Originally Posted by FlyingMonkey
I am a professor (in the social sciences), I lecture in a university and I do international comparative research. In my university, and in most academic settings, I can wear whatever I want. I would wear suits like this at conferences, meetings, to lecture in, whatever. And I would enjoy it. I would be happy wearing them, and other people would enjoy it too - for whatever reasons, I don't mind. I already do wear things that no-one else wears in my job and I get nothing but good feedback - it even helps my teaching ratings from students, not that this is the reason I do it. I wouldn't
wear these when I am off doing the research I do - interviewing senior government officials, or corporate executives or police, for example - in those situations I would wear something that draws no particular attention to itself at all, but would still fit and be of good quality - in most cases, a grey 2-piece suit, or a simple wool or linen jacket and tie (or even no tie, or simply shirt and trousers, depending on the cultural norms of whichever country and city I was in). And of course I dress far differently still when wandering the streets of cities in Japan, or working in poor communities, like the favelas in Brazil, where I have also done research. Given my work, I'm probably more conscious than many people of the diversity of what is 'appropriate' in clothing - I have to be.
What I am arguing against is the kind of broad generalizations that certain people seem to feel they have to make when confronted with examples of something that's been part of a long tradition in male style, but that are outside their own particular comfort zone and the mainstream of SF MC: 'no-one can wear that' - or references to 'the real world' or 'real people' as if suddenly, instead of a rather small interest group of elitist obsessives (which we are), we have become a broad constituency of ordinary Joe Six-Packs confronted with something even stranger and more elitist. The same mechanism goes on in reactions to these things as people confronted by anything we don't understand. We get defensive and suspicisous. The honest response would simply be to say, 'I couldn't wear this', or 'I don't feel that I would be comfortable in this'. Certainly we all make our own aesthetic judgements, but the all-out dismissal and exaggeration says more about our own limitations, if we were being honest with ourselves. Funnily enough, I found myself doing exactly the same thing when confronted by a particular forum character recently, and I've been thinking about my own reaction in this case in the same way.
Apologies for the long and serious response, but I hope this makes sense.