12/ 12/ 2007

Cleavage and Sexist Feminism


I haven’t been this angry in a while.

The above Glamour article is a debate between two women (Cynthia Gorney and Kerry Miller) about whether or not it’s wrong to bare a little cleavage in the office. In one corner, we have an older woman (Gorney) who claims to be a feminist and is vehemently against v-necks; in the other, a 25-year-old young professional (Miller) who sounds equally as dumbfounded as I am that a free-thinking woman in America could be so close-minded. (I guess you know where I stand.)

The older woman opens the debate by talking about a “deep conversation” she had with a young professional woman who was, in her words, “smart, articulate, [and] very good at her work.” Then she goes on to say that throughout the entire conversation, all she could think about was how apalled she was that the woman was showing too much cleavage.

“If you have ambition and intelligence, if you’re intent on being taken seriously in the workplace, what is the deal with the cleavage?” she asks.

I’m sorry, Ms. Feminist, but it appears you’ve lied to us. You said you were having a deep conversation with a highly-intelligent woman, and yet while SHE was upholding HER end of the conversation, you were busy looking at her breasts. What’s more, you were drawing a direct correlation with the size of her bust and the extent of her professional abilities. WOW. And here women have been thinking for decades that the MALE dominated corporate structure was holding us down–when all along, it was people like you.

The old “feminist” goes on to talk about her sexual-harassment attorney-husband, whom she says is baffled at why women wear flattering clothing around the workplace and expect men not to look.

Newsflash, Ms. Feminist; in my book, you’re married to a sexist. A sexist sexual harassment attorney who doesn’t even believe in the laws he’s working with everyday! How’s that for irony?

The point of even having sexual harassment laws in the workplace is to ensure that people do not feel sexually threatened or are put at a disadvantage because of their gender. In her argument, old feminist gets really uptight about the fact that her husband says men aren’t allowed to give women the “elevator look,” a.k.a. upping and downing someone like they’re a piece of meat. “Just to look,” she emphasized–UMMM, last I checked, that was rude even before there were sexual harassment laws. Men give those aggressive looks to show you they’re interested, and in the club, that MIGHT be alright. In the work place, it is NOT–no matter what I’m wearing. It shouldn’t be that hard for a man to restrain himself after seeing a low-ish cut shirt; if it is, he belongs in the zoo, or at least far, far away from civilization. And since when did feminists start blaming WOMEN for the obnoxious behavior of men?

Inevitably, Hillary Clinton was pulled into the article as well, since she is everyone’s favorite woman to rag on. I have so much admiration for her; even if she doesn’t make it back to the White House, because of all the shit she has to take from everyone, ESPECIALLY women. The kind of hate this woman has to endure surpasses the lows that most male politicians have to face, and a lot of it comes from sexist women like old feminist, here.

Read through the rest of the article yourself; it’s truly appalling. This woman actually compared a low-cut v-neck at work to stripper clothing. Really, if you’re so offended that professional women no longer have to dress like men in order to get ahead, then get a stylist. Next, your crazy ass will be advocating breast reductions!

I say: No, don’t go to work dressed like a pole dancer (unless, of course, you are one). But don’t feel the need to uglify yourself to avert your male-manager’s eye. It’s HIS job to stay professional around you, not your job to make sure you’re ugly and unprovoking.

And don’t you ever ever DARE tell any woman that she should apologize or cover up the fact that she’s beautiful and feminine. The point of women’s rights is to fight for equal opportunity, not to sacrifice our identities to and live in fear of being judged by old self-proclaimed feminists with no taste. Think about it — was the purpose of the feminist movement to have men recognize that women deserved equal treatment, or that women should be more like men if they wanted equal treatment? The latter sounds pretty ridiculous to me.

Besides, the way Gorney gets all hot and bothered by her female colleagues is highly suspicious to me. It sounds more like a defensive coverup, perhaps because she’s bi-curious and is grappling with her feelings of lust for her chesty female colleagues. It could also be that she is in denial about having breast envy–prehaps she’s flat chested and secretly hates and belittles all women who have something to flaunt? Either way, the effect is the same. Gorney is a sexist disguised as a feminist.

My point-by-point response to the article:

1. Cynthia says she was in deep conversation with the young lady in her initial argument, but it sounds more to me like she was busy staring at the woman’s breasts while the poor woman was carrying on the intelligent conversation all by herself.

2. If I have ambition and intelligence, I will be taken seriously in the workplace, as long as I don’t work for people like Cynthia.

3. If I wanted to wear a neon sign that said please look here, I would. If you’re referring to my stunning good looks (and my cleavage), well I’m sorry, but I can’t help that I’m beautiful.

4. “If you?re having trouble making eye contact with me, that?s your problem, not mine.” Amen.

5. If a guy walks past wearing plunge-front, pube-bearing pants with butt cleavage, my reaction is the same as when I see a man wearing a lime-green long-sleeve silk shirt tucked neatly into sponge-bob square pants swimming trunks (with full coverage), and knee-high sports socks with flip-flops.

6. How exactly am I “deluding” myself when I wear a low cut v-neck shirt? I look hot, and I know it. I don’t think I would be the dellusional one in this case.

7. Looking hot may not be part of my job description, but neither is following the Cynthia Gorney dress code.

8. When I’m in the office and doing my job, that conveys a clear message that I’m doing my job. What does the profession of exotic dancing have anything to do with this? Am I not allowed to look hot if I’m not paid to do so?

9. An ?elevator gaze? is rude and offensive. Much more so, in fact, than a low-cut top. It is not “just” a look; it’s a lusty, aggressive, belittling come on. Unless, of course, it’s in the club. Why don’t you go give the MEN a lecture on appropriate office behavior?

10. If your attorney-husband thinks gender inequality in the workplace is a result of women accentuating the fact that they are women, he clearly does not believe in the laws that pay his bills and yours.

11. Re: the Taliban: Actually, lady, your arguments sound pretty hysteric to me; and you pretty much did say that it’s women and their “neon signs” that provoke men to violate us with their eyes in the workplace.

12. Hillary Clinton deserves a story all her own. Regardless of whether I would want her back in the White House, she is a very capable woman who is now everyone’s favorite woman to rag on, ESPECIALLY by women. Yet, she perseveres. That is incredibly admirable.

13. Again, hysterical pole-dancing analogies are lost on me.

14. I cannot believe that a woman who would judge another woman first by her clothes before her intelligence or competence would actually refer to herself as a dispairing feminist. I also cannot believe a feminist would discourage a woman from accentuating her womanly attributes in order to feed into stereotypes that smart women have to more like men.

15. What’s wrong with making your sexuality part of who you are? Being born as a woman, an Asian American, and in New York are perhaps the three most important things that ever happened to me, and they make me who I am today. Why should I misrepresent myself?

16. Let’s distinguish, too, that we are talking about low-cut v-necks on professional women, not “pole-dancer” clothing on pre-teens. I’m sure you’ll notice the difference between the dominatrix outfits that go on sale during Halloween and what women are wearing to work these days.

17. I don’t think I have never been so angry and offended (as a woman–as an ethnic minority in America is a different story) in all my life as I was with the arguments made by Cynthia Gorney in this article.

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I'm a 30-something multimedia creator from New York. I do videos on Youtube centered on open discussion and co-mentorship. Once a month, I host a Q&A with inspiring people from entrepreneurs to athletes and more on The itsme Podcast. Be warned: I can be opinionated. But it's all love! Please follow and subscribe, it would mean a lot! :)

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