Ties. Those things that developed from the cravat. If an article in The Guardian is to be believed, ties have a veritable sub-set of meanings to them. According to Professor Claire Robinson, ties are, in essence, a throwback to the codpiece. Yes, the codpiece. That fashion accessory of the 16th century which grew from a flap of fabric attached to the front of whatever passed for trousers in those days, until they resembled the 16th century equivalent of a neon arrow pointing at a man’s tender bits. Ties are the descendants of codpieces, apparently.
Henry VIII even went so far as to have one attached to a suit of armour ... a codpiece that is, not a tie.Maybe the idea was to scare people in battle, maybe it was just to make going for a pee a little easier with less chance of rust-damage, I don’t know. Others, too, sought some way of compensating for the fact that electricity and neon had not been invented yet, as can be seen by this bloke on the verge of putting his dog’s eye out:
Anyway, back to the present. Codpieces no longer occupy the top of the fashion charts the way they once did. But, according to Professor Robinson, the modern necktie echoes the codpiece. In an article published by The Guardian, the prof’ sets her stall out with a resounding thud:
“The phallic necktie is an outdated symbol of white male rule in New Zealand’s parliament”
Crikey. How many targets can you hope to hit with a single tie? Robinson’s article uses the humble tie as a springboard to highlight deficiencies in New Zealand’s parliament. Fine, she’s entitled to her opinion, but I find I have to take issue with some of the arguments she uses. She mentions that New Zealand’s present parliament is the most diverse and inclusive to date, with white male MPs now a minority in a parliament which consists of 48% women, 11% LGBTQπ2, 21% Maori, 8,3% Pacific, and 7% Asian New Zealand members. Now, I wouldn’t for a minute profess myself capable of working any of that out, but surely, in this wonderful, woke world of ours, there’s got to be a bit of movement between the first two groups, isn’t there?
Be that as it may, Robinson picks up the abominable necktie and runs with it ... down the rabbit hole. From stating that the necktie:
“... is one of the most politically charged items of body adornment,”
she goes on to explain how:
“The necktie ... is arrow shaped and directs the eye of an onlooker down towards a man’s groin.”
No. I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that. Although I accept that my survey group was restricted in size (I was the only participant), the results came back exactly as I would have predicted them: never once, not once in my life, have I glanced at a tie and found my eyes drawn incontrovertibly to the wearer’s dangly bits. It just hasn’t happened, ever. At most, I might have commented on the tie, or pointed out that the knot was so wide as to remind everyone of a British professional footballer ready for a night at the local disco, but that’s it.
I repeat, not once have I found my gaze drawn inexorably to the groin of the man wearing the tie.
Before there’s time to gasp relief at not being the sort of pervert whose brain impels them to follow the line of a tie to some bloke’s knackers or to follow the implied upward direction of someone’s socks to the same, inevitable destination, the Prof’s off again.
Were it not enough that ties are, in essence, neon signs telling people that they can “get it here”, we now learn that there is even worse lurking under the surface of what we’ve just found out is a pulsing, screaming, throbbing advert for penises. The tie, was born of the cravat. Fine, but no ... it’s not fine, it’s not fine at all. In fact, forget fine, it could barely be worse!
“... the mark of a fashionable man in the 18th century ...”
means, according to Robinson, that the tie is:
“... a sign of a man’s social status and class in Victorian England.”
Yes. maybe. But this is 2021. This is not the 18th century any longer. This is the 21st century, and things have changed substantially since the 18th century. That, however, doesn’t seem to have registered with Prof’ Robinson:
“Today it remains one of the enduring symbols of white male supremacy, silently serving to maintain white male values and standards as the norm.”
Bloody hell. What?!
It appears that Prof’ Robinson has not noticed that not only is she drawing attention to bollocks, she’s also talking bollocks.
The Guardian article which veers off into the subjugation of the world’s peoples by white men in codpieces, cravats, and ties, incidentally concerns the censure of the Mãori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi for wearing a traditional Mãori greenstone in place of a tie:
But, Prof’ Robinson herself undermines her own arguments when she states, as I’ve already noted, that this New Zealand parliament is the most diverse ever. Surely, that must mean that all the ties in the world, with all the attention that automatically means for the crown jewels of white men, have had their day, and that now things have moved on, mustn’t it?
If white males are now in a minority, if women, both natural and created, and a whole host of other groups are now leading the charge in New Zealand’s parliament, then what does it matter if the speaker of the house has been backed by the leader of the House in his decision to retain the tie as part of the parliamentary dress standard? As the following photos amply demonstrate, parliamentarians in New Zealand aren’t all required to subject themselves to the male genital enhancement tool of preferred male office neckwear.
This is a storm in a teacup at best. Robinson seems to be flogging a dead horse, nothing more. Taking issue with the idea (false, as testified to by the photos) that the “dress standard should stand for all genders, cultures, ethnicities and identities,” Robinson sees this as “... painfully reminiscent of the time when male politicians proclaimed they were capable of representing the interests of “all” voters; a claim we now know to be patently incorrect.”
With her axe to grind about white men in codpieces, or the derivatives thereof, Robinson is convinced that male parliamentarians are the problem. The fact that even the tie-wearing speaker of the House fed an MP’s baby during a parliamentary debate seems not to matter.
Robinson’s arguments are forced. Having told us that New Zealand’s parliament is the most inclusive around, we’re expected to believe that the ties, visible around the necks of the (minority) men in parliament, are further evidence of a conspiracy which reaches from the 16th century to the 21st, paying no mind to changes in society.
That idea is fully as daft as the idea that a piece of fabric fastened around the neck is a subjugating force to ensure white, male domination of the known world.