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

Gerold Firl (
20 Nov 1995 13:14:38 -0800

In article <48jdrv$> (Joel and Lynn GAzis-SAx) writes:

>In article <> (Gerold Firl) wrote:

>>It appears to me that several contributors to this thread have not really
>>understood Tom's original hypothesis, which suggests that the tie may
>>activate an instinctive male dominance reaction based on penis size.

>What studies can you cite to demonstrate this? What was the method used? Or
>is this what I think it is -- wet speculation?

Well, I don't know about "wet", but, yes, it is speculation. I present no
studies, I offer no proof, I'm saying it's an interesting *hypothesis*. In
an earlier post, I described personal experience which lends the suggestion
credibility in my eyes: when I wear a suit and tie, I notice that people
move aside for me at a longer distance than usual. Notice, I don't claim
this proves *anything*, but it is certainly consistant with an innate
releasing mechanism operating on an instinctive level which functions to
mediate interpersonal disputes. Whether or not that relates to a
hypothetical status-determinant based on penis size is another matter; like
I said, it's an interesting hypothesis.

But purely speculative, of course.

>Again, until I see some hard demonstrations, I have to write these musings
>off as Freudulent speculations -- unproven, unfounded, and only anecdotally
>demonstrated. And not even original, not even to Freud.

Well, in this form they are certainly more recent than freud. Tinbergen's
landmark studies on innate releasing mechanisms (IRMs) were not published
until the late 40's (at least in english).

Don't think of the tie as a "phallic symbol", in the freudian sense. The
suggestion here is that the tie activates an instinctive deference
reaction; not a learned behavior, but a physiological reaction hardwired
into the human nervous system. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts
on why this might not be a valid hypothesis, but so far, you've pooh-poohed
the idea without offering any substantive justification.

getting back to the question of whether such an IRM does exist in the human
species (and I know of no studies which have attempted to address this
question), some support can be adduced based on a salient fact of
evolutionary selection: the outlandish dimensions of the human penis.
*Some* mechanism existed in our evolutionary past to select for all that
meat. Some have suggested that women are responsible, that female choice
has inflated the penis. A competing/complementary hypothesis has it that
men are actually more concerned with penis size than women are, and that
the selection pressure for penile dimension was driven by its utility as a
determinant of male status. I think a discussion of the pros and cons of
both could be worthwhile, but it needs to have some kind of factual basis.
An offhand dismissal just won't do.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf