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  • Barbara Kužnik

A significance of the tie-less symbolism

There are various ways of communication, from simple words, gestures to messages we play with in written and spoken word.

However, since the very beginning of our existence we communicate also by what we wear.

Or better, what we don’t wear.

Today it is obviously much more trendy to make an effective statement with the denial of some very serious symbols of the modern, so-called civilized world.

Dress code was one of the important issues of the last week.

A necktie missing at the whole range of Greek politicians.

And the missing scarf of the US first lady while visiting Saudi Arabia with her husband Barack Obama.

More than 1,500 tweets using the hashtag #ميشيل_أوباما_سفور (#Michelle_Obama_unveiled) were sent last Tuesday, many of which criticized the first lady. Some pointed out that on a recent trip to Indonesia, Michelle had worn a headscarf. Why not in Saudi Arabia?

On the other hand, Texas Senator Ted Cruz applauded Michelle Obama on Facebook:

Obama’s decision to skip the headscarf hasn't been explained. But why should be, this didn't happen for the first time. Some of the former first ladies as Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton made the same decision.

Some think, however, this could be first lady’s personal statement about the situation of women living in Saudi Arabia, who are required to wear a headscarf and black robes in public. Saudi Arabia also imposes many restrictions on women and genders are strictly segregated.

But was this really a silent political statement on equality that Obamas wanted to give to the Saudi Arabia?

I don't think so.

But we can be more than sure, that a missing tie around the necks of the new Greece prime minister and the new rock ’n‘roll star of the financial international politics announced a new wave in the interntional politics.

Klaus Kleber, the host of Heute Journal at the German ZDF commented the events of the last days as »Chaos - a word is of Greek origin«.

However, Tsipras doesn't wear a necktie, nor do his party comrades, on purpose. Their message is »We are politicians, but not the same as all others. « So, not wearing a necktie is a statement of their fight against the old corruptive structures of the politics and economy.

Yet, Tsipras promised to his voters, not to wear a tie until a new deal for Greece in Europe will be negotiated.

The president of the European parliament made a comment about his outfit, when he met him last week in Greece. Today Mario Renzi, a 40 year Italian prime minister, who could actually be his brother in arms, offered him ... a tie.

Even these is a decisive period, they can't avoid comments about the necktie. About the missing tie to be precise.


Well, some anthropologist would probably agree. A tie might be a presentation of a man's power and strength. As a substitute for the particular deficiency, men are very sensible about.

The necktie, though, has a very long tradition; the upper class in the old Egypt used something similar around their neck as a scarf. The most common theory is that the necktie has its origin in the 17th century, during the 30-year war in France.

King Louis XIII hired Croatian mercenaries who wore a piece of cloth around their neck as part of their uniform. King Louis liked it so much that he made these ties a mandatory accessory for Royal gatherings, and – to honor the Croatian soldiers – he gave this clothing piece the name “La Cravate”. Today, the word is used in many languages, die Krawatte, cravatta, kravata, krawat, corbata, ...

Searching for interesting details about this small piece of wardrobe, an important part of business and diplomatic protocol, I found a surprising fact. A study allegedly showed that 80% of men tie up their "cravat" with a much too narrow knot. So the air flow is limited and their brains don't receive enough of oxygen. Finally their working efficiency might be endangered.

This explains why it is not very usually for women to wear them. And after all, we talk here about a pure macho thing.

Nevertheless, I am quite sure Tsipras will try to make the same statement tomorrow, as he will meet the high officials of the European Union in Brussels.

Well, he will surely need some fresh air to get over the pressure and bad mood here in Brussels.

It is very unlikely that any of high officials would follow his example.

What a pity.

This would probably take Tsipras breathe away. And might be a good platform for starting talks about the real things.

Instead of playing with symbols, such as a tie.

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