boys didn’t use to wear these and it’s still quite a new thing, so it is a big moment in a boy’s life when he puts on skirts for the first time. Again, it’s the moment when he admits to himself that girls are on top and that he has to accept a new, inferior place. In my view a boy should forget about wearing shorts and trousers. They belong to girls now.

Dress shopping is great fun. There are several pansy brands now and it’s expanding really fast. The obvious ones are Candyboys and Tommy – another is the online-only Pansies ‘N’ Cream. Some boys rely on catalogues because they’re too shy to try on dresses in shops, but unless you’re only going to wear your dress in your bedroom, you have to get over that. And you need to try things on, especially when you’re new, to get the right size.

Pansy skirts tend to have a distinctive ‘A’ silhouette. Some come with their own layers of net and gauze but you’ll want to buy petticoats as well to really fill them out. A pansy’s skirts MUST be full and poofy! The joy of being a boy in today’s world is wearing lovely petticoats under your dress that rustle and fluff out your skirts. An absolute must. Don’t wear your old briefs under your dress! There are pretty knickers now and if you want the full deal you can wear bloomers, which I recommend as they help fill out your skirts.

When you buy your first dress make sure you really love it. Visit the online communities to ask other boys about different dresses and shops. If you buy a skirt remember you’ll need a blouse as well – your old T-shirts won’t match! In the beginning try to put together one full outfit that works, finishing it off with some tights or stockings and some pretty shoes. You build your wardrobe as you go along. Buying lots of clothes is expensive, so unless your mum is a really big earner you’ll want to stick to only a few things you really love, or look for second-hand deals in shops or online.

You hear boys saying they can’t wear pansy because they’re tall, or quite broad, or they could never pass for a girl. Remember, pansy is not about pretending to be a girl! Girls rarely wear dresses any more. You don’t have to hide your adam’s apple or give yourself pretend breasts or call yourself Tiffany Marie! It’s true that pansy strikes some people as strange, even ridiculous, but that’s only because they need time to get used to it as a boy fashion.

I could talk for hours about clothes, but if you want more detail you can look at the Boys Today! website which has a whole section on how to be a pansy. Instead I want to finish with some comments on how to behave.

Pansy isn’t just about clothes: it’s a whole way of life for boys. A pansy would never get involved in  traditional ‘boyish’ behaviours. It simply feels wrong. Nowadays, it’s girls who are rough, play sports, get muddy and get into fights. If girls are doing those things, a pansy wants to do the opposite, because it’s important for boys to be different. It’s an identity thing. From my first days as a pansy, I felt myself changing how I walked and behaved, even without meaning to. Respect for girls and their authority is a rule. A pansy won’t argue with a girl, let alone try to fight one. He doesn’t contradict a girl if he can help it, or talk back to her, and never shouts or interrupts. He moves delicately because he doesn’t want to get his beautiful dresses or stockings dirty. He takes care over his appearance, and cultivates good manners and grace: he walks primly, sits up straight and uses proper etiquette at the table. He always has a smile on his face and has a kind heart.

I know there’s a debate over whether it’s nature or nurture but either way, the society we live in gets more female-dominated every year. Girls are the boss. It’s something we boys have to accept, and pansies turn it into a positive by welcoming girls’ dominance. A pansy is demure, shy and knows his place – and girls love it. Nothing is more attractive to the modern alpha girl than a pansy!

There are loads of resources springing up on the internet about pansy fashion and lifestyle. The online communities are growing at an incredible rate as more and more boys embrace the joys of pansy – the biggest are and You can share makeup tips, tell other boys where you found your dream dress, etc. It’s great to see boys taking hold of their new identity and creating it themselves. So off you go, lads, get some frills in your life!

In part three, Daniel offers some advice for going pansy in public.

Monday, 10 December 2012

A pansy speaks, part 1

(Originally published in Boys Today! magazine, November 2037.)

Part One: My introduction to pansy

In part one of a series, Daniel Maybright talks about how he discovered a delightful new way of life. 

It started one summer day in 2035. My mum and I were in London for the day, shopping for clothes for me, amongst other things. As we were walking through Soho towards Oxford Street we were struck by the colourful façade of a new shop. We’d never seen a shop like it before: it was a dress shop, but the prettily-clad mannikins in the window were undoubtedly male. At first I thought they’d run out of girl dummies and was going to crack a joke, and then I saw tweens and teen customers wearing the same flouncy dresses trickling in and out… and they were male too.

Obviously I knew a minority of boys had started wearing girls’ clothes, or rather what used to be girls’ clothes. In my home town of Norwich I did occasionally see ‘cross-dressing’ boys openly in the streets. To be honest it was a bit leftfield for me, as I was a ‘trad’ boy by default, i.e. I dressed as boys traditionally do. But you know how a trend waits to happen, and all it needs is someone to take a first step for it to become huge? Among the big stores it was M&H who saw the opportunity, and in 2034 they had launched their New Boy range of boys’ dresses with a famous publicity campaign. You’ll remember how startling it was. Suddenly images of lads looking pretty and happy in skirts and pigtails were all over the place – on TV, in magazines, on posters at bus stops. A high-street chain was making a statement that boys wearing dresses was perfectly OK, and it caused such a furore that ‘newboy’ became the generic term for ‘girlish’ fashions for boys. Seeing the trend normalised like that scared many people. It even scared me. A minority of boys experimenting with a fad is one thing, but boys’ dresses for sale in a mainstream store like M&H? Where would it end?

Daniel before he became a pansy.

Genderquaking aside, M&H’s New Boy range was rather normal: just the contemporary fashion in ‘feminine’ clothes, sized and marketed at boys. But very quickly a more radical trend started up. I’m talking of course about Candyboys, whose flagship store it was that Mum and I were strolling past that day in Oxford Street. Even its shopfront was challenging, with its bright pink paint and glittering silver stars. I went over to look, purely out of curiosity… and it turned out to be the most life-changing thing I’ve ever done.

Candyboys was pink on the inside as well as the outside. It isn’t that big – pansy’s a minority style, even more so a couple of years ago – so the effect of all the dresses, tulle, handbags, ribbons and the rest was overwhelming. It was like walking into the imagination of a little girl from the 20th century who was dreaming of being a princess. I could not believe that this really was a shop for boys. I had to grab a catalogue, read the blurb and peer at the models in the photos before I accepted it wasn’t an elaborate wind-up!

There was a pair of boys shopping near me, and they were billing and cooing over the blouses, dresses and skirts and holding items up to themselves. It’s hard to explain how I felt listening to their chatter: I was really touched by their innocent enthusiasm. Instead of stomping between the racks with a sneer on my face, I saw the clothes through those boys’ eyes. And I saw that the clothes were so gorgeous, they blew me away! The pretty colours, and the tactile materials, and the rustly sounds they made when you handled them. The boys seemed so happy, chattering and fussing in their petticoats, that it gave me a kind of heartache. They seemed to live on a completely different planet to myself.

The loveliness of their world swam through my head as I listened to them and ran my hands with longing over the seductive petticoat dresses. I was fascinated and excited. I’d never worn ‘female’ clothing before and would never have dared suggest to Mum that she buy me any, so perhaps it could all have ended there. Luckily for me, she walked over and asked if I wanted to try something on. It was quite a surprise – she just came out with it!

I remember trembling as I picked out a dress and walked hesitantly to the changing room, not really sure what I was doing. Safe behind the curtain, I held the dress to myself and my heart thumped, it was so exciting. It felt so beautiful that I knew the moment I stepped into it, pulled up the zip and pulled my gauzy underskirts straight that from now on, I never wanted to wear anything else. I was too embarrassed to admit it, but Mum was very matter-of-fact, like it was the most normal thing in the world. She suggested that we didn’t buy a dress straight away, because you need to spend quite a lot of money to put a full outfit together – instead she bought me a skirt and petticoat to start me off. I put them on as soon as we were home and loved them so much I wore them all the time around the house, much to my Dad’s consternation.

I had discovered pansy.

This was two years ago. At the beginning I had a lot to learn. I had short hair; I didn’t know what I was doing; I didn’t have a sister or newboy friends. But I was keen to figure out how to wear pansy properly. Suddenly I was joining online communities, peering for hours through catalogues, going to shops... I was desperate to buy more pansy clothes but didn’t for a couple of weeks. When I was ready, I dragged Mum back to Candyboys, so I could try things on in the shop. The day Mum bought me my first dress was the happiest of my life.

Daniel as he dresses now.

I suppose I should comment on the term ‘pansy’. As Boys Today! readers will know, the term ‘pansy’ started as a term of abuse used by trad boys against any boy who liked wearing girls’ clothes, along with ‘sissy’ and plenty of other unkind things. Then the pansy community very quickly adopted it and made it our own, and now we are proud to call ourselves pansies. The best way to describe pansy is that it’s like newboy, but much more ‘girly’ (which we should call ‘boysie’ now). Newboys wear dresses, but pansies wear especially pretty dresses with flounces and lace frills and bright colours. Newboys wear skirts, but pansies wear full skirts with net underskirts. Newboys wear hair ribbons, but pansies wear great big hair ribbons and hairbows, even bonnets! A lot of newboys are very self-conscious and don’t want to get too ‘feminine’; pansy boys however go overboard on all the lipgloss and nail varnish and bracelets and handbags and other pretty things. There’s no strict dividing line, and I’ve seen boys who are basically newboy who mix in a few pansy accessories or have pretty long pigtails. Some pansies get a bit intense about who is or isn’t a pansy, but my own attitude is more live-and-let-live.

I avoid the term ‘janegirl’ which is the male equivalent of a ‘tomboy’. Janegirl is a dated term that has become popular in parts of the media. Like newboy, it just means a boy who dresses and acts like a girl. But newboys are acting and dressing like trad girls, not as girls are now, which makes the idea of ‘a boy who acts like a girl’ confusing. The last thing we need right now is more confusion…

Some pansies begin by wearing newboy and come to pansy later as they explore their new identity. I was drawn to pansy from the outset: I jumped in at the deep end, if you like. It was all so liberating. That will sound strange because dresses have traditionally been worn by the oppressed sex – and boys are sometimes pressurised into wearing dresses even when they don’t want to. But girls have been free in their fashion choices for decades, going boy-style or girl-style as they please. They won this freedom by struggling for their rights from a world that resisted them at every step. OK, the history is totally the opposite for boys. But I think too many boys are trapped by old male stereotypes. They do badly at school because they think it’s uncool to study hard, and they all wear the same boring jeans and jumpers. For boys, being allowed to wear dresses is amazing. Suddenly the macho rubbish – that pressure to act cool and pretend to be tough – is swept away. It’s like stepping into a fresh, lovely world.

In part two Daniel will talk about how to live as a pansy.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

High street fashions

As boys became regarded more and more as inferior to girls, the murmurings for them to be put in dresses turned into a clamour. As the 21st century progressed, high street fashion chains like M&H helped the new rule of trousers for girls, dresses for boys become a commonplace.

The petticoat dress, illustrated here, became the standard, everyday wear for boys. Brands like Tommy went even further with the so-called ‘pansy’ look, with flower prints, big bows, lace frills, and other fussy details.

Some boys, commonly known as ‘trads’ (although there were more derogatory terms going around too), were horrified by this shift in fashion and were deeply jealous of girls. But they had very little power to stop their wardrobes being filled with tights, gloves, skirts and crisp cotton dresses. It was their mothers who decided what they wore, and paid for it, and it was increasingly impossible to find trousers and other such clothes except in girlswear departments.

Other boys immersed themselves in their new frivolous and pretty role with delight. After all, they didn’t believe they were girls’ equals, and the pressure from most of mainstream society was hard to stand up to. In the long term, this was the trend that won out.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Son of Eve

As the 21st century progressed, women became more and more powerful – until by the mid-century they were unquestionably dominant.

One of the implications was that the requirement to be beautiful was passed from women to men. The modern breadwinning woman needed to make no effort to get the man she wanted: on the contrary, it was the men who flocked around her, attracted to her confidence and money. At first, the introduction of lingerie and makeup to men and boys was presented as a levelling of the sexual playing field. But as male power diminished further and further, the beauty industry found itself having to orientate to a strictly male clientele.

One of the remarkable new brands that emerged as a response to the new markets was Son of Eve. The brainchild of entrepeneur Alison Diamond, it sold sexy, ‘feminine’ lingerie exclusively to men. Her reasoning was simple:

“The lingerie industry has to keep up with the times, and the reality is that women refuse to wear this sort of underwear any more. Men, however, are keen to please their wives and girlfriends, and are discovering a passion for the sensuality of these styles and materials. Son of Eve is not creating a trend – it is meeting the real needs and desires of men in the 21st century. Lingerie is no longer feminine. It is the new masculine.” (The Times, November 2039.)

Before the so-called genderquake, the only extant images of men in lingerie tended to be either for comic effect or crossdresser porn. The adverts of Son of Eve therefore caused a sensation. Instead of an awkward, hairy male, consumers saw attractive models who, when appropriately groomed, looked as good in lingerie as any woman ever had. The reality of gender as a social construct had never been so obvious.

Friday, 19 October 2012

An intimate moment

A boy and a dress. Perhaps it’s his dress and he’s looking forward to wearing it. Or perhaps this is the real world, and it belongs to his sister, and he’s sneaked an opportunity to dream.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A brief update

I noticed in passing that one of my pictures has been used by the Swiss blog Tages-Anzeiger. Thank you to them.

They’ve been good enough to give a picture credit, which doesn’t always happen. :(

Just to update people, I’ve been drawing very busily. It hasn’t translated into new posts because I’ve been redrawing old pictures, for example this, this and this. But there will be plenty of new stuff to come.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Jonathan Spranza, c.1860

Young man in evening dress photographed around 1855–1865. I’m pleased with how this has come out.

An alternative version I thought I’d try out.

Both created in Photoshop, using four separate images from the Brady-Handy Collection at the Library of Congress.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The matriarch

You know who’s in charge.

Created in Photoshop from images in the Brady-Handy Collection at the Library of Congress.

Vintage gentlemen

Two gentlemen created in Photoshop from images in the Brady-Handy Collection at the Library of Congress.

From the archives

I’ve discovered the US National Archives flickr stream. And on that stream are a great many Mathew Brady photographs whose use is reported as ‘unrestricted’.

This means I can create art from them. Here is a couple from the Civil War period – created in Photoshop, as always:

Military woman from the American Civil War period:

Photographic portrait of a nineteenth-century gent:

Friday, 7 September 2012

Ms Tietjens and her husband, c.1840

An early Victorian double portrait of a gentlewoman and her husband. Roughly based on a couple of actual portraits, though the gender role reversal is mine, of course. Click image to enlarge.

Close-up in the style of portrait miniatures:


I hope to do much more of this sort of thing.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Female and male fashions, 1839

What women and men were wearing in the old days.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Modern groom

When women became the dominant sex, wedding magazines would never be the same again.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Brave New World

I’ve upgraded an old drawing. It’s now a digital painting.

I thought it would make a good cover for Time magazine:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The second pass

I have recreated an old picture, the imaginatively titled ‘Teenage boy’, originally published in March 2012. The new version was painted in Photoshop using a graphics tablet. It’s my first digital painting and I’m very pleased with it, to the extent that I expect it will become my number one medium. Here it is:

[03/14: since then I’ve replaced nearly all my old pictures with digital paintings!]

My search for an acceptable quality of realism means I am in a constant process of improving my art skills, so I will gradually replace my crap old pictures with new and better renderings, while adding new ones as well. Don’t mourn if these old things disappear. The new ones will always be better.

This will all take a stupendous amount of time and work. But of course, it’s necessary because the alternative is to have nothing. On the internet, you can find thousands of photos of men dressed as women (almost all with fake breasts – so it goes). You can also find thousands of photos of women in shirts and ties, trouser suits, etc. But never both together, except played for laughs. Gender role reversal photos of men dressed ‘as women’ alongside women dressed ‘as men’ and looking like both take this reversal of power for granted? Forget it.

I know, I’ve moaned about this before.

I don’t have the skills or models or circumstances or means to set up photoshoots myself. So thank heavens for art!

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Chevalier d’Eon

Every so often someone does my work for me. This oil portrait by Thomas Stewart depicts the Chevalier d’Eon, one of history’s most famous crossdressers.

It was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in London last month. You can read more about the painting and about d’Eon on the Guardian website.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Unhappy Tommy

BOY: Please Mummy, I don’t want to wear a dress!
MOTHER: Don’t be silly, all the boys are wearing dresses now. Stop being a crybaby and put it on!

Wacom Intuos3 and Photoshop CS5.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Young couple

In the past I’ve always used a mouse to colour my drawings – but I just got a second-hand Wacom tablet! My colouring skills need work but I’m hoping the tablet will help me to continue to improve the quality of my pictures.

Two young people, painted in Photoshop.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Teenage couple

A girl with her boyfriend.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Tony and Molly

Two kids.

[I’ve repainted this since the original post, hence any comment mismatch. Sorry.]

Friday, 25 May 2012

Boy in ringlets

I am getting better, gradually.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Two boys

Two boys dressed up, perhaps for a party. Digital painting.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Man faces woman

The new man face to face with the new woman.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

On gender

(I published this piece in my deviantART journal on 4 July 2011, but never on my blog, so I thought I’d share it here. Readers of Eve’s Rib are well informed on the question of gender, of course, but this was written for a more general audience.)

A few people have asked about the gendered world depicted in my pictures so I thought it would be worth explaining.

It may surprise some readers, but human beings are born without gender. Gender and sex are not the same thing.

Sex is about biology: which chromosomes, reproductive organs etc we end up with. People are normally male or female, though ambiguous conditions also exist.

Gender however is a social construct. It is a set of social conventions that says how males and females ought to behave: what they ought to wear, how they should talk, what they should find interesting. No girl is delivered into the world genetically programmed to want to wear lipstick or chat about shoes. No boy is programmed to like football or be aggressive. Masculinity and femininity are packages of behaviours that are taught to us by intense conditioning from the moment our parents dress us in either pink or blue.

Gendered behaviour is not ‘natural’ or innate and it is not directly connected with biology. It varies over time and between cultures. An obvious example is that the soldiers of ancient Rome (male, of course) wore skirts. These soldiers conquered most of their known world. Yet it is taken for granted by us that men wearing skirts is absurd and embarrassing. Imagine the general response if the US marines went into battle wearing skirts!

The roots of this lie in the division of labour between male and female in prehistoric society (men hunting, women foraging), and the later emergence of male dominance after the agricultural revolution, when men acquired a disproportionate amount of control over the soaring social wealth of human cultures. There is no evidence at all that one sex dominated the other before the agricultural revolution. But the dominance of males became a historical reality with huge consequences for culture – most obviously sexism.

It’s important to understand this power aspect because it explains the course masculinity and femininity took. Masculine behaviours were about being active, assertive, mastering nature, etc. Feminine behaviours were about domesticity, prettiness, and knowing one’s place. It’s only very recently in history that this has been consistently challenged. ‘Even’ today when women are more empowered, the sexes are still sold different clothes, different deodorants, different brands of diet Cola. It is still seen as absurd and embarrassing for a man to wear ‘women’s’ clothes, because our society still thinks that a man degrades himself by adopting ‘feminine’ behaviours – or in other words, that a woman is not a man’s equal.

This is why women, over the last century or so, have been able to adopt trousers and other masculine clothing whereas men have not been able to adopt feminine clothing. By intruding on masculine territory, women are empowering themselves. By shifting onto feminine territory, men however humiliate themselves. Or so the perception goes.

Men who like to wear women’s clothes are therefore also likely, though not always, to be drawn sexually towards certain power relationships. This is why crossdressing and masochism often go together. Many crossdressers associate feminine clothes and behaviours with submissiveness and inferior status (hence the femdom aspect of my pictures, for example). This isn’t because women are naturally submissive to men. It is because we are swept up into a complex web of social conditioning that fills us with often very stupid ideas about gender roles. But though the ideas are ultimately stupid, the feelings, sexuality, etc that they bring about in human beings are real.

My own position is that people should be allowed to adopt whatever gender behaviours make them happy. There should be no social pressure, no prejudice, because gender is a load of old cobblers anyway.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Girls rule school

Even with women now acknowledged as the dominant sex, it was occasionally still necessary for girls to remind boys who’s the boss.

This picture is in the same spirit as Trouble With Girls, but not intended as an illustration to it.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Trouble With Girls #5 (ends)


Limping home, he had run to Gabby’s room, not his own, and cried on the bed for a long time. At least it was the weekend now.
By the morning, a layer of snow had fallen, wiping the view from his window clean. His balls still ached a little.
“I’m off shopping today,” declared his sister at breakfast. “You want to come along, help carry stuff?”
Here we go, he thought. “Yeah, OK.”
They took Mum’s car – Gabby had got her provisional licence the moment she turned 17, and was already an assured driver – and hit the Oaklands shopping centre. They had a merry time filling bags and fooling around in Sainsburys, a gift shop and Waterstones.
Suddenly Gabby halted in front of M&H and smirked as she drew his attention to the window display. Excited by the possibilities of a new market, mainstream shops that once sold skirts and dresses exclusively to girls now displayed boy mannikins in their windows wearing the latest fashions in skirts and dresses. The only girl mannikin in this shop window was wearing trousers, three boys crowding about her in short dresses.
“Meet the future, eh, Marty-mouse?”
“I guess,” he muttered. This was the future all right. He’d seen it, at the gates of Ladywell Grove.
“God, things move fast,” said Gabby, staring at some boys’ occasional wear by the entrance. The dresses were tied at the waist with satin bands and filled out with net petticoats. “Boys’ stuff is getting really… bouffant.”
“No it isn’t,” said Marty. “It’s just that sissy GuyCandy brand.”
She suddenly put a hand to her mouth, and gasped in delight. “Oh my! You know what that means. You can wear sweet bridesmaids’ dresses! It’s too gorgeous for words! Or is that bridesboys? Pageboys? I’ve no idea. Come in with me, Marty-mouse, maybe I’ll buy you a dress.”
He frowned.
“Oh come on, you know I’ve always wanted to get you a nice dress instead of those boring trackies you wear all the time.”
Marty sighed the heaviest sigh heard from any boy in town that day. “Well, I don’t know about that, but there’s one thing you could do.”
Alas, the shame of that shopping trip. Leading his sister to the school suppliers, observing her surprise as he flicked through a railing full of boys’ skirts. The shame as he picked a couple out and took them past the smug trousered woman at the fitting rooms. The shame of standing alone in the cubicle in his underpants, Gabby expectant outside, the skirt waiting for him on the hanger with its pleats in a neat fan. Gabby calling out to ask what was taking so long. The shame of finally stepping into the thing, pulling it to his waist, and buttoning it up. His first time in a skirt. The shame of having to step out into the shop, dressed like a girl – yes, like a girl, dammit – and seeing the patronising satisfaction that Gabby couldn’t quite keep off her face.
To her credit, Gabby didn’t crow. She knew it was hard for him, though she didn’t really know what had caused this sudden change of style. She did however grow impatient as her brother turned, examined himself, sighed, tried on a slightly different skirt, and shied from the final, fatal step of buying. “Come on, Marty! You brought me here, remember? Look, it’s not even ten quid, let’s just get it and if you never wear it then it’s no real loss, huh?”
“I guess I’ll take this one, sis,” he mumbled.
“We’ll take two,” she retorted, taking out her wallet, “for when one’s in the wash. And it’s January, we’ll get you some tights as well. They need to be black ones, right?”
He watched as Gabby paid up and handed him a carrier bag containing his new clothes. His skirts, his tights.
They gathered all their shopping and walked towards the car park. A woman in a trouser suit and tie was sitting on a bench in the shopping precinct, talking curtly into a mobile phone. Two small children were playing happily at her feet. They wore flouncy paisley dresses with rustly white petticoats and puff sleeves, their feet, clad in white tights, slipping neatly into little white shoes. Each child had a ribbon in its hair. They crouched, giggling, flounces heaping up almost to their chins, at a carefully fenced-in bed of flowers.
“Don’t get your dresses dirty, boys,” said the woman. She stood up and took one little gloved hand in each of hers, leading them down the street.


At home Marty pulled on his skirt and tights and wore them for the rest of the day, figuring he’d need to get used to it. He felt such a dork dressed like that while his sister lolled around in jeans. But if this was what modern boys were meant to do, fine, he’d do it. There was no point fighting against the unstoppable tide of history, a.k.a. Emma Lamb. If his Dad had taught him one thing, it was the importance of adjusting to reality: he’d seen the anguish that followed when you didn’t.
Mum saw her son walking around in his skirt and tights and actually beamed. She looked at Gabby as if to say, ‘Did you do this?’ And Gabby shook her head, equally baffled.
On Monday morning he assembled his complete new uniform for the first time. It occurred to him that his shoes were a bit too heavy-looking. Never mind, he would sort it. He looked in the mirror, tugged his skirt down, and sighed. Time to face the world.
He stepped outside feeling rather frightened and began walking down the street. Three girls came chasing loudly up behind him and he swallowed, but they didn’t even glance at him as they romped past. All three of them in trousers, the lucky cows. A couple of boys across the road, Ladywell Grovers, in skirts. He kept watching for more: the more boys he saw in skirts, the less exposed he felt, the more normal it all seemed. Christ, you really noticed how no girls were wearing them these days. The more boys wore them, the less girls wanted to. Through the school gates. Watching for how people reacted, and no one seemed to care. A loud wolf-whistle: Alice Dempsey from his class. “Whoa, Marty, looking good,” she thrilled. “Walk you to registration?”
“Yeah,” he blushed.
“Come on, darling.” And she held out her arm. Gratefully he took it, heart fluttering, feeling exhilarated. Fine, she was patronising him, mocking him a little maybe, but now he felt stronger.
Alice chatted with him on the way to class so he almost forgot what he was wearing. Look how many boys were wearing skirts, dammit, they were for boys now, so how could it be wrong? He was just acting like everyone else.
The real test came in the break when he went to the Fifth Form common room. Marty hadn’t dared set foot in there for several weeks, ever since the quarrel with Emma in the youth club. Today he felt he had nothing to fear. Kerry and Asha were hanging around by a table and there was no choice but to walk past and let them see him. He was almost disappointed when they didn’t react, but, glancing back, he caught them peering at him and catching each other’s eye.
Emma swept through the common room like she owned it, wearing a black winter coat with a fur trim, which contrasted crisply with her white school shirt. She dropped onto one of the sofas and put her foot up on the table. Then she saw him, and she smiled. How different that was to what he was used to! He swam with a beautiful feeling of relief, gratitude and adoration.
“A proper boy at last, Marty? Saves me beating you to a pulp. Oi!” she called to a boy standing by the radio. “Turn it up a bit, squirt.”
They were allowed to have tunes on if the volume level didn’t go over 5. “It’s at 5, Emma,” said the boy apologetically.
“I said turn it up.”
He turned it up.
Marty stood in the middle of the room, wondering what he should do. She patted the sofa beside her. “Well, come and sit next to me, then, my lovely.”

A dream come true! He could hardly believe it. The music was thumping, bodies were swaying and flickering as people came in for break. The girls were loud, striding around, laughing and chatting at the tops of their voices. Some boys drifted to one wall, hanging around, sneaking looks at the girls, staring at Emma. She was beautiful, raven-haired, blue-eyed, with a figure to die for. Marty couldn’t believe it was him who got to sit beside her. Take that, suckers!
“Whoa, Marty!” said Peter Hancock, weaving over to them through the bodies. “I never thought you’d come… like that.”
“He looks smashing, doesn’t he, babe?” said Emma. She put her hand on Marty’s leg, gave it the slightest rub through the pleats of his skirt, and the thrill passed through his entire body. This could not be happening.
‘I Want To Be Her Sweetheart’ by the Sugarboys came on, and a groan rippled through the room – the trad boys hated it, and it was too sissy for the girls. Someone flipped the channel. Emma’s gang commandeered the rest of the sofa. Kerry, Asha, and a couple of other girls spread themselves across the padded upholstery, looking cool in their slim-cut trousers.
The girls talked about their future careers – law, business, engineering – and were confident, articulate and ambitious. If there was a group of young people that would go out into life and kick arse, this was it. Marty couldn’t possibly compete with these magnificent creatures. They gushed at him, grinning at him with big, white-toothed smiles and saying what a pretty thing he was. He tried to look demure, the way one could not help when wearing a skirt amongst girls.
This was the new male role: smiling, nodding, admiring the female. Power wasn’t male any more and there was no way to keep hold of it. And maybe it was because they had him where they wanted him that the girls were attentive and friendly. Normally he would have been stricken with terror surrounded by Emma and her mates, but he felt OK, as if he had finally found his place. These girls were the toughest clique in the school, and suddenly he was accepted by them as part of their orbit. A second-rate member, because he was only a boy, but he felt protected, as if nothing could hurt him now.
“Marty’s going to make someone a lovely househusband, aren’t you, babe?” said Emma.
“Probably,” he sighed. It was true – he hadn’t much else to look forward to when he left school. But he didn’t care.
“Boys shouldn’t worry their pretty heads with work and stuff,” said Kerry complacently.
“And he’s going to chuck out all his trousers and ask his mummy to buy him lots of dresses, aren’t you?” said Emma. “Just like a modern boy. He wants to make himself nice and pretty for the girls. Don’t you, Marty?” She put her hand on his shoulder, and when he didn’t reply straight away, pushed her thumb painfully into his neck.
“Yes, of course,” he winced.
‘Blue Monday’ came on, and the common room became a forest of necks and arms. Kerry and Asha immediately got up to dance. He saw Sunday Abuja there too. Lucy Forrester was actually snogging Mark Bradbury and – yes, Kerry was swaying voluptuously in front of poor gormless Peter, who looked terrified.
“I’d’ve thought he’d be pleased,” Marty said to Emma. “He quite fancies her.”
“Oh, we know. Beware of what you wish for,” said Emma in his ear, “in case you get it. That’s what my grandmother told me.”
“Peter might be taking on more than he can handle,” Marty grinned.
“She’ll rape the poor squirt.” The warmth of her hand on his leg spread through him like a dizzying drug. His cock stiffened under his skirt. Emma’s other hand crept along his shoulders, resting on the back of the sofa. Oh my, he felt safe, and happy.
“Uh…” A teacher’s voice at the door. “Turn that music down, please! It’s getting far too rowdy in here!”
The world was a headmistress who worked on your faults. Not in a mystical way. More how you’d keep tripping over a hidden step, over and over, until you finally understood: watch out for that step! Everything that was wrong with how you fitted into the world, that was a hidden step. Either you suffered on and on from not noticing, or one day, you did notice, and fixed it.
Overjoyed, but a little afraid, he turned to Emma, gazed into her stunning blue eyes. “Gotta go to the bog.”
“Don’t be too long, my pretty.”
He carried his bag low and in front to hide his straining erection. Making his way to the bogs he saw that both of the boys in there were skirt-wearers, exchanging secrets and checking their hair in the mirrors. It was reassuring. He edged past into a cubicle, pulled up his skirt, pulled down his tights, and took hold of his prick.
Emma! His Emma! Her image caused a surge of inexpressible excitement as he rubbed his shaft. Starting to ejaculate eagerly, he shifted back, catching the emission in some loo roll. It was dizzying. He wanted to prolong the pleasure for ever.
He mustn’t be slow. Don’t be too long, she’d said.
Noel was shaking himself off at the urinal. He was wearing his school uniform without the tie. His hair was gelled into spikes.
“Well, ain’t you pretty,” he sneered nastily. “Peter told me about it.” He tugged at Marty’s skirt. “So much for standing up to Emma, eh, you chicken?”
Marty, a little scared, shook him off. “I’m sorry, Noel, I just had enough, mate.” He adjusted himself in his tights.
“What’s up – can’t find your dick? Look at yourself, Welling – a right poofter those tarts’ve made of you.” He raised his voice for the benefit of the two other boys. “Got you running about like a sissy, licking their fannies.”
The other boys gave their pretty bobs a last preen and cleared out.
“You keep going on at me,” said Marty, “but what do you ever do? Always pushing someone else onto the front line ‘cos you haven’t got the bottle to do it. You poser.”
“Shut up, Welling, just shut up. You’ve given up, you have. Given – fucking – up. I should smash your face in.”
Marty wished he’d go away. He walked out into the common room, Noel champing at his heels.
“They may have turned you into a sissy, but they won’t push around the rest of us. We’re boys, bloody BOYS, and we’re in charge, and always will be!”
His voice was shrill but they were in sight of where Emma was sitting, and Marty felt safe. Emma started up.
“Piss off, Walsh,” she ordered. “He’s with me.”
Noel sneered into her face. “Created a little nancy-boy for yourself, then, Emma?”
“Aww, poor Noelsie: a latent sissy if ever I saw one. Mummy won’t buy you a pretty dress, then?”
“Marty was right, you are a bitch.”
Emma put out her hands and Noel caught them and for a moment they assessed each other, fingers entwined. Then Emma pulled him towards her, jerking him off-balance, and in that second her knee snapped up between his legs. Noel howled. Hugging his testicles, he collapsed and writhed in agony on the floor. Everyone in the common room stopped what they were doing and stared.
“Like I said, piss off. I like my little nancy-boy.” She stroked Marty under the chin with affection. She was so much in control that Marty couldn’t help himself: his cock began to stiffen again. How fabulous girls were! How he adored his Emma Lamb!
“He’s just what I like,” she went on. “A prettyboy who’s learnt his place. Girls are the dominant sex now – you understand, darlings?”
And without waiting for a reply, she gave Marty a long, wet kiss.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Trouble With Girls #4


After Biology, French. A class he shared with Kerry. There was a dark patch on Kerry’s school jumper, a damp splotch, starting to dry out. Oh yes, Marty the watermeister! He kept his eye on her but she paid him no attention. Nope, she had no idea. She reached into her bag and surreptitiously checked her phone. Naughty Kerry, using phones in class.
She studied her phone for a second then turned round and stared at him very hard.
Marty didn’t like this and he liked it even less when Kerry fell in behind him after class and hissed in his ear. “Emma Lamb’s looking for you, scrote. She says she wants a word.” She pretended to look thoughtful. “Or was it your bollocks on a plate?”
“I ain’t done nothing,” he muttered, feeling hot on the back of his neck.
“Oh, no. We were standing right under the library windows. And who was library monitor today? And who left very quickly?” He felt her finger jab him in the arm. “After school.”
After last period, Marty raced out of class and headed for the school gates. Emma would be coming for him but if he was quick he could dodge mischief for now. Schoolkids kept getting in the way; they were such a nuisance. He got to the entrance yard and was halfway to the gates when he spotted a small group by the wall. Shit: Emma was there, waiting. They might have seen him already but he didn’t care if they thought he was chicken.
Back, back into the school corridors. The library was no good, there was no member of staff there outside of school hours. Keep to the corridors so you can see anyone coming from a long way off. He could leave the back way, down the path to the estate. Yes, that was best. Slip home to fight another day. Down the stairs, through the big doors, along the path under the library, dodging kids heading home.
Roaming the playground like panthers ready to strike were Kerry and Asha, phones in hand. Shit, shit. He couldn’t get by that way without being seen. They’d come after him, text Emma, and then he might as well be dead. Back, back through the big doors, back into the school corridors.
The school became rather sinister after the pupils had left. Those noisy spaces were already nearly silent, as if a neutron bomb had vaporised all the people. Muffled voices from after-school clubs or detentions echoed from behind classroom doors. There was always the sports field. There wasn’t really a path but loads of kids scrambled over the wall at one place to get home. The shortest route there was by the cafeteria, but he took the longer way, via the gym. He wanted to spin the time out, let his hunters give up. Through the long oblong windows the afternoon had turned to heavy grey. Pigeons huddled on the roof of the Science block, twitching their heads. They had no problems, pigeons, just the same old routine every day. They weren’t afraid of Emma. A fucking easy life, the bastards.
Past the clock where bad kids had to stand when waiting to be seen by the headteacher, past the secretary’s office where form captains fetch the registers, past the long corridor leading to the staffroom.
“Marty, isn’t it?” a girl’s voice said, and he nearly leaped into the air. “Library monitor?” It was big, cheery Sunday Abuja, one of the Fifth Form prefects.
“Yeah, yeah.”
Sunday wore her tie in a fat knot, her legs comfortable in black trousers and spread apart in boredom as she sat on a plastic chair. She was pretty fit. Not as mean as Emma but still, you wouldn’t argue with her.
“What’re you creeping around for? School’s over, kiddo. Go home.”
“Uh, the thing is, I’m worried about –”
Sunday sighed. “Not Emma bloody Lamb? Yes, don’t look so surprised, you simpleton, everyone knows she’s got it in for you. Eh eh, that girl’s out of control.”
Warmth swept from Sunday Abuja’s lovely presence into Marty’s shaking knees, a vision of Sunday the prefect protecting him, standing up to Emma, bashing her, bashing Kerry, bashing Asha, then pulling him to the floor for a victorious snog. Because I always fancied you, Marty, I’m desperate for you.
“Oh my days!” she exclaimed. “Just do as she says and wear skirts, it’s no big deal. Boys belong in skirts anyway. Now go home!”
Thanks a lot. My fucking hero!
Perhaps the school gate would be clear now. Emma wouldn’t waste the whole afternoon hanging around to catch him leaving school. Well, OK, he’d tipped a load of water on her head and humiliated her, but the proudest, toughest girl in school wouldn’t be upset about that, would she?
He dropped the sports field plan and tried again for the main entrance, peering at the school gate. It was fine, no one sitting there. He’d led them a merry dance with his knowledge of the territory. He’d split their forces so Kerry and Asha were on the other side of school. He played a mean tactical game, he’d stamped his mastery on those silly lasses right enough. Walking purposefully, hands in pockets, schoolbag on his shoulder, just another kid going home from school. He chewed a bit of gum he found in his pocket, and here and there penalty-shot a stone, to look cool.
Oh fuck, fuck. He didn’t know why, but a few paces after the gates, tight by the wall where they were not easily seen, stood Emma, Kerry and Asha.
“Here he comes,” said Emma.
His heart broke out into a thump. He could still turn and run but it was somehow as if forces beyond his power were compelling him. If it wasn’t now then it would be tomorrow or the day after. This was the moment, whatever the terms.
The girls weren’t uneasy at all. Fuck you, bitches, Marty thought. Fucking bitches. Emma smoothed her hair. She wore that dark and serene beauty that turned his insides a-quiver. Without her blazer and schoolbag, she might have been a goddess. There was no evidence of the water strike. She stared straight at him. He swallowed in dread.
He found some courage from somewhere. “Fuckin’ leave off me, will you?”
“Don’t speak to your betters that way, smeg dick,” said Emma.
Classic!” said Kerry. “Smeg dick.”
“You going to pay him back, Emma?” said Asha.
“I didn’t do anything,” muttered Marty. Her face said she wasn’t messing around and he was telling himself, what am I doing, this is not the time or the place, I should get out of here.
“Uh, Kerry,” said Emma, “could you call an ambulance? And better call Search and Rescue too, ‘cos this little sod’s going to be hunting for his bollocks for a week.” The girls hooted.
“Fucking squash ‘em, Emma,” Kerry spat. Marty flinched, lowered his bag to crotch height.
“He’s scared,” Emma taunted. “Aww, is the poor boysie scared that the big scary girl’s going to hurt his poor goolies, then?”
“Ah fuck off, you nasty cow!” said a voice: Noel’s voice, from Marty’s mouth.
“Scrap!” yelled Kerry and Asha. “Scrap scrap SCRAP SCRAP SCRAP!”
School scraps were normally great fun. Everyone would race to form a ring, and eventually some teacher would wade in, tossing children aside. Everyone gabbed about it for hours afterwards. But when you were one of the scrappers it wasn’t so funny. There weren’t that many kids left around, but even so, about a dozen seemed to rush up from nowhere and gather round to watch. The fighters sized each other up in front of the gates. Marty had an inch or two over Emma at best, and of course Emma was dead hard. Nobody would put their money on a boy to beat a girl in a fight and when the girl was Emma Lamb, the odds looked even more hopeless. Marty’s entire body was trembling with fear.
“Nothing below the belt or it’s not fair,” he cried.
“What, says you? And who gives a fuck?” Emma lunged forward, slapping at his face. “Bitch!”
He ducked back and flailed out an arm. “Well you’re a… a psychopathic donkey!”
“Shut your…” – Emma punched the side of his head – “fucking mouth!” Fuck. That hurt. As his hand shot up to rub the spot she got him in a headlock. Marty was swung one way, swung the other, but Emma couldn’t quite get him to fall over so she smacked his head with her free hand. Marty roared in frustration and hurt.
“In his fucking balls, Emma!” shouted a girl.
He was slightly stronger and prised her arm away, shoving her off and backing towards the school. He unexpectedly bumped into the wall and came to an abrupt stop. In the delay, Emma seized his school tie, yanked it downwards into a tiny knot, and squared up to him; he flapped at her arm, gangling and ridiculous; taking a deliberate step back, she swung her black leather shoe with uncompromising force into his testicles.
He tried to yell but his throat choked up. It was excruciating, humiliating and utterly defeating. His knees buckled and his hands leapt to grasp his tortured balls.
Emma stood back, shrugging slightly as if this was the feeblest fight she’d ever had. The girls did high-fives.
Shit, he thought. It was horrible. He shrank down against the wall, desperately nursing his balls to make the agony go away.
“Aww,” mocked Emma. “Had enough, have we? Thought you could fight a girl, could you?”
“My nuts,” Marty gasped. There was no way he was letting go of them. He didn’t try to stand up.
“Goodbye, my pretty. See you next week in your cute boysie skirt.”
“I’ve not bleeding lost, you cow, you cheated, it’s a bleeding draw.”
Emma didn’t seem to even notice the ‘cow’. She smiled at Kerry, Asha and the fascinated crowd. “Marty Smeg-Dick Welling calls this a ‘draw’! Well, let’s have round two, shall we? Smash his balls a bit more?”
Oh, shit, it hurt. “No. It’s not fair.” Emma standing up there, sneering at him, that too was agony.
“The superiority of girls isn’t fair,” she remarked. Then in a mock pout: “But I’m afraid it’s real, darling.”
Hands under his armpits. Kerry and Asha helped him to stand up and leaned him the school gate-post. This almost drew tears of gratitude, until they dragged his arms aside, dragging his hands from his balls.
Emma put her arm around his throat, squashing his adam’s apple painfully, and her other hand slid between his legs to where his testicles dangled in the gusset of his trousers, enclosing them in her pretty fingers. Marty panicked when he felt that hand. It was groping into a dark recess of his mind, evoking a primal fear. His throat was as parched as dust. He struggled to free his arms but the girls held on ferociously.
“So I’ll see you next week,” Emma insisted. “In a skirt?”
She tightened her fingers, and he squealed, he couldn’t help it – it was awful, as if his balls were being roasted over a fire. Nothing mattered but to free his boyhood from her grip. He nodded. “Yes – YES!”
Emma released him. It was over now, he thought, wincing in distress. He doubled up against the gate-post, clutching his balls. He felt that he had conceded defeat not only for himself, but for his sex. Sorry, Dad… Emma pulled his hair, forcing him to straighten up. “Look at me.” He obeyed, his legs bent at the knee. Her expression spoke volumes, a sneering assumption of superiority. Her gorgeous face was close to his and her eyes were glittering. Her lips parted slightly. Spellbound, he felt her breath on his face.
“Who rules, bitch?” she whispered.
“Girls! Girls rule!” He could hardly stand with the pain in his testicles, and started to cry.
Emma said, “Bag,” and clicked her fingers. Someone immediately produced a little make-up bag and held it out. Emma opened it and took out a lipstick. Holding Marty’s face firmly with one hand, she slowly, with obvious enjoyment, applied the glistening pink to his lips.
“I’ll see you in school,” she said.

(To be continued...)

Monday, 16 April 2012

Trouble With Girls #3


That week Marty used his turn in the library to pull out books with a fresh interest. He wanted to try and figure a few things out.
They’d discussed in Social Studies how men had worn skirts in lots of cultures and periods of history. Everyone knew about the Romans and kilts and all that. Even so, men had always scorned women’s clothes with a passion, so why were things different now?
The way Marty figured it, it was hardly about the clothes themselves at all. He stared at a boy in a skirt and tights standing at the shelves nearby, his weight on one leg. His skirt formed an A-silhouette, its pleats brushing one thigh. Though Marty was a bit ashamed to think it, tights looked like they’d feel rather nice, and the skirt? It was just some cloth around his middle. It was harmless enough, and that boy probably forgot he was wearing it after a while. It didn’t seem much different to shorts. They had an extra bit of cloth dividing the legs: big deal! So why was Marty so afraid? Why was there so much fuss and agitation about this stuff?
A paragraph in one of the ‘genderquake’ books immediately had him nodding: Yup, that was it. The thing that mattered was power.
Women had had to wear jewels and dresses and makeup and worry about looking beautiful because that was part of putting them in their place. The moment women had started to liberate themselves, they had started wearing shirts and trousers and acting more like men. It flowed from their empowerment. Women were saying, “Take us seriously, we’re not your pretty dolls any more.” But nowadays, when men had started wearing dresses and acting like women, it was the opposite of that. In the media people liked to say it was happening because men and women were equal now so they could wear the same things. What did that mean? It was because men had lost so much power, and status, that it was becoming acceptable for them to adopt behaviours they’d formerly thought degrading. If boys could wear skirts more or less without embarrassment, it meant they had suffered a crushing loss of power in relation to girls. Every time a boy put on a skirt, he was admitting that girls had kicked his ass.
Everyone instinctively knew this. But not everyone thought it out.
After school Marty trudged down the road with his schoolbag over his shoulder, still mulling things over. It wasn’t that women had raised themselves to the level of men and that both sexes now did equally well – no, boys were doing terribly at school, they weren’t going to university, men couldn’t get jobs, and women were starting to dominate everything. Boys were losing, and they were losing more and more badly. If blokes didn’t watch out, they would end up like Emma was boasting: doing housework and living off their wives. Wasn’t that exactly what had finished his Dad? Stuck at home, unable to find work; Mum expecting him to take on the domestic role; Dad thinking he was better than that; the relationship cracking; Mum always snapping; Mum kicking Dad out of their marriage.
Marty crossed the road to cut through the Marshwater estate. The sun had come out, throwing bright light on the puddles. Gyno-something, wasn’t that the word? He had looked it up. Yes: gynocracy. It’s a woman’s world now. We fucking rule. And are fucking up Dad’s and Marty’s life. That was why he had to draw a line.
Footsteps behind him.
“Where d’you think you’re going, squirt?” Emma again, with Kerry and Asha. Jesus, he’d let his guard down. He could outrun them but mustn’t give them the satisfaction of fleeing in panic. Planet Earth shrank to a bubble five paces wide.
“Home,” he said, picking up speed. Draw the line, Marty!
“I told you some time ago, Welling, to come to school in a skirt and you’re still walking about in trousers.”
“Guess so.” Draw the line! What was the Walsh Plan again? Oh yes, beat them all up... Was there a Plan B?
Emma took out her mobile phone, thrust it in his face so intrusively he had to pull away, and snapped a picture of him. “Well you ain’t going home to Mummy yet, you dick.”
Someone seized him, pinning his arm and bundling him off the path. Dark hands, so Kerry and Asha. His schoolbag was ripped out of his hand. No point in shouting, “that’s my bag!” The crucial thing was not to show fear – not to cry. He had to keep his cool. Kerry and Asha were strong girls. He had to stay focused. Suddenly all three girls were around him. Fuck! Watch your balls, for fuck’s sake!
“There’s this joke going round, Welling,” said Emma. She moved forward, inspected him imperiously as he struggled in Kerry and Asha’s grip. She had a cigarette in her hand and drew casually upon it. “Have you heard it? ‘Do you know Marty Welling?’ ‘No, but I trod in some once!’”
“You need to show girls more respect,” shouted Asha in his ear.
“Why aren’t you wearing a fucking skirt, prettyboy?” shouted Kerry.  “Like you’ve been told? Eh?”
“This – scummy – little – bitch –” Emma jabbed his chest with each word – “needs – a – GRUNDY!”
A grundy was when someone yanked hard at the crotch of your trousers and pants, forcing the material up between your legs and squashing your balls. It was a weapon girls liked to use against boys.
Kerry and Asha spun him against the wall and a grundy was exactly what Marty got.
There was nothing he could do – if he prevented them from doing it, they’d probably just kick him in the balls instead, which was worse. It was horrible to feel Emma’s hand searching under his bum cheeks for material to grasp. He sort of rode it out, managing to rise on his tiptoes and push his bottom out so that the force of Emma’s yank went off target. Kerry filmed the whole attack on her mobile phone, zooming in on his straining face. “Stick it down his pants, Kerry!” Asha shouted. “Photograph his dick!” Fortunately Kerry didn’t, miming disgust. He was released, and sank wincing to the pavement, humilated, clutching his groin. It hadn’t quite come off but his balls still hurt like fuck. Perhaps they’d go away.
“Where’s the little shit’s bag?”
Emma grabbed it and strode towards the road. Marty hobbled to his feet and pursued her. Laughing out loud, Emma swung Marty’s bag in a perfectly–timed arc and onto the roof of a passing van.
The van swerved a little but didn’t stop straight away.
“Go on – run!” laughed the girls. “Run and buy a skirt!”
Marty didn’t care what they thought – he sprinted down the road to where the furious driver had come to a stop.


That evening Mum went to bed early because of work and Gabby was out with a boy she had met at college. Quietly he went onto the landing and put his head round Gabby’s bedroom door. Yes, it was empty. He went gingerly in, sat on her bed and turned on the reading lamp, giving the room a soft, warm light. It was decorated from wall to wall with posters, postcards, certificates, photographs. A couple of bras hung on the radiator. Several pairs of shoes lay near his foot. He eased off one trainer and slipped his toe into one of her shoes, then he pushed in the foot. He liked Gabby’s room: in this hideaway, in the comforting half-light, he felt safer. She had always looked out for her little brother. Remember a few years ago when he’d been picked on by Rich Curtis, and Gabby had marched round to his house and given the guy a grundy? Or how she’d looked after him when Mum and Dad were splitting up? What a relief it had been to have a strong girl there protecting him from the out-of-control shit.
Emma, too, should be protecting him from the world’s dangers, not adding to them. Why did they pick on him, anyway? He wasn’t even one of the dinosaurs like Noel Walsh, who sometimes really did seem to hate girls. Why couldn’t they pick on Noel Walsh? It was so unfair. He curled up on Gabby’s bed and softly began to cry. The idea of him physically fighting Emma seemed as improbable as a fairy story. He wished he could ask Gabby to go round to her house and beat her up.
“It would be nice to see a smile on your face for a change,” Gabby commented at breakfast. “You’ve been so miserable lately.”
Marty stirred his tea despondently. “It’s school, I hate it.”
“That’s a shame. The sixth form college is fantastic. I’ve met so many people and the facilities are incredible. What’s wrong with school?”
“I can’t get on with the kids there.”
“Maybe it’s not so surprising, grumpy.” She shuffled through the post, paused, then held one up. “This looks like a letter from Dad. A letter! He’s so last century. You want it?”
Dad didn’t have a computer, so when he had more to say than suited an SMS, he wrote a letter. “’Course I want it. You got one too?”
“Uh huh.” She studied the envelope a while, then dropped it in the kitchen bin. “He can forget trying to wheedle sympathy out of me.”
Marty knew his sister blamed Dad for the breakup. Mum had confided in her a lot, as the oldest, and it made him angry because she only credited one point of view. However, there was no point starting a fight. He opened his letter carefully. “He’s invited us to meet up, if Mum’ll allow it. Saturday week, in the park.”
“He can dream,” said Gabby heatedly. “Mum won’t hear of it.”
“It’s unfair, Gabs…”
“His problem is, he’s a dinosaur. Why should Mum mess up her career over some useless bloke? I know I wouldn’t. When the woman’s working it’s a man’s job to do the housework. But oh no, the Big Man can’t do housework, can’t pull his weight. So – sod him.” She picked up her bag. “That’s the trouble with you men – you can’t handle reality. It’s all angst and ‘oh, I don’t know what I want... it’s such a confusing time…’” She rolled her eyes. “And then what happens to us, the children?”
“Well, yeah, what about me?”
Marty walked out. Throwing himself onto his bed he read the letter slowly, and then read it again.
Like a lot of men, Dad had been let down by the traditional belief that a man’s self-respect came through his work. Married to a woman with a fat salary, too poorly skilled to find work, the natural role left for him was to let his wife earn the money and make the decisions while he kept house. He saw this as a humiliation, and the tensions had wrecked the marriage.
His father’s writing style was stiff – they had no language with which to speak to each other. The platitudes were there as always:
“I hope you’re not one of these lads who never study. I want you to get a decent job.”
“You’re perfectly capable of studying and holding down a good job if you’ll just apply yourself.”
He sounds like a teacher, thought Marty. If they could only meet in person, they’d be at ease right away, like always, but Dad had left town to (unsuccessfully) chase a job and now he was miles away with train tickets at a hundred quid per trip.
“You should go on to college, Martin, like Gabby. It’s getting hard for men to get a job nowadays. I was raised to think I had to earn, to be the breadwinner, and if I hadn’t got that, I’d failed as a man. That old idea of maleness has gone out the window. At my last interview the waiting room was full of these young women, and you know, I can’t compete with them. They’re confident, well-prepared, full of ideas. They make you feel like a child. I don’t want that to happen to you.”
Marty felt increasingly angry. It was no wonder that Gabby had such chances in life: in Mum she had had a role model for success. How could Marty develop the same way when deprived of his father? It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t their fault.
This articulate, affectionate man had fallen victim to circumstances that his son could easily sympathise with. There seemed nothing for Marty to look forward to. He missed his father in a way that Gabby and Mum accepted but didn’t quite understand. A vital part of him had been gouged out, leaving him without purpose. With every new schoolday he would risk Emma’s persecution again and his craving for her made everything even more difficult. When the tears began welling up he let them flow.


He managed to avoid Emma and her gang for a few days. At one point he saw her coming down the school corridor but ducked down a staircase before she saw him. The first safety measure was to keep out of the Fifth Form common room, because she liked to hang around there. The second was to keep to the library, because there was always a member of staff present and that made it harder for her.
At the end of his shift as library monitor on Friday he was finishing up. Some fool had opened a window, and in January too. As he reached up for the rod to close it, he heard familiar voices below and realised with a shiver that it was Emma, her voice loud and clear above the raucous noise from the playground. Poking his head out, he saw her leaning on the wall with a couple of girls. Evil cow, he should drop a book on her head.
A dark idea formed instantly in his mind. Oh, Marty, you evil man! Without pausing to reflect he grabbed his schoolbag from behind the library counter and dashed to the toilet, where he filled his drinks bottle with water from the tap, heart beating, hands quivering with excitement. Back to the library. Please let her still be there. Yes, chatting like before.
He reckoned he needed the third window from the left. Lift the rod and push it out. Nobody looking; pupils all leaving; the teacher out of sight. Lean out of the window, bottle uncapped. Tip up the bottle.
Emma shrieked.
Oh yes! Marty, you legend!
Close the fucking window fast. She’ll never even know where the attack came from. This one is for you, Dad! There you go, Noel, there’s your cowardly wuss in action – one in the eye for the great Emma Lamb. You want to wet me in the toilets? You want to wet me? Watch me wet you – huh, are you wetted, bitch? Not a scary ballbuster now, just a shrieking girl with wet tits. Huh, bitch?
Marty got out of the library fast, his heart singing. Triumph was a dazzling emotion. He raced to Biology and sat down next to Noel Walsh.
“You sorted out Emma yet?” Noel wanted to know.
Marty resented this pressure: it was easy to play the big man when it was someone else’s goolies at risk. “What, punched her lights out? No.”
“Ain’t no time like today.”
“Today, eh?”
“Why not? Are you fucking scared of a girl?”
“Well...” He was enjoying this.
“You’re terrified. Pissing your pants.”
“We don’t need to, mate.” He couldn’t hold back any longer. With a nervous laugh, Marty explained his stunt through the library window.
Noel was impressed. “She doesn’t know it was you?”
“Nah, don’t suppose so.”
“That’s not great. Better if she knew.”
“Noel – who’s bottling it now? Get it – bottling it?”
Noel sniggered and gave him a playful punch on the arm. For the first time he could remember, Marty felt that he and Noel were equals. He even said something cheeky to Ms Baxter the Biology teacher. This was confidence and it was thrilling. At last, this was living!

(To be continued...)