Ties that bind

Few items of men’s clothing are as silly as ties. They don’t keep your neck warm or work as an effective bib. They would hardly be anyone’s first choice for a weapon, unless they were reinforced with metal wire to fashion a more effective garrote. Although conveniently sited for would-be suicides, they probably wouldn’t even let the wearer achieve effective self-strangulation. Any man in his right mind would choose to go tie-less whenever he can get away with it.

Their only purpose is to signify meaning: masculinity, formality, group membership, conformity to dress codes, higher status.

But, clip-on ties are even worse than real ties. They are neck ornaments that express the concept of humiliation in a polyester format.

They make the wearer look a bit simple-minded: too clumsy to wrap a bit of cloth round itself and thread one end through the loop; too aesthetically challenged to notice what they are wearing exudes ugliness; and too stupid to realise that nobody thinks you are wearing
a real tie just because there’s an ersatz tie front clipped under your adam’s apple.

So, as insignificant as this was as a BBC news item (only “news” because of the media’s strange belief that mention of Facebook or texting will make any story seem totally up-to-date), I can actually understand why school students would campaign against the replacement of real ties by clip-on travesties.

Two odd explanations are put forward: safety issues and preventing self-expression through the medium of the tie knot.

Schools across the UK are said to be switching ties over safety fears……
In May the Schoolwear Association, the trade body for the school uniform industry, said 10 schools a week in the UK were switching, because of fears of ties getting caught in equipment or strangling pupils.
The association also said that clip-on ties can stop pupils from customising the size of the knots in their ties.

Both these arguments are ridiculous.

This bizarre idea that modding your school uniform is anti-education was also held at my school – usually by the teachers with the lowest capacity to engage the students in learning. If there really were any connection between students’ conformity to a randomly-assigned dress code and their capacity to develop their minds, postgraduates students would be wearing uniforms. Surely it would be more important for PhD students to get the brain-boosting power of the dress code?

The health and safety argument is also bizarre. A tie caught in a bunsen burner or lathe would be dangerous. Doesn’t that suggest that boys should take off their ties in the lab or machine shop? If they are still in danger of accidental or deliberate strangulation in the playground, shouldn’t schools just dispense with the stupid garments altogether? Rather than replace them with even more ludicrous alternatives?

These arguments have been trotted out a few times this year, for instance by the Schoolwear Association who did a “survey” that found that 10 schools a week were switching to clip-on ties on the grounds of safety. And also because of the worry that some pupils might be knotting their ties in dangerously non-standard ways – obviously imperceptible to the likes of me, who assumed that all tie-knots were pretty much of a muchness.

Here’s a BBC story about one such school

School bans ‘unsafe’ knotted ties
Children not wearing clip-on ties will be sent home
A school in Greater Manchester has banned its pupils from wearing knotted ties because it says they could pose a safety risk.

That school head claimed that:

“Obviously there is a health and safety element.
“Pupils can take precautions during technical lessons where there is machinery, but it is the unexpected factors such as running and having their ties pulled that could be a problem.
“We also feel it is smarter because older children will not wear the ties in a casual way. This is in line with places like Marks and Spencer, the police and the armed forces.”

**Pause to chortle at the idea of the army and police issuing regulation clip-on ties. Although it might certainly add a welcome tension-diffusing dimension to arrests, if the arrestees suddenly spotted that he or she was being detained by someone wearing a comedy tie.**

Not to mention, these silly arguments just give aid and comfort to the “political correctness gone mad” buffoons who never miss a platform to mouth off in the media. As in this classic quote that would score two out of two in a miniature game of bigot bingo.

Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said the decision was inexplicable.
“It seems like another instance of political correctness and health and safety gone mad. (from the BBC report in May)

3 thoughts on “Ties that bind

  1. The police and security guards *do* wear clip on ties, precisely because real ties are dangerous. They’re not allowed to wear real ties while on duty (this is from someone with a longtime security guard as a father and several police officers as friends). If you’re arresting/stopping someone who doesn’t want to be stopped, a clip on tie gives them much less control over you if they grab it. A real tie would be a real safety hazard to cops if they’re stopping someone dangerous. I’m not so sure about the army because I can’t think of any situation where a soldier would wear a tie outside of a formal occassion.

    Whether or not that applies to schools, I don’t know. I don’t recall ever hearing of a school kid being strangled by their tie, either intentionally by someone else, or accidentally by getting it caught on something. My school uniform didn’t even have a tie, so I guess I was lucky in that respect.

  2. Meee
    True. I can certainly see that it would be madness to wear a traditional tie when someone might use it to throttle you.
    All the more reason for not wearing ties at all, of course.

  3. I cant speak for the “Armed Forces” as a whole but the Army most certainly do not wear clip on ties.

    Then again, the Army only wear ties for ceremonial duties so the risk of some nasty enemy soldier grabbing it and strangling you is minimum.

    As for school kids – are schools really that dangerous? How many school kids have been injured as a result of their tie in the last (say) 10 years?

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