Why Everyone is Married to a Peppermint Patty

In a follow-up comment to my post “But Pants Aren’t in the Bible!” I asked a simple question: “Blue jeans, tee shirt, ball cap, sneakers. Whose outfit is this?”

Derek didn’t get it. Instead of answering the question he tried to be cute:

Wool socks, snow boots, heavy winter coat.

Who’s outfit is this?

But I pressed him back to the question and he explained why he can’t answer it:

@Cane Caldo – “It is a simple question. Why can’t you answer it?”

Because it’s a loaded question, just like mine is. If I change your question to this: “Blue jeans, t-shirt, pink bra, cap, sneakers, hair bow. Whose outfit is this?”, then the answer is immediately different.

It is obvious that what constitutes women’s or men’s garb is subjective to a society. It is also subjective to both the situation and intention. The latter two are more important than the former because they are more specific.

If both my wife and I wear jeans, t-shirt, baseball cap, and sneakers to a baseball game, there isn’t anyone who would ever mistake me for a woman or her for a man.

Ah…the old “But My Wife” trick; coupled to the old “But everyone’s doing it!” gag.

Well, we wouldn’t dare to impede upon a woman’s desire to dress like a man while at a baseball game. After all: watching baseball is strenuous! Every woman in a stadium needs to look like a baseball player, wear brush resistant pants, and strip down to her undershirt to avoid sweat-stains on her blouse.

That’s what baseball caps were for: Men and boys who played baseball, and who identified with their favorite ball players. Blue jeans were invented as hard-wearing pants for men contending with the rugged terrain of the American West. Tee shirts are men’s undergarments. I’ll grant that there have always been athletic shoes for men and women, but even there I bet the trend went: Boys wore them casually first, then girls invaded. Sneakers aside: Ball caps, jeans, and tee shirts are all men’s clothing, and were intended to be so from the beginning.

Unlike those items: Wool socks were invented for both sexes. Snow boots were invented for both sexes. Heavy winter coats were invented for both sexes. Derek thought he was comparing apples to apples. He wasn’t. A ball cap, jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers used to be the casual uniform of the American Working Class Man until the Boomers ruined it with the Sexual Revolution. Now no one knows what women should not wear, and if they do, they won’t say it.

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20 thoughts on “Why Everyone is Married to a Peppermint Patty

  1. Now no one knows what women should not wear, and if they do, they won’t say it.

    So true. The old standard has long flew the coop. As with most things in life, context matters. Modesty and dress being one of those things. As a husband and father of girls, I still struggle with trying to figure out where “the line” really should be.

  2. I was following your argument (I think), but I sympathize with those commenters (both here and at Dalrock’s) who just want to know whether you think it’s okay for women to wear pants.

    My original understanding of your point was that men have the authority to decide what is and isn’t appropriate clothing for those under their care, and I was on board. I also understood you to mean that these standards are subjective, but necessary and binding. Still on board, and this is where I thought the garden vs. weeds metaphor was helpful.

    I also understand and agree with your point that jeans, et. al., were once menswear for specific associative reasons, and allowing women to wear them strikes me as a mistake made by our fathers and grandfathers, from which we should learn when judging what is appropriate for our families. But by lampooning the admittedly-silly practical justifications for a woman wearing baseball attire to a game, it really sounds like you’re saying women today shouldn’t wear jeans, which, if my previous understanding of your argument was correct, seems odd, since the denim gender distinction ship already sailed and you’re typically not one to pine for the past simply because it preceded the present.

    Where did I get lost?

  3. Do you have side-saddles for your horses?

    Do the jeans have fairly plain back pockets or are blinged out?

    There is a split aspect because in the home or a climate controlled office, there isn’t really “work clothing”.

    When you are dealing with the outside, machinery, or other things, you wear what is appropriate to accomplish the task and to be safe doing it.

    There is also an inside/outside aspect. While I have much more actual freedom inside the church and Christ, I can’t try to force those outside to conform to standards that without accepting Christ would be arbitrary.

    Both men and women should be modest and prudent. The former is cultural (how many men go shirtless?), and the latter is contextual.

    I would say we need to rediscover and reestablish standards. But our ancestors didn’t wear the modern 3 piece suit or even leisure suits. Are we to go back to robes, tunics and togas? I don’t think so.

    But let prudence and wisdom and love of Christ dictate. Let men show their virtues and deeds, not display their status or wealth. Let women show their abilities to be a great Mother or serve Christ, not their physical beauty, much less too much flesh. Let all be to the Glory of God.

  4. @Cane

    Okay in that case, I don’t have a problem with women in pants, barring things like yoga pants and bedazzled asses. As long as immodest things are off the table, there’s not a whole lot that I would forbid a woman to wear, not because I’m overly permissive (I’m sure I am, but I hope I’m not being so here), but because everything has already become culturally acceptable for women.

    Here’s a thought experiment: A woman who is feminine in comportment wearing jeans and a t-shirt will come across as more feminine than a lantern-jawed lawyer girl in a sun dress. You might say, “Well yeah, but a bearded operator wearing a dress will come off more manly than a soyboy in workwear.” The difference, however, is that the feminine woman in jeans will be perceived as authentically feminine. The dress-wearing soldier of fortune will be assumed to be clothed ironically or to have lost a bet, etc. If neither of those are the case, he will be perceived as a very odd fellow to be handled with suspicion. For women, the solvent of liberalism has largely dissolved clothing’s meaning so we fall back on other cues in passing judgement. We should take note to avoid ending up in the same place with our sons. It reminds me of Dalrock’s recent post: https://dalrock.wordpress.com/2017/12/06/dont-worry-well-get-used-to-it/

    On a general note, it’s good to plumb this issue. It’s just another area where I’m having to confront how deeply uncomfortable I am with the idea of impeding a woman’s desires, no mater how modest and reasonable the dictum.

  5. I think the question of what women ought not to wear will get answered when we answer the question of where women ought not to go. I think if we find a location/activity that is exclusive to men, then the clothing which is designed for that location/activity will be what women ought not to wear. It would be best if there were multiple such activities/locations (as there used to be).

  6. Ryder @ December 8, 2017 at 4:14 pm:
    “Where did I get lost?”

    By equating clothing with function rather than form.You see pants as being useful clothing for both sexes; I see pants as being specifically mens’ garments because of their association with the workplace. Whether they’re currently being worn in a factory setting is less important than the association.

    Subjectivity is difficult for many people today because our society is so objective. Science, computers, metrics, statistics, legislation, the focus of everything today is on “what is” rather than “what should be”. The increase in autism and Sperging doesn’t help. (None of this is a personal attack on you; I’m just saying you’re probably caught up in this form of thinking. Most people are.)

    “Are my pants useful clothing? Are my naughty bits covered? Then why are you telling me I shouldn’t wear pants?” demands the feminist. Answer, because women are supposed to be feminine at all times and the potential difficulty of defining “feminine” is no excuse to not make the effort. Ask them why they stopped considering skirts & dresses to be feminine and you’ll get “well, MY definition of feminine says I can wear pants!” And the modern spirit of rebellion is exposed.

  7. @ Gunner Q

    As far as form vs. function, I disagree. One of progressivism’s successful projects has been to strip things of meaning, so I don’t think it’s as simple as going back to the clothes that used to be associated with femininity, since the subjective basis for those associations has been eroded.

    I’m with you on the subjectivity issue, though. Subjective rules are about obedience and group loyalty, two things I strongly support. This side of the issue reminds me of Jack Donovan’s concept of “flamboyant dishonor,” if anyone here has read “The Way of Men.”

    @TimFinnegan

    Excellent point.

  8. I see the problem like this, freedom exists on a continuum from complete license to being completely regimented or constrained.

    There is at some level a conflict between what is best for a given individual and what is best for the group as a whole.

    The United States arose at a particular time in history, and as colonies in rebellion against the mother country. That attitude enshrined in the founding documents focuses on individual freedom with scant regard to what is best for the group.

    Then, there exists a theoretical place where freedom is maximized for individuals where more individual freedom is detrimental to the well being of the group as a whole. However, we don’t acknowledge that such a place exhists. We only look at restrictions on individual liberty and call them unjust.

    Thus, when women complain about being excluded from the combat arms, or from wearing pants, there is no good answer because we cannot say to them, “It sucks to be you, but it’s better for everyone if your freedom is constrained.”

    Since that argument cannot be made, all kinds of other arguments are put forth and ultimately fail because if a single woman is capable of passing ranger training, getting her ranger tab, then, there is no reason on those grounds to have a generalized policy that restricts women from ranger school.

    Similarly, the real reason women shouldn’t wear pants is because they are women, and pants are clothing for men, in part because of the different work done by men, but also so as to easily differentiate between men and women. To the women who think that is unjust, your argument is noted, and rejected, and if you do not like that answer, we as society will use the force of numbers and of arms to compel your obedience, or we will cast you out.

    However, that argument goes against the foundational assumptions of this nation, and cannot be advanced because it goes against every man, and woman’s desire for maximal freedom and minimal restriction regardless of the cost to everyone else, or to society as a whole.

    AT least, that’s what I think this fine Monday.

  9. Ryder @ 12:14 pm:
    “One of progressivism’s successful projects has been to strip things of meaning, so I don’t think it’s as simple as going back to the clothes that used to be associated with femininity, since the subjective basis for those associations has been eroded.”

    It is truly that simple. The best way to thwart Current Year thinking is to revive the traditional symbols & behaviors that the wicked hated enough to target for destruction. The associations have only been lost for one generation at most. Why reinvent a wheel that hasn’t even rusted yet?

    “Subjective rules are about obedience and group loyalty, two things I strongly support.”

    No, I’m talking subjectivity as in context-sensitive and poorly defined. You have trouble with the concept of feminine clothing because women are capable of wearing mens’ garments.

  10. One thing that always gets me is that the modern understanding of modesty only includes physical appearance and function. Traditionally, it also including dressing according to your state in life.

    The state in life of all women, according to natural law, is a current/past/future mother, or to have taken religious vows to serve God. Natural law says they should thus dress according to that state with necessary caveats to restrictions such as class, poverty, and other such restrictions.

    Modesty for a queen is different than modesty for a pauper is different than modesty for a sahm in modern America. Yet, they all having their womanhood in common, there will be essential elements of how that is achieved.

  11. “As a young man, Chuck Norris wore the pants in every relationship he was in to the point where he refused to let his girlfriend even own pants.”

  12. Pingback: There’s No Way Around No | Things that We have Heard and Known

  13. What makes clothing specific to a gender is a combination of factors including design, purpose/function, context of use, and culture. When these factors change, the previous rules no longer apply.

    This is what you find so difficult to accept. Culture has moved on and but you have not. Clothing is subjective and always has been. To be subjective, standards must be allowed to change. If it cannot change, it is not subjective, but objective. So: Where does the Bible mention pants? Of course it doesn’t, because clothing is subjective.

    To illustrate the point:

    Tee shirts are men’s undergarments

    No, they are no longer (including in your example!). They have a new purpose, most often to spread a message. Culture changed their meaning. (Perhaps not your culture, but then we were not talking about your culture.)

    A t-shirt designed around the shape of the breasts is objectively clothing for woman. A normal cut t-shirt is gender neutral. Only men wearing women’s t-shirt’s is cross-dressing, because the other is neutral by design. It isn’t a double-standard.

    A ball cap, jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers used to be the casual uniform of the American Working Class Man until the Boomers ruined it with the Sexual Revolution.

    Right on the first part, wrong on the last. Nobody ruined anything. We are not still wearing robes and cloaks because culture and context changed and we all changed with it. The same thing has happened here.

    You’ve conjoined one negative thing (sexual revolution) with something positive, neutral, or negative (cultural changes in attire). Yes, you can point to specific instances where a change in attire has been negative, but your fallacy is to assume that the sexual revolution resulted in only negative changes. That’s patently false, and my example (hat, shirt, shoes, jeans, bra, bow @ baseball game) shows that. Sure, you think it is negative, but that’s just your opinion and you lack any basis in objective morality to make such a claim.

    Now no one knows what women should not wear, and if they do, they won’t say it.

    You’re final comment shows that you’ve missed the point. It simply doesn’t matter. If no one knows what women should not wear, it’s because culture has decided that it doesn’t matter. And absent any moral objective requirements, that’s perfectly fine. You’re making mountains out of molehills.

  14. @ Gunner Q – “By equating clothing with function rather than form.You see pants as being useful clothing for both sexes; I see pants as being specifically mens’ garments because of their association with the workplace.”

    We shouldn’t we equate clothing with function over form? You use the example of the association with the function of men’s garments (work). Jeans are durable, protective, mobile, and promote a group homogeneous appearance: that is their function in the workplace. These functional traits are not restricted to only workplace- or gender-specific- contexts.

    There exist jeans that are cut in such a way that the form is feminine. If form were so important over function, then we must concede that women should be allowed to wear such jeans.

    What exactly is your objection? Are you just objecting that clothing worn by one gender (almost exclusively) became worn by another gender at a later point in time? What’s wrong with that? Root your claims in some sort of objective biblical rationale, otherwise it lacks anything other than just being your personal opinion.

  15. Mr Ramsey, you appear to be stating that the culture (American) isn’t ruined, but in places like this one which tend toward the paleoconservative and classical conservative, I’m pretty sure that is one understanding that most people actually take for granted. “Culture is ruined and here is one of the ways it can be improved.”

    Nobody ruined anything. We are not still wearing robes and cloaks because culture and context changed and we all changed with it.

    A.J.P.

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