Archive for the ‘ Unintended Consequenses of Feminism ’ Category

Why is she wearing a swimsuit to the office?

Part of the office culture here is that staff members do not have to report incidents, issues or concerns directly to the upper levels of management.  They are free to talk to someone lower down the order who will take it up on their behalf and they can bow out of the process at that stage should they wish.

This works well.  Some people can have concerns that they won’t be listened to or they feel intimidated about going straight to the top.  So, I’ll recall an incident here.

The title of this post was the opening to the conversation and it took me by surprise.  I remember thinking what, who?  It was a case of her over there and a brief rant about why the standard of dress was not appropriate.

To quickly set the scene, it was a hot day and the person in question was wearing a skirt that came above the knee (but not in breach of policy), a thinly strapped top (stomach was covered and very little cleavage showing) and heels.  A matching jacket was hung over the back of her office chair.  For certain, it was on the casual side of professional but well with in the rules.

Now I’ve seen a few swimsuits before, some more daring than others perhaps, but I can never recall one that I would (probably inadequately) describe as a skirt suit.  Alas per policy I had to report it in writing, describing the discussion and what the other party was wearing.  I felt like a catwalk MC who wasn’t doing his job properly “xxx was wearing a cream coloured……….”.

It was dismissed out of hand but a few days later the woman who made the complaint came to see me again.  She identifies herself as a feminist and a supporter of feminist ideals.  She said she hoped things didn’t go further with her issue, she was having a bad time at the moment and wanted to hurt someone and that someone was going to be the best dressed female in the office at that moment.

She had no intention of striking out at a male though.

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Unintended Consequenses of Feminism – Hair

A female colleague comes into the office on a Monday after the weekend and she is beeming.  She has had her hair done over the weekend and it clearly cost in terms of time and money. 

She receives a number of compliments from her female coworkers but nothing from the male contingent.  Now, she is upset by this and loudly states that the men are useless and don’t notice anything women do.  Perhaps because she noticed that I heard her, attention is directed my way.

(Her) You, why you don’t say anything nice about my hair?

(Me) Sorry, not allowed to.

(Her) Why, you don’t have opinion?

(Me) I do, but we can’t say anything as directed in the (gender and diversity) training we had as that could be interpreted as unwelcome comments.

(Her) Unbelievable, I put a lot of effort into this.

Whist her reaction could be predicted, she had gone to a lot of effort, the results were good and it was important to her that she had validation.  The most interesting reaction though was of her female colleagues.  Most of them were wide eyed and quite surprised.

Should they have been?  You could argue not.  We all did the same training but it became clear, especially after a few conversations outside the office, that they had not seen where it could lead.

So, to conclude, ten years ago you could have said it looks goods, very nice etc and she would have been happy.  Now, she feels upset.  You could argue that she shouldn’t seek validation from others but a simple 30 second exchange would have given her a little morale boost for the rest of the day.

Thoughts?