What struck me the other day was talking to a friend about dressing at the work place while we discussed gender discrimination. This friend of mine happened to be a male who rather liked to voice his opinion about how it should be if we are ever to experience gender acceptance.
The topic itself is sensitive and one does not know what the primary cause is but this friend of mine judged it on appearance almost instantaneously. His idea of a remote progression towards gender equality in the workplace meant allowing for a merger to take place between male and female dress to form what we most famously call the androgynous look.
I then began to wonder how important appearance has become in today’s visual world where objectification has thus become necessary. While I do not condemn this very idea of progress and in fact was able see where my friend was coming from I do think that succeeding with merit has become a thing of the past. A lot more heartache is taken in to appearance in today’s age. Fashion magazines have in them instructions splashed out on how to dress better in order to win the attention of people at the workplace, particularly male. Personally I find that excessively confining. When we are in an era where feminism becomes part of every single woman’s identity there are contradictory elements that restrict this very notion.
It is not to say that every woman obediently follows fashion trends and falls into a cycle of aestheticising herself, however I do believe that in order to accomplish a thriving career most women succumb to the demand of looking the part.
What my friend pointed out was rather worrying for me personally when he mentioned how in order for women to be taken seriously they will have to dress in a more manly manner. Naturally every work force is dominated by the male figure and the aim is to impress the majority of people folk at the office, yet I do not think that a female should forget her gender in order to do that. It is like saying you have to carry the persona of a man in order to do a man’s job and I find that eerily disturbing.
When I checked the definition of Feminism in the Oxford dictionary it said ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’, and if we were to adopt a manly manner this very definition would seem phony. It should not be the case that women should avoid dressing in this manner and indeed if it is what is most agreeable to them then there should be nothing to stop them doing so, however what I disagree with is being pressured into something which may even change their identity and femininity. My sister once told me about a time when she was training to be a doctor and she was being taught by a female Consultant doctor at a hospital. This very lady would be seen pacing the corridors of the hospitals clad in a simplistic sari, a traditional clothing of the Indian Sub-Continent, and never quite changed her style of dressing for however long my sister interacted with her. Though she had been in England for more than half of her life, had a married an Englishman and proved to become one of the most successful doctors in England, she chose to dress in what she was most comfortable with, without the need to change in order to appeal to others. I think this story is in itself so very telling about the nature of how intelligent a person can be without the guise of dressing for approbation.
In the end it just makes me wonder how both male and female are on an equal footing in terms of intelligence, and it is a matter of putting in the hard work to get where you want rather than relying on appearance which may give momentary triumph but in the longer run it can bring a lot of stress, not only because you have to prove in terms of skill, but also in terms of the physical exhibition.