Something got me thinking tonight. We were out visiting a friend of ours and it was decided we’d go out for dinner. Nothing unusual there, and there were a few places we could have gone for a decent meal.
As it happens, we went to a bowls club for dinner. I won’t mention which one.
Now, I’d admit that I do have a bit of a rebel streak in me. Let’s face it, if nobody challenged the status quo, we’d still be in the trees, instead someone decided they liked the caves better and so developed modern man.
In my case, I’m not one to make a scene, but the more uptight the venue, the more uncomfortable I am being there. If a place feels it necessary to employ a bouncer, or feels it necessary to place a big plaque out front listing rules in addition to what ought to be common sense, that starts to get the alarm bells ringing in my head.
Some rules are necessary, most of these are covered by the laws that maintain order on our streets. In a club or restaurant, okay, you want to put some limits: someone turning up near-starkers is definitely not on. Nobody would appreciate someone covered in grease or other muck leaving a trail throughout the place everywhere they go, nor should others be subjected to some T-shirt with text or imagery that is in any way “offencive” to the average person.
(I’ll ignore the quagmire of what people might consider offencive. I’m sure someone would take exception to me wearing largely blank clothing. I, for one, abhor branding or slogans on my clothing.)
Now, something that obstructs your ability to identify the said person, such as a full-face balaclava, burka (not sure how that’s spelled) or a full-face helmet: there’s quite reasonable grounds.
As for me, I never used to wear anything on my head until later in high school when I noted how much less distracted I was from overhead lighting. I’m now so used to it, I consider myself partially undressed if I’m not wearing something. Something just doesn’t feel right. I don’t do it to obscure identity, if anything, it’d make me easier to identify. (Coolie hats aren’t common in Brisbane, nor are spitfire or gatsby caps.)
It’s worth pointing out that the receptionist at this club not only had us sign in with full name and address, but also checked ID on entry. So misbehaviour would be a pointless exercise: they already had our details, and CCTV would have shown us walking through the door.
The bit that got me with this club, was in amongst the lengthy list of things they didn’t permit, they listed “mens headwear”. It seemed a sexist policy to me. Apparently women’s headwear was fine, and indeed, I did see some teens wearing baseball caps as I left, no one seemed to challenge them.
In “western society”, many moons ago, it was considered “rude” for a man to wear a hat indoors. I do not know what the rationale behind that was. Women were exempt then from the rule, as their headwear was generally more elaborate and required greater preparation and care to put on and take off.
I have no idea whether a man would be exempt if his headgear was as difficult to remove in that time. I certainly consider it a nuisance having to carry something that could otherwise just sit on my head and generally stay out of my way.
Today, people of both sexes, if they have anything on their head at all, it’s mostly of a unisex nature, and generally not complicated to put on or remove. So the reasoning behind the exemption would appear to be largely moot now.
Then there’s the gender equality movement to consider. Women for years, fought to have the same rights as men. Today, there’s some inequality, but the general consensus seems to be that things have improved in that regard.
This said, if doing something is not acceptable for men, I don’t see how being female makes it better or worse.
Perhaps then, in the interests of equal rights, we should reconsider some of our old customs and their exemptions in the context of modern life.