This is the week that Mark Zuckerberg went to Congress, to explain himself. This is also the first time I consciously noticed Zuckerberg wore a suit. The image raised my eyebrows, but at the time I didn’t think much further of it.
Until, in the same week but on a much smaller scale, Dutch parliament member Peter Kwint of the Socialist Party got corrected by chairwoman Khadija Arib on his appearance. He was wearing a low-cut v-neck t-shirt, displaying his tattoos on his arm. She asked him where his jacket was. He simply answered: ‘I have been wondering this for years. I have a very slow washing machine and a terrible dry cleaner.’
The two occurrences clicked in my mind and led to a bigger question: who has the power? Who feels powerful?
Mark Zuckerberg, dressing up for congress is a clear sign of wanting to conform, to follow the rules. For a person whose normal attire is a t-shirt, to suit up is a sign of saying: in this case, I am going to adhere to your rules, I do not want to rub you the wrong way.
In the animal world, if this would be a dog fight, he would be the one with his back on the floor, vulnerable, presenting his belly to the stronger dog. His suit is in this context a sign of surrender.
Kwint’s apparent lack of etiquette could easily be interpreted as being disrespectful. But to me, his contextual underdressing in contrast to Zuckerberg’s overdressing told me Kwint is in there for his beliefs. He will not let himself be judged on his appearance. To me, his appearance became a sign of strong character.
I’ve never voted for the Socialist Party and I’ve never had a Facebook account. So I don’t feel strongly about either one. But would this be the ‘Kwint vs Zuckerberg dog-fight in a congressional fighting-ring’, I know who I would bet on.