I read this article in Inside Higher Ed that made me feel very proud of my colleagues in academia and then instantly very ashamed of them. The article’s title is “Why I (Usually) Wear a Tie“. This is what Nate Kreuter has to say about the way he dresses for work:
For me, wearing a pressed shirt, sport coat, and tie is a way of projecting respect for my job, and respect for my students. It’s a way of saying to my students and to my colleagues, “I take you seriously, I take my work seriously, and I don’t take either for granted.” . . . In my own field of rhetoric, it’s widely understood that the images we project through our writing, speech, mannerisms, and dress play a critical role in how we and our ideas are received by the people that we work with, the students that we teach, and the community members with whom we interact. I think that junior faculty especially, but all faculty, need to ask themselves, as shallow as it may sometimes seem, “What image am I projecting?”
I strongly believe that, for educators our personality is one of the most important means of production we possess. I educate students not only with the knowledge I have but with everything I am, everything I say, do, wear, etc. I couldn’t agree more with Nate Kreuter’s belief that the image one projects as a college professor is very important.
However, when I finished reading this inspiring article, I scrolled down and read the comments. I’ll save you the trouble of having to leaf through them. here are some of the most egregious responses for your perusal:
Professors “on the soft side” of the house (social sciences and humanities) need to dress up to project an image that they’re in charge. Professors “on the hard side” of the house (sciences and mathematics) don’t have to worry about how they work — they get respect because they clearly KNOW more than their students.
I sincerely hope this is some kind of a clumsy joke. Especially the weird “hard vs soft” part of it.
Ties constrict blood flow to the brain. Someone in an intellectual profession should appreciate the disadvantages of doing that. They are also penis-symbols. Someone in an intellectual profession should appreciate the ludicrousness of wearing such a symbol to impress students and the difficulties it raises in terms of “professionalism”. Further, women don’t wear ties and cannot seem truly professional lacking one. Is that the message you want to communicate? Don’t you find that a tad problematic? Yes, conformity feels good. Shouldn’t an academic be questioning what it means to conform to an anachronistic custom, not embracing it?
First of all, women can wear ties. I have one and I love it. I don’t wear it as often as I’d like to because tying it is an adventure and I keep untying it in a fit of forgetfulness. Besides, the entire screech about conformity is beyond superficial. If anybody feels they are being non-conformist by wearing short shorts to class, they are fools. I thought people get over this teenage rebellion phase by the age they get a job in academia, but apparently it isn’t always the case.
And what’s with these sad attempts at humor?
According to this article the 99% would be a lot better off if the geniuses on Wall Street wore t-shirts and flip flops to work, so that they’d get the disrespect they most surely deserve. Part of that hornswoggling magic is the three thousand dollar suit, right? Surely somebody who looks that good must be a hard working and honest professional, yes?
Here is an example of how any conversation can be derailed completely by bringing in totally unrelated issues. I know that Wall Street is to blame for absolutely everything nowadays, including the weather. But it would be nice to be able to discuss an issue without somebody starting to yell “You, the horrible one-percenter!” to shut down all disagreement.