On Sexism and Looking “Professional”
So, I’m watching this episode of Dexter (Season Six, Episode Four) where Deb has to do a press conference. She’s told she doesn’t look professional, so she has to go buy a skirt suit and wear high heels and pantyhose. She complains about how uncomfortable and painful those accessories are. This made me think about something that is constantly pissing me off.
The idea of job interviews and “looking professional” pisses me off. This sounds ridiculous, but it pisses me off because it means something completely different if you’re a woman.
- If you don’t wear make-up you’re considered to look unprofessional. Not only do people think you’re unprofessional, but they think of you as lazy and probably gross. Make-up takes time and money. Men don’t have to wear make-up. Men aren’t constantly told that their natural face is unacceptable for public.
- Women are told by society (See: every fucking hair product commercial ever) that long hair is not only the definition of femininity, but what is attractive. If you have short hair you’re considered “alternative” and that makes you look unprofessional. Nevermind that long hair is fucking hard to manage. So, let’s say you are socially acceptable and have long hair. That means you have to make sure you’re hair looks healthy and a natural color. This also means that if your hair isn’t styled, managed, and carefully primped you look “unprofessional.” Women have to spend much more time getting ready than men.
- If you have visible leg hair or armpit hair that is, of course, unprofessional.
- Then there’s fucking “dress clothes.” If you go to Walmart a men’s dress shirt is about $5-7, but a women’s dress shirt is $20-30. But of course, your clothes can’t look cheap. That’s goddamn unprofessional. Men’s dress clothes are easily accessible (easy to find and easy to afford). Women’s dress clothes aren’t as easy to find as casual clothes. Women can wear dress pants, but they can’t be too tight. It’s far more acceptable for women to wear a skirt suit. It can’t be any skirt. It must be a tight constricting skirt. It is for looks and obviously not for functionality. You can’t move too much. God forbid you ever have to run from someone. If you can see too much of the ass it’s sleazy and unprofessional. There can’t be cleavage. A woman will be accused of using her body to get ahead. Nothing can be too tight, because that makes a woman look like a “slut.” The clothes can’t be too loose because then it looks like they don’t fit, which is unprofessional.
- Then there are all the mandatory accessories. Pantyhose which can be constricting, uncomfortable, and they make everyday tasks (like going to the bathroom) more complicated. And of course jewelry is necessary to look professional because you must look like you care about your appearance. So you have to know how to accessorize. High heels are the most professional of shoes. They are also the least practical and most uncomfortable. Also, what’s up with how high heels are associated with professionalism, but also prostitution? All of this costs fucking money. Men do not have to spend this much money or exert this much effort.
Your hair must look natural (a natural color, not in a mohawk or spikes, etc.), yet your face must look unnatural and you must shave your armpits and legs (which is not natural). The patriarchy does not actually care about looking natural. This society forces women to look like whatever its current ideal is.
If you are considered unprofessional how are you supposed to ever get a high-paying job? Or even a job that pays at all? Even for fast food interviews you’re required to look professional. If you don’t look professional at “professional” events then you aren’t respected. This society sets women up to fail. Our society doesn’t want women to have jobs. Our society doesn’t want women to be respected.