US Marines – Is The New Proposed Hat Too Feminine?
Anyone who has ever thought that men with guns are just over-compensating for shortcomings in their manhood are going to love a recent story courtesy of the United States Marine Corps. A proposal to change the Marines’ service hat met with sharp opposition labeling the new design as “girly” and ‘French.’ http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/24/marines-turn-noses-obamas-new-girly-hats/
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the current (left) and proposed (right) designs. What’s your reaction?
Being an American myself, I admit that when I first read about this in the news and saw the photo, I did not have a positive reaction. I agreed that it looked feminine and European and therefore, un-American. I added this issue to my long list of issues of why my homeland is going down the tubes. But, then I saw this photo of Sergeant Major Dan Daly, an American World War I hero.
The same design was used by the Marines until 1922. Apparently, it wasn’t “girly” or “French” back then. Sergeant Major Daly is nothing if not the picture of masculinity, bravery and strength in this photo. I had to change my opinion.
So, why did my fellow Americans and I react this way? First, the fresh-faced male model of the new cap didn’t help matters. He looks like a prepubescent choir boy next to Sgt. Major Daly. Second, people haven’t really evolved. It’s 2013 and our world has been rapidly changing for decades. There have been dramatic shifts in culture driven by economics and technology. But, we still have no idea who we really are (all of us, not just Americans). This makes us very scared and unsettled. But, there’s one constant we can all hold onto: our gender. Biology doesn’t change; it’s reliable and safe. That makes it a seemingly stable foundation from which to build an identity. So, we add all kinds of definitions to it so as to make ourselves bigger, stronger and special. In the historical context of this hat, such definitions of masculinity look arbitrary rather than innate since the item was considered masculine not so long ago. But, all it took was one little hat, and the overreactions to it, to expose how fragile the foundation of our collective self-concept really is. Can a hat really make someone less of a man? It appears that some people think so. History be damned.
In a previous article on this site, fashion as art was held up as the mirror from which to examine ourselves and society. I’m not disagreeing with that here. However, the public reaction to a simple article of clothing was so strong, it has to be considered that maybe fashion as a mirror isn’t the only tool of examination. In this case, our reaction to fashion is the window through which to see ourselves. What does all the clamour say about those men doing the clamouring? Do they seem strong or weak to you? Feel free to judge me and my countrymen in the comment section.