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Men and Furs - A Question

White Fox

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You know I've often wondered about one thing. Back probably 80 years ago Men's furs were very common. If I grasp it right almost entirely raccoon. But young men wore them to university. Middle age wore them to jobs. Wore them even while out trapping. etc. If I am right, I think there were probably many men out there who ONLY wore fur in the winter.


Then very suddenly that all changed. And what got me to thinking of this post was the post by "Furless". That someone told him only gay guys wear fur. How could something like a raccoon coat change from being so popular to disappearing so totally until they began to come back maybe 25 years ago. I just can't believe it was just "Style". Maybe I am wrong. But to me style would be changing from everyone wearing full length traditional type coats to jackets or changing from racoon to raccoon with mink trim or something like that. Not fur for men disappearing to such a depth for 40 or 50 years. And did a few "Lost men" get the idea that furs are for gay people?


Any ideas out there?

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I did a research paper in college about word etymology.


There is a term called "dysphemism" which means the opposite of "euphemism."

If "euphemism" = a polite way to say something, then "dysphemism" means an impolite way to say something.


There is also a phenomenon called the "euphemistic-dysphemistic treadmill."

Words that were once polite become impolite and words that were once impolite become polite. Then the cycle repeats and words change places, again and again, over time.


For example, take the word "suck." (As in, "You suck!") When I was a kid, "suck" was a bad word. I often got punished for saying "suck." Nowadays, people say "suck" on TV and kids say, "You suck," in the schoolyard! "Suck" has gone from a dysphemism (meaning "sucks d*ck") to a euphemism. (meaning "generally bad.") If you look and listen carefully, you are likely to find that, in a few years, the word "suck" starting to become a bad word again. In another ten or twenty years, kids are likely to get punished for saying, "That sucks!"

This is the dysphemistic-euphemistic treadmill in action. Another ten or twenty years further down the road, "suck" will become a good word, yet again, and the cycle will repeat, ad infinitum.


The same thing happened to the word, "fag."

Through the early 1800's "fag" meant "to tire easily." Then, in the late 1800's through the early 1900's, "fag" meant "effeminate, homosexual male." Then, through the middle of the 1900's, up until shortly after WW-II, the word "fag" referred to a cigarette.


When "fag" meant "to tire easily," it was believed that men who had low stamina were effeminate. Thus, effeminate men became "fags." Since many people believed the fallacious generalization of the time; "all effeminate men are homosexual," if you called somebody a "fag" it meant "homosexual."


Next, in the late 1800's cigar smoking was popular with men but tobacconists began marketing smaller, less intense versions of their product, made of shredded tobacco leaves, rolled up in rice paper. These "cigarettes" became popular among affluent women. At the time, cigar smoking was considered to be "masculine" and cigarette smoking was considered to be "feminine." Therefore, men who smoked cigarettes in public were considered to be effeminate and weak. Therefore, they were "fags." Then, during the time between WW-I and WW-II, cigarette smoking became popular among the soldiers because they were smaller and more portable than cigars. Finally, cigarettes were called "fags" as a humorous dysphemism which finally became an accepted euphemism for "cigarette."


Now, ever since the late 1970's, through the 1990's homosexuality started to become more "mainstream" and homosexuals were not so strongly ostracized, the word "fag" became a bad word. Nowadays, if you say the word "fag" in public you'll probably clear the room in about 30 seconds.


(I hope the people understand that I have tried to write this message in a scholarly tone and that they read it as such.)


I know this was a long and drawn-out explanation but I hope it will get people thinking about how words and concepts in society can change from "good" to "bad" then cycle back and forth between "good" and "bad," ad infinitum.


We could begin thinking about when fur began to be worn, who whore fur and why. Then we could think about what social-economic forces caused the reasons and beliefs about fur wearing to change until we get to the beliefs we have today.

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I am old enough to have witnessed a few cases of the "euphemistic-dysphemistic treadmill" Worker so eloquently described. And I know a few people who generally think "only gay guys wear fur".


But, I also know from first-hand experience that a lot of women really like the look of a long haired fur (coyote, timber wolf, etc) on a man. And although I wear shorter haired parkas now (my coyote parka wore out and had to be retired), I still get the occasional compliment from women. Although less frequently than when I wore the coyote parka.


Back to White Fox's original question; I think that part of the change was due to fashion trends and a trend to much more conservative "less flashy" clothing for men that I believe occurred around the 1930's. If I recall correctly, the fashion trend for men started to change in the 1970's, but flipped back to ultra-conservative by the late 1980's.

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This is a response to the beginning of fur wearing. And ever thing I say here is my humble thoughts on the beginning of wearing fur.


A very long time ago like 20-25 thousand years most likely before Homo sapiens developed. People were looking for something to cover them to keep warm and dry. There was no cloth around as this was long before the loom. The only thing they had was the skins of the animals they killed for food. So the first human garments were the fur pelts of food animals used to keep them warm and dry and possibly used to keep the groin covered. They may have shaved the fur off pelts making leather, and then cut the leather into strips to be used as thread to make improved garments from the pelts. All this was done with stone tools. Of course none of this has been found as the old garments were dust long before the dig started around the ancient sites.




p.s.Please remember this is pure speculation on my part.

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I love this thread. I wanted to peek my head in while I'm working on an extensive new project.




Have we considered the Great Depression -- and the folks who were still rich *during* the depression, who did not want to look "inappropriately flashy" (consider the post-WW1 raccoon coat craze) but still bought women's furs -- as a factor? If I suddenly found myself out of work in '29 skidoo, the Raccoon coat probably would have been among the first sacrifice to put soup on the table. But there were thousands of Ivy Leaguers who didn't feel a pinch when the stock market crashed. In the winter of 1930, I'm sure it could have been quite awkward for young Princeton students to be zipping back to campus on Route 1 in their roadsters swathed in their enormous fur coats...right past the breadlines and families living in pickup trucks. And the "legacy" of 19th century grandparents who remembered the necessity of massive furs-for-warmth faded amid the advent of safer home heating systems. Over time, it's not hard to see how men's furs seemed like decadent reminders of exuberance gone wrong.


The film industry, one of the most conspicuous places to see furs worn by non-aristocrats during the depression, was the Department Of Escapism. According to history, film until the mid-30s was quite 'risque', to use a term from the era. But the prohibition-era (first alcohol, then a certain herb...), prudish "temperance" leagues took their toll in Hollywood. Before too long, the women's fashions in movies of the time (and the accompanying '50s postwar "return to femininity") definitely brought the fur garment back into lockstep with more conservative mores: "guys, decorate your woman with furs and jewels to show your success!".


Once WWII ended, plenty of advertisers and filmmakers were eager to bring back the "boom boom" times. There was money to be made. Fashion responded. Suddenly the big 1920s furs appeared again in the mid-1950s, when relatively affluent kids who missed the 20s decided to flaunt 'em because they could.


Athletes and hip-hop stars embraced fur in the 70s and 80s -- and the rest is history.




More later.



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Good post by WF


Other issue to consider is:


1. What limited type / structure of furs are available for men. Until fur is more mainstream for women (its happening) fur for men will be limited. I'm sure that for most of our Denziens who are not in the deep wilds of Alaska, wearing fur in slightly warmer weather is not a thermoregulation measure, its fashion. As such, those garments / accessories need to look masculine and be appropriate.

A full length fox in Australia is not often a necessity, but if it was acceptable from a fashion perspective then more of us would be seen in one.


2. What furs / garments are for males? As we have mentioned recently, most furs are for women. Personally a full length mink complete with epaulets doesn't work for me. I think more subtle options, such as a reversed mink coat / jacket, mink scarf, perhaps understated, seems to be more my choice. As Kostas seems to be doing other things with fur, his ideas do work for me. If a fur coat is essentially designed for women, it will attach the 'stigma' of gay due more to presumption. If however designs adopt a more subtle approach, it should gain more acceptance.



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Interesting topic and a good read...


The other morning I went for a walk in the park in my Coyote Parka along the river trail (its just a grass trail along the river thats been cleared of snow) anyways, a male jogger was running on the road parallel to the trail I was walking but the road is about 100 feet away... he stared at me the whole time I was walking... I really don't know why......


1) Is it the appeal of the look of the fur??

2) I had the hood up... was he thinking woman wearing fur?

3) Was he thinking "gay guy" wearing fur??


Who knows... but he sure was staring....

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I think I may have walked that exact same trail two or three times even though I live a couple of thousand Km away... Though never in winter.


We never know with these "looks" people give. Yep, I've had that happen too. Not often but have had it happen.


Many of those times, people have actually talked to me and I have found that they were actually loving the fur though just totally startled by the fact that tthey are seeing a man in a fur coat that they would love to own. And yes, there's been an odd time that I had someone do that. Just stare. Without comments etc. We never know why.


There is a sort of "Gay" idea out there with a very few guys. I firmly believe that it is becoming less and less frequent but there are still a few folks who have it. But the best way is to just realize that they are cold and very lacking in manners. And you are warm as toast, and enjoying the softest experience of your life!



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Personally, I think runners and joggers are a bit weird. For one thing, they generally never consider the stress they are putting on their joints. Also walking, as WinnipegFur was doing, is almost as good a form of exercise and much kinder to the joints.


It could be that because runners and joggers dress lighter so as to not overheat while running/jogging, he might have thought WinnipegFur looked overdressed. Or possibly he had never seen a coyote parka before.


As has been previously stated, when someone fails to make a comment in addition to their look, you have no idea exactly what they are thinking. Although the staring described above would indicate the sight of WinnipegFur in his parka did make quite an impression on the jogger.

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Hey AK, I resemble that remark! I am a runner! In fact, I've run a couple of ultramarathons. For those of you who don't know what ultramarathons are, they are a race at any distance greater than a marathon (26.2 miles). Thre are 50 km (~30 mi), 50 miles, double marathons, and of course the "BIG DADDY" 100 mile races. I thought these guys were nuts too, but as a friend of mine used to say about the Western States 100 (The Boston Marathons of ultras): "It's only a day out of your life." I finished my first 50 miler in 7:43, while the second I did was technically a double marathon (52.4 mi). I did that race in 8:00:30. Yeah JUST missed breaking 8 hours. DAMN!


I got accepted into the Western States 100; however, the race director for the Western States 100 wouldn't let me start the race because I have epilepsy. LONG STORY! But it really took the wind out of my sails. Started doing triathlons. Everyone should run at least one marahon in their life. You can see what you are made of. My PR for the marathon is 2:50 (in a lab, on a treadmill) while my PR on the road is 2:52. I don't think I have any of those left in me... Yeah I just had meniscus surgery. Can't wait to start running again!


Well along the lines of the topic, I wore my fur to school last Friday (I think I'll call it "Fur Friday"...have I heard this before?). At any rate I got several stares as I approached the building where I teach. When I walked in the room the students went crazy. I heard "Oh my God", "Is that mink?"...you get the idea. Overall it went well. I actually saw one of my students over the weekend when I was buying shoes on Saturday. When I said I would see her next week, she said "Monday". I asked if I got her attention on Friday. Her response was "You mean your jacket?" "Yes" I replied. She said "It's FANTASTIC!"


More later.


Remember, "Runners do it longer" HA!



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