Thursday, March 29, 2012

Manly Thor's Day Special: Wear a hoodie?

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - - that's all." 
Before I begin, two caveats:
  1. Geraldo is a jerk.
  2. I have no opinion on the Trayvon Martin shooting because I don't (as of this date) know enough to have opinion yet (and neither do you by the way).
That said, the most basic bit of advice about how dress if you are a young man is this: don't dress the way anti-social losers dress. Anti-social losers wear hoodies; they especially wear hoodies up over their heads. Wear a hoodie and people are going to make assumptions about you and the problem is not them, it's you!

By the way: all young men get treated with distrust. It happened to me and I was the most complete prep of my generation. But even though I was a white guy with neatly cut, short hair a jacket and tie, I would get treated with suspicion when in stores back in my late teens and early twenties. If I hung around in public spaces too long, the police would come up and ask me what I was doing.

(To this day, by the way, I've gotten a hard time every time I've crossed the border and forgotten to take my sunglasses off before speaking to the border guard. And who can blame them: if you look like your hiding something, people will be suspicious.)

I've told this story before but back in the 1980s I met a skinhead at a concert at my college and he was hurt that other people were avoiding him. I said, as gently as I could, that college students tended to be wary of skinheads because of their racist image. His come back was to point proudly a one of the many buttons he was wearing. It read "Skinheads against racism". As if that changed anything.

It's like saying, "When I say "red" I mean "green". Why can't you people get it?"

Now take a minute and imagine the following:
  • You meet a guy wearing a white sheet over his head and he tells you that he's not a Klan member but that he is a member of an anti-racism group that wears sheets over their heads.
  • Or how about you meet a guy who wears armbands with Swastikas on them but insists he does so as a protest against antisemitism.
Are those two examples too loaded for you? How about this one, you meet a guy in a complete clown get up and he tells you he can't understand why people won't come to his lectures on ethics.

Clothing like words, does not mean whatever I want it to. Clothing comes with pre-established meanings. Show up at a trendy dance club wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches, grey flannels and a regimental tie and no one will want to dance with you.

Hoodies come with per-established meaning—self-proclaimed thugs wear them. Wearing a hoodie is like carrying a sign that says, "I've joined the thug club!"