Thankyou Oxford :)
I used to hate wearing sub-fusc for my exams. Absolutely hate it. It was uncomfortable, expensive and ridiculous. All formal clothing is to my mind. Horrid idea.
Perhaps if the university just got rid of the whole stupid Harry Potter costume then everybody would feel a bit less stressed. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those at colleges which insist one wears it to dinner.
What the world really needs is to drop the stupid pretense that what you wear actually matters. We need to stop sustaining all socially constructed clothing regulations and just stop caring. Trans issues highlight this by raising our consciousness and making us examine the usually unquestioned cultural basis upon which clothing strictures are founded – and upon examination there is no rational basis for caring. The default assumption should be that we’re allowed to wear whatever we like, and it should take an awful lot of additional considerations to breach that assumption. Stupid, conformist and restrictive ideas about “formal” clothing definitely don’t make the cut.
Such considerations would include protective clothing for safety and easily identifiable clothing where people need to be recognised, but these are the only ones I can think of. All the rest has to go. Then we’d all be a lot happier.
Indeed, the trans issues are only the start. Gender is one basis on which society unthinkingly segregates clothing expectations, but it is not the only one and certainly not the only flawed one. Binarily gendered dress codes are merely one aspect of the problem – all non-pragmatic dress codes are the problem.
Great to see Oxford beginning to recognise that it needs to address transgender issues.
I used to go to a collegiate university and used to enjoy formal dinners, which for me were part of the spectacle, tradition, history and culture of the university – although I was never quite settled that this should apply to exams.
But surely you can see that such events are restrictive and conformist in the extreme, and actively exclude those who don’t feel comfortable wearing what society (and, in the case of the gowns, the university) has deemed “formal” clothing? Why should spectacle, tradition and a slavish imitation of history trump an individual’s right to self-determination, comfort and inclusion? Surely the formal clothes should be optional at the very least – if you want to wear them, fine, but if not then you shouldn’t be expected to in order to participate in the life of the college to which you belong. That’s how we did it at Wadham.
I can see that they can be perceived as restrictive and conformist in nature.
I can also see that there are elements within society that either are restrictive (appropriately) or choose to set restrictions on dress codes etc in particular circumstances.
I was a castleman at Durham; I knew before I applied to Castle what the expectations and restrictions were and I chose to apply. Of course, life and expectations evolve (as Oxford’s developments with transgender issues in this story demonstrates) and some restrictions either are inappropriate – or shown later to be unnecessary – and are rightly challenged.
Why should those who apply to an individual college aware of the history, tradition, and spectacle have their expectations and desires diluted because others (aware of those traditions) seek to join an organisation with expectations and then disregard the directions?
Of course, some colleges have varying view on rules of conduct for dress for formals etc. Some have an optional
approach – or a limited number of dinners where formal wear is regarded as compulsory (Castle, these days, has a limited number).
There are plenty of colleges within collegiate universities that are not so strict on formal wear events for those who feel so strongly to choose to attend, and many other universities (many of good repute) that have no such restrictions. So, why should those who enjoy seeing the pomp and ceremony and who apply to an individual college for this reason (at least in part) have their expectations and desires diluted because someone applies to an institution, where they know in advance has a regime which they are uncomfortable with?
I hope this catches on. I would love one day to graduate with a PhD wearing a good 5 inch sling back.
Call me old fashioned but I like it when people have occasion to dress up. Formal weddings, state opening of parliament, you name it. It there are no guidelines or dress codes then nobody will bother. In the US everybody dresses out of Gap etc. They all look the same. It’s a homogeneous uniform. It’s a shame when someone turns up to the Oscars in a blue suit and a t shirt. The May Week balls are such a lovely sight with everyone looking so elegant. Once these traditions go – that’s it. Good riddance some of you may say but I will be sad.
If that makes you old fashioned then so am I, and proud!
as long as i could turn up as a transwoman in a suit and well polished brogues rather than a dress then i’m with you on that :-)
This is a brilliant news! A few years ago I couldn’t view round an Oxbridge college because I wasn’t following the described dresscode for my gender but I certainly did meet that for the opposite. There was no question that I was dressed formally, respectfully, and appropriately and I absolutely adore pomp, ceremony and wearing a suit and tie/bowtie but this did not fit with their presumption of my gender identity and thus their dresscode. This, amongst others, was one of the reasons I chose not to apply. I don’t think the ‘pomp and ceremony’ should necessarily be diluted to include others, but who which aspect of the dresscode applies to should, and has been, broadened out. I have no issue with formality and I’m sure most Oxbridge applicants won’t either (it’s a regular requirement afterall) but people should not be penalised for not adhering to a gendered stereotyping dresscode when there may be so much more beneath the surface. Congratualtions Oxford I say!
* Congratulations. Apologies!