Women’s Privilege in Professional Wear

AC-DolchstossYou may have gotten caught up in the recent viral ragebait accusing men of oppressing women with air conditioning in the workplace. Apparently, offices are kept too cold for women who choose to bare their legs, arms, and collarbones, while men required to wear suits work in the comfort of closed collars, often wrapped tight around their throats with silk nooses as required by professional dress codes, and long sleeves and pants legs that make the summer commute a sweat-dripping misery.

Not only did this most recent Feminist hate-meme flip the actual pro-female gender privilege on its head, but it completely missed the point of keeping the modern workplace cool. Digging up some obsolete standard from the 1950s that calculated the optimal temperature for office spaces based on the men who labored there to provide for their wives at home, Feminists completely missed the technical reason workplaces are kept cool in the 21st century: for the benefit of our ubiquitous information technology, not the Global Patriarchal Conspiracy against women.

The air-conditioning campaign not only exploited the gynosympathetic bias that leads the irrational mind to blame men for every inconvenient consequence of the choices women make, but it played into the absurd stereotype of women not understanding STEM. Of course, intelligent women who haven’t swallowed the Feminist Kool-Aid saw through this obvious anti-male Dolchstoss myth.

But, it does provide a “teachable moment” for people who do not understand the privilege women enjoy in regard to professional attire.

Concealing privilege behind supremacist outrage

During an interview while touring Asia, Hillary Clinton was asked which clothing designers she prefers. Her response was to laugh derisively and shame the interviewer for even asking such a question of a women, since a similar question would less likely be asked of a man. The crowd cheered.

These were the cheers of smug female privilege. True, such a question would make less sense if asked of a man. But that’s because of the relative freedom women enjoy in fashion, even in professional wear, a reality which is obnoxiously self-evident. It is one of the least examined of unexamined gender privileges in modern society.

It is not sexism to ask women their designer preferences when professional women can wear all white, all black, bright red, orange, blue, or lime green suits to work, of various cuts and styles, revealing arms and thighs and collarbones and even cleavage, without being ridiculed, while all professional men are expected to wear essentially the same burka-like uniform in dark, muted tones with a limited selection of tie colors as accents.

For a man to wear some of the wild range of fashion permitted a powerful woman like Hillary Clinton (see the graphic below) he would have to be a villain in a science fiction adventure flick. Not only is it reasonable to ask her about her clothing choices, she ought to be ridiculed for much of it, if we’re going to treat men and women equally. (That is the definition of Feminism, isn’t it?)

For another example, the photo at right is of Letitia Long, former director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, highly celebrated as the first woman appointed to head a major US intelligence organization. This is not to question her performance in that role, but to point out a brazenly apparent distinction in her fashion liberties compared to her male peers.

In the photo, she is speaking at a very prestigious conference at Georgetown University, wearing an all-white sleeveless outfit that reveals her legs up to her thighs while all of the men around her are dressed in the same dark suits that cover everything from their wrists to their throats. She has also worn bright reds, blues, and yellows to official functions.

Can you even imagine a man in her position wearing such colorful outfits or baring his arms and legs at a official appearance? Of course not. He would be ridiculed until he resigned or was removed from office.

Italy-MinisterFor another example, see the meme-inspiring photo at left of the Italian Minister for Constitutional Reform, Maria Elena Boschi. Note how her freedom of dress contrasts with the men around her. Like Ms. Long, she becomes the immediate center of attention in the scene.

Feminists were outraged when someone altered this image, expanding the existing ass-showing gap in the Minister’s outfit and photo-shopping in a visible thong. But, like Hillary’s smug outrage at the question about her clothes, the Feminist tantrum about this alteration was more an expression of privilege than a reaction against it.

Why shouldn’t Minister Boschi’s gender privilege be mocked? The photo-shopping only had to alter the image marginally to show the absurd and discriminatory license she enjoys compared to the males she works with.

A woman in a carnation pink suit is a 21st century executive. A man in a carnation pink suit is a pimp character from a comedy set in the 1970s. The clothing expectations imposed on either sex are not in the same ballpark, much less equal. Even when on their own time, professional men are limited to very rigid options gravitating around khaki slacks and a golf shirt. The relative privilege of women here is immense and undeniable.

But, the privilege of a supremacist is not to be questioned, something Hillary Clinton made abundantly clear in that oft-quoted interview. Rather than simply answering a reasonable question based on an obvious difference between how professional men and women are allowed to behave, she chose to shame and silence someone who came too close to revealing the privileges of her caste, privileges that—according to Feminist dogma—cannot exist under the Global Patriarchal Conspiracy that allege runs the world.

Hillary-Fashion

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