Column: Can you even tie your shoes? 

April 3, 2023

Sometimes I get so bored in my biology lecture, my mind starts to wander and my attention starts to fade, and I catch myself looking around the room for no reason other than to distract myself from my surroundings. I’ll be completely honest, I am usually taking a good gander at the room and thinking about my classmates’ clothing. Sweatpants and hoodies, nothing too exciting, and I’ll give them some grace because it is a Tuesday at nine in the morning. 

I take my survey of coats, hats, and scarves, then bob my head towards the floor to peek at the shoes. This time, I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed before, and of course had to psychoanalyze to the nth degree. Women’s shoes almost always have laces, while mens shoes now almost never have laces. This observation made me sit up in my uncomfortable seat in Lawson, raise an eyebrow, and curl my toes in embarrassment at the fact that I was wearing laceless shoes at that very moment.

I was raised in a stereotypical boy way. Though I was a bit feminine, I was rough and tumble, dirty, and meaner than all get out. My mother, being so modern, yet so old fashioned, had a tendency to baby my brother and I, due to our gender. This was not obvious to me as a child, but as an adult I am able to see even to this day the blatant over-affection for “her two boys.” 


My older brother by five years, Trey, or “Treyboy” was the first boy to arrive after three girls. Treyboy is gentle and kind, and really doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He is a bit of a pushover sometimes, but holds his own quite well. If you were to ask my brother if he thought he was the favorite child of our mothers, he would chuckle and deny it, but the truth of the matter is that he is, and that is because he is the only stereotypical boy. He played every sport in the book, broke things by accident, and was slightly helpless up until adulthood. 

Society has a tendency to baby men. It starts from the moment they come into this world, and doesn’t end until they are in the ground. Old traditions have set us on this path where we cater towards men, of course, but very specifically manly men. This frustrates me because I catch myself falling into these primitive beliefs. Sadly my type is tall, dumb, helpless and manly. There is nothing better than grabbing a man’s hands and feeling a little bit of rough texture from doing hard work, or the way they always look slightly disheveled, but that’s just because they can’t keep up with the conversation.  

It is easy for me to see in my head, a mother in years past stitching together garments for her husbands and sons, and making specific choices that not only live up to fashion standards, but also simplify the whole thing for the sheer fact that it needs to be easier for men. 

You could argue that fashion styles and such dictate how simple a man’s garment is, and I concur. Of course, in recent times, men’s garments consist of jogger sweatpants, jeans, and not much else but perhaps an Under Armour hoodie. Still, men’s garments have always been far less complicated than women’s, in both detail and construction. 

I would love to imagine that the women creating these garments are saving the pretty frills and such for themselves, but, no, most of the time the women gave their spouses the better materials, as he was head of the household and deserved it. I can’t stand that mindset, it’s so outdated. The whole “father eats first” mentality. 

Although I have a soft spot for manly men, there are some traits that usually come along with them that irritate me. Staring around at all the mens shoes in my lecture that are lacking laces, I get caught up thinking about my frustrations with my own gender. Just because some men have laces, doesn’t mean they know what to do with them.

“I’m not judging you,” I said through my partially gritted teeth to a boy as I pulled his size 11 foot to my knee. I felt the embarrassment in his body as he shakingly balanced himself in a position for me to tie his laces, as he had just heartfeltly admitted to not being able to tie his own shoes correctly. At that point, I could overlook just about anything, and most of the time not think anything of it, but this was a real ick. I narrowed my face in discomfort from being snapped back to reality. I asked him why nobody ever taught him, and he could not find an answer. Somehow this boy had gotten through his childhood and teen years without knowing how to tie his own shoes. As long as I knew him, I found myself drawing up his foot in public like a mother, and tying his laces. After so long, I stopped noticing myself and my own embarrassment doing it, but rather other people doing it too.


I still see it, almost daily. If you go to the student center during rush times, you are sure to see some boy standing there a little embarrassed as his girlfriend makes bunny ears on his Nikes. 

Here’s the kicker, they’re adapting. Of course, slip on boots have existed for quite some time, but I don’t know if you have heard of the brand “Hey Dude.” This shoe brand started in 2008 and originally carried only mens shoes. They are made of sustainable materials, they’re comfortable, and the most important aspect about them is that they don’t tie. All you have to do when you own these shoes is slip them on, at most hook your finger in the back to get it around your heel. They sound like a dream for anyone on the go, but they also sound like a good way for a man to get through life without ever having to worry about remembering how to tie his shoes. 

“Men’s clothing” (and I use quotes because can we actually define a piece of clothing by gender?) is always designed in this leisurely manner. The pockets are always deeper, the denim is always sturdier, and somehow there is much better quality. For the crowd that I don’t think would genuinely care about quality clothing, the industry sure puts in a whole lot more effort than they do for any standard women’s garment. Take it from me, who has a fine collection of both genders’ garments, my men’s clothing is always a better quality, and almost every girl knows that too. So many women know better than to buy that overpriced but cheaply made stuff that they call women’s clothing, and to go get their jeans and T-shirts from the mens department. 

Now, I want to address the other men who might be reading this: acknowledge your privilege. 

I want you to remember every time that you pull up your Levi jeans over your butt that those jeans have pockets that are functional, they more than likely will not rip from basic human movements, and they were specifically designed to be easy for you. I want you to look at every piece of clothing you own and inspect it, think about how it evolved to get to where it is today. Do these statements make you feel uncomfortable? Are you too macho to care? Can you even tie your shoes?  


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