Tie Tyranny and Senseless Shoes

Ready for the Senate floor

A strip of cloth.

Really? That’s what matters? Yes, according to some right-wing politicians.

I can’t remember the last time I wore a tie. I have two or three stuffed somewhere in my wardrobe (the one that doesn’t lead to Narnia). I’ve carried these strips of cloth with my possessions through three different countries, just in case I needed one. I have not needed one.

Let’s be honest, no one ever needs a necktie. Not like one needs shoes to avoid injury. Not even like one needs trousers to protect one’s skin from cold chairs, rough sofas, and prying eyes.

No, ties are part of fashion, that incredibly odd social reality. I am on record warning against the oversized pressure of fashion on our lives. Ties are conformity to fashion, and a larger conformity to social convention.

At some point in history, it became fashionable for men to dangle a strip of cloth from their necks. The length and width of the cloth has varied according to fashion, but the ritual developed that said that a man is not well dressed unless they are dangling a strip of cloth from their necks. Men most conform to this ritual, or not receive recognition as being “proper.”

Rituals are difficult to question. There is a a price to pay when one does question what one “should” do. Ties are silly. They serve no purpose other than to display conformity. It’s a mild form of tyranny in which Senator John Fetterman, like other men, are judged not on their character, not on their actions, but on their conformity to an arbitrary dress code.

Silly, but Not As Silly As . . . 

Men who don’t wear ties when they are supposed to are met with disapproval, but nowhere near what women are met with who don’t dress as they are supposed to.

Men have silly strips of cloth; women have to deal with a greater obstacle.

Two “walk on girls” walking off


Really? That’s what matters? Yes, women are supposed to wear them. If they don’t they receive disapproval from society.

A term of derision for when women don’t conform to the ritual of wearing heels is “sensible shoes,” meaning flat shoes that are functional. Sensible shoes support the woman wearing them rather than supporting the men watching the woman.

If comfortable, practical shoes are sensible shoes, the high heels are senseless shoes. Like ties, heels serve no purpose other than to show conformity. We are told that high heels make a woman sexy, though I don’t see it. But even if it is true that women should wear heels to look sexy, then that’s sexual objectification.

Making women wear senseless shoes is classic objectification. At least men’s silly strip of cloth doesn’t hinder men’s movements, so once again the disparity of silliness that favors men over women is seen in social dress codes.

Setting sexism aside for the moment, why should we judge someone on the clothes they wear? If certain clothes are necessary for a job, like, for example, hard hats or hip waders, that’s understandable and necessary for the well-being of the working person and their effectiveness on the job.

But ties or high heels does not make a person more effective at their job or provide them with more workplace safety. They are, again, simply there to enforce conformity. And if you reply with, “but a man wearing a tie makes them look more respectable,” then you are, with all due respect, uncritically complying to social norms. Are you really refusing to recognize someone as a respectable person if they don’t wear a tie or high heels?

A strip of cloth does not make someone more respectable. Adding a suit and a designer watch doesn’t make it any better. Assess people by their character and actions. No, don’t follow fashion.




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