Men in shorts, unite

Story highlights

  • David Wheeler: Joey Barge's actions -- and surname -- present an opportunity to shed our antiquated ideas of clothing and gender
  • Men, it's time to "Barge in" to work -- and by "Barge in," I mean wear a dress, Wheeler says

David R. Wheeler is a freelance writer, a journalism professor at the University of Tampa, and the editor of the online magazine AliveTampaBay.com. Follow him on Twitter: @David_R_Wheeler. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Earlier this week, a man in the UK was sent home from work for wearing shorts -- a breach of company rules, despite the heat of summer. But rather than give in to outmoded, suffocating standards of traditional dress codes, Joey Barge had an idea: Wear a dress.

After arriving back at work in a dress (and it should be noted that he totally rocked that trendy pink-and-black ensemble), he was told his outfit was "a bit too colourful." They "asked if I wanted to go home and change because they were letting us wear shorts because of my 'protest' -- but I said I was happy to stay," Barge continued.
    David R. Wheeler
    A memo went out to employees.
    "Due to the extremely warm temperatures," the memo said, "... gentlemen in the office are permitted to wear ¾ length shorts."
    A triumph for cargo shorts-loving men everywhere.
    But all of this raises an important question: In the 21st century, why are we still stuck in the 20th century when it comes to dress codes?
    It so happens that Joey Barge's actions -- and surname -- present an opportunity to shed our antiquated ideas of clothing and gender.
    Men, it's time to "Barge in" to work.
    And by "Barge in," I mean wear a dress.
    If your employer forbids (or even discourages) shorts, maybe it's time to put on a dress -- the same kind that's well within the dress code for women in your office.
    One of two things will happen: Your workplace will decide that shorts are, indeed, acceptable attire. Or -- and this is the interesting part -- your employer will say that men can wear neither shorts nor dresses. Do we really think, in 2017, employers are going to try to enforce two sets of rules, one for men and one for women, when it comes to attire? What will be their reasoning for doing so? "Men shouldn't wear dresses"?
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    Alas, even in our forward-thinking age, women often can wear men's clothing without turning any heads, but men still cannot wear women's clothing without drawing laughter and derision from many corners. As we learned from the show "Glee," this is because, as a society, we still believe women are inferior to men, and that's why a man in a dress draws laughter -- and sometimes even anger.
    It's time to strike a blow for gender equality -- and cool off in the summer heat -- all at the same time.
    An added bonus for train and bus commuters: A dress allows for maximum freedom, thus reducing the need to "manspread."
    Men of the world: #BargeIn!