Gettin’ Naked in Class
Er, not really …
Here’s one thing I recently tried in order to grab my students’ attention.
A few weeks ago I took my jacket, tie, and shoes off and untucked my shirt in class. I told the students that although this might be great on a Saturday afternoon, I felt really uncomfortable doing so in class. In part I was scared that another professor would come in (one did) or that I would run across another professor as I dashed from the classroom to the bathroom in order to put myself back together (which I did). I felt the need to go out of my way to explain to both professors why I was dressed the way I was. “Everything’s normal here! This is just a gag for class! I always abide by the arbitrary dress codes set by our society!”
The point? Violating social norms is not typically liberating. We internalize social norms so much so that letting go of the practice isn’t liberating but makes us uncomfortable.
For instance, upon consideration the girls in my class usually tell me that they would feel really uncomfortable if they stopped shaving their armpits. Lifting the ban on female armpit hair wouldn’t be received as liberating but as weird and gross.
Yes kids, freedom is not the absence of constraints. Freedom is the ability to pursue the desires you’ve been socialized with.