To wear the trousers: to be in charge, to be the one making the decisions…

Is this sexist, or at best chauvinist? Probably both. Apparently the phrase originates from the convention that men always used to wear trousers, whereas women always used to wear skirts or dresses, and the trouser-wearing man made the decisions. These days you’ll still hear variations on: ‘Yeah, Paul does talk a lot but it’s wife you need to talk to. She wears the trousers in that relationship.’

I assumed, wrongly as I’m sure you’re thinking, that the phrase originated in the fact that the male adult wore trousers and the male child wore shorts, so it was the senior person who wore the responsibility-laden garments. The parents are in charge, and supposedly one parent in a two-parent family is more in charge than the other.

How far are we from this scenario: ‘Yeah, it looks like his wife is in charge but it’s Paul who wears the skirt in that relationship.’

I know, there’s 3 ways to think about that conundrum: the sexism, the sartorial aspect and my ability to be in charge of anything…

 

 

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