I have very simple premises. Women are people. Men are people. Equality between men and women is a good thing. People, men and women, are agents. Agents make meaningful rational choices and are held accountable for their choices. I think that “equality for women” is a horrible idea. It leaves out a very important aspect of gender equality, MEN. Recently I’ve seen many post on how horrible it is to hold women accountable for their choices in clothing. I’ll address equality in that debate, well the absurd lack of equality.
This is a picture of Men’s business attire. Ranging from not so good, to really good. Lets see if we can’t make some rules for business attire. Let start with legs are fully covered. Arms are fully covered. Chest is fully covered. These are true even for the man’s apparel that is least recommended. Pants are Black/Navy or khaki. It is only pants. No one is wearing a skirt or a kilt or shorts or jeans. They are all wearing dress slacks. Now shirts. They are all wearing button down collard shirts. White is clearly the most recommended. Black is acceptable and blue is least recommended. The most recommenced are wearing ties, but hey you can choose whatever color tie you want.
So here are some more men in business attire. Legs covered, yep. Arms covered, yep. Chest covered yep. White shirts, yep. Well one is wearing a blue shirt, that is acceptable but not as professional. These men have color choices that are slightly more diverse. There is grey and brown. So lets make that rule “Earth Tones” for color choices. Finally the ties, these men are wearing patterned ties, so cheers for diversity in choice!!! When it comes to clothing choices, men really have a choice in what tie to wear.
One more example for the professional dress for men. Lets run down our list of rules to see if they are appropriately dressed. Legs are covered, yes. Arms are covered, yes. Chest is covered, yes. Clothing is Earth tones, yes. Wearing ties, yes again. But hey look there are 4 different colors with 4 different patterns of ties. What diversity in choice.
Since the goal is equality between men and women, and we have by general conciseness agreed men are the default. Lets look at the rules for business attire, not men’s attire or women’s attire, business attire. One set of rules for both men and women. These rules are rather few and simple. Dress slacks that fully cover the legs. Arms are fully covered to the wrists. Chest is fully covered. The choice of colors are the earth tones, with Black/navy being strongly recommended. Finally we have ties. Wearing a tie isn’t really optional, the 3/14 men not wearing ties where in the not recommended range. Hey, men do have their choice of color and pattern for the ties. Now lets look at how well women follow these rules.
In truth I had some difficulty selecting these pictures. I truly wanted pictures of actual professionals that are women, not models sexing it up to sell the product. This means that I’ve selected images from stuff like the small business administration, not catalogs. This also means that the images of men are male models, and much more attractive than the women that are real professionals. I’m looking at clothes, so pretty faces are not important.
So he we have a picture of women that are real professionals. Lets see how well they follow the rules for business attire. Legs are covered. Well 10/12 are following this rule. Arms are covered. 10/12 are following this rule. Chest is fully covered. Looks like 8/12 are following this rule. Color choice of earth tones. 10/12 are following this rule, but only 3 are wearing the preferred Black/Navy. Expecting women to be wearing ties isn’t reasonable. It falls outside of social norms. So what would be a good comparison to men’s ties? Of the 12 women in this picture I only see 4 that are actually following all of the rules for business attire.
Here is our 2nd picture of professional women. So how well are they doing at dressing professionally. Legs are covered. 6/8 have their legs covered. Arms are covered. 7/8 have their arms covered. Chest fully covered. 7/8 have their chests fully covered. Earth tones for color. Yes, and 6/8 are even in the preferred Black/navy. So these women are doing a much better job of dressing professionally than the ones in the first photo.
So last photo of professional attire for women. Legs are covered. 3/5. Arms are covered 4/5. Chest fully covered, Yep. Earth tones, check. 3/5 are in the preferred Black/navy. In this photo 3/5 people are properly dressed in business attire.
I think it’s clear, women are not dressing as professionally as men. When people complain about how unfair and unreasonable it is to judge a woman based on her clothing, this is what I think of. These women are clearly already being judged less harshly than the men for their choices in clothing. To say that women should be judged even less harshly than they are now isn’t arguing for equality. It is arguing for privilege.
When I hear women complaining about how harshly the are judged for their choices in clothing, I’m not sure what they are complaining about. Women are already judged much less harshly than men for clothing choices. Women already have much more flexibility and personal discretion in clothing choices. Women are already privileged when it comes to clothing choices. To what extent does this privilege need to be extended to make feminist happy? If feminists wanted equality between men and women, they would be outraged over how lax the judgements of women are. If feminists wanted equality they would be fighting to make the male dress code less strict.
Do women really want this to be considered conservative formal business attire?