Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Off-Topic: Men's Fashion: The Tie

Today I read a fascinating article on the BBC's website. At the G8 summit currently taking place in Ireland none of the world's leaders are wearing ties. This is a matter of great interest to me. When I was at school I had to wear a tie as part of my school uniform. In my late teens and early 20's I commonly wore a tie because I thought it made me look smart. When I moved to Germany I worked in an office where only the bosses wore ties, so I discarded my tie to fit in. I still wore a tie at the weekend, but shortly after my marriage there was a turning point: my wife threw away all my flamboyant English ties and bought me dull German ties to replace them. That took away my pleasure in wearing ties, so I only put on a tie if I really had to.

This started me thinking. What purpose do ties serve? A jacket keeps me warm, shoes protect my feet, but what does a tie do? Nothing. So why do men wear them? After only a little thought the answer was obvious: the tie is a symbol of male supremacy. It's a phallic symbol with which men tell women that they have something women don't. Later, in the 1990's, ties became fashionable for women, but this just proves my point. In our liberated age misguided women think that equality is achieved by becoming like men. A woman can't have a penis, but she can put on a tie.

The importance of the tie is also shown in an old German tradition, the Weiberfastnacht, which takes place on the Thursday before the Christian festival of Lent. Literally translated it means "women's fasting night", but the name is deceptive, because it has nothing to do with Christianity. It's traditionally a day in which women take charge. In central Germany women storm the council houses and take charge of the towns, passing new laws which, unfortunately, expire at midnight. In southern Germany men are expected to obey their wives on this day. But the most significant tradition on this day is that women cut off men's ties. I was fascinated when I saw this the first time; one of the secretaries in my company cut off a boss's tie and pinned it on the wall as a trophy. The other bosses quickly removed their ties to protect themselves. The symbolic male emasculation was unmistakeable.

To me it was so thrilling that over the next few years I repeatedly set myself up as a target. Although I never usually wore a tie to work, on Weiberfastnacht I dressed smart and put on a tie when I took the train to work. Older women ignored me, but every year schoolgirls were pointing at me and whispering. Some years nobody would find the courage, but most years they would approach me, always in a group, and the ringleader, scissors in hand, would snip off my symbol of male supremacy.

Another unnecessary fashion accessory is the hat, though it could be argued that it does have a purpose, hiding a man's baldness or taking the attention away from older women's grey hair. The turning point for the hat as a male accessory was President Kennedy. He was the first American president who didn't wear a hat, which started the hat-less fashion trend. I'm hoping that the casual look of today's politicians will herald the death of the tie.


  1. I read this post over and over and I dont understand it right. Are you saying you were playing with schoolgirls on the bus? That doesnt seem right. How old were you?

    1. Obviously you didn't read my post that carefully. I didn't say it was on the bus, it was on the train, but in the city centre I continued my journey in a tram. Some years the snipping took place on the train, some years on the tram, some years not at all. I started when I was 24, I continued until I was 35, maybe a bit older. Technically I wasn't playing with them, they were playing with me.

    2. Train or bus isnt the issue here and you know it. How old were the girls?

    3. I can't really say, it's not like I got to know them, and it was different girls over the years. At a guess I'd say they were 16-ish, 15 to 18. For me it wasn't about the age. At the time of day when I caught the train there were also older women on their way to work. If a 50-year-old woman had attacked me with a pair of scissors it would have been fine. But it was only the younger girls who were playful enough to take advantage of me.

    4. I'm still trying to get my head around it. When you were 35 you were playing with 15 year old girls on the train. Arent there laws against that stuff?

    5. I think you're seeing things wrong. What I did wasn't illegal. If I thought I'd done something wrong I wouldn't be telling everyone about it on the Internet. What happened wasn't done in secret. What happened was in plain sight of other train passengers, many of whom were older. Usually the reaction was that other passengers just smirked when they saw it. On one occasion I even received words of sympathy from a lady sitting opposite, for which I thanked her, keeping up my pretence of being an unwilling victim.

      You also have to ask yourself, why were the girls carrying scissors on their way to school? They were already on the prowl, looking for victims. What sort of victims? In Germany there are no school uniforms, so it wasn't classmates. They were hoping that they could attack a teacher who had forgotten what day it was. By wearing a tie -- usually a cheap tie I'd bought the day before -- I was giving them an additional victim, practice for their day at school.

      This must be difficult for you to understand as someone who isn't German. This is a facet of German culture, which I embraced fully while living in Germany.

    6. I talked to my friend about this and she says youre a dirty old man who rationalizes everything to get a sexual kick out of playing with young girls. It's not illegal but it's very creepy. I would cut off more than your tie!!!

    7. I'm glad you said that. Without realising it, you've got down to the core of the matter. You can't really cut off a man's penis, you would be arrested. But maybe you want to. Maybe it's a boss who underpays you. Maybe it's a teacher who gives you bad grades. Maybe it's a creepy looking man ogling you on the train. So you go up to him, wave your scissors threateningly at him, then cut off the phallic symbol that he's flaunting in your face. What better way to show that you're in control, JT?

      So maybe some men get off on it. So what? Should they be spared? It just makes the snipping easier. Some men resist doggedly. One year a secretary approached my boss to cut off his tie, and he complained, saying it was his best tie and he needed it for a meeting. She was kind. She told him to take it off immediately, otherwise she would cut it off. Which he did. Even without the snipping she had shown that she was in charge.

      It's a shame that it's only one day a year, and only in Germany. The tie is a tasteless display of male supremacy that should be eliminated worldwide.

    8. Shit! I hate to lose an argument! You are right. I started out angry at you, now I understand the tie cutting ritual. Next time we meet wear a tie.

    9. Wow, I didn't expect that I could convince you. I thought we'd have to agree to disagree. But what do you mean by "next time we meet"? We haven't met yet, apart from chatting online. I don't even know where you live, except that it's on the A34. That narrows it down to a few thousand addresses.


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