Ask Jane, Column 12

The Bizarre Desire to Iron

Hi, Jane,

What is it about men who cross-dress? How would you judge them?

I am a cross-dresser. I dress in my wife’s lingerie then do the ironing. She thinks I am a sick man. What do you think?


I think you’re a man who likes to dress up in women’s underwear … I also think you’re great to have around the house on ironing day.

Why does your wife think you’re a sick man, honey, just because you like to iron? I wouldn’t be caught dead doing it myself, but heavens, to each his own.

What is it about men who cross-dress? Well, if that question doesn’t define the word “vague” … Great, I’ll riff on the differing personas I’ve found among cross-dressers. I’m not keen on categorization, but I’m asked by “civilians” regularly (and even by cross-dressers), so here goes, Cross-dressing 101: Varying Personas …

When a man cross-dresses, he “crosses over” into another realm of existence. For reasons that are unknowable, it’s hard-wired into some men to cross-dress. However, the ways men express their female persona differ. As do their erotic desires differ.

Some cross-dressers’ erotic kick comes from the idealization of glamorousness, often using Hollywood icons such as Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and other hyper-glamorized as their models for femaleness. For these CDs, being a woman is about the glamour of long nails, big hair, and a curvy shape – the fun part of being a woman.

Other CDs want the erotic humiliation of what they believe being a woman is all about … housewifing. They get off on being “forced” to perform housework tasks that many would consider demeaning: cleaning floors, washing clothes, scrubbing the toilet, ironing … “traditional” female tasks.

Yet other CDs have a strong need to sissify their experience of being female; they combine elements of being “pretty girls” with a hefty dash of childishness. Mary Jane shoes, short socks, ruffled rumba panties, and petticoats are the wardrobe of choice for sissies. The erotic charge for these CDs comes from being teased about being a pretty girl, being asked to show off her pretty panties, etc.

Some guys like to cross into realistically typical women’s clothing and simply “be” female, but with far less fanfare than the previous examples. They’re aroused by the swish of a nylon slip against their stockinged legs, perhaps, but are happy to sit and watch television or other low-key activities while dressed. These men often want to relate to their partner, if they have one, woman-to-woman for the time they’re dressed.

All of sexuality plays with power and the CD is no exception. The hyper-glamorized Dolly Parton type is in control, just as beautiful women in our society have power (and, hence, control of their sexual encounters) by virtue of their beauty.

The CDs who relax by wearing women’s clothing – as well as those who want to be erotically humiliated or sissified – are taking the submissive role; washing the floors or being a child is a surrender – and a relief – for these men.

So different from the experience of actually being a woman, in which washing floors is in no way surrendering to anything. Women who wash floors do so only and solely because the floor needs washing. But then, we don’t generally fetishize our clothing, either. As I said about your ironing, sweetie: to each his – and her – own.

Judgment? What judgment? It’s tough to judge something that “just is” … and doesn’t hurt a soul .. and offers enormous relief and pleasure to the one who’s compelled to do it. All I care is that my guy not stretch out my angora sweaters.



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