At When should women wear hats in church? Michelle Arnold replies, “Women can wear hats to Mass whenever they like.” This suggests to me an unfair double-standard, since I have always been taught that men should remove hats when pledging allegiance and when in church. What’s the justification for excluding men from wearing hats? I understand the precedent in the early churches for women to cover their heads because that was their custom – it is no longer ours.
Men remove their hats, not only in the instances you mentioned, but also in most buildings and in the presence of women, as a sign of respect and deference. That is also the traditional reason why women originally wore head coverings to church. While the expectation for women to wear hats or other head covering to church is a custom that has softened throughout Western society, the expectation for men ordinarily to remove their hats has not. That’s just the way it is, and a mature and civilized man will follow the social custom even if he personally disagrees with it. As for why there is a different custom for men and women, essentially it boils down to the fact that men and women are different; therefore it makes sense that they would be expected to show respect in different ways.