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.