Addressing Equality

Recently, I was walking down a corridor and I saw a member of staff wearing a shirt dress. It was short, left little to the imagination although it was a lovely yellow and the lady wearing it looked fantastic. Perfect for the weather we were enjoying at the beginning of the week.

But then, I looked around at all the men that I work with, that I have worked with and may work with in the future. They don’t have much in the way of flexibility in what they wear to work. The only different between the winter and summer months will be a suit jacket or a jumper either present of removed.

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While I worked in a Contact Centre, one of the only men in the department petitioned to be allowed to wear shorts, it ended up meaning that we had a fairly flexible dress policy going forward, and since we were not customer facing, it made sense.

It is something I have struggled with for years, while in primary school I remember boys having uniform shorts, but this was removed at secondary school age. I even remember a campaign by a number of class mates who turned up at school in Bermuda shorts to petition the school to allow them to wear shorts in the summer as us girls we able to choose either skirts or trousers. It didn’t end well, nothing changed, we were all a little more jaded.

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Why aren’t men allowed to wear shorts? I am guessing it is the same reason that wearing skirts is still seen as optimum in some officers and places of business. It is a conservative left over, where a certain ‘class’ of person wears shorts. If I can (and do) wear trousers to work, then I would have to say that a man can (and should) wear shorts. I don’t mean denim cut offs, or cycle shorts. There are plenty of styles to choose from although in general men don’t wear them. I guess if you spend most of your time in trousers, a couple of days won’t make much difference.

Are men’s legs really so unattractive, and surely we put ourselves through enough in the summer, shaving, then putting tights on with our skirts. But notice what I said about the contact centre. The boys (all 2 of them) asked for a fairer dress code because they were struggling in trousers and shirts. The result was a department wide lowering in standard. That, to be is … yay equality, but then, surely as a woman, you have much more in the way of options. Personally I prefer wearing palazzo pants in the summer as it means I don’t have to worry about keeping upto date with my waxing appointments and it still feels loose and airy enough. You know, relative to chilling next to a pool in my swimsuit .

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And this is where feminism is failing all of us. Because it isn’t fair if the boys are allowed to wear shorts to work and women aren’t allowed the same level of casual dress. But then look at it another way, most offices now are ‘smart/casual’ which roughly translated means no jeans, or funky printed tshirts. Whereas, and at the risk of repeating myself, guys really don’t have many options. I have often joked that guys have it easy, I assume that since their clothes are actually made to size (ie waist) that there isn’t a massive amount of variation save the actual cut, but being lazy aside, they have little or no option when it comes to work wear.

 

But thinking on it, shorts, really are the last bastion of ultimate casual wear aren’t they, be it board shorts, boxer shorts, booty shorts. Shorts are not seen as appropriate office wear. Barely seen as smart. Do you see women rolling up to work in shorts? Really, we need to take a long hard look at ourselves, while there are certainly times and places where leg coverage is optimal … and ironically the amount of labourers I know that were shorts, is it really such a bad think if guys started wearing shorts. Or cropped trousers. Would it really be the end of civilisation? With so much inequality in the world, workplace, in every area really, as a feminist, is the idea that men should have better wardrobe choices really something to concern yourself about?

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I would say yes, because why should I sit here saying how women be treated equally, this should go both ways. Yep, you can think me shallow, I freely admit that I am. But where there are certainly awkward conversations that male employers have with female employees about what is and isn’t appropriate, and generally speaking men know what is and isn’t appropriate, I think it is really getting to a point that we admit, if tattoos and piercings are being more accepted in the workplace, a hairy leg should be as well.

And as I hope these photos have proved, men can look fantastic in shorts 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Addressing Equality

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