Sexism and dress codes

Dress code should be treated like hygiene code. Or the "you don’t swear like a longshoreman at work (unless you are a longshoreman) code. Or the “don’t make extensive personal phone calls at work” code. Or the “use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation in your emails” code. That is to say, hold people to a standard, but don’t spell it out because the standard can’t be pinned down. If you misspell something in your email, you won’t get fired. If you send emails in textspeak, you will get talked to.

If you are a roofer, you are going to end up smelly after a day at work. The programmer sitting next to you should not smell like he’s been roofing all day - a shower and deodorant. But the employee manual does not spell out daily washing of hair. Its only addressed if someone has an issue. The recent college grad should figure out pretty quickly that emails use real words - if they don’t a mention is fine.

Dress code should work the same way - regardless of gender. Dress appropriately for the job. People get in all sorts of trouble when they write dress codes that want high heels for women. Or "proper undergarments " (my husband went to HR with that one when he was managing and said “am I supposed to check?” They got the point and dropped it.) Or no sleeveless shirts (under a jacket they are great for businesswear - but the jacket generally stays on.) Likewise, don’t say “no sexist shirts” or “no printed shirts” - grown ups should be able to figure out that NASA shirt guy’s shirt is inappropriate at work.

Just don’t try to use the bathroom in North Carolina. Either bathroom.

I work in Silicon Valley, and such dress codes as there are apply equally to men and women. Everything in good order, not too much skin exposed, etc. Thanks to a bunch of billionaires who think suits are dumb, they have vanished, to the point that salesmen calling on us no longer wear suits either. Even the characters in Dilbert finally figured out that no one wears ties any more.
Requiring everyone to be dressed up at business meetings not involving customers who care about these things is dumb but not sexist. Requiring that women get dressed up and not men would be. All we need are equal standards, which rarely require high heels I suppose.

The issue to me is what women are expected to do is more complicated than what men are expected to do, for the same level of business presentability.

Former Republican Speaker of the House Denny Hastert did. And Republican Congressman Mark Doley. And a whole lot of others, going back through time to Alexander the Great (and, apparently, pretty much all the men of ancient Greece).

Dress codes are stupid; dress codes that dont let women wear trousers are stupid stupid; dress codes that demand women wear heels are stupid stupid stupid.

Perhaps the solution is to require men to wear high heels - and makeup. I think after one day the problem would solve itself.

Or - how about, you know, treating people like grown-ups and letting them decide for themselves?

Crazy idea, I know, but it might catch on.

I asked this question to my father who is hires people in his workplace. He says that it’s not that he and others care particularly if men dress in skirts or women dress in pants but clients will have this expression on their face :confused: . In other words they risk of them reacting badly is not something most companies have the guts to face.

I don’t agree with it but hey most people are okay with judging someone by their genitals instead of by their character so…

If someone in a customer contact position is going to transition or cross dress, that is going to be difficult in most industries still. A customer facing job may not be the best choice for that period in time. If the company can work with them (putting them in inside sales, having them work in internal marketing) - that would be awesome, but not all companies are in a position to make that possible.

But men wearing dresses and heels isn’t really what its about. In the 21st century, a woman choosing flats instead of heels isn’t going to raise eyebrows in the vast majority of professions.

Especially in the company gym, where everyone should be required to wear sport bras and jock straps. If we’re going to make it equal, make it totally equal.

Why would you oppose that? The government steps in and stops sexism in other cases. Is it just because dress codes aren’t that important? If so, that’s fine, just teasing out your reasoning (you know me).

How much of dress codes for women are self-implemented? Do any companies require women to wear makeup or a bra? No, then why do women do it as part of their business attire?

That’s silly.

You can’t justify all sexism just because the sexes are different. Should we not let women have jobs because there are two sexes?

And the races are different too, so is racism legit?

Differences make isms but they don’t justify them.

And I’m suggesting that those legal restrictions regarding discrimination might include no sexism in dress codes.

Even WITH dress codes, plenty of grown-ups make some massively awful choices with regard to dress in the workplace. Doesn’t sound promising.

I don’t see a compelling reason for government involvement in this particular case. I’m open to being persuaded, but I don’t see it right now. “There might be an element of philosophical unfairness” doesn’t sound like a compelling reason – demonstrated and significant harm could be.

If it’s a bona fide occupational qualification, like not hiring actresses to play the part of men, sexist discrimination can be perfectly legal. Certainly, most of the country still has laws against female toplessness while men legally go topless quite often in the summer. So it doesn’t necessarily seem out of line to say “our customers expect women to dress differently than men, so the separate dress code is a BFOQ for customer facing positions”.

Not that I necessarily agree with that reasoning (I think bare breasts should be legal to display in public, if not full nudity, and as I said above, I think dress codes in general are a bad idea), but it seems legally sound, or at least likely to be ruled that way in the current political climate.

I didn’t say you can justify all sexism because the sexes are different. Where they are different justifies sexism.

Since there are no such things as races then racism is not legit. That’s the point, most isms are fallacious in their entirety, sexism is not. And of course if you didn’t just pull out part of my post I said that there’s no basis for a difference in dress codes.

I’d suggest you just need to work out a little, but really, no one but Michelle can pull off a sleeveless dress well.