Ann Althouse snarkily quotes Robin Givan of NPR on Mark Zuckerberg’s choice of attire for testifying before Congress.
This was sort of a grudging suit and tie. The tie wasn’t really knotted very well. It kind of hung loosely from his neck.
“His shirt looked like it was a bit too big. The suit kind of looked like, OK, here’s the most basic suit I can find…. and that’s not to say that the suit wasn’t expensive. It simply wasn’t tailored…. This was a moment when this 33-year-old sort of disruptor really had to come face to face with the fact that he was no longer disrupting. He was in a position in which he had to fix things. And the suit really just underscored very visually that [Zuckerberg] was crossing from being an outsider into now being an insider…. He has, one, used fashion as a way to distinguish himself and to send a message about what it is that he believes he’s doing and where his company is situated in the broader cultural context. But I also think it matters because one of the reasons these hearings are in fact televised is because they are political theater. Part of theater is the costuming, and that helps us understand who the players are, what their goals are and what the messaging is.”
Then, in characteristic Althouse fashion, herself delivers the coup de grace:
I agree that it’s theater. But:
1. All clothing is theater (the RuPaul adage is “We’re all born naked the rest is drag”), and…
2. We need to ask what theater he provided, and I disagree that the bad suit and tie showed that he had crossed over to insiderdom. It would have been perfectly easy for the billionaire Zuckerberg to call in people to dress him in a perfectly fitting suit, a suit that would read to the theater audience as saying that he had arrived in the halls of power ready to assume what he acknowledges are the serious responsibilities that have arisen around him. By wearing a visibly bad suit, he sent the message that he is still the disruptive kid. The authorities got him into this suit, and he chose to look like the kid whose mom dressed him to go a funeral or whatever. He’s the guy who did what he had to and adopted the outward trimmings, but only and always with the look of intended to get back into his T-shirt and jeans.
Left coast billionaires wear hoodies and short pants as a badge of honor. Their ability to not wear a suit-and-tie, in their minds, proves that they’ve really made it, escaping the conventional servitude of the adult business world.
I blame my own generation.
When my graduating class arrived at Yale, you were required to wear a jacket-and-tie to dining hall meals. Yalies customarily consequently went around every day in sportcoats. Rebellious free spirits might remove their neckties, and fold them and put them in their pocket between meals.
Well. along came my own Yale class. It was very early in the semester that this troublemaker or that would show up for breakfast in pajamas sport coat & tie, which was soon inevitably followed by swimsuit jacket-and-tie, and finally nudity jacket-and-tie.
It really did not take very long before the Administration caved. After which… la Deluge.
There are geezers today, running around in t shirts and short pants, who still take pride in overturning the jacket-and-tie rule in Yale Dining Halls.
It is not surprising that Robin Givan believes Mark Zuckerberg or any man gives a shit about what he wears. Fashion is her business and she sees everything through that filter. While some men do in fact “care” that their tie is knotted perfectly or that their suit is tailored most do not and more than do not care, really don;t give a fig at all. When I worked I wore a suit to work. The day I retired I gave away all my suits, ties and dress shirts to Goodwill. Now it’s Jeans and a sweatshirt and I’m happy with that. Most men judge other men by what they do or do not do and not by their clothes or well knotted ties.
Most women do care how they look in a dress or other clothing, they care about fashion and their hair, etc. They care about how other women dress, mostly in a negative way, but they do notice. Then they struggle with; should they be judged by their looks or by other factors. I suspect that Ms Givan does indeed dress to express her mood or seriousness of the event but simply cannot comprehend that men, generally, do not.
While the coat and tie rule was a pain, predictably after it was removed we had to endure eating with people clad in ratty T-shirts that hadn’t been washed in weeks.
Yale will now proudly defend your right to wear any sort of non-conforming garment to dinner. They will just not allow you to say things that do not conform with liberal group think.
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