You have two lists. In one hand is a list of forbidden business attire for men, and in the other, for women. They don’t seem to be of much significance, they are just lists of clothes one isn’t supposed to wear, correct?
Here’s where the problem lies: the men’s list is blank.
Lawmakers all over America received backlash due to actions taken against the business attire of women. In Montana, House speaker Austin Knudsen was in the line of fire after issuing a dress code that required women to be “sensitive” when it came to skirt lengths and necklines, and in contrast, made no demands on the men. Other forbidden clothing items included halter tops, strapless tops and backless styles. As a woman, the contrast in expectations regarding proper attire for men versus women, feels like there are shots being fired against women.
The motivation for Knudsen’s dress code came from issues similar to the scandal that involved Missouri House speaker John Diehl exchanging sexual text messages with an intern. As a man, creating a guideline such as that to avoid such scandals in the future may seem plausible at first. But as a woman, shouldn’t Diehl be at fault?
The restrictive guidelines on women’s clothing can be viewed as insulting and degrading. Women always have to work twice as hard to be in the same positions that most men are in, and are still faced with challenges, such as the gender pay gap. According to the American Association of University Women’s website, in 2014, women working full time were paid 79 percent of what men were paid.
Women put in as much or more time and effort as men do to succeed, yet are not rewarded equally for their efforts. Montana Democratic Representative Jenny Eck said it best in an article from the Columbia Missourian: “Women already have to be smarter and work harder to be considered equal, a dress code suggests [that] men have permission to evaluate women based on their bodies.”
In a professional setting, why are men concerned with what women are wearing? Women should not be blamed for distracting their male counterparts.
“It is very sexist to have a dress code for females and for males,” said LaDavia Robinson, a junior at MU who studies human development and family studies. “Since women [should] have a strict[er] code, men should have to wear suits everyday, or some guideline that’s equivalent to the women’s [list].”
Robinson said she understands that all jobs should have the same dress code when it comes to women in the business world: no cleavage, no spaghetti straps, skirts at least at fingertip length. But not a list specifically geared towards telling women how to dress.
“We have freedom to dress in any way we please,” said Takavia Evans, an MU freshman who is passionate about women’s rights.
From a freshman standpoint, college is one step closer to the professional world. We, as women, know what we can and cannot wear when it comes to presenting ourselves. It’s honestly not that hard to figure out.
Women have enough common sense to go to work without flaunting our assets. We simply want to know that we can dress without a man’s input and do the same job just as well.
So, for that long list of appropriate women’s business attire? Just rip it up.