[American] women taking off their hats for the National Anthem?

Now, I have always understood that traditionally speaking, men must remove their hats for the playing of the (American) national anthem, but that it’s actually more respectful for women to keep their hats on (as is done in some synagogues and churches).

However, recently I have noticed sports announcers actually saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, please remove your hats for the playing of the National Anthem,” and I have seen more and more women removing their hats. Moreover, I am female (and obviously so…it’s not likely that I would be mistaken for a man), but I have gotten some decidedly dirty looks for choosing to leave my hat on for the playing of the National Anthem.

So what gives? Is the perception true that more and more women are removing their hats? And what ought I to do about people who grumble darkly in the direction of my baseball cap? Is it all right if I conform to what I know to be the proper etiquette, or has the correct protocol changed to such a degree that I should be following that instead? Would it be too gauche to ignore announcers who insist that ladies and gentlemen should divest themselves of their hats, or is this more a case of “When in Rome…” ?

Dopers, what gives?

I’m a woman and I always remove my hat, if I’m wearing one, at any event that requires the National Anthem to be played.
It’s not that I’m the most patriotic person in the world, but I do it more for fear of getting the crap kicked out of me if I don’t.
There ARE some rather staunch patriots out there, you know! :stuck_out_tongue:

Are you talking about a “hat” hat? like the kind you see in British weddings or 1950s movies? an actual ladies’ hat with flowers, or ribbons?

Or are you talking about a baseball cap?

If it’s the former, I think it can stay on. If it’s the latter, I think it comes off for the national anthem or inside a building. (of course, I can’t find the cite now)

My knowledge of ladies’ hat etiquette would suggest that the hat should stay on. However, I doubt that the rules of etiquette that I learnt ever envisaged baseball caps.

I’m not sure whcih is the correct thing to do but it does seem a bit dated to me that the women leave their hats on.

Actually, this post is kind of making me go into retro-rage. I can rember years ago before I started shaving my head, I was wearing a baseball cap IN A SPORTS BAR! of all places One of the managers came over and told me to take my hat off. I kindly pointed out that the lady sitting accross the bar was wearing a hat. he then “kindly” told me that women were allowed and men were not. :rolleyes:

I was rather indignent about it. I didn’t want to take my hat off because I had a MAJOR case of “hat hair”.

(I’m so happy to be bald now.)

Etiquettewise, baseball caps are the exception to the rule about ladies’ hats. (The rule is apparently not “gentlemen remove their hats” but "gentlemen’s hats are removed, so if a lady is wearing a gentleman’s hat, she would remove it. Presumably a gentleman wearing a lady’s hat would not.)

I think at one time women wore hats that were integrated into their hair style so removing them wasn’t possible without leaving their hair in a mess. Since hats aren’t really in vogue now as they were in the past I can see why customs might change.


I can’t imagine taking my national anthem that seriously that I would stand at a sports match, but it sounds like the “rule” was meant to exclude women wearing hats that were tricky to remove.

A cap isn’t tricky to remove. If it is the norm you should remove it.

[slight hijack] I was at a hockey game once where the announcer said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and remove your coats for the national anthem…Oh, wait, you can put your coats back on, but take off your hats!”

I’d go along with the majority here. If a woman is wearing a dressy hat, she should leave it on as it is part of her outfit, but a baseball cap or the like should be removed.

Women keeping their hats on is nothing to do with dressy hats being difficult to remove or hair being messed up. Men still removed their hats as a mark of respect even when powdered wigs and elaborate hair were the latest thing in men’s fashion.

It stems from the belief that it is proper and respectful for a lady to keep her head covered (especially in church).

Just as men should take of their hats when a funeral cortege passes or for a moment of silence in remembrance of the dead, and ladies shouldn’t. Ladies should keep scarves, snoods, shawls and hats on for the national anthem. Baseball caps…probably not.

While you MUST stand while a national anthem (even from another country) is played if at all possible, you may choose not to sing (for example, some Northern Irish rugby players don’t sing the Irish national anthem) .

You MUST? The only time I would stand for my countries national anthem would be at an ANZAC service (to respect the old blokes).

If sporty types want to hear it before they play, good on them. I ain’t standing though. It’s just a game.

I do love a good Haka though. :slight_smile: (I still don’t stand…I just like it)

I’m with matt – you wear a man’s hat, you uncover. If you’re wearing a lady’s hat, you leave it on.


I think it’s a rule linked to former sexual roles. I don’t see a problem with it becoming more unisex, actually. Of course I’m not going to get mad at a woman keeping her lid on the way I will when a man doesn’t uncover for the national anthem.

What irishgirl said.

The tradition of a man removing his hat when he entered someone’s home dates from when knights wore helmets – it denoted trust that the host would not swing a weapon at him. I presume this morphed into a generic show of respect (i.e., taking your hat off in the presence of a lady, for the national anthem, etc.)

The tradition that a woman leaves her hat on stems from the belief that a woman’s hair is her greatest beauty, so wearing a hat in public is a sign of modesty – it never denoted physical protection to be removed in trusted circumstances.

I’m not really contributing to what the rules should be today, just stating the origins as I understand them.

The exception to this is, of course, military or government uniform which has headgear as part of the uniform; in this case the individual (male or female) should remain hatted and salute.

(In Britain and the Commonwealth, one does not salute without a hat on.)

This is different in the States. Unless the rules have changed, women were allowed to keep headgear on during the anthem and for colors, but men were to uncover. And both sexes had to stand up: Salutes are only offered while standing.

FWIW, there’s still a sign (looks to be about eighty years old or so) in the Massachusetts State House, saying “Gentlemen must remove their hats in the Hall of Flags”. The tour guides, mostly middle-aged lady volunteer docents, to this day will stare pointedly at young male barbarians obliviously wearing their caps until they notice and sheepishly take it off. Of course, guys in turbans, kippas, or those Muslim knitted things (what are they called?) don’t have to remove them, seeing as they’re there for a higher authority than even the Stars and Stripes.

Ladies, though, have never had to remove their hats anywhere I’ve been. I keep my hat on if I’ve got one (sitting in the cheap seats, I’ve usually got a baseball cap for the sun) but stand and put my right hand on my heart during the anthem. It’s not universal, though–two incidences of Moments of Silence I’ve seen recently were interesting. At the 2002 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the firefighter contingent, with firemen from literally all over the world, was, of course, wildly cheered. At noon the entire parade stopped dead, turned to face south to Ground Zero, and bowed their heads. Every guy in the audience uncovered; ladies didn’t; and uniformed firefighters kept their headgear on and saluted. This last Sunday I was at the Pride Parade (right at Christopher and Stonewall! :cool: ) and at 2:00 they had a moment for AIDS victims. Some men uncovered, most didn’t, and there seemed to be a general confusion about it since the flag wasn’t really involved. Hmmmm.

I just had this question occur during a graduation ceremony in which we were all wearing mortarboards. Mine wasn’t pinned on or anything so I removed it, but a mojority, I think (including males) just left their hats on.

I would add: Stop eating that hotdog and could you at least not slurp your coke!!

I beg your pardon! I’m strictly a Diet Dr Pepper kind of girl myself. :wink:

So what I gather is that as long as I wear a veil/snood/leghorn (but not, heavens above, a baseball cap!) I should be all right in persisting in my outdated, semi-unpatriotic ways?