“the only real objection is the appearance of men’s legs,” 1936

So this all started last week when I was looking in the information files for the Service Awards folder. Here’s what it looks like inside one of these drawers:

It’s safe to say I’ve opened this drawer hundreds of times but this was the first time I registered the yellow reference sheet. “Shorts?,” I thought to myself. “What could that mean?” The first thing that jumped to my mind was short films and I was kind of excited at the prospect. So I hustled over to check out “Goode, W.J.”

But no, it turned out to actually be about shorts:

This story seems to have been catnip to the newspapers–several clippings from papers near and far are in the file. This one from the Houston Press is, I think, the most evocative.  You need to read all the way to end to get the full impact of Mr. Goode’s theory:

Goode, being a bright fellow, did as he was told and wore pants for the rest of the year. He then transferred to the University of Texas and embarked on a rather spectacular academic career. His obituary, which mentions his expulsion from Rice, makes fascinating reading:

William Josiah Goode, former President of the American Sociological Association (1972) and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, died unexpectedly on May 4, 2003. He was best known for his pioneering cross-cultural analysis of marriage and divorce although his work covered basic issues in sociological theory focusing on social control systems of prestige, force and force threat, and love.

William J. Goode (known as Si to his family and friends) published 20 books and more than 80 articles on a wide range of topics, including Religion Among the Primitives (1951), Die Struktur der Familie (1960), World Revolution and Family Patterns (1963), Explorations in Social Theory (1973), Principles of Sociology (1977), The Celebration of Heroes (1978), and World Changes in Divorce Patterns (1993). His Methods in Social Research with Paul Hatt (1952 with many printings) was widely translated (including a pirated Chinese edition) and was used to teach research methods to three generations of social scientists throughout the western world and Asia.

Si Goode was best known for his 1963 book, World Revolution and Family Patterns (The Free Press). Drawing on his knowledge of nine languages, the research included data from more than 50 countries and covered a half-century. It demonstrated the critical impact of family systems on what was previously assumed to be purely economic forces, such as society’s capacity to industrialize.

Thirty years later, Si published an equally pioneering cross-cultural analysis of divorce, World Changes in Divorce Patterns (Yale University Press, 1993), which laid out the conceptual basis for analyzing and predicting patterns of divorce, revealing anomalous patterns in some societies.

Goode’s classic articles, such as “The Theoretical Importance of Love,” “A Theory of Role Strain,” “The Protection of the Inept,” “Violence Among Intimates,” and “Why Men Resist,” offered insights into social processes that often were contrary to popular wisdom, and moved research beyond existing paradigms. His book, The Celebration of Heroes (1978), of which he was proudest, was a keystone to his overarching analysis of the subtleties of social forces involved in the production and distribution of prestige, honor, and respect.

Goode was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and his scholarship was honored by numerous awards and prizes, including an honorary Doctorate of Science, Upsala College, 1971; the Merit Award for a Lifetime of Scholarship from the Eastern Sociological Association; two Guggenheim fellowships; National Institute of Mental Health Senior Scientist Career Award; the MacIver Prize for the best scholarly book, given by the American Sociological Association (ASA); and the Burgess Award in 1969.

Goode also served as President of the Sociological Research Association and President of the Eastern Sociological Society. In 1982, the ASA’s Section on the Family named its annual scholarly award for the outstanding book on the family in his honor, and in 1994 he himself was granted the William J. Goode award for World Changes in Divorce Patterns (Yale University Press, 1993).

Born in Houston, Texas, in 1917, and encouraged by his high school debating coach, the future U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Goode started college at the age of 16 on a full fellowship at Rice Institute. Characteristic of a lifelong tendency to nonconformity about matters of small importance, he was expelled from Rice in the spring of 1936 for violating the school’s dress code by wearing shorts to class. He completed his BA and MA degrees (in Philosophy) at the University of Texas, Austin in 1938 and 1939.

He was studying for his PhD in Sociology at Pennsylvania State University when he enlisted in the Navy and became a radarman on an attack transport ship carrying and landing troops in the Pacific (1944-45). After the war, Goode became an Assistant Professor in Sociology at Wayne State University (1946-50).

He moved to Columbia University in 1950 to collaborate with Robert K. Merton on a project analyzing the professions in American society. In 1952, he became an Associate Professor and in 1956, Professor of Sociology.

Goode was named the Franklin H. Giddings Professor of Sociology at Columbia University in 1975. He was chair of the Department of Sociology for several periods in the 1960s and 1970s and also served as the Associate Director of the Bureau of Applied Social Research and on its Board of Governors from 1956-70.

During his years at Columbia, he was an early supporter of the nascent women’s movement, both intellectually and personally, working with Betty Friedan when she was writing The Feminine Mystique, and with Cynthia Fuchs Epstein on a jointly edited book The Other Half: Roads to Women’s Equality (1971). Unlike many male professors of his generation, he encouraged and promoted the careers of his women graduate students—from whom he demanded nothing less than excellence.

In 1977, Goode left Columbia to become a Professor of Sociology at Stanford University where he taught for the next nine years. He became an Emeritus Professor at Stanford in 1986, and joined the Department of Sociology at Harvard University (until 1993). He became affiliated with the Sociology Department at George Mason University in 1994.

Goode’s reputation for scholarship and teaching was widely acknowledged internationally, and he was invited to many foreign countries. He was a Visiting Professor at the newly opened Free University of Berlin in 1954; a visitor at Wolfson College, Oxford University, in 1980; a distinguished guest lecturer in China for the Chinese Academy of Science in 1986; and a Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1992.

Si Goode was often referred to as a “renaissance man,” excelling in a wide range of activities, including painting, sculpture, sailing, tennis, skiing, mycology, and birding. In the past three years he won numerous tennis trophies in the mid-Atlantic region in the over 80’s singles category, saw one of his paintings published on the cover of a book, and wrote an article on “bird watching with your ears” for the East Hampton (New York) SOFO Naturalist magazine.

Goode is survived by his wife, Lenore J. Weitzman, the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Sociology and Law at George Mason University; three children, Erich Goode, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stonybrook, who is currently Visiting Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland; Barbara Baldwin, Women’s Health coordinator for the Washington, DC Department of Heath; and Andrew Josiah Goode, an architect in Shingle Springs, California; and a sister, Rosalie Grizzle of Magnolia, Texas.

His family is planning a funeral ceremony at the Columbarium of Arlington National Cemetery (date to be announced.) They would welcome contributions to the ASA for the William J. Goode international fellowship, which is being established in his honor to provide support for graduate students engaged in cross-cultural dissertation research.

I was half astonished (but only half, because of course) to see that it was his high school debate coach, Lyndon B. Johnson, who urged him to enroll at Rice at age 16. The Sam Houston High School yearbook that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago was still on my desk so I took a look. Sure enough, there’s no picture of Goode but his name is there, listed as a freshman.

Bonus: There’s an unanswered question here, of course. Did they let him wear shorts at UT? We may never know.

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7 Responses to “the only real objection is the appearance of men’s legs,” 1936

  1. Charles Hargrove says:

    I wish that his crazy idea had caught on. I got so tired of wearing a suit and tie while at Rice.

  2. almadenmike says:

    Several tributes to Goode mention his love for cooking (among his many other non-academic activities) and that he was featured in a full-page article in the New York Times written by its legendary food writer Craig Claiborne.

    Here’s a link to that article, which was published on Aug. 8, 1974: https://www.nytimes.com/1974/08/08/archives/forget-those-small-craft-food-warnings-just-cook-ahead-interesting.html

    It includes recipes for the dishes he and his future wife (Lenore Weitzman) prepared that day for their dinner with Claiborne and friends Betty Friedan (the leader of the women’s movement) and David Manning White (“journalist, author and popular culture authority”): Zucchini Soup With Yogurt, Seviche With Scallops, Striped Bass, Mussels alla Romana, Periwinkles a la Goode, and Quick Quiche Lorraine.

  3. almadenmike says:

    I would love to learn more examples of his “nonconformity about matters of small importance.”

    • Melissa Kean says:

      What I wish is that I’d heard the conversation between Weiser, McCann, and McCants. All I can think of is the immortal W.C. Fields line: “Go away kid, you bother me.”

  4. Lynne (WRC '88) says:

    Ah, the good old days when authority figures could make a ruling based solely on the fact that the behavior “irked” or “irritated” them.

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