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December 15, 2008

100,000 Years of Oppression, and Counting: The Male War on Workplace Cleavage Continues

Jessica from Feministing is in rare form as she howls about an email in which an Evil Patriarch asks a female worker to cover up her cleavage.

When a commenter asks her if she's on crack, she informs him Why no, I'm not on crack at all, why do you ask?

Really, you don’t understand how this is bad?

Ok, looking at this from a feminist perspective, first off, enforcing a dress code is only OK if it is enforced uniformly for all employees of any gender. Whatever men can/can’t reveal, the standards for women must be the same, and they must be clearly defined, like for example, “no one should wear any garment that exposes more than 2 inches of skin below the bottom edge of the collar bone.” Otherwise, you get cases like this of random enforcement delivered in passive-aggressive emails that say “you’re showing a little too much cleavage.”

That implies that some amount of cleavage is OK, but that there is a limit. So what is the amount? How do you measure that amount? It’s been arbitrarily defined by a supervisor, yet that standard has not been shared in this offensive email.

So what has happened is that this woman has been singled out and told that she is being held to a certain nebulous standard, one of being able to show some cleavage, but not “too much” cleavage. Thus, the reality of living in a perpetual state catch-22 (one of the patriarchy’s strongest tools) which is inherent to having a vagina is perpetuated on an individual, personal and physical level.

And that is why this is bad.

Another commenter agrees:

Personally, I would retort that, “These are a part of MY BODY. They should not be found offensive or out of place. They are attached to me, therefore, they have to be in the workplace too!”

That's what my balls used to say, but my last boss just didn't like my idea for Testicle Tuesdays.

R.S. McCain channels the pain of the patriarchy.

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posted by Ace at 03:04 PM

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