There appears to be a mostly-unspoken dichotomy regarding the recent trend of fedora-wearing: that of the men who wear and love them, and that of the women who avoid men who wear them. It’s not the most recent style of headwear for either men or women, nor is it by any means universally considered likable or stylish. Yet for the past few years, it’s been a persistently-worn article of clothing, and one that has taken severe beatings from feminists and other women fed up with the men who insist on wearing them–men who either deny the stigma or are unaware of it.
The stigma, popularized by blogs such as Fedoras of OKC and the now-defunct You Shouldn’t Wear That Fedora, is simple: the fedora has, for many, come to symbolize “Nice Guys”–men (often Reddit users and/or gamers and/or self-proclaimed “nerds”) who insist that they are “nice guys” for not overtly making their romantic or sexual intentions clear, while shaming women for not being interested in them (a la “nice guys finish last”) and bemoaning the dreaded “Friendzone,” in which a woman denies or ignores his advances and chooses instead to just be platonic with said “nice guy.” Another, more vitriolic (and possibly more truthful) definition of the Friendzone is provided by my fellow Feminspire writer Alisse Desrosiers:
“The Friend Zone is a bullshit, misogynistic, make-believe land Nice Guys have come up with to demonize women for not wanting to date them. They use it as an excuse to ignore the fact that there are Actual Reasons behind their decision to not pursue a relationship or have sex with this guy. You know, like not being physically attracted to them. Or not being able to connect with them. Or seeing through their crap and realizing that the only reason these guys are even friends with them in the first place is so they can get laid.”
Basically, “nice guys” suck. We all know this. It’s not just feminists who think so–everyone from Randall Munroe (the man behind the popular webcomic xkcd) to BuzzFeed to Cracked agrees that “nice guys” are the worst. Ditto for the Friendzone, which is synonymous with the “nice guy syndrome.” So what does that have to do with fedoras? Isn’t it, like, just a hat?
Not exactly. Beyond all the blogs and articles making fun of and criticizing the “nicer” fedora-wearers, there remain the correlations between men who wear fedoras, the misogyny of Reddit, geek and “troll” cultures (trigger warning for the last three links for rape, misogyny, and transmisogyny), and the overwhelming absurdity and sexism of the “nice guy.” One needn’t even Google “fedoras and nice guys” to become aware of how intertwined the two are–all a woman has to do is sit at a bar and wait for the first fedora’d man who approaches her to attempt to engage her in some sad attempt at banter about how “there are so many jerks in this bar” and “you look like you could use a really good man in your life” (seriously, these are direct quotes). I can only speak for myself and my friends, who have been steadily learning how to take care of ourselves and each others in bars since our 21st birthdays, but it’s a defense mechanism to avoid the gaze of men wearing fedoras in bars (and on the street, and on online dating sites, and basically everywhere on the Internet, including feminist “safe spaces”) because more likely than not, those same men are going to be the ones bothering, annoying, or harassing us if we give them the chance. Often, they don’t even need to be given the chance–these fedora’d “nice guy”s don’t respect women nearly as much as they claim they do, and definitely don’t respect their disinterest or their consent (or lack thereof).
Of course, every person wearing a fedora is not a “nice guy”–it remains a popular style, and has been seen on the heads of stars and nobodies alike. Women wear them, too. And while I personally find the trend of wearing fedoras with casual wear heinous and far too reminiscent of when I was a Jason Mraz fan, I respect anyone’s decision to wear whatever they choose, because self-expression is an important part of my life and I believe that everyone has a right to that. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m going to date someone who is so clearly out-of-touch with these sorts of perceptions–to me, it’d be tantamount to dating a guy with a neckbeard, which, for those who aren’t aware, are similarly nerdy gamer Reddit-types who are similarly sexist and completely unaware of what women want and what feminism actually is. In fact, neckbeards and fedoras often coincide.
Neckbeards aside–I’m not here to tell anyone not to wear a fedora. Style decisions are up to the person whose body is being adorned, and as someone who has struggled all my life with what I should and shouldn’t wear so I won’t look “fat” or “slutty” or any other stupid ass label that keeps women from dressing how they want to, I’m not in the business of being the style police. I am, however, in the business of telling men that unless their fedora is accompanied by a three-piece suit, they’re likely to be judged as a brony-MRA-redditor and therefore not score. That’s just a fact.
Written by Noor Al-Sibai