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yeah but!People still associate certain formalities of dressing with what they today consider to be elevated standards of behavior, and generalize them both to an idealized past. Oftentimes they attribute them to some sort of upper caste, sometimes just to various social standards of decorum imposed on all classes. I think that the idea of this past of elevated deportment -- of better-mannered, more respectful behavior (and with it, an assumption of moral worth) -- persists because nostalgia, many people's political conservatism, and the fact that those who held the pens that memorialized that past tended to be those of the more privileged classes who thus had an investment in promoting their supposed greater worth.
My understanding is that most of this -- supposedly more respectful dress and deportment -- was protocolary. It was a practice which did not reflect any greater actual respect or moral worth. Those who practiced it either had it forced upon them (ie could not change the codes) or did not care to (since they had their own private outlets where their behavior could be what they wanted it to be without triggering judgment and condemnation). If you read the memoirs of certain members of, say, the British upper classes (from which so much of this sort of discourse on clothing forums supposedly derives), they show a moral and ideological world that is unrelatable and a far cry from the alleged mutual respect, service and whatever other principles respectful, "nice" or whatever you wish to call such dress today is taken to signal. Rather, that signal is just that of a current certain set of middle-class values.
This view doesn't mean that you shouldn't aspire to be bourgeois, if that's what you choose for yourself. It just means that you shouldn't presume things about other people, particularly about their virtue or moral worth, if they are either 1) not bourgeois or 2) choose to not adhere to bourgeois standards.yeah but!
a lot of people aspire to be included in bourgeois life
not everyone but many
suggesting that dressing the part is “optional” is maybe... a little privileged in itself
I think it's fine to judge people according to their clothes. If you see someone wearing punk clothes, you can say he or she is a nonconformist. If you see someone wear a suit, you may assume they are a conformist. You may see someone wearing Allbirds and think they're basic. Or you see someone wearing purple jeans and think they have bad taste.So you don’t judge people by how they dress? Be honest
It’s ok, everyone does. The people at the animal shelter were probably judging you
I don’t entirely disagree, but — the real problem with the car letter is not about someone making inappropriate judgments, it’s about power imbalance, just like the tweet says. If I see someone with an ugly car, or ugly clothes, or whatever, and I conclude on that basis that they’re lazy or undeserving or what have you, it doesn’t really matter if I have no power over them. But if their employer is doing it, it’s a very different situation due to the power dynamic at play.But none of these things are about the person's virtue or moral worth, which should be special categories because they're about a person's dignity and worth as a person. Those things have real-world consequences, often material consequences, in the way that saying "that guy's a dork" does not.
The tweet I posted above -- of the person being reprimanded about their car -- is a perfect example. Someone assumes something about a person's virtue based on the car they drive. And it's their employer! That's insane.
It's also going from stereotypes to flat out prejudice.I don’t entirely disagree, but — the real problem with the car letter is not about someone making inappropriate judgments, it’s about power imbalance, just like the tweet says. If I see someone with an ugly car, or ugly clothes, or whatever, and I conclude on that basis that they’re lazy or undeserving or what have you, it doesn’t really matter if I have no power over them. But if their employer is doing it, it’s a very different situation due to the power dynamic at play.
I don’t think there’s a realistic solution to that kind of (not uncommon!) situation involving getting people to change their attitudes by maintaining cleaner separations of aesthetic judgments vs value judgments. I think we solve it by ensuring the appropriate parties are empowered so as to not be susceptible to exploitation by those who would be judging them.