Re: The Origin of The Cravat (Was: Are Ties Phallocarps?)

Joel and Lynn GAzis-SAx (
Mon, 20 Nov 95 21:06:06 GMT

In article <>, (Gerold Firl) wrote:

>And second, consider the sword as fashion-statement; it may bridge the gap
>between codpiece and necktie.
And so the giraffe stretched his neck and stretched it and stretched it until
he could reach the leaves of the tree that he so much desired. (If
Freudianism can still live, why not Lamarckianism?)

Gerald is obviously jumping around here, desparately seeking facts to bolster
his idea that the tie has phallic connotations. The bottom line is "Well, men
*have to have* some way of expressing the fact that they have penises." Do
they? I've asked for Gerald to come up with studies bolstering his position
and the best he can do is acknowledge that it is speculation. He then goes on
to continue to talk as if his claims have a factual basis.

Let's evaluate for a moment his insistence, in another post, that the
phallocarp idea really isn't Freudian.

I would argue that if ties were phallocarps for all men (I am not writing off
the possibility that some men, versed in a little vulgar psychoanalysis might
not put on their ties thinking "What a big penis I have!") then the wearers of
ties must be conscious of this fact and choose their ties accordingly. I
don't think this way. And I suspect many other tie wearers share my

If the tie draws attention to anything, it is the chest. I mean, how many of
you follow the line of the tie to the penis? When women wear a tie, it does
draw attention to their prominent sexual dimorphic features, I will grant you.
But then, I am a man who has been raised in Western culture where breasts
have been transformed into objects of sexual desire.

Given the trends of fashion, however, we find that ties get broader or
narrower, longer or shorter, gaudier or plainer with little reference to
anything else. I disagree with Gerald's claim that there is nothing Freudian
about his claim. I won't be surprised if he counterargues that the act of
wearing a tie as a phallocarp does not have to be conscious, for example, that
we can delude ourselves into thinking that it is nothing but a harmless piece
of cloth when it is actually so much more. This is essentially Freudianism
and the intention here is ultimately to create a theory that is always true
regardless of the objections and tests which are put before it.

I still note that there was a gap of at least fifty years between the
disappearance of the codpiece and the appearance of the tie. I have
demonstrated elsewhere that there are much stronger links between the codpiece
and the ordinary pants pocket. (Actual historical evidence which takes into
account all the functions of the codpiece, a fact which the psychoanalytic
reductionists have overlooked.)

>>Thus I put this hypothesis in the same class as the assertation by some
>>Afro-centric historians who claim that Aristotle stole all his ideas from
>>Library of Alexandria. (Aristotle died before the Library was even built --
>>by Greeks!)
>The analogy has some problems ...

The original reductionist analysis has lots more problems!

Again, I don't discount that some men might put on their ties in the morning
and think of it as a symbolic penis. Many more may put on their ties for
affectative purposes (ties call attention to oneself), to establish class
identity, to acknowledge the formalness of the occassion, or to demonstrate
that they work for IBM.

Let us not capitalize on the ambiguous history of the cravat just to promote
some pet theory that we muse upon as we fondle the change in our pants


Joel GAzis-SAx

Joel and Lynn GAzis-SAx Main email: Visit Alsirat, the horror magazine
The Marx Brothers@Darkweb (Joel) Whoopi@Darkweb (Lynn)