Monday, October 21, 2013

DENNIS: WOMEN'S WEAR—FASHION STATEMENT OR SYMBOL OF POWER?

Among the many issues connected with the ever increasing numbers of managerial women in the workplace are those concerning dress. Broadly two issues arise:

  1. Do women have to forgo their traditional options for dress and instead adopt more male-inspired fashion as they move into positions of power in industry and government?
  2. Right on the heels (pun unintended) of this question come the protests of men, who think it is unfair, even discriminatory, that women in the workplace can adopt male dress but not socially acceptable for men to adopt women's attire. Some men even claim that this “double standard” shows, by extension, that Feminism is somehow flawed and should be discredited. 
What is our response? Well, Feminist scholars have long argued that women's upward mobility does not mandate they abandon any of their traditional options for dress, or anything else for that matter; women maintain all of their options. There is absolutely no need to dress like men as a condition of acquiring power in the workplace and at home. Women can cross gender lines freely and acceptably adopt male attire; although most women in the workplace see this only as a fashion statement, and definitely not as any homage to traditional male power.
 
Some Feminists go a step beyond stating that women should retain all the options they have for dress. These advocates of female empowerment have stated, and not casually or tongue-in-cheek, that women should offer these same options to men. The unwritten precondition here is that women make such a carte blanche offer to men only when men have ceded a significant amount of their power to women. Otherwise, women retain their options and men have no rights to them. Sorry, guys!

Historically women have retained their modes of dress and beauty rituals as a female-only respite from discriminatory male society. Female attire was typically dismissed as irrelevant, and power was equated with the way men dressed and behaved. Things are changing though; power is increasingly symbolized by female attire.

If women adopt male-inspired dress, they directly pay homage to male authority and sacrifice the increasing power of female attire. As women assume more and more leadership roles, how they dress is going to be associated with power and influence. And it's already happening: a skirt, pantyhose, and heels say “I'm in charge here.” I work with executive women, and none of them has forgone feminine attire. You can look like a woman and be in charge!


How a woman dresses has an impact; men pay attention and show respect. Men realize that these new symbols of corporate power are not available to them, nor (they realize) are the coveted management positions that are increasingly filled by more qualified women. Carol, the woman I work for, often says “Authority wears a skirt,” referring to the significant numbers of women in management at our company with rarely a pants suit to be seen! Yes, power wears a skirt and high heels; I find that the sound of high heels on the hardwood floors of our board room to be very intimidating! Feminine, to be sure, but also intimidating!  The Queen has arrived! Shut up and take notes!
Now, for the male claim of discrimination. We've heard this in many open Feminist forums, where some man brings up this lame argument against Feminism. In open forum, if a man brings this up, we offer him a skirt and heels to wear as our way of ending discrimination right then and there; so far no man has put on the skirt.

We believe that the options for dress that women have are theirs and theirs alone.  Men have no rights unless they are extended to them by women, and most women are reluctant to broadly grant them, at least for now. Society will have to evolve further for that to happen. Within the confines of individual relationships, however, a woman can do as she pleases, granting her man privileges as befit his behavior and her motives.  Whatever women offer, men are advised to reverently accept—in my case a fancy apron and earrings.  It’s an outward sign of my subordinate role in our relationship, one that I embrace.


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14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here are some rambling thoughts and scenarios the blog readers may appreciate!

Average male and female heights in the U.S. are approximately 5'10" and 5'5", respectively. A man's shoes typically add about an inch to his height. Thus, if women wear six-inch heels in the workplace, they will (on average) see men "eye-to-eye". This is symbolic and powerful. All women should wear six-inch heels at work. This means they won't have to "look up" to men. An empowered female executive who does this can walk up to a man and hold his gaze, eye-to-eye. This changes how the man subconsciously perceives her and thus the entire conversation dynamic. Of course, if she is attractive and dresses professionally but strategically, that enhances her power even further.

Any young, ambitious female professional should be sharp, articulate, and know how to subtly disarm a male colleague with her sexuality. In a boardroom exchange, she meets him eye-to-eye with intensity and knowledge the effect her sexuality has on him. He'll be distracted, disarmed, and muddled by her physicality...while she remains sharp-tongued and articulate, dominating the discussion and ultimately prevailing in the decision-making process. Observers will be impressed with her performance, and she will be promoted above him. Although he may be frustrated and feel emasculated by her superiority, he will also feel her erotic power whenever he sees her.

Perhaps, if she finds him attractive and no official company policies forbid coworker relationships, she may extend her dominance from the boardroom to the bedroom. Traditionally, some women have slept with higher-ranking men in hopes of gaining a higher rank themselves, but this modern empowered woman will never allow herself to be the less powerful half of a coupling. Instead, she will only couple with men less powerful than herself. Instead of sleeping with higher-ranking men to gain power, she will sleep with lower-ranking men to assert her newfound power AFTER she has outmaneuvered them in the boardroom. This sort of coupling is partly for her own pleasure (the man must be attractive) and partly to cement her power over him and celebrate her victory. Although the man may feel frustration and resentment toward her promotion over him, these negative feelings will likely be overpowered by his desire and lust fueled by the confidence and power she exudes. In fact, he will likely be an easy (albeit very pleasurable) conquest for her.

If she does choose to take him to bed, she will have full and complete control. Her recent boardroom victory over him will manifest itself in their bedroom behavior. Simply put, she will conquer him. She will seduce him with her power, lead him to bed, and ride him. Her on-top position in the bedroom symbolizes her newfound on-top position in the boardroom. Their time together will be intense and prolonged. It won't be about romance, but about cementing her victory over him - she will objectify him and take pleasure from him. Even though some primal part of his masculinity will protest, few men can resist the aphrodisiac that is a woman's power.

After she's done with him in the bedroom (one time or multiple times), she will have even more power over him in the boardroom. In any meeting, he will be unable to question, counter, or disagree with her ideas or judgement, because he will remember all the delicious ways in which she fervently guided, led, and controlled him between the sheets.

So even though traditional powerless women have slept with more powerful men to gain power, modern empowered women can sleep with less powerful men to ASSERT their power.

Anonymous said...

could the attractivenes of women be yet another advantage they have over men, especially at the workplace? I think most men would rather follow and work under an attractive woman than an unnatractive one. I like the idea of high heels and skirts being the new symbols of corporate power and consider it a great metaphor. and as for us men, hey, at least we'll know that the boss is coming - when we hear the sound of high heels!

Anonymous said...

My fiancée has already bought me two aprons and has promised another for my birthday. I find wearing one really reinforces the dynamic of our relationship and gives her a lot if confidence and power. It makes me feel calm and eager to please her.

Mark Remond said...

(I am reposting here a Comment that was just left on an earlier posting (by Ms. Amanda), in hopes that a wider readership will see it and comment on it.)

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "AMANDA: FEMALE AUTHORITY WITHIN THE FAMILY (PART 2...":

Thank you so much for your articles. I wanted to ask a question to anyone in a Wife Led Marriage. In what ways did pregnancy affect the relationship? My lover sent me links to Loving Female Authority and to this blog in May, and since we have been practicing a Female Led Relationship. I love it - I love him, how he has changed, and he seems really happy. If we continue the relationship and it turns into marriage I would like to have a family, and he said he would prefer the wife-led family to be part of our family life, similar to how it is portrayed here. This gives me more incentive to continue the relationship, and I wanted to hear from anyone about the feelings of both parties during pregnancy - how did you demonstrate obedience and worship your wife during this time, and how did women show their dominance and guide their men? Also, the chastity requirements seem to conflict with getting pregnant. I find that now my dear is so submissive, I want him all the time.

BOB said...

I think that the rise of women in the workplace will actually cause more casualness in workplace dress

You can already see this. Men may like women wearing stockings.But more and more businesswomen are shunning pantyhose. And in many offices, women are wearing "workplace casual" style sandals and even flip flops

I think that in the near future this trend will continue

But what of male fashion? I dont know. Its gotten much more casual at office workplaces. And on the street. For instance, on the street, you see more and more men walking around barechested. With women doing the oggling as the shirtless men walk by

As for offices, i can see "Business shorts" one day becoming fashionable. With men in offices baring their legs.And i wouldnt be surprised if , as the workplace became more casual and women became more powerful, men might star wearing tighter and tighter khaki pants or even shorts to offices. With their female bosses admiring the male employees rear ends

Anonymous said...

Picking up on the above comment...

Yes, I can see a scenario in which society evolves to give women much more power...and those powerful women begin to objectify men...and men respond by dressing more provocatively to win favor with the women.

In offices, female bosses will notice the physical assets of their male subordinates. They may even tend to favor the more attractive men for promotion. They'll notice a male employee's physique, fitness, musculature, and especially whether or not he has anything sizable between his thighs. An ambitious male employee may try to be "accidentally" seen by his female bosses while shirtless...and an especially assertive female boss looking to solidify her authority may even take him to bed...and promote him at work if he performs well.

Gringito said...

The other day, a number of the Women in my office came to work wearing black leather stiletto heeled boots. These Women looked powerful and sexy walking in the halls and offices. I call this Boot Power and it makes me feel weak and submissive. I also love 6" stiletto high heels as well. The Queen has arrived and she is large (tall) and in charge!

Anonymous said...

Women executives with high heels in the office are amazing - especially as symbols of their power over male subordinates.

The next step is for women to proudly display male "pinup" calendars in their offices and cubicles - photos of physically perfect men in barely any clothing. Of course, male employees are forbidden to display photos of females, but all the dominant, high-heeled women have calendars and posters of male underwear models with perfect six-pack abs and prominent bulges in their single scrap of clothing. This further cements female authority in the workplace. When male employees see this in a woman's office, they will know she is in control and views men as her playthings to be objectified. Also, if the men know what body types their female bosses prefer to ogle, they will be compelled to hit the gym quite often in hopes of winning a promotion.

This was mentioned in the comments on another post of this blog a while back. Does anyone have more thoughts on this topic?

Obedient Husband said...

This is a great post and great comments.

I see this with my wife, who is an up-and-comer in a male-dominated, highly competitive environment (an Ivy League medical school). Women are rare in her line of work, and just a few years ago she felt pressure to dress very casually, in jeans and t-shirts. She didn't want people to judge her on her looks. In the past few years, her thinking has changed. Now she is much more likely to wear blazers, well-fitting dress pants, knee-high boots, and pencil skirts to work. This has increased her confidence greatly. Alas, she won't be objectifying her male coworkers, since they're not exactly physical specimens (except for some of the medical students, but she finds them annoying and interacts with them as little as possible).

For my part, my wife has ordered a change of wardrobe. I now wear slim-fit pants and shirts that are much snugger. My sweaters and jackets fit more closely as well. So as my wife dresses to express power, she has me dress to reflect what physical attractiveness I may have.

As a submissive male, I'm always very careful never to judge a woman's intellect or dignity by what she wears. Through my wife I have met so many talented, fascinating, and powerful women, nearly all of whom seem comfortable with their ability and themselves. Now if only I knew enough honorable, submissive, subservient men to obey and honor them, I could be of use to them!

Clive said...

my former boss never wore heels, skirts or pantyhose, but was respected and I think she was doing her job very well. However, when she left, she was replaced with a younger, more attractive woman who dresses very sexy and feminine. Of course, the new boss is way more popular among the men at the office than the old one ever was - even though she's not so qualified and experienced. It seems that we men are more eager to follow women we consider attractive; that's a lesson all young female professionals should have in mind. As for sleeping with her male subordinates - that's just a male fantasy and I consider that kind of a discussion here unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Attire should be completely up to the women to decide. 95 percent of women graduating from college are in a very feminists mindset, which is wonderful. I can see it in my nieces, they dress in a manner than pleases them whether it be work or not. There attitudes have also become very assertive and demanding.

BOB said...

In regards to the "male pin up " calendars that a commenter mentioned. Some women already post these types of photos and calendars on their office walls .Ive seen more than a few in offices.Especially ones in which women make up the vast majority of employees

i once knew a lady who got mad at her husband for buying a Playboy magazine. A local store was handing out free posters of a famous shirtless baseball athlete. So I gave her the poster.And she hung it up on her living room wall. Her husband and son didnt like it.But her teenage Daughter enjoyed it .

A couple of moths later, he got laid off. I used to visit their house a lot[they were good friends and next door neighbors] .

Since he was laid off, he started to do all of the housework.So in order to socialise with him, i ended up helping him with the housework. Me, him and his son would be in the kitchen fixing dinner and washing dishes.While the Wife and her Daughter would be relaxing and watching tv. Right by the poster of the shirtless athlete

This family were your average American family. Which made it the more interesting how the wife asserted her newfound power after her husband was laid off .

Mark Remond said...

BOB - Another of your delightful and informative comments. I've missed seeing your comments here. Have you checked out the recent postings my Ms. Helene?

Anonymous said...

Bob, thanks for sharing that anecdote.

Yes, it's true that when a woman has power, especially financial power, she can leverage that to objectify men. If a wife is the breadwinner and owns the house, she can feel free to hang up whatever posters/photos she wants. The shirtless athlete is just the beginning. Once she has total financial control, she can hang up high-resolution posters of male underwear models who are obviously much more well-endowed than her husband. This sends a message to him (and any other male in the house) that if she has financial power and independence, she is empowered to select men based on their physical attributes.