Monday, June 11, 2012

Dress Codes and Gender Equity

GbsOrly Lobel posted this at PrawfsBlawg; I'm cross-posting it here with her permission:

The Spectacle Sickened Me -- in this letter we find a historical perspective on dress codes, their purpose, and gender equality. As presented here, "In July of 1905, after attending a performance of Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, renowned playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw wrote a wonderful letter of complaint to The Times. His grievance didn't concern the opera itself, but rather an extravagantly dressed lady seated in his line of sight."
 
A taste of the letter:

Evening dress is cheap, simple, durable, prevents rivalry and extravagance on the part of male leaders of fashion, annihilates class distinctions and gives men who are poor and doubtful of their social position (that is, the great majority of men) a sense of security and satisfaction that no clothes of their own choosing could confer, besides saving a whole sex the trouble of considering what they should wear on state occasions. The objections to it are as dust in the balance in the eyes of the ordinary Briton. These objections are that it is colourless; that it involves a whitening process that makes the shirt troublesome, slightly uncomfortable, and seriously unclean; that it acts as a passport for undesirable persons; that it fails to guarantee sobriety, cleanliness, and order on the part of the wearer; and that it reduces to a formula a very vital human habit which should be the subject of constant experiment and active private enterprise. All such objections are thoroughly un-English...But I submit that what is sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose. Every argument that applies to the regulation of the man's dress applies equally to the regulation of the woman's.


rb

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