Male Image and Your Wife

| Nov 18, 2013
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This article was originally written by a genetic woman married to a crossdresser and published on Sister House. With permission of the author, we include here with some additional comments by Tasi as there is a strong need to understand our wives and SOs and the nature of our relationship with them if our marriages are to survive.

From time to time I’ve heard crossdressers express confusion and frustration over their wives or SOs using the term “male image” when explaining their feelings about crossdressing. “What does that mean?” they ask. “What exactly is ‘male image’?”

Not too long ago I bumped into a passage in a book that reminded me of this question hanging over so many anguished discussions. What is this thing that women all seem to understand as “male image” that leaves genetic males looking puzzled?

men shaving legs-5

Daily Mail- Mike Lawn

“He was slim and appeared to be in good shape, as if he bicycled to keep that way. Without being able to help it, she imagined him shaving his legs. Once she had gone out with a cyclist who did that because he said it cut down the wind friction…. The date had been a very short one. Chessie couldn’t get the image out of her mind of him in the bathtub running a razor over his legs.” Translated from p. 57, Los planes de la novia, by Kasey Michaels.)

Chessie’s current date wasn’t even the one who had told her he shaved his legs, but the image she had of someone similar to him having done it was enough to ruin him in her eyes.

Women internalize things in a way that most men don’t, and all those internalized experiences and impressions have a strong impact on how women feel about any given situation. Something that may seem insignificant or like past history to men is very real to women. Their impressions are more cumulative than men’s. Think about a couple who’s been arguing for much of the day. If bedtime comes and the husband sees his wife in a sexy negligee, the afternoon’s argument is the farthest thing from his mind. Any advance on his part, though, is likely to be met by a look that clearly asks, “What planet are you from?” The woman still acutely feels the distance that was there during the day and so doesn’t feel intimate. Women don’t compartmentalize things as well as men do, so the whole day’s story comes along for the ride.

harlequinbookcoverNow think about what this “whole picture” way of dealing with life can mean for a crossdresser and his wife. Even if the husband is willing to keep his dressing out of sight, little awarenesses are going to creep into the wife’s internal image of him. Women can swear that they’re modern and aren’t attracted to “macho,” but there’s a reason why 55% of paperback books sold are romance novels. Our brains tell us to move on and embrace a changing world, but our hard-wiring makes us weak-kneed in the face of the “all-male” image, the white-knight and fair-maiden tale, if you will. Publicly we eschew it, but privately we still swoon.

Nor is it just romanticism. Both men and women react physically and emotionally to the stimuli of the opposite gender, but there’s a difference in what it is that impacts us. For a man it’s heavily visual. Hot babe at 3 o’clock and the chances are he’s “feeling.”  While women can also enjoy looking at a sexy guy, a pug-ugly one can also make us feel very feminine if he’s strongly masculine in his behavior. For us it’s about how we feel inside. For those old enough to remember Henry Kissinger, did you ever wonder how he managed to surround himself with tall beautiful women? He was short and homely, but he gave off an aura of masculine strength through control and power. His “male image” was fully intact.

Divided CoupleSo what happens when we know that our husband’s assortment of cosmetics is bigger than our own or that he has more dresses than we do? Crossdressers contend that they’re still the same person and they don’t understand why their wives can’t see that. Well, in a way they can see it. Of course it’s still the same face, same body with the same joint recollections and the same love of family, and the important-person-in-my-life love is probably still there. The problem is that the cosmetic bag and dress collection information is firmly entrenched in the “whole image” she has of you, and it may well keep her from experiencing fully the “you man, me woman” feeling that she needs.

Notice I said “may.” Women are adept at accepting all kinds of things or even “settling,” and there are even women for whom, because of their own backgrounds, a man with an openly female side feels safer or more reassuring for her. Every couple is different, but for those whose wife or SO says that her male image of him has changed, she’s absolutely right. The massive collection of tiny impressions and experiences that she carries around inside her and that represents how she sees you now includes information that radically changes the sum. It’s a concept that very difficult for men to understand, but it’s the reality for the women in their lives. We’re whole-package people.

Optometrist2It’s like being at the optometrist’s office when the doctor flips through different lenses and asks which is better. For women, new information changes the lens. When the woman in your life talks about a changed male image, even if she can’t define it, the change is very real and she can feel it. New information has changed the “whole image” she has of you, and that changed image has changed the lens through which she looks at you and the feelings that she brings to the relationship.

Internal images are not something that can be intentionally controlled. Once they’re changed, there’s no going back. If you’re to survive as a couple, a new relationship will have to be forged that incorporates this changed image she has of you. As many of you know, that’s a very difficult task and not even always possible, but that’s a whole different subject for another time.

For now, just know that your wife or SO isn’t “talking crazy” when she refers to your “male image.” She really does have such a thing, and it’s hugely important in how she sees you. If she tells you it’s changed, take her seriously. Your future together may depend on it.

Tasi says, the comments made to the original article support the case that she makes and truthfully, given that crossdressers tend towards the tarty look, it’s no wonder that wives view crossdressing as they do sometimes. We make their case for them. Is there a solution? Perhaps. Learning what femininity is all about from a women’s perspective may help ease the pain of image degraduation, but you need to work very hard so she knows there is a man that stands besides her when needed.

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About the Author ()

Tasi was a transgender, married, lifelong crossdresser. She passed away in late 2018. She’s the founder of the Ladies of the Blue Ridge transgender group in Roanoke VA, a prolific writer, commentator and blogger including fashion articles for Tri-Ess, TG Reporter, Repartee, and Pretty T-Girls magazine. Tasi currently resides in Merida, (Yucatan) Mexico. Her new website, Sister House and her blog, the Fashionable TG Woman are dedicated to fashion and style for the transgendered woman. Tasi’s book, "Top Ten Fashion Mistakes By Crossdressers and How To Fix Them" is available on Amazon or on her site free to subscribers.

Comments (4)

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  1. Graham Graham says:

    Could be – the resemblance is spookily close. I couldn’t imagine “getting down” with a woman who looks like David Cameron …

  2. Graham Graham says:

    And yet, our wives are the same person regardless of whether they’re wearing “feminine” lingerie in the bedroom, or “masculine” dungarees and trainers in the garden. There rarely seems to be an issue with women losing their “female image” in the way that men can seem to so easily lose their “male image”.

    Part of this imbalance is cultural – we’re used to seeing women wearing men’s clothes in the 21st century, but not the other way around. Let’s raise this issue again in 100 years’ time when men will (hopefully) be rather less obsessed with one-upmanship and competition, resulting in a softening of the masculine ideal.

    But of course, given the forum to which this article has been submitted, there’s more to this question – namely the loss of “male image” as a result of crossdressing. From my viewpoint outside the mainstream crossdressing environment, the issue with crossdressing and maleness is an obvious one. Regardless of what women are wearing, they are (in the “everyday” sense) still visibly female; in short, they don’t try to present as something they’re not. On the other hand, when men crossdress, the entire exercise is specifically aimed at hiding their male image to the extreme point where they’re able to pass as real women in public. Is this not the crossdresser’s self-proclaimed Holy Grail? Crossdressers seek to achieve this with the aid of props such as false breasts, wigs, and fake female identities, and as Sugar says, these things are very hard to ignore. Many crossdressers will claim “but it’s not a fake identity … female is part of what I am!” The question which really needs addressing here is how we expect our wives to be able to maintain the 100%-male image of us which they justifiably want, when we spend part of our lives actively trying to deny it to ourselves.

    I know some crossdressers will be angered by this, but I come down on the side of the wives on this argument. If a female partner of mine were unable to accept her femininity, it would be curtains for our future together. As a heterosexual male – were I to be in the market for a relationship – I think I’d want a 100%-woman … not someone who can’t make up her mind, or who flits from one side to the other. I don’t mind dungarees and trainers, but a fake penis – as with fake breasts on a man – is a step too far. I have no doubt that the same logic applies to hetersexual women in the choice of a male life-partner. If male crossdressing were simply about substituting a pair of trousers for a skirt while maintaining a male body-image, things may well be different … but as they are, the only kind of crossdressing is the full-femme variety, and those who indulge in this uniquely-male pursuit seem to want to have their cake and to eat it too. That’s an unfair expectation.

    • angela_g angela_g says:

      It’s interesting to note that there is an article link in TWIT today about a woman in China who is working as a Chairman Mao impersonator. She goes to department stores and other venues and welcomes patrons. They pay her a large sum for doing it and she looks remarkably like the deceased communist leader. The snag in her new career is that her looking like Mao has put her husband off having sex with her. Something about getting down with the former leader of the communist party has made his love grow cold. Could it be her lack of a female image?

  3. Sugar Sugar says:

    Wow, as the spouse of a CD (I found you all here through Dee and the forum she has kindly supplied us confused wives:), this article just said EVERYTHING I feel yet struggle to explain to my husband.

    Thing is, he retains in his head this ‘I’m the same person’ idea and really, even though we do DADT as I’m not very good at compartmentalising this AT ALL, I have witnessed him CD a couple of times and he really is the same person! Yet, exactly as was written here, I don’t see him as my ‘manly man’ anymore. A silly phrase, I know – but given you all love femininity to the point of trying it on yourselves, I think it explains well what we gals wants. We love strength and confidence and brooding looks and throw-us-on-the-sofa moments and never is our prince wearing pantyhose!

    Anyway, I try to see past all this to the sweet man I love, but whenever I do, in slips this image of make up and wigs and those strange forms you wear to look more like us. No matter how masculine my H is behaving, those images just won’t go away and I sadly may never again see him the same way I see other men. This hurts us both, I know. But it is what it is and we’re doing what we can. I’ll admit I do have whiplash whenever I see a strong man in uniform, as my H does a pair of heels, lol.

    Funny this life,isn’t it. Even funnier are the things that happen to us humans along the way. Makes me want to come back a cat 🙂 x