Women’s Dress Codes – How Can We Win?

Each of us girls/women have been shamed for our attire choices, and I am calling for change. Society’s double-standards place conflicting goals in which we can never win.

The first time I felt ashamed of what I was wearing, I was 13 and at church. Another girl in the church pulled me aside and told me my homely, mid-knee length, quilted skirt was too short for church. I remember playing with my earlobe, hoping she hadn’t seen my piercing as well. Earrings were taboo. I couldn’t wait to get home that day. I felt like everyone was judging my outfit as Tracy had, and was just too polite to tell me. I didn’t tell anyone about the incident because I was too ashamed to place myself under additional scrutiny.

When I was 27 and changed jobs to a new television station I was systematically minimized to a very specific, but unwritten, dress code. I was made to hem my skirts shorter, wear specific colors of nail polish, get makeovers and apply my makeup in a way that I considered too heavy, etc. I felt like I was pimping myself out for the sake of sales, and I didn’t want the rewards that came with getting sales that way. I quit that job without even having another job lined up, buried in a blanket of shame over my physical appearance.

At age 45 I reminisce about my oldest daughter getting dress coded in middle school with a tank top that covered her undergarments but the straps didn’t meet the modesty requirements anyway. I also reminisce about my youngest daughter getting dress coded for over-sized, mid-thigh athletic shorts. I remember how embarrassed they each were and how my heart broke for them. I remember questioning what kind of fundamentalists wrote these dress codes for our young ladies, and being completely incensed that these school administrators had the authority to place this judgement on MY girls.

Society’s double-standards around women’s dress now disgusts me. I refuse to be ashamed of my outfit choices. I now care for my battered feet from decades of wearing heels to work. I refuse to any longer encourage mindless compliance with ridiculous school dress codes for my daughters and future granddaughters.

For those of you who comply with the systematic oppression of women via the patriarchy’s dress codes, women and men, please consider what you are complying with. All of us are just trying to fit in. We are listening to all of society’s standards when we select our outfits each day. We know everyone has something to think about our attire choices, and believe me, it goes into our consideration. We are selecting our outfits to be casual enough, classy enough, modest enough, provocative enough, functional enough, athletic enough, comfortable enough, pretty enough, business enough, powerful enough, stylish enough. We are all selecting our outfits in fear of the ramifications of external judgement. How can we ever win? How can we be enough of anything with these conflicting goals? The answer is we can’t. We are all enough just as we are. And I for one have had enough.

Waving your Rebel and Nazi Flags is Terrorism

The Rebel and Nazi flags deliver threatening messages. I am all for freedom of speech and flags are a form of speech. But when a flag delivers a threatening message, its use should no longer be protected. No one is entitled to terrorizing others.

The main argument in support of the Rebel flag is that it represents heritage. Some supporters even go so far as to say the Civil War was not fought over slavery. As an educated person, I call bullshit on the latter. If heritage is the argument, then frame your flag in a shadow box with your grandfather’s medals. Advocate for an exhibit in every museum in the land. But do not continue terrorizing an entire race by flying it in public. Whether you believe the war was fought over slavery or not, surely you acknowledge that slavery did in fact end with the defeat of the Rebels? And seriously, think about all the other things that began to wither with that defeat. Segregation, overt oppression, lynchings. The list is long and needs to be longer.

The modern day use of the nazi flag is even more mind boggling. The only supporting argument I have heard is that the Swastika was a symbol of good before the Nazis got a hold of it. So you agree that it was no longer a symbol of good? Do you understand that the Nazi flag also represents the oppression and murder of up to 6 million innocent people? And then there were the estimated 60 million deaths from the war we fought to end the Nazi regime. The number is so big it’s difficult to comprehend. Did your grandfather or great grandfather fight in WWII? Where is the defense of your heritage now?

The fact of the matter is that the Swastika became widely know as a symbol of nationalist pride in Nazi Germany and I believe you fly the Nazi flag as a symbol of nationalist pride in modern day America. The Rebel flag is widely known to be a symbol of racism and is widely used by domestic terrorists. If your message is good and you are good, then why would you want to be confused with such terror?

When the Guys You Work with Hate You

Male dominated industries have beckoned me throughout my career. I was just 20 when I walked into a car dealership and asked, “What’s it like to sell cars?” I have no idea why the General Manager even entertained a conversation with me. I was on the way to my second shift job as night manager for a convenience store chain, so I was wearing my uniformed hat and smock. I also looked like I was 12.

Somehow though, the universe conspired to make me the only female saleslady in car sales that we knew of in the early 90’s. My naivety and unfailing honesty sold a ton of cars, and my sales career was born. The guys I worked with were mostly like having brothers. Super annoying most of the time, but there was an unbreakable bond created from spending 12 – 14 hours per day together. I remember being perpetually jealous of them. They got all the good demos. I had to drive an entry level car with manual windows and no AC, because the General Manager said he couldn’t afford to have his high-end cars, “Smell like diapers.” He also constantly reminded me, “The best thing I ever did was hire a broad.” I took it as a compliment.

A few years later, I went to work in another male dominated industry, selling commercial security systems. I did well at that job, too, but those guys didn’t bring me into their club the way the guys at the car dealership did. At least there were female administrative employees, so I did have folks to talk to during down times. I frequently found myself fighting for what was right. The guys were snaking leads from me (we had a rotation to keep it fair), they were excluding me from deals I brought to the company, and they were just downright assholes pretty much all the time. I didn’t realize it, though. I thought I should just work harder to make them like me, so I let a lot of stuff slide. I kept my nose clean, my head down, and I plugged away day after day.

My boss paged me one day, “Get to the office right away.” Well that’s weird. I stopped at a payphone and told him I had one more appointment and I’d be in right after. He told me to cancel the appointment and get to the office right away.

WTF. Okay.

I was stunned to find the head of Human Resources, the VP of sales, and our Regional Sales Manager at the office when I got there. This was a Fortune 100 company, so these were authentic bigwigs. We assembled in the conference room, where the head of Human Resources explained they had received an anonymous letter with some pretty dire accusations. They asked if anyone wanted to fess up to the letter. No one did. They explained that they usually throw anonymous letters in the trash, but because this one had so many details in it they were forced to investigate.

Oh snap.

I couldn’t wait to be called into the interrogation room so I could find out what kind of scandal was going on. The wait seemed like forever, and I was called in last. When I asked the guys what it was about they kind of scurried away from me, claiming they didn’t know. I believed them.

The bigwigs asked if I knew what the letter was about. “No,” I told them. They asked how I liked working there and I ticked off the benefits of my B2B job enthusiastically. They asked how I liked working with the team and I told them everything was fine. Why were they asking me that?

Then they dropped the bomb on me. “The letter was written about you, Lisa. The letter was anonymous, but it said ‘we.’ We believe the entire team wrote the anonymous letter collaboratively. Would you like to read it?” they asked.

“Well, what does it say?” I couldn’t hide my unmitigated shock.

They explained how it accused me of sleeping with our boss for leads. It said I was also sleeping with several contractors to get their leads. One by one, I went through each accusation and showed on the lead log how I had given every. single. lead. to the guys from the contractors because the buildings were too big for my level of expertise on fire code. I showed how our boss actually had to stop the guys from taking my leads on the lead rotation. I asked if they named any deals I had actually written in their accusations, and there were none. They thanked me for my time and said they would be meeting privately and would be back in the office in a few hours.

I was in a state of utter shock. Humiliation bubbled through my core and into my face. Reddened cheeks soon gave way to palpable anger, my heart pounding in my chest. How dare these guys make up such demoralizing allegations about me? Where did they even get these ideas? I pondered my fate for the next several hours while waiting anxiously for the bigwigs to return.

When they returned, we all assembled in the conference room again. One by one, the bigwigs ran through the accusations and their assessments. They glared at each of the guys and dared them to speak up against their assessments of each. My coworkers said nothing. They didn’t speak, and they didn’t even acknowledge the speakers’ questions with body language. The bigwigs told them they had considered firing the entire team, except me, but they had decided not to. They declared that instead I would be getting my own office to protect me (from my own coworkers). They explained to the guys that I would be receiving a company laptop so I wouldn’t have to go into the guys’ area to use the shared computer. They shamed those guys for even thinking what they did about me, and told them if corporate received another anonymous letter from anyone that they would all be fired, except me. They finished with the promise that I would be protected, no matter what.

It made me feel good. Power had spoken in my favor. The vicious fear-biters I worked with were shamed and put in their places. But oh my God, did those guys hate me. If I thought they hated me before, they definitely did then.

My boss later told me the whole story behind the bigwig’s private conversation with him. He had explained to them how I came back to work 21 days after giving birth, and how I paid for airfare for a sitter to come along to training so I could continue to nurse my daughter while I fulfilled my work obligations. The bigwigs went nuts over that. My boss told me that one of them slammed his fist down on the table, while exclaiming, “We will reimburse her for that sitter and her flight!” When he slammed his fist on the table, he accidentally hit his fork and sent it sailing through the air.

I worked through the remainder of my days at that job with my company provided laptop, my own office, a fat reimbursement check for my babysitting expenses, and the satisfaction of vindication. But nothing could fix the ache in my heart of feeling so loathed by my male coworkers. This was the first big lesson I got in the demoralizing need to be rescued by the patriarchy, from the patriarchy. I was rescued, but why did I need to be?

Still Supporting Trump? I Don’t Get It

My Trump supporting friend just left. We’ve been hanging out for a week, and she’s awesome.  She sees through to the core of complex relational issues.  She’s compassionate, but ready to fight for what she believes in.  She even bends when having an in depth conversation and sees points she missed the first time around.  She is loving. She is smart. She is loyal.  So I just don’t get why she still loves Trump.

He has lied and lied and lied. Let’s not take into consideration that he has serially cheated on every one of his wives. Or that he has lied to us, the American people, about everything under the sun.  Let’s take health care, for example. 45 said he wouldn’t cut Medicare, Medicaid, or social security. He said he would lower premiums and provide healthcare for every person (not possible, but hey, he said it). He said he didn’t even care if it cost him votes, that he would put more money into “it.” The Senate bill is a diametrically different than all those promises and more.  We have a lot of smart people in positions of power. It’s time they put their thinking caps on. But I digress….

She said she just didn’t like Hillary. I asked why not. She said it wasn’t anything specific. This time I pressed her. What are the non-specific reasons why you don’t like her?

“She was all talk, and never delivered. She stayed with her cheating husband, and what’s that teaching women?”

Oh. So you didn’t notice Trump’s cheating? How about the fact that Hillary didn’t cheat? Bill did.  She decided to stay with him. Who knows why. Is it our business? I say not. I find it reprehensible that women continue to find themselves under scrutiny when victimized by toxic masculinity.

“So do you see Trump’s predatory practices where women are concerned? How about the, “Grab them by the pussy” tape? “Does that bother you?” I asked.

“I mean, I wouldn’t be friends with him, but he’s doing a good job as president.”

Okay. I still don’t understand how Trump is good for women.

“So, you admit he’s a creep, but you’re okay with him running the country?”

“Yeah.”

Okay.

“What do you think about the Senate health care bill?”

“Well, our insurance is all messed up.”

“Yes. It is. What is the solution?”

“Well, my friend in Canada loves her health insurance.”

“Do you advocate for universal health care, then?”

“Yes. That’s what my friend in Canada has and she loves it.”

Mmmmmmm-kay.

My friend is not alone. Her sentiments are echoed by several other Trump-loving friends who are reasonable enough to have a conversation with. The common arguments I hear are a fiery mix of hate for Hillary, excusing or dismissing Trump’s bad behavior as unimportant (so so much bad behavior), and the now famous line, “What choice did I have?”

I just don’t get it.

Wow! I’m a Blogger

I am a saleslady working in a male dominated industry. I am a mother, daughter, sister, and aunt living in Trump’s America. I am a bad ass being of light, still learning to navigate earth school.  I am an estranged twin, feeling my way through the toxic mystery of our separation.

I am living, loving, and caring. And I have a lot to say.