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

Gerold Firl (
27 Nov 1995 12:52:20 -0800

In article <> (Mike Bender) writes:

>In article <> (Gerold Firl) writes:

> I will restate the hypothesis: at some point in the human evolutionary
> past, penis size became a male status-determinant which functioned as a
> conflict-resolution mechanism; big dick goes first, you might say. The
> necktie activates this instinctive mechanism.

>If indeed, a necktie activates this instinctive mechanism, then
>shouldn't we see a social preference for bigger ties? (I.e., the bigger
>the tie, the better).

Good question ... I guess to some extent that is true. Bow ties are seen as
kind of tame, sissyish, non-masculine. I've heard psychologically-based
speculation that the bow tie is a statement of inoffensive non-masculinity,
based on the image of the tie-as-penis, here tied into a knot so-as to be
non-threatening. You can see why loius farrakahn would find it a useful

For some reason, a tie which hangs below the belt is seen as ridiculous;
circus clowns often wear oversize ties.

>Also, how do we explain the fact that in our society, at least,
>"macho" men are usually associated with open shirts and hairy chests
>-- not with neckties?

Another good question; I don't know.

Here's an idea: by standardizing on the tie as symbolic dominance marker,
we "level the playing field". We can modify the dimensions slightly, we can
change the color or pattern, but basically everyone has the same size. This
pushes the whole tactic of exploiting innate releasing mechanisms (IRM's)
into the background and brings actual performance to the fore. Within the
business environment, it is more productive to focus on actual results than
on extraneous tricks to establish dominance. We use ridicule to maintain
that level field; someone who showed-up with a gigantic tie would be
laughed away.

Reminiscent of the k'ung tactic of using humor to uphold their egalitarian
ethic; cultures have evolved methods of rewarding those tactics which
further the survival of the group. Rigid standardization of tie-size (well,
semi-rigid, anyway :) could fall into the same category.

>I still contend that a better hypothesis is that neckties (actually,
>anything wrapped around the neck) symbolizes the separation of the
>body (i.e., impulses, desires, ...) and the mind. I.e., self-control.
>This could explain why ties are so popular in business and so
>unpopular with the "macho" man image.

The theory is internally consistant. Certainly a guy who blows his top,
within the popular stereotype, always loosens his tie in the process. The
dominance theory rang true for me due to personal observations of traffic-
flow changes when I wear a tie, but there may well be other factors at
work. I'm not convinced that this hypothesis is true, but it's consistant
with a number of disparate facts.

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