On the IWF home page, we’re inviting our college-age readers–and that includes Inky readers–to take back their campuses (as student members of the IWF) from the tenured-radical profs who turn their classes into indoctrination sessions and dominate academic thinking with their tired Marxist ideologies. Sensible students of the world, arise!
And one of the things you can do is snicker–behind their backs for the sake of politeness, of course–at the silly way most of your liberal profs dress when they show up in class. The Birkenstocks, the grimy turtlenecks, the wierd hats, the scroungy, rawhide-bound ponytails. Why do academics make laughingstocks of themselves? Because, unlike people who have real jobs and thus have to dress nicely in order to fit in at work, academics have the freedom to dress in order to make political statements: that leather is murder, that it’s sexist to look pretty, or that the Sixties were a better time. And believe me, as a college teacher myself, I’ve seen some doozies in the dress of my fellow profs.
Along these lines, I highly recommend this diatribe by Regina Barreca in the Common Review. Barreca, a prof herself, scolds her fellow academics:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that an academic, even one given a clothing allowance, will dress like a schlemiel….
“Wouldn’t you think that we, as professors and scholars, could do better? Our women look like circus ponies, wearing feathers, tassels, and suits designed by the folks who make clothes for drum majorettes. If a senior academic woman should wear to the annual [Modern Language Association] meeting a skirt made entirely out of men’s shirt collars, for example, she would be considered a radical dresser as well as a feminist goddess. Whereas a normal adult woman wearing such an outfit would be regarded as just one frame short of a Looney Tune. Our men look like inmates only recently released from federal penitentiaries, forced to wear clothing thirty years out of style. They wear sweaters knit for them by the girlfriends they had during the Carter administration. These items, never flattering, now fit them around the middle like tea cozies. They have been known to wear clogs. They wear, for pity’s sake, berets.
“Blurring the lines between gender and generation but in no way stepping into the world of good taste, the self-proclaimed hip among us wear dusty and unmatched black, as if being inducted into a religious order or proceeding to a funeral. Or a hanging. Lots of academics look as if we are waiting to be hanged….
“The rest of the professional world dresses better. I’ve encountered entire demographic populations whose clothes are more complex and intriguing than those sported by academics. Grown-ups in other professions must keep up with the times or else they will be laughed out of their conference rooms. Bosses or assistants will say, ‘Do us a favor, kiddo, and leave the plaid jacket at home.’
“A lot of people choose to listen to such hints. As Paul Fussell argues in his recent book, Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear, ‘Just as employees like to wear uniforms, sentimental and egalitarian vaporings to the contrary, so does everyone, even if their civilian uniforms are less obvious and seldom so designated.’ Grown-ups in other professions have been known to buy one or two new garments every season. They purchase shoes even when their other shoes are still viable. Not all their attire is made from fabrics so earth friendly that they feel like woven loofahs. Other responsible professionals wear snug clothing yet manage to avoid looking like segmented insects. They wear bright colors yet do not look like clowns. They are not trying to call attention to themselves, but instead to fit in while being well turned out. ‘Dressing approximately like others is to don armor against contempt. Better to be not noticed at all than noticed and targeted as odd,’ declares Fussell.
“Who are the cultured and elegant workers, armored against contempt, whose praises I sing? No one special’I mean, I’m not talking about starlets here. I’m not talking about Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. I am talking about people over thirty who work in public relations, development, software sales, graphic design, trade book publishing, film and television, upscale retail, and those writing freelance articles on ‘The Joy of Fiber’ for Self magazine. All of them sport raiment more appropriate and attractive than that in which we drape ourselves, even when we go on an outing.”
Here’s an example of what Barreca is talking about: Famous rad-fem academic Jane Gallop. Isn’t she scary? But she’s not just a professor but a “distinguished professor” at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she holds forth on her favorite historical personnage, the Marquis de Sade.
Barreca’s article is a must-read for anyone who has to endure sartorial eye-torture on a college campus.