Thursday, May 1, 2014

Gender Role Reversal - Progress

As most of you know, I'm a huge fan of gender role reversal worlds - specifically, how masculinity might evolve in the future.  I've done projects and stories detailing my vision multiple times, but I never seem to get enough.  I know that there are probably people out there who don't get into that sort of thing, so I say to you folks - just look at the pretty pictures!  Some of the modifications I made for this series were really good, so I hope you all enjoy at least that part.

Anyway, I also used a slightly different layout for this one.  Instead of doing self-contained captioned pictures, I decided to separate the pictures and text.  Part of it was just my being lazy (framing these pictures is a pain sometimes), but part of it is that I wanted to do something different.  I'm reasonably happy with how it turned out, too.  So there's that.

Hope you all like it!

Progress - A Gender Role-Reversed Future


For centuries, our concept of gender roles remained static, unchanging even in the face of unprecedented progress in nearly every other area of society.  Nowhere was this more apparent than our notion of the ideal man.  Tall and strong, it was hardwired into our minds that he was the alpha, the leader, our protector and provider.

It was a leftover from the early days of civilization, when the entire world was dangerous.  We needed his protection.  We needed his strength.  That was life, for better or worse.

But as our world became more civilized, that necessity faded.  Nevertheless, our perception of men didn't change.  We still wanted him to adhere to a standard that was unreasonable, unnecessary, and outdated.

A civilized society can not progress until it examines its baser instincts, and discards those that are deemed useless.  So it was with the masculine ideal.

In hindsight, it had been brewing for quite some time - at least a few decades.  By 2014, masculinity had slowly been infiltrated by traditionally feminine ideas and practices.  Hair removal, cosmetics, artificial tanning, lotions, and a mountain of hair products had been waging a war on traditional masculinity.  And they were winning.

A Modern Man - Circa 2014
But the battle was far from over.  There still remained quite a few men who clung to traditional masculinity.  They wore boxers.  They had hairy chests.  They were in charge - or at least they thought they were.

Times were changing, though.  Anyone could see that.

A Male Traditionalist - Circa 2014
Never was the fading era of the alpha male more apparent than in the world of film.  Only a few decades before, nearly every other theatrical release was populated by ultra-mach action heroes spouting one-liners.  They were big.  They were strong.  Their muscles bulged, and they always got the girl.  It was macho wish fulfillment at its finest.

But by 2014, even that had all but faded.  The action heroes weren't big or strong.  They were smart.  They were cunning.  They didn't need to solve their problems with their fists - they could use technology.  Oh, there was still violence - that's an inevitable part of human nature.  But that violence didn't depend on the strength of a man's muscles, but rather his ability to out-think his opponent.

There were men in metal suits.  There were men who relied on quickness and cunning, surprise and tactical advantage.  Even the ones who did use their muscles were the result of scientific experimentation.  Or they were aliens.  It was as if the world had finally acknowledged that such things were unnatural, that we needn't try to live up to them.


By 2021, men had begun to wholeheartedly embrace traditionally feminine roles, grooming habits, and, in some cases, wardrobes.  And it's not hard to see why.  The macho man ideal is at least as unattainable as the female images promoted by fashion magazines.  Quite simply, men began to see that trying to attain the unattainable is a silly, pointless pursuit.

More and more, men began to lay claim to the secondary breadwinner role.  Some experts attribute this to the fact that over the preceding decades, male college attendance (and subsequently, graduation) had decreased considerably while females were graduating at a record pace.  Thus, many women were paid better than their significant others, and often, the male's job was deemed superfluous.  And so, the idea of the trophy husband began to take hold.

These men were just what the name implies - objectified men whose sole purpose was to show the world how successful his wife was.  It was a sign of power, of influence.  The men traded their good looks for security.  It wasn't a new arrangement - women had filled that role for years.

A Modern Man - Circa 2021
It wasn't surprising then, that looks became quite a bit more important for men.  Even for men who held positions of power (personal or professional), the landscape had changed to a degree that it became important for them to package themselves in such a way as to be attractive to women.

Soon, it was quite unheard of for a man to have body hair, and many men started using traditionally feminine cosmetics (lotions, skin softeners, etc.). 

Men's Undergarments Began to Change in 2021

And then there was the clothing change.  Until then, most male clothing had been chosen based on comfort or convenience.  How it made them look was a secondary concern.  As male roles began to change, though, so too did their clothing.

As with any major societal change, though, the alterations in the male wardrobe were incremental. 
Slightly tighter.  Slightly more revealing.  Slightly sexier.  Boxers became boxer briefs.  Jeans became skinny jeans.  Even the cut of tee-shirts changed (capped sleeves became popular).


A series of small changes, over time, amounted to a very, very different world.  Such was the case with the evolution of man.  Along with the aforementioned progress, the next five years brought a sea change in male fashion.  Nowhere was this more evident than when looking at the changing face of male underwear.

Common Male Undergarment - Circa 2025

Lingerie, until then, was a strictly feminine construct.  However, with men occupying an increasingly submissive and dependent role, it became far more important for them to present an attractive image - especially in the bedroom.  Women wanted their men wrapped in colorfully playful undergarments, and those men replied in kind.

Thus was male lingerie born.  At first, it wasn't all that different from traditional male briefs.  The shape and fit were similar; however, the colors and purpose were not.  Pastels, pinks, and patterns were no longer confined to the realm of feminine attire.  Lace even made an appearance from time to time.

In short, men had become softer, prettier, and their wives and girlfriends wanted them in clothes that matched that state. 


Men continued along that trajectory, and by 2029, most men thought nothing of wearing bikini cut panties.  Certainly, there were holdouts; a significant number of men refused to leave their boxers behind.  Their numbers, however, were dwindling.  So too was the public's perception of men who were slow to adopt the increasingly popular trends in male fashion, grooming, and culture.

Smaller and more revealing was the rule by 2029
By that point, women outnumbered men in nearly facet of leadership.  From businesses to government, women were in control.  Years of  male complacency had given the world to women, and they weren't afraid to make that world a better place.

Some people attribute it to female compassion.  Others think it was a natural evolution of society.  Still others think that men had brought heightened levels of aggression to world politics, thus resulting in war.  Whatever the case, it's an undeniable fact that as women gained power, the levels of violence in the world dropped considerably.  Armed conflict decreased.  Every year, crime came in at an all-time low.  In short, the world was better off with women in charge.


For thousands of years, society agreed that the ideal male body was tall, proud, and muscular.  As previously mentioned, that perception was left over from a time when physical prowess mattered.  The fact that men had always been in control merely served to perpetuate that perception.  The person in charge wants to be bigger and stronger than his subordinates.  And he wants his mate to need him, physically and mentally.  That's why, traditionally, men were supposed to be big and strong while women were supposed to be soft and dependent.  

As the women began to dominate the world, though, so too did their preferences.  Powerful women didn't want a man who towered over them.  They didn't want a man with bulging muscles any more than they wanted one with a hairy body.  

By 2036, that desire came to a head, changing the face of the masculine ideal.  From advertising to magazines to movies, the world told men that they needed to be soft.  They needed to be pretty.  Thin was the rule.  Bulging muscles were seen as a fringe subset of masculine identity.

The Ideal Male Body - Circa 2031
Extreme diets, surgery, and exercise programs served to give men the bodies they wanted, but they could only take a man so far.  He wanted more.  And science was prepared to give it to him.  Never has a field advanced so quickly as genetic manipulation did to meet the need created by the changing masculine ideal.  


Over the course of the next few years, the image of the perfect man continued to change.  Not only did men idolize the skinny, soft fashion models they saw on commercials and in magazines, but they also began to adopt other traditionally feminine characteristics (such as longer hair styles). 

Masculine Ideal - Circa 2039
It should also be noted that in conjunction with changes in our perceptions of how a man should look were also psychological changes.  Because of their increasingly more submissive role, most men adopted a less aggressive attitude.  Nowhere was this more apparent than in the bedroom, where different methods of sexual intercourse were quickly becoming more commonplace.

Certainly, vaginal intercourse was still quite normal, but increasingly, men found themselves participating in extended foreplay, and becoming more sexually adventurous.  Many barriers, like the social stigma of anal penetration (via sex toys), were torn down.  The idea that a man and a woman could have sex without the man's penis being the focal point became more and more popular.

Male Work Attire - Circa 2039
Men's outerwear began to catch up as well, and men began to eschew traditional suits in favor of the more stylish fashions popularized by women in the late 90s and early 2000s.  Ties and loose-fitting suits were quickly becoming things of the past, while handbags, low-cut blouses, and fitted pants took their places.


It's not completely clear when it happened.  As with all trends, it wasn't a sudden change; rather, it was gradual.  However, by 2047, the short-suit had become quite popular. 

Male Work Attire - Circa 2047

Worn with a blouse, jacket, and (usually) hosiery, it was a way men could show off their long, shapely legs while maintaining the dignity and professionalism that was expected in the workplace.  


By 2052, men were faced with a conundrum.  Genetic engineering technology had advanced to the point that science could give them the bodies they had come to idolize.  Perfection wasn't only attainable by those lucky few pretty boys who became actors and fashion models.  It was in everyone's reach; they need only reach out and take it.  Or at least, that was the pitch.

Of course, we now know that the genetics companies exaggerated their abilities.  Certainly, under perfect circumstances (i.e., the process occurring before puberty), they could ensure that a man never developed traditionally masculine characteristics (increased musculature, dense, coarse body hair, skeletal structure, etc.), but in adult men, their influence was limited.  They would come closer to their goal, but they could never reach it (except on rare occasions).  

With those benefits, however, came a caveat.  If men underwent the genetic modification process, his potential offspring would also be affected.  So he wasn't merely making a choice for himself; he was deciding the future of his gender.  

Still, the process became very, very popular, and nearly thirty percent of men in the United States underwent the procedure.  But that doesn't tell the whole story; it was incredibly popular with the younger crowd.  Half of all men under forty were modified, and almost seventy percent of men under twenty-five chose to be changed.  Thus, the future of masculinity was forever altered.

Male Work Attire - Circa 2052

Meanwhile, masculine clothing continued to change, mostly via the introduction of bold colors and fun, flirty accents. 


Over time, increasingly more men succumbed to the constant barrage of media pressures, and underwent the genetic modification procedure.  In fact, many men who refused the procedure were perceived as "living in the past" or "refusing progress," and were ostracized.  Outright discrimination was uncommon, but the results spoke for themselves.  Many of these men (especially members of the younger generation) were unable to find employment at all, much less desirable jobs with good pay.

Because of that fact (anecdotal evidence suggested that the problem was much worse than it was), the vast majority of parents chose to give their children the tools they needed to fit in and succeed in an ever-changing world.  Though parents who chose to administer genetic treatments to their children weren't abnormal, they still weren't in the majority.

Male Lingerie - Circa 2058

The masculine ideal continued to evolve, dictating that men take steps to acquire the figure society told them they should strive for.  Wider hips, rounder buttocks, and narrower waist and shoulders were the goal.

Male Work Attire - Circa 2058
Of course, the male wardrobe also continued to evolve.  Midriff-baring tops, bolder colors and prints, and accessories (such as necklaces, bracelets, and earrings) became popular.


By 2076, men had truly supplanted women as the fairer sex.  By that point, most children were being born to genetically modified parents.  Most teenagers (almost eighty percent) had undergone genetic treatments before puberty.  It truly was a marvel.  Humanity had succeeded in changing itself, down to the very core.

It says a lot about mankind, however, that it wasn't disease that prompted our obsession with genetic engineering - it was our superficial desire to mold ourselves into something more attractive. 

Male Lingerie -2072

The years had further established gender roles, as well.  With the majority of women becoming the primary breadwinners (and holding that position for decades), men had inevitably taken on the role of the caregiver.  They raised the children, and they kept order in the home.

One side effect of their adoption of that role, however, was that they were expected to feed their infant children.  Bottles and formula were, of course, widely used, but over the years, there had been an increasingly vocal number of fathers who purported that breast milk was far healthier (something science had long since proven).  They took it a step further, though, and claimed that a father could just as easily breast feed a child as a mother might.  And so, a slew of drugs and genetic alterations hit the market to give them that ability.  The result was that it wasn't terribly uncommon to see men with breasts, albeit small ones.


Humanity has always respected devotion to children.  The idea that a parent would do anything for their child has always been the subject of admiration.  So it's not altogether surprising that overtime, men with breasts were seen as more attractive than their flat-chested counterparts.  They chose to change their bodies for the good of their potential children, after all.  What could be more admirable than that?
It wasn't long before the vast majority of men opted for the breast augmentation modification. 

Masculine Ideal - Circa 2081
And with that came the need for support garments, such as bras.  However, in the late 2070s, masculine fashion began to further evolve.  For years, the primary purpose of male lingerie had been to excite potential partners.  Lacy, revealing garments were the rule.  But by 2081, those sexy garments had been largely replaced by more functional attire.

It was as if men had finally shed the need to overcompensate; as a whole, they finally had the self-confidence to eschew the pretty packaging, and focus on what was underneath.

Male Lingerie - Circa 2081

With that change came a more sophisticated look for outerwear.  Elegance became far more popular than the flirtatious wardrobes of years past.  Skirts and dresses came into style as well, further accentuating the new masculine identity.

Male Work Attire - Circa 2081

It is also important to note, though, that the downward trend in male education and employment began to level out, and by 2081, some experts were predicting a slight upward trend by the turn of the century.


Over the next decade, masculinity changed even further.  In our society, whether men or women are in charge, bigger always seems to be better.  We always want more, whether it be money, sex, or power.  So it was with the male body.

Men weren't content with the small, serviceable breasts which had evolved for purely practical reasons.  No - they wanted more.  They wanted them bigger.  And so, they pushed the boundaries of genetic modification, and got exactly what they wanted.

Masculine Ideal - Circa 2094

It's important to note, though, that genetic engineering, even in the modern age, has its limits.  Any characteristic has a range; where it ends up is based on the entirety of the genetic makeup (as well as various external factors).  In short, we can't simply say that every man should have D-Cup breasts.  No - some men will never have that, no matter how perfect the modification.   Even though the ideal has changed, people will always be unique - our genetic code sees to that.  We can tweak it.  We can alter it.  But we can't completely change it.  To do so would cause it to unravel.

Male Lingerie - 2094
As men have evolved, we've seen that the male wardrobe has changed as well.  It's a combination of utilitarian and cosmetic, sexy and practical.  A happy medium, if you will.

Over the last century, the face of our world has changed.  Men and women are completely, irrevocably different than their historical counterparts.  The world is at relative peace.  Crime is at an all-time low, disease and famine have been largely eradicated.  We are free to truly realize our potential.  The future is uncertain, but one thing is absolutely undeniable - we will continue to change, to evolve, to adapt.  It's in our very nature.