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Perspective; ‘White Famous,’ Chris Rock and Tyler Perry weigh in on black men donning dresses for comedy.

Donning Of Dress

The donning of a dress as an article of clothing for comedy is a personal decision.  If you are professional and the act can help to enhance your craft, then that is up to the individual. Your skin colour should not matter.  If you prefer to wear a dress instead of dressing up as most men prefer to do then you may wish to check with a psychologist to ensure you are normal in accordance with societal norms.  It could just be a fashion statement, full stop.


Some women I know seem to fancy wearing men’s clothing and are from all appearances quite normal.  That is to say there is no doubt in their mind as to their sexuality. In short they have sex with men only and are mothers, well adjusted socially and have great careers.

Dr. Karen Carpenter

A sex therapist who runs a very successful programme on radio in Jamaica which is also listened to internationally admitted recently that,”I buy men’s shoes for myself and frequent the male sections of department stores.” She was monitored by Vision’s SIC.  speaking on her radio show “Love And Sex” aired on 90.3 FM.  Dr. Carpenter is married and is a mother.

Cross Dressing

The practice of “cross dressing” is common among certain individuals who seem to prefer what can be described as an alternate lifestyle like being gay or bi-sexual. To each his or her own. This is not a judgment call.  Actors like Tyler Perry could not be classified as cross dressers. For Perry donning a dress is merely an act to enhance his repertoire as an outstanding screen craftsman.

Drag Queens

Then there are those men commonly referred to as “drag queens”.who practice dressing like a female. There are anecdotal accounts of men “picking up” someone say at a bar believing same to be a female, then to their surprise the pick up turns out to be a male disguised as a female.


Dressing like the opposite sex or wearing say some form of make up to look like the opposite sex has been a long practiced art form. Whether as part of a comedy act or donning a dress to look like a female.  This art form expression for me is neither here nor there. It could stand you apart by portraying you as being versatile.  In the final analysis it boils down to how comfortable you are with yourself and your perception of yourself as a male.


Designers are cashing in on a trend by women in particular who relish wearing men’s clothing.  The new concept called “Unisex” seem to be invading the garment industry.  A friend named Victor (not his real name) told me while doing research for this piece that he had difficulty distinguishing if his brief was not a panty and a shirt he wanted was not a woman’s blouse.  It was his knowledge of where the button was placed that helped him to distinguish the difference. For men it is button hole to the left and button sewn on the right. The opposite for females pertains.  In the trade it is said to be left over right for men, and visa versa for females say blouses that have buttons that lap over say at the front.


As a member of a censor panel I recalled viewing a film in which there was a scene with a man kissing another man … lips to lips.  We were conflicted as to whether we should ban same.  It was not easy arriving at our decision.  Should we have viewed it as artistic expression and not see it as promoting a certain lifestyle?  What would be your decision?  If my memory serves me well, I think we recommended that they cut that scene out. There was the avenue of appeal open to the theatre company. The final decision should the theatre firm appeal would be out of our hands.

Public Morals

In my perspective such a decision is difficult to arrive at.  Do you install yourself as a guardian of public morals.?  In doing so, is it okay to ban freedom of artistic thought or expression. The stage or theatre is a special case. Nudity is another one of those touchy subjects.

Posing Nude

When in Canada I posed for artists who paid models to so do. I repeatedly refused to pose naked. I did lose much needed cash by taking this stance. The artists see nudity,  as displaying the human body in its purest form (nudity).  The ancient Greeks were famous for their fascination with nudity.  Art works from masters like Picasso often depicted naked scenes. Was this pornography? Today, such apparent obsession with nudity could be deemed as illegal. Many are being prosecuted for phonography worldwide.  How social norms change from era to era is amazing.

Nudity for many is appreciated,  as an art form.

It is my further perspective that
social norms will decide if donning a dress is merely an act for the screen.  Will this practice, like fashion become the new normal.?

This is our perspective. What is yours? Do let us know your views. Feel free to disagree.

Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a poet, satirist and social activist who is Senior International Correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper Canada.

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