The radical idea that women are people

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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Noc » Mon May 28, 2012 12:28 am UTC

Panonadin wrote:What would a solution be then? I mean if someone can't share thier opinion on something for fear of offending/pressuring someone to change just by mentioning it then what do we do? Whistle? Look at the sky when something comes up that you see as "different"?

This is actually a thing people often do, when they're forced to interact with someone they don't approve of but don't want to be confrontational about it. It's...often just as bad, since tends to be clear that they're being grudgingly diplomatic and are going to be vocally judging you to their friends the moment your back is turned.

A major part of the solution is for people to lose the sense of entitlement they have re: other people's appearance. As it is, people feel like others have some kind of responsibility to present themselves in a way they find attractive; thus, presenting one's self in an 'unappealing' manner is somehow inconsiderate, and thus worthy of complaint. And it would be a terrible thing if we were prevented from sharing out opinions on the way other people look, because we would be forced to suffer that affront in silence! That's clearly not fair to us.

The solution is for people to cut that bullshit out and recognize that a lack of positive reaction to someone's appearance isn't a problem, and isn't something that needs to be pointed out. If you particularly like an aspect of their appearance, then by all means, mention it! If they don't, well, they're not doing it for your benefit, so stop worrying about it. And you can feel free to bring up your personal preferences in a conversation about preferences, but it's not your job to police the way other people look.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Ulc » Mon May 28, 2012 7:17 am UTC

Panonadin wrote:That's the thing. I don't know anyone who would respond any differently. Like, anyone. I don't consider my friends/family/acquaintances to be any more socially accepting than the next group of guys/girls but I guess I'm far off by assuming that.


And I'm fairly sure that you don't know all these peoples reaction to hairy legs. Subtle things can be grating as well, it might only be a fast disapproving frown followed by pointedly not look at the legs in question, and unless it's directed at you, it's damn easy to miss. By this point I occasionally notice it when friends of mine (that doesn't shave) gets harassed about it, but not always.

Because you know, privilege.

Might I suggest an experiment? Try and shave your legs, then wear shorts. As far as I remember, you're a cis male right? It'll only be for a few days before the hair is back - look at how people react, often without directly saying anything.



Poxic: It was mostly meant as "I don't understand how people can seriously care about leg hair?". I know that they do, and I know that women in general face a fair amount of pressure, I just don't get why the fuck it matters to people's opinion about how a woman looks. It seems extremely inconsequential to me.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Ormurinn » Mon May 28, 2012 12:41 pm UTC

Noc wrote:A major part of the solution is for people to lose the sense of entitlement they have re: other people's appearance. As it is, people feel like others have some kind of responsibility to present themselves in a way they find attractive; thus, presenting one's self in an 'unappealing' manner is somehow inconsiderate, and thus worthy of complaint. And it would be a terrible thing if we were prevented from sharing out opinions on the way other people look, because we would be forced to suffer that affront in silence! That's clearly not fair to us.

The solution is for people to cut that bullshit out and recognize that a lack of positive reaction to someone's appearance isn't a problem, and isn't something that needs to be pointed out. If you particularly like an aspect of their appearance, then by all means, mention it! If they don't, well, they're not doing it for your benefit, so stop worrying about it. And you can feel free to bring up your personal preferences in a conversation about preferences, but it's not your job to police the way other people look.


Hang on. Its part of the social contract that people appear in public in certain ways. One of my job's is as an interviewer - and so I maintain a professional standard of dress - I wear a shirt, dark jeans, chinos or trousers, shave, keep my hair neat, and keep clean, I'd never dream of wearing a T-shirt or a vest. To do otherwise is disrespectful to the people I'm interviewing.

I've also played some venues as a musician - when I was playing at a school prom, I wore a suit and tie. If I'd turned up and not conformed to the socially-accepted standard of dress, it would have been disrespectful of me - and the attendees at that prom would have had a right to be offended.

In public, theres a lesser standard, sure - I'll wear a T-shirt, not polish my boots, wear old, scuffed trainers. But again, theres a certain standard I should maintain, in order not to be disrespecting the people around me. Minimum standards of personal hygiene for example. Not wearing a shirt with "FUCK YOU" written on it. Not covering my face*.

It might be that you didn't mean what you said to be interpreted this way, but it sounds like you're saying people's clothing solely effects them, and that it's unreasonable for any social pressure to be applied to people at all. Thats silly. I have the right to wear whatever I want, but not the right to be free from condemnation when I show up to a funeral in a "Ask me about my zombie survival plan" T-shirt.

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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Fantastic Idea » Mon May 28, 2012 2:23 pm UTC

Wearing offensive clothing and wearing 'weird' clothing are not the same, though. Not equal at all- and perhaps the blurred line is why people are willing to give themselves a pass when they give the stinkface to someone who hasn't shaved their legs, or has decided that parachute pants are still cool.
i totally get the people's eyebrow on the subway. i've been out with a guy who decided to loudly point out a transwoman outside of a restaurant. I'm sure she heard him, and i pointed out to him that he really didn't get to dictate the appearance of others.
the fuckin hipster.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon May 28, 2012 2:25 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:It might be that you didn't mean what you said to be interpreted this way, but it sounds like you're saying people's clothing solely effects them, and that it's unreasonable for any social pressure to be applied to people at all. Thats silly. I have the right to wear whatever I want, but not the right to be free from condemnation when I show up to a funeral in a "Ask me about my zombie survival plan" T-shirt.
Do people ever have a right to be free from verbal condemnation for any reason? Don't I have a right to condemn you for showing up to a funeral in a handsome, smart, black suit? Sure, that's dumb, but I have a right to it, yes?

That aside: The contexts you listed are all situations where the most reasonable interpretation of the person's dress is an attempt to send an explicit, clear message: "I don't respect this event." That's totally a different thing from what's being talked about. If someone wears a 'FUCK YOU' shirt to a funeral, I might get angry with them, and I might tell them about my anger, but that's with the implicit assumption that they're wearing that shirt as a direct way of displaying disrespect for the proceedings. If they clarified it was the only thing they had left to wear--if they clarified it's the only shirt they ever wear (it was their father's dying wish that they do so!)--if they clarified that they totally didn't understand this was a formal affair--well, those are all very stupid explanations, but assuming I had reason to believe them, I'd let them off the hook.

And that's the key difference between your scenarios and the scenarios we're talking about, I think: Context. What are these clothes 'saying'? Usually, nothing--all they say is 'This is what I want to wear'. But in very specific scenarios, clothes (or lack of them!) say a lot more, and the reason we get pissed or frustrated or critical probably has more to do with that clear message than the actual medium by which that message is delivered (I'd be pissed if a guy came to a funeral with a boom-box blaring 'Who Let The Dogs Out' over his shoulder, too--and for precisely the same reason!)
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Elvish Pillager » Mon May 28, 2012 2:51 pm UTC

Ormurinn: It's easy for you to say that if you have the ability to conform to those social standards of dress (either at all, or without going to prohibitively large amounts of effort).

For instance, "dressing up" is a (not entirely anymore, but still mostly) gender-segregated thing: There isn't a way "to dress up", there's a way "to dress up male" and a way "to dress up female". This causes me two problems:
1) Since I'm agendered, there is no possible way for me to dress up.
2) Even if I could, I wouldn't, because I hate gendered conventions with a fiery passion.
I personally deal with this by never going to a venue that requires me to dress up, but not everybody has the luxury of being able to avoid such venues.

And to some people, "dress up" means "buy an extra garment you can ill afford".
Or "Battle your depression into letting you spend lots of effort dealing with clothes and body stuff, using energy you would rather have spent on the actual task".
Or "Spend all day trying to overcome social anxiety to go ask some social person to help you choose clothing because you cannot seem to understand what the conventions are".
Or many other things.

My moral system says it's intolerable to pressure someone into doing the above things merely to make them look "nicer", so I cannot agree with a set of conventions that does that. So maybe there are two options left:
A) Pressure people to do that if it's easy for them, but don't pressure people if it's too hard for them;
B) View clothing conventions as optional and don't pressure anybody to do them.
Option A is completely impossible, since you cannot actually know how hard it is for people (unless you're going to go around asking them all the time, which would be a total waste of effort and probably a form of pressure in itself). So, lacking any other choice that isn't repugnant to me, I take option B.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon May 28, 2012 2:55 pm UTC

Elvish Pillager wrote:B) View clothing conventions as optional and don't pressure anybody to do them.
Option A is completely impossible, since you cannot actually know how hard it is for people (unless you're going to go around asking them all the time, which would be a total waste of effort and probably a form of pressure in itself). So, lacking any other choice that isn't repugnant to me, I take option B.
I think there are (admittedly very extreme!) examples of where it at least feels reasonable to pressure people into clothing conventions. For example, showing naked at a preschool event: Not okay. But this has a lot to do with the message that showing naked at a preschool event sends; it's not the nakedness that's the problem, it's the signal that the nakedness fires off.

Similarly, showing up to an interview for a banker position with a sleeveless sweat-stained t-shirt sends a clear message: "I don't care about this job". Maybe that's not the message you intended to send--but without deeper clarification on your part, it seems reasonable to assume that it is.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Ormurinn » Mon May 28, 2012 2:58 pm UTC

Meaux_Pas wrote:Wearing offensive clothing and wearing 'weird' clothing are not the same, though. Not equal at all- and perhaps the blurred line is why people are willing to give themselves a pass when they give the stinkface to someone who hasn't shaved their legs, or has decided that parachute pants are still cool.
i totally get the people's eyebrow on the subway. i've been out with a guy who decided to loudly point out a transwoman outside of a restaurant. I'm sure she heard him, and i pointed out to him that he really didn't get to dictate the appearance of others.
the fuckin hipster.


They might not always be the same, but theres a significant overlap. It'd be unprofessional, as well as wierd, for me to wear a skirt to work. It'd be offensive, as well as wierd, for me to show up at a party in a mankini. If we can agree on this, why is it such a stretch to say that there are some situations where its fair enough that society says "shaven legs please"?

The Great Hippo wrote:Do people ever have a right to be free from verbal condemnation for any reason? Don't I have a right to condemn you for showing up to a funeral in a handsome, smart, black suit? Sure, that's dumb, but I have a right to it, yes?


Of course. A lot of people are decrying that there is social pressure on people to look a certain way. I interpreted that as them believing that overt or covert critisism of someone's appearance shouldn't be allowed.

The Great Hippo wrote:That aside: The contexts you listed are all situations where the most reasonable interpretation of the person's dress is an attempt to send an explicit, clear message: "I don't respect this event." That's totally a different thing from what's being talked about. If someone wears a 'FUCK YOU' shirt to a funeral, I might get angry with them, and I might tell them about my anger, but that's with the implicit assumption that they're wearing that shirt as a direct way of displaying disrespect for the proceedings. If they clarified it was the only thing they had left to wear--if they clarified it's the only shirt they ever wear (it was their father's dying wish that they do so!)--if they clarified that they totally didn't understand this was a formal affair--well, those are all very stupid explanations, but assuming I had reason to believe them, I'd let them off the hook.


Thats not necessarily the case. For instance, I could well wear a beard, or a T-shirt to work without doing so with the intention of sending a message. I could even do it while being neat and tidy, but there would still be an element of disrespect because I wasn't conforming. There are standards in everyday life just as there are in professional life, and violating those standards and expecting people to take special account of your feelings is unfair, when you've taken no account of their feelings in deciding to dress the way you have. Appearance is special in that it has more effect on the people around you that it does on you.

The Great Hippo wrote:And that's the key difference between your scenarios and the scenarios we're talking about, I think: Context. What are these clothes 'saying'? Usually, nothing--all they say is 'This is what I want to wear'. But in very specific scenarios, clothes (or lack of them!) say a lot more, and the reason we get pissed or frustrated or critical probably has more to do with that clear message than the actual medium by which that message is delivered (I'd be pissed if a guy came to a funeral with a boom-box blaring 'Who Let The Dogs Out' over his shoulder, too--and for precisely the same reason!)


So to return to the example of unshaven legs - you don't see a parallell here whereby women send a clear message by appearing in certain situations with unshaven legs?
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby doogly » Mon May 28, 2012 3:13 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:It'd be unprofessional, as well as wierd, for me to wear a skirt to work.

"Professional" needs to stop being treated like a magic word that makes it suddenly ok to rigidly enforce outmoded gender norms, because now you're in an environment where capitalism is happening? It's like, great, there are now two things Doug hates, but if they're happening at the same time, it must be more "appropriate" and "correct."

"Oh nobody is saying you have to limit your expression in your own free time but if you're going to show up in a public place where srs bsns is happening conform conform blah bleep bloop."

Oh, and weird? What's weird about a skirt?
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Elvish Pillager » Mon May 28, 2012 3:20 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Elvish Pillager wrote:B) View clothing conventions as optional and don't pressure anybody to do them.
Option A is completely impossible, since you cannot actually know how hard it is for people (unless you're going to go around asking them all the time, which would be a total waste of effort and probably a form of pressure in itself). So, lacking any other choice that isn't repugnant to me, I take option B.
I think there are (admittedly very extreme!) examples of where it at least feels reasonable to pressure people into clothing conventions. For example, showing naked at a preschool event: Not okay. But this has a lot to do with the message that showing naked at a preschool event sends; it's not the nakedness that's the problem, it's the signal that the nakedness fires off.

That's your example? There'd be a lot of social resistance to you doing that, but if we're talking about where pressure should be, it's pretty fucked up to obsessively hide naked bodies from children.

The Great Hippo wrote:Similarly, showing up to an interview for a banker position with a sleeveless sweat-stained t-shirt sends a clear message: "I don't care about this job". Maybe that's not the message you intended to send--but without deeper clarification on your part, it seems reasonable to assume that it is.

Why would it be reasonable to assume that? Is it common for people who don't care about banker positions to do interviews for them?
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Ormurinn » Mon May 28, 2012 3:21 pm UTC

Elvish Pillager wrote:Ormurinn: It's easy for you to say that if you have the ability to conform to those social standards of dress (either at all, or without going to prohibitively large amounts of effort).

For instance, "dressing up" is a (not entirely anymore, but still mostly) gender-segregated thing: There isn't a way "to dress up", there's a way "to dress up male" and a way "to dress up female". This causes me two problems:
1) Since I'm agendered, there is no possible way for me to dress up.
2) Even if I could, I wouldn't, because I hate gendered conventions with a fiery passion.
I personally deal with this by never going to a venue that requires me to dress up, but not everybody has the luxury of being able to avoid such venues.


Hey, thanks for taking the time to reply.

As to point 1) Do you have no secondary sexual characteristics? I've got to confess to being confused here. If you are agendered, you get a remarkable degree of choice here, because you can choose the gender that best suits you in the way you present yourself - since you're no more attatched to one than the other? (I apologise if i'm being insensetive, my googling has turned up a couple of mutually contradictory definitions ; would you mind clarifying what you're describing?)

With regards to point 2) Good for you for standing up for what you believe in. That said, it does seem a bit unfair to expect the world to re-orient itself about your axis. There are societally useful aspects of a clothing system based on a gender binary, particularly with regards to formalwear, where enhancing the distinction between genders helps with everything from identification to boosting attractiveness.

Elvish Pillager wrote:And to some people, "dress up" means "buy an extra garment you can ill afford".
Or "Battle your depression into letting you spend lots of effort dealing with clothes and body stuff, using energy you would rather have spent on the actual task".
Or "Spend all day trying to overcome social anxiety to go ask some social person to help you choose clothing because you cannot seem to understand what the conventions are".
Or many other things.


I actually understand this - I'm skint and suitless at the moment. If a situation comes up where Im required to wear formal clothing though, I'll either make my excuses, or scrape up the money to rent. If you have a job that requires a suit, and one isn't provided by the employer, the chances are that the wages are high enough to make up for it.

(As an aside, are you also opposed to uniforms?)

I have a lot of sympathy for the mentally ill. I fail to see how minimum standards of dress are significantly more harmful to them than any number of other things. You could just as easily say that the strictly defined rules of sartorial elegance make it easier for those suffering from social anxiety to dress according to convention - you can wear smart, socially acceptable clothing just by following a short list of rules you can get from google.

Elvish Pillager wrote:My moral system says it's intolerable to pressure someone into doing the above things merely to make them look "nicer", so I cannot agree with a set of conventions that does that. So maybe there are two options left:
A) Pressure people to do that if it's easy for them, but don't pressure people if it's too hard for them;
B) View clothing conventions as optional and don't pressure anybody to do them.
Option A is completely impossible, since you cannot actually know how hard it is for people (unless you're going to go around asking them all the time, which would be a total waste of effort and probably a form of pressure in itself). So, lacking any other choice that isn't repugnant to me, I take option B.


Fair enough, extremism makes the world interesting. That said, option B requires surrendering all the advantages of clothing conventions too - You've just eliminated our best social shorthand for "I respect you," so if the whole world followed you in this, verbal manners and body language will necessarily become more intricate. Is that a good thing for people with asperger's syndrome? You've eliminated the cameraderie that comes with a uniform, as well as the ease of identification. What do the police, fire service, or armed forces do, assuming you've been appointed social relations Tsar?

I think where we diverge is that you think the only reasons clothing conventions exist is to make people "look nicer" I give thousands of years of memetic evolution a bit more credit than that - society is necessarily benefitted in some way by having clothing conventions, otherwise the meme would have died.

Y'know what? If I personally meet a guy wearing a bitchin' kilt, I'll probably comment on how cool it looks. I just dont think that doing the converse, and disaproving, is necessarily a bad thing either.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon May 28, 2012 3:28 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Of course. A lot of people are decrying that there is social pressure on people to look a certain way. I interpreted that as them believing that overt or covert critisism of someone's appearance shouldn't be allowed.
'Shouldn't be allowed' in what sense? As in, we should discourage them through social means (going 'hey! Don't do that, people!')? Because that seems both reasonable and fine; we're just modifying the 'social contract', in a sense.
Ormurinn wrote:Thats not necessarily the case. For instance, I could well wear a beard, or a T-shirt to work without doing so with the intention of sending a message. I could even do it while being neat and tidy, but there would still be an element of disrespect because I wasn't conforming. There are standards in everyday life just as there are in professional life, and violating those standards and expecting people to take special account of your feelings is unfair, when you've taken no account of their feelings in deciding to dress the way you have. Appearance is special in that it has more effect on the people around you that it does on you.
The crucial thing here is context--'standards', as you're using it. Think of 'standards' as it pertains to clothes as a sort of lexicon, and the various things we wear correlating to 'words' in this lexicon. Different contexts, or standards, carry different lexicons.

A funeral has very 'hard-coded' lexicon. Wearing frivolous clothing clearly translates to 'I'm not taking this event seriously'. It's hard to imagine someone not actually understanding this. An office setting? Maybe the lexicon is clear, maybe it's not--it depends on the office. But in both cases, if I'm wearing a 'word' that translates to 'disrespectful', and clarify that this isn't what I mean--why not believe me? Particularly when there are reasons to believe that what I'm saying is true.

And what about outside, on the street? On the subway? In the comfort of my own home--among friends? In a restaurant? These are all social constructs, but what are their standards? What's the lexicon? Some people find crucifixes offensive--should I care about that? Some people might find my taste in color coordination offensive--again, should I care?

I'm trying to clarify that there are two very different situations going on here: People wearing clothes that, in a given circumstance, translate to 'disrespectful' on purpose, and people wearing clothes that, in a given circumstance, translate to 'disrespectful' by accident. The former is something I'm fine with criticizing; the latter represents a mistranslation, and seems far less important.

To bring it home: When I don't shave my legs, you might, in the right circumstance, translate that as 'disrespect'. But I have excellent reasons to use that 'word'--shaving legs requires a lot of effort! It's painful! Maybe I don't like shaved legs anyway! So, my clear intent here isn't to send a message of disrespect--it's to not send any message at all. I just don't want to shave my legs.

Assuming you understand that, and you decide to translate my unshaven legs as 'disrespect' despite the fact that you know that isn't what I'm saying, who's in the wrong here? Who's the one who's failing to properly communicate?
Ormurinn wrote:So to return to the example of unshaven legs - you don't see a parallell here whereby women send a clear message by appearing in certain situations with unshaven legs?
I think it's reasonable to believe that a woman with unshaven legs does not intend to send a message of disrespect at, say, a funeral, or a job interview. I think it's unreasonable to believe that a woman with a 'FUCK YOU' t-shirt does not intend to send a message of disrespect at these same events.

Language is all about successfully communicating what we want to communicate. When someone refuses to believe that unshaven legs is anything but an expression of disrespect--I think they're being unreasonable, and not approaching this in good faith.
Why would it be reasonable to assume that? Is it common for people who don't care about banker positions to do interviews for them?
Oh, no; I meant if you showed up to be interviewed in a sweat-stained t-shirt. I, as an interviewer, would receive the message 'I don't care about getting this job'. And I think that's fair, because it's hard to imagine what else you're trying to communicate.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Ormurinn » Mon May 28, 2012 3:30 pm UTC

doogly wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:It'd be unprofessional, as well as wierd, for me to wear a skirt to work.

"Professional" needs to stop being treated like a magic word that makes it suddenly ok to rigidly enforce outmoded gender norms, because now you're in an environment where capitalism is happening? It's like, great, there are now two things Doug hates, but if they're happening at the same time, it must be more "appropriate" and "correct."


Its extremely hubristic for you to regard as outmoded gender norms that have served us well for almost all of recorded history.

doogly wrote:"Oh nobody is saying you have to limit your expression in your own free time but if you're going to show up in a public place where srs bsns is happening conform conform blah bleep bloop."

Oh, and weird? What's weird about a skirt?


Actually, yes - It's perfectly reasonable to expect people to limit their expression in public, and particularly at work. They should be ALLOWED to express whatever they want, thats their right. But If they're behaving in a disrespectful way by expressing themselves in a way they know will cause disruption or offense, then their boss has the right to fire them for it, and their peers have the right to express disapproval. It isn't a bad thing that either of these things should happen.

You're being disingenuous with the second part of your comment. If Men wearing skirts weren't wierd in most situations, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon May 28, 2012 3:33 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Its extremely hubristic for you to regard as outmoded gender norms that have served us well for almost all of recorded history.
'Served us well' by what measure? What do we have to compare them with? How can we evaluate their utility if they are, by definition, the norm?
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby doogly » Mon May 28, 2012 3:37 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:There are societally useful aspects of a clothing system based on a gender binary, particularly with regards to formalwear, where enhancing the distinction between genders helps with everything from identification to boosting attractiveness.

I'm getting the sense you might just be completely new to the whole idea that the gender binary is deeply problematic to a lot of people, and not just something that wise folks have come up with to make the world better, and persnickitty gadflies on forums take issue with because they are putting off cleaning up from last night's party. (which is what I'm doing.)

But look, these are both bullshit.
1. Highly gendered clothing makes it easier to identify someone's gender - alright, but this is a misleading identification, and almost comical when considered as a response to EP. "You can dress like one of these two genders, neither of which you identify with! It will help people identify your gender!" Like, what are you selling here? As for attractiveness, eye of the beholder. I am sure you can imagine some folks who do not find formal gender dichotomies attractive. And really, why should *anyone's* sense of attractiveness dictate someone else's dress? If I wear a suit to the opera, is it so the ladies there will fawn over me? Is that why I wear one to a funeral? I don't think attractiveness either is or ought be the motivator here.

society is necessarily benefitted in some way by having clothing conventions, otherwise the meme would have died.

Oh yes, of course it is benefited! Or at least, parts of it are. Let me introduce you to my good friend, the patriarchy.

You're being disingenuous with the second part of your comment. If Men wearing skirts weren't wierd in most situations, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

A little disingenuous. I know the answer is "'cause." So just assume instead of starting with mock incredulity, I asked more politely, but then pushed back a bit when you said "men shouldn't wear skirts 'cause men shouldn't wear skirts."

Y'know what? If I personally meet a guy wearing a bitchin' kilt, I'll probably comment on how cool it looks. I just dont think that doing the converse, and disaproving, is necessarily a bad thing either.

Oh yes, because you could find a way to fit that man into a larger masculinity narrative. You could imagine someone with a kilt tossing a log, swinging a claymore at a viking. It could be so so manly. So many testicles up in there. Try to extend the same courtesy to a man in a poodle skirt, please.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon May 28, 2012 3:43 pm UTC

doogly wrote:I'm getting the sense you might just be completely new to the whole idea that the gender binary is deeply problematic to a lot of people, and not just something that wise folks have come up with to make the world better, and persnickitty gadflies on forums take issue with because they are putting off cleaning up from last night's party. (which is what I'm doing.)
To be fair, I think this is a novel concept to quite a lot of people. It's something we're so deeply saturated in that it's hard to even imagine why we would question their existence. Either way, I suspect the utility of gender norms is pretty much purely a matter of reproduction--something we've evolved out of the need to care about (those who are concerned about reproducing can take steps to confirm the reproductive functionality of their partners--or explore alternative forms of reproducing. Those who aren't, won't).
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Kulantan » Mon May 28, 2012 3:45 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:I give thousands of years of memetic evolution a bit more credit than that - society is necessarily benefitted in some way by having clothing conventions, otherwise the meme would have died.


Pandas, the best argument against intelligent design and survival of the fittest.

With less less elliptic snark, evolution (mementic or otherwise) doesn't actually optimise everything well enough to allow that argument hold any water.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Elvish Pillager » Mon May 28, 2012 3:49 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:As to point 1) Do you have no secondary sexual characteristics? I've got to confess to being confused here. If you are agendered, you get a remarkable degree of choice here, because you can choose the gender that best suits you in the way you present yourself - since you're no more attatched to one than the other? (I apologise if i'm being insensetive, my googling has turned up a couple of mutually contradictory definitions ; would you mind clarifying what you're describing?)

No problem; I can't exactly expect you to know everything instantly.

I use "agendered" to mean that I have no gender identity - I'm not male- or female- gendered. I happen to have a body that's unambiguously male-sexed, so people usually assume I'm male, but I find it rather irritating when they do that. So I'm reluctant to do anything that is conventionally an act of gender expression (for either gender), because people might assume I'm that gender based on that (plus, most gender expression is extra effort).

Ormurinn wrote:With regards to point 2) Good for you for standing up for what you believe in. That said, it does seem a bit unfair to expect the world to re-orient itself about your axis. There are societally useful aspects of a clothing system based on a gender binary, particularly with regards to formalwear, where enhancing the distinction between genders helps with everything from identification to boosting attractiveness.

I had a very hard time resisting the urge to write a sarcastic reply for this, because it's wrong and also repugnant. I guess I'll restrict myself to what I can say factually:
regarding "identification": Gendered conventions don't aid in identifying people, because they're conventions. They make people the same more than they make people different.
regarding "attractiveness": You're blithely ignoring everyone who finds androgyny attractive.

Ormurinn wrote:(As an aside, are you also opposed to uniforms?)

If the institution requiring the uniforms is optional (i.e. not compulsory schooling), the uniform is provided by the institution, made in a wide enough variety of sizes/shapes to fit everyone, not gender-differentiated, and the policy is flexible enough to provide alternatives for people who have difficulty with the uniform for one reason or another, then I don't see a reason I would oppose it. And some uniforms (for store workers, etc) are an example of a situation in which a clothing convention is useful for identification.

Ormurinn wrote:I have a lot of sympathy for the mentally ill. I fail to see how minimum standards of dress are significantly more harmful to them than any number of other things.

Me neither. That's why I also oppose any number of other things!

Ormurinn wrote:You could just as easily say that the strictly defined rules of sartorial elegance make it easier for those suffering from social anxiety to dress according to convention - you can wear smart, socially acceptable clothing just by following a short list of rules you can get from google.

Well, if that was true, then it would change things a little, but it is not true and cannot be made true by incremental changes from the current conventions.

Ormurinn wrote:Fair enough, extremism makes the world interesting.

I'm totally okay with being called an extremist, but I really didn't think I'd get called that for saying "Please don't complain about how people dress" :P

Ormurinn wrote:That said, option B requires surrendering all the advantages of clothing conventions too - You've just eliminated our best social shorthand for "I respect you," so if the whole world followed you in this, verbal manners and body language will necessarily become more intricate. Is that a good thing for people with asperger's syndrome?

That makes no sense. The absolute best, simplest way to say "I respect you" is ... to say "I respect you". It's also a hell of a lot more understandable for people with Asperger's Syndrome (of which, by the way, I am one).

Ormurinn wrote:I think where we diverge is that you think the only reasons clothing conventions exist is to make people "look nicer" I give thousands of years of memetic evolution a bit more credit than that - society is necessarily benefitted in some way by having clothing conventions, otherwise the meme would have died.

There's lots of other things you could apply that logic to that we now agree are repugnant. (I'd mention some specifically, but I'm worried it would derail this conversation.)
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Ormurinn » Mon May 28, 2012 3:49 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:The crucial thing here is context--'standards', as you're using it. Think of 'standards' as it pertains to clothes as a sort of lexicon, and the various things we wear correlating to 'words' in this lexicon. Different contexts, or standards, carry different lexicons.

A funeral has very 'hard-coded' lexicon. Wearing frivolous clothing clearly translates to 'I'm not taking this event seriously'. It's hard to imagine someone not actually understanding this. An office setting? Maybe the lexicon is clear, maybe it's not--it depends on the office. But in both cases, if I'm wearing a 'word' that translates to 'disrespectful', and clarify that this isn't what I mean--why not believe me? Particularly when there are reasons to believe that what I'm saying is true.

And what about outside, on the street? On the subway? In the comfort of my own home--among friends? In a restaurant? These are all social constructs, but what are their standards? What's the lexicon? Some people find crucifixes offensive--should I care about that? Some people might find my taste in color coordination offensive--again, should I care?


Hey hippo. I really like debating with you, I always feel like I've learned something by the end, and I completely agree with what you're saying here. I can see fringe situations where your examples could be construed as offensive, (dont wear a crucifix to a Blot, dont wear orange in Northern Ireland etc.) but I see what you're saying. That said, I'm sure if you talked to to some of the people who are interpreting hairy legs in public as disrespect, they'd immediately soften. If you're expecting everyone to realise that you're not violating norms just to cause friction though, you're being unrealistic. Again, theres alternatives to shaving, like covering your legs, so you need a confluence of factors to get a situation where a misinterpretation takes place.

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm trying to clarify that there are two very different situations going on here: People wearing clothes that, in a given circumstance, translate to 'disrespectful' on purpose, and people wearing clothes that, in a given circumstance, translate to 'disrespectful' by accident. The former is something I'm fine with criticizing; the latter represents a mistranslation, and seems far less important.

To bring it home: When I don't shave my legs, you might, in the right circumstance, translate that as 'disrespect'. But I have excellent reasons to use that 'word'--shaving legs requires a lot of effort! It's painful! Maybe I don't like shaved legs anyway! So, my clear intent here isn't to send a message of disrespect--it's to not send any message at all. I just don't want to shave my legs.

Assuming you understand that, and you decide to translate my unshaven legs as 'disrespect' despite the fact that you know that isn't what I'm saying, who's in the wrong here? Who's the one who's failing to properly communicate?


I'm not only choosing situations where people are making the choice to violate norms to be intentionally disruptive - when I went into work with a long beard, everywhere else I'd been had viewed it as acceptable. In this situation I was informed it wasn't, and shaved.

You seem to want everyone in the world to assume that despite what they see as evidence to the contrary, you aren't violating their norms out of disrespect, but due to individual circumstances - which is fine. But all the other women on that bus have shaved their legs, all the men in that lift have short hair. They've conformed to their assigned norms. I'm not saying it's fair, but it makes sense that they might be a bit miffed.

The Great Hippo wrote:I think it's reasonable to believe that a woman with unshaven legs does not intend to send a message of disrespect at, say, a funeral, or a job interview. I think it's unreasonable to believe that a woman with a 'FUCK YOU' t-shirt does not intend to send a message of disrespect at these same events.

Language is all about successfully communicating what we want to communicate. When someone refuses to believe that unshaven legs is anything but an expression of disrespect--I think they're being unreasonable, and not approaching this in good faith.


Ok, your woman at a job interview hasn't shaved her legs. It's not as severe as her wearing a sweat-stained wifebeater, but she's still violated a norm of dress, and one she could easily have sidestepped by wearing trousers. In my mind, it's reasonable to infer that she's less bothered about the job than someone who has gone to the effort, assuming all other things are equal.

Im in complete agreement that If someone knows a woman, and knows she dilikes shaving their legs, and still harries her, they're being a twat.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Elvish Pillager » Mon May 28, 2012 3:56 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:But all the other women on that bus have shaved their legs, all the men in that lift have short hair. They've conformed to their assigned norms. I'm not saying it's fair, but it makes sense that they might be a bit miffed.

Yeah, it makes sense: They've bought into the system, and when you show up demonstrating that the system was actually bullshit, they've got two choices:
1) Realize that the system is bullshit and feel bad about the fact that they bought into it, or
2) Rationalize the system and come to the conclusion that you are bad somehow.

The second option is much easier for most people.

Ormurinn wrote:Ok, your woman at a job interview hasn't shaved her legs. It's not as severe as her wearing a sweat-stained wifebeater, but she's still violated a norm of dress, and one she could easily have sidestepped by wearing trousers. In my mind, it's reasonable to infer that she's less bothered about the job than someone who has gone to the effort, assuming all other things are equal.

Well, in my mind, it's reasonable to assume that she's a badass who cares more about doing a good job than about conforming to social conventions, and hence is a good candidate for the job.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby doogly » Mon May 28, 2012 4:00 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
doogly wrote:I'm getting the sense you might just be completely new to the whole idea that the gender binary is deeply problematic to a lot of people, and not just something that wise folks have come up with to make the world better, and persnickitty gadflies on forums take issue with because they are putting off cleaning up from last night's party. (which is what I'm doing.)
To be fair, I think this is a novel concept to quite a lot of people.

Well, it might not be new to someone who read through the thread they were posting in. I suppose I might have thought that happened?
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Ormurinn » Mon May 28, 2012 4:18 pm UTC

doogly wrote:I'm getting the sense you might just be completely new to the whole idea that the gender binary is deeply problematic to a lot of people, and not just something that wise folks have come up with to make the world better, and persnickitty gadflies on forums take issue with because they are putting off cleaning up from last night's party. (which is what I'm doing.)


To be honest, you're part right. I'm aware that there's a minority of people who don't fit into the boxes, but I don't think that stops the boxes being useful. I've certainly never seen people respond with such vitriol to the idea that different genders should wear different clothes.

doogly wrote:But look, these are both bullshit.
1. Highly gendered clothing makes it easier to identify someone's gender - alright, but this is a misleading identification, and almost comical when considered as a response to EP. "You can dress like one of these two genders, neither of which you identify with! It will help people identify your gender!" Like, what are you selling here? As for attractiveness, eye of the beholder. I am sure you can imagine some folks who do not find formal gender dichotomies attractive. And really, why should *anyone's* sense of attractiveness dictate someone else's dress? If I wear a suit to the opera, is it so the ladies there will fawn over me? Is that why I wear one to a funeral? I don't think attractiveness either is or ought be the motivator here.


That wasn't what I meant to imply. I wasn't aware of the precise meaning of the term "Agendered" and thought it might have some physical aspect. I thought there might be some physical reason for E.P to avoid wearing highly gendered clothing- and was just stating that it needn't preclude them attending formal events - since they could wear clothing people would read as suitable (and, as far as I knew, would have more flexibility in this that someone with a defined gender).

doogly wrote:
society is necessarily benefitted in some way by having clothing conventions, otherwise the meme would have died.

Oh yes, of course it is benefited! Or at least, parts of it are. Let me introduce you to my good friend, the patriarchy.


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doogly wrote:
You're being disingenuous with the second part of your comment. If Men wearing skirts weren't wierd in most situations, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

A little disingenuous. I know the answer is "'cause." So just assume instead of starting with mock incredulity, I asked more politely, but then pushed back a bit when you said "men shouldn't wear skirts 'cause men shouldn't wear skirts."

Y'know what? If I personally meet a guy wearing a bitchin' kilt, I'll probably comment on how cool it looks. I just dont think that doing the converse, and disaproving, is necessarily a bad thing either.

Oh yes, because you could find a way to fit that man into a larger masculinity narrative. You could imagine someone with a kilt tossing a log, swinging a claymore at a viking. It could be so so manly. So many testicles up in there. Try to extend the same courtesy to a man in a poodle skirt, please.


Men wearing skirts is weird because it's not conventional, and in the context we were talking about (work) maintaining convention is respectful, and avoids pushing people out of their comfort zone.

I probably wouldn't tell a man in a poodle skirt he looked good, because to my mind he wouldn't, he'd look ridiculous.

Elvish Pillager wrote:I use "agendered" to mean that I have no gender identity - I'm not male- or female- gendered. I happen to have a body that's unambiguously male-sexed, so people usually assume I'm male, but I find it rather irritating when they do that. So I'm reluctant to do anything that is conventionally an act of gender expression (for either gender), because people might assume I'm that gender based on that (plus, most gender expression is extra effort).


Ok, fair enough.


Elvish Pillager wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:With regards to point 2) Good for you for standing up for what you believe in. That said, it does seem a bit unfair to expect the world to re-orient itself about your axis. There are societally useful aspects of a clothing system based on a gender binary, particularly with regards to formalwear, where enhancing the distinction between genders helps with everything from identification to boosting attractiveness.

I had a very hard time resisting the urge to write a sarcastic reply for this, because it's wrong and also repugnant. I guess I'll restrict myself to what I can say factually:
regarding "identification": Gendered conventions don't aid in identifying people, because they're conventions. They make people the same more than they make people different.
regarding "attractiveness": You're blithely ignoring everyone who finds androgyny attractive.


Ok - I'm sorry you found what I said repugnant. Please take what I say in good faith. Could you explain what in particular you took offense at?

The example I was particularly thinking of was a big business shindig or a ball. You don't want to call Sam Greene from aquisitions "her" when he's a he, and it's good to know who will be leading and who following at a dance, and easier to find partners.

Fair enough to your second comment; I was only going on my personal experience.

Elvish Pillager wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:(As an aside, are you also opposed to uniforms?)

If the institution requiring the uniforms is optional (i.e. not compulsory schooling), the uniform is provided by the institution, made in a wide enough variety of sizes/shapes to fit everyone, not gender-differentiated, and the policy is flexible enough to provide alternatives for people who have difficulty with the uniform for one reason or another, then I don't see a reason I would oppose it. And some uniforms (for store workers, etc) are an example of a situation in which a clothing convention is useful for identification.


So for instance, you'd like male soldiers on parade to have the option to choose to wear skirts? This is what I meant by extreme - It wasn't a critiscism, but its radically different to what 99% of the world believes.


Elvish Pillager wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:You could just as easily say that the strictly defined rules of sartorial elegance make it easier for those suffering from social anxiety to dress according to convention - you can wear smart, socially acceptable clothing just by following a short list of rules you can get from google.

Well, if that was true, then it would change things a little, but it is not true and cannot be made true by incremental changes from the current conventions.


It is true. Try here;
http://voices.yahoo.com/how-dress-rules ... 44706.html
http://artofmanliness.com/2010/04/02/ar ... t-buttons/

There were any number of others on google. Charcoal grey, black leather shoes, white shirt, snug fit, cuffs past the sleeves of your jacket. go for two or three buttons.
There are strict and easy to follow rules. I don't know what you were trying to imply here.


Elvish Pillager wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:That said, option B requires surrendering all the advantages of clothing conventions too - You've just eliminated our best social shorthand for "I respect you," so if the whole world followed you in this, verbal manners and body language will necessarily become more intricate. Is that a good thing for people with asperger's syndrome?

That makes no sense. The absolute best, simplest way to say "I respect you" is ... to say "I respect you". It's also a hell of a lot more understandable for people with Asperger's Syndrome (of which, by the way, I am one).


Okay, you obviously know better than I.

Elvish Pillager wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:I think where we diverge is that you think the only reasons clothing conventions exist is to make people "look nicer" I give thousands of years of memetic evolution a bit more credit than that - society is necessarily benefitted in some way by having clothing conventions, otherwise the meme would have died.

There's lots of other things you could apply that logic to that we now agree are repugnant. (I'd mention some specifically, but I'm worried it would derail this conversation.)


Fair enough. I'm just reluctant to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon May 28, 2012 4:22 pm UTC

Kulantan wrote:Pandas, the best argument against intelligent design and survival of the fittest.

With less less elliptic snark, evolution (mementic or otherwise) doesn't actually optimise everything well enough to allow that argument hold any water.
Yeah--something that always seems to get lost in those sorts of arguments is that the operation of natural selection isn't concerned about the happiness or prosperity of its memes; it parses 'success' as persistence of a meme, nothing more, nothing less. Ideas that persist over time don't persist because they're necessarily good ideas; they persist because they contain features that perpetuate their persistence. It's reasonable to believe those features cause more problems than they're worth--or in more extreme circumstances, may even lead to the eventual inevitable destruction of the object in question.
Ormurinn wrote:Hey hippo. I really like debating with you, I always feel like I've learned something by the end, and I completely agree with what you're saying here. I can see fringe situations where your examples could be construed as offensive, (dont wear a crucifix to a Blot, dont wear orange in Northern Ireland etc.) but I see what you're saying. That said, I'm sure if you talked to to some of the people who are interpreting hairy legs in public as disrespect, they'd immediately soften. If you're expecting everyone to realise that you're not violating norms just to cause friction though, you're being unrealistic. Again, theres alternatives to shaving, like covering your legs, so you need a confluence of factors to get a situation where a misinterpretation takes place.
Well I'm glad to hear that, since my goal here isn't to frustrate or insult you, but rather encourage alternate perspectives (and to be encouraged toward alternate perspectives in turn!)

That being said, the point of all language is successful communication. The argument here can be boiled down to a basic language problem: We have X. Group A likes X, because it means less pain and effort. Group B doesn't like X, because to them, it translates into an insult. Which group is responsible for ensuring proper communication takes place?

Group A doesn't even want to communicate; they just want X because X is nice and makes their lives easier. Group B insists that X is an insult; not because X has a 'history' (see 'faggot' or 'nigger' for relevant American-centric examples), but because... why? Because they don't find X attractive? Is that even a relevant factor?

I'm sure that if I explain reasons why someone might not want to shave their legs, some people will soften on the issue; I'm also sure that some people won't. That isn't the point, though--the point is that someone wants to have unshaven legs, and someone wants to get angry with them because they cannot parse this as anything but an insult.

How can I understand this as anything except a mistranslation on Group B's part?
Ormurinn wrote:I'm not only choosing situations where people are making the choice to violate norms to be intentionally disruptive - when I went into work with a long beard, everywhere else I'd been had viewed it as acceptable. In this situation I was informed it wasn't, and shaved.

You seem to want everyone in the world to assume that despite what they see as evidence to the contrary, you aren't violating their norms out of disrespect, but due to individual circumstances - which is fine. But all the other women on that bus have shaved their legs, all the men in that lift have short hair. They've conformed to their assigned norms. I'm not saying it's fair, but it makes sense that they might be a bit miffed.
I think that the world would be a nicer place if we did that more often, yes. But that's not really what I'm saying; I'm saying that when evidence exists that you're clearly trying to communicate disrespect, we should take it at face-value--but that evidence isn't provided in the example of unshaved legs. If you take unshaved legs as a sign of disrespect, that's because you are misinterpreting a non-signal.

What evidence is there that I'm not shaving my legs as an insult to you? Why is it more reasonable to assume that my decision to not shave my legs is a way of showing disrespect, rather than a decision I made based on not wanting to shave my legs?
Ok, your woman at a job interview hasn't shaved her legs. It's not as severe as her wearing a sweat-stained wifebeater, but she's still violated a norm of dress, and one she could easily have sidestepped by wearing trousers. In my mind, it's reasonable to infer that she's less bothered about the job than someone who has gone to the effort, assuming all other things are equal.
To clarify something: I think that most social norms about appearance are stupid. The 'FUCK' T-shirt is an easy one because it carries a very explicit message written right on it. I think that an office making its members shave their beards is dumb (how does 'beard' translate to 'disrespect'?).

That being said, communication is about clarity, and the more nebulous the medium, the more clear you need to be. We're not dealing with words here--we're dealing with how someone presents themselves. The details aren't important. It's the big, obvious stuff that matters.

A sleeveless sweat-stained shirt is pretty clear and unambiguous. There's no working around it; you decided that a sweat-stained shirt was a 'good' choice here. Either you're hopelessly clueless about social norms (very, very unlikely) or you're trying to send a message ("I don't care about this job"). I might ask you 'why are you wearing that?' and get some clarification, but when the message is that clear, I don't feel any distress in just assuming you're trying to say precisely what it looks like you're trying to say. If someone says "FUCK YOU HIPPO!", I don't ask for clarification.

But unshaved legs? We can imagine any number of scenarios that lead you to not shaving your legs for reasons other than sending a message. And even if we assume you're sending a message, that message could vary--when you don't shave your legs, you're legs are always unshaved. You can't 'turn off' your unshaved legs. Maybe you don't shave your legs because it's some form of breast cancer awareness thing (they had something like this a few months ago where I live for prostate cancer, with men growing mustaches). Maybe you're protesting against the social expectation of unshaved legs (but hey, even protesters gotta eat, so you're here for a job). Maybe the message has got nothing to do with me. You say they should cover it up, then--but why? Why is it their responsibility to ensure you don't make a silly mistake like that?

There's very few reasons why you'd wear a sweat-stained sleeveless shirt to a job interview--there's a lot of reasons why you might have unshaved legs at a job interview. It's ambiguous--and assuming that it's supposed to be a message to me, the interviewer, is pretty arrogant on my part. It might have nothing to do with me. In fact, it probably doesn't have anything to do with me, and assuming otherwise is silly.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Elvish Pillager » Mon May 28, 2012 4:43 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:The example I was particularly thinking of was a big business shindig or a ball. You don't want to call Sam Greene from aquisitions "her" when he's a he, and it's good to know who will be leading and who following at a dance, and easier to find partners.

So you're saying that we need one gendered convention to make it easier to follow other gendered conventions? I say just get rid of all of them. (Even if you're not a language revisionist like me, you can still get rid of the convention of considering it super awkward when someone uses a wrong pronoun.)


Ormurinn wrote:
Elvish Pillager wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:You could just as easily say that the strictly defined rules of sartorial elegance make it easier for those suffering from social anxiety to dress according to convention - you can wear smart, socially acceptable clothing just by following a short list of rules you can get from google.

Well, if that was true, then it would change things a little, but it is not true and cannot be made true by incremental changes from the current conventions.


It is true. Try here;
http://voices.yahoo.com/how-dress-rules ... 44706.html
http://artofmanliness.com/2010/04/02/ar ... t-buttons/

So you're saying that, for instance, the first link contains all of the rules I need to dress up properly, and is short?

It assumes that you already know all the terminology about suits. I've never had to go out and get a suit, and I've picked up the terminology elsewhere, so I can't easily pick out which things would be difficult for someone who hasn't, but I'm pretty sure it would not be easy.

I'm looking more for the kind of resource you would give to a person who has recently immigrated from a country where there are no suits (admittedly, westernization has reduced the number of those significantly, but anyway). I don't think you could construct such a document that's remotely "short".


Ormurinn wrote:Fair enough. I'm just reluctant to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Well, what we were doing in the first place was arguing whether it's actually a baby, or just more bathwater.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Jessica » Mon May 28, 2012 5:56 pm UTC

As a trans woman, the rigid gender binary, the heavily policed gender expression and the oppositional sexism that these both are derived from are a major problem for me.

It's difficult to exist in a world where my existence is considered outside the strict rules of how people should look. I say this, simply as another data point against the "right way" to wear clothes/look in public. These ideas actively attack trans people and make their lives much more difficult.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Angua » Tue May 29, 2012 10:13 am UTC

I know that when I spent my 2 months with people that were very against women who don't shave, the idea that it was disrespectful somehow never came up. It was just plain, old ugly and disgusting.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue May 29, 2012 11:06 am UTC

Angua wrote:I know that when I spent my 2 months with people that were very against women who don't shave, the idea that it was disrespectful somehow never came up. It was just plain, old ugly and disgusting.
Well, yeah--if that's the hang-up ("that's disgusting!") then there's really no meaningful dialogue that can happen; the person who both finds it disgusting and decides to express that disgust toward you just needs to get the fuck over it. (There's nothing wrong with feeling disgust, imo, but there's a problem with choosing to express that disgust toward the source--particularly when it's none of your goddamn business)

A lot of my babble here starts with the assumption that people might find it innately disrespectful, in the same sense that you find coming to a funeral in a silly t-shirt disrespectful, and explaining why that reasoning doesn't work.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby dubsola » Tue May 29, 2012 11:56 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:particularly when it's none of your goddamn business

This is key. People's appearance is nobody else's business.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue May 29, 2012 11:59 am UTC

dubsola wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:particularly when it's none of your goddamn business

This is key. People's appearance is nobody else's business.
There are times when I'd argue that it is, but those times largely are context sensitive and have to do with what your appearance is explicitly saying. But in most contexts, it's hard to say your appearance says anything explicit at all.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Sytri » Tue May 29, 2012 12:23 pm UTC

I just wrote a massive post on this but realised that it boiled down to:

At work you generally sign a contract assuring the employer you will conform to their ideals. If you don't like it you can ask for exemptions or not take the job.

In society as a whole, you sign nothing meaning that you are not owed an opinion from every passing person on the street just as they are not owed your opinions on what you think of their appearance.

Is that generally OK as a rule of thumb?
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Kewangji » Tue May 29, 2012 12:34 pm UTC

Sytri wrote:I just wrote a massive post on this but realised that it boiled down to:

At work you generally sign a contract assuring the employer you will conform to their ideals. If you don't like it you can ask for exemptions or not take the job.

In society as a whole, you sign nothing meaning that you are not owed an opinion from every passing person on the street just as they are not owed your opinions on what you think of their appearance.

Is that generally OK as a rule of thumb?
Hah, yeah, 'cause I have so much choice in jobs and it's totally an equal deal

hahahahaha
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Sytri » Tue May 29, 2012 12:45 pm UTC

Kewangji wrote:
Sytri wrote:I just wrote a massive post on this but realised that it boiled down to:

At work you generally sign a contract assuring the employer you will conform to their ideals. If you don't like it you can ask for exemptions or not take the job.

In society as a whole, you sign nothing meaning that you are not owed an opinion from every passing person on the street just as they are not owed your opinions on what you think of their appearance.

Is that generally OK as a rule of thumb?
Hah, yeah, 'cause I have so much choice in jobs and it's totally an equal deal

hahahahaha



I never said it was equal, the power is always with the employer when it comes to dress code but you can get leeway if your demands aren't too extreme and that was my basic point. Society as a whole doesn't have rules; but work generally does so you can't use work as an example of general societal expectations.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue May 29, 2012 1:01 pm UTC

Sytri wrote:I never said it was equal, the power is always with the employer when it comes to dress code but you can get leeway if your demands aren't too extreme and that was my basic point. Society as a whole doesn't have rules; but work generally does so you can't use work as an example of general societal expectations.
I think I understand what you're saying, but we aren't talking about contracts; we're talking about how people respond to how you appear, and whether or not that response is reasonable. If an employer decides that they're going to make it their business--by enforcing a dress-code--we're now talking about an entirely different situation.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby doogly » Tue May 29, 2012 1:03 pm UTC

And the fact that an employer currently has the power to dictate dress does not mean that this is best. Let us not commit the is/ought fallacy.

Actually, O-dude seems to be entirely entrenched in is/ought.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Enuja » Tue May 29, 2012 1:07 pm UTC

On the subject of respect ...

It is very common in our culture for people to say "You need to respect me!" and "That's disrespectful behavior." From my perspective, almost all of these discussions of respect are mislabeled. For the most part, people are requesting courteous behavior when they want people to be respectful. The theory is, apparently, if you respect me as a human being, then you will treat me politely and in a way that makes me feel good. But it's a seriously flawed theory. I treat many people I hugely disrespect extremely courteously: because I'm working in a service industry, because I enjoy being courteous, and, often, because it's the best way to minimize conflict with other people. How I feel about your choices, your soul, your self, does not have to have anything to do with what norms of behavior I follow around you. Your life will be much easier if, instead of expecting to be respected, and interpreting strange or discourteous behavior as being disrespectful, you expect to be treated courteously. It doesn't change your behavior or expectations one whit, except that it keeps you from being personally insulted or affronted by discourteous behavior. Yes, discourteous behavior can still cause problems, but it isn't about you. This small shift in perspective makes it easier to treat everyone well, and to deal well with disruptions to expected behavior.

Doing things like wearing clothing signals to the people around me that I am willing to follow our arbitrary social rules. I'm a nudist, but when I see a naked person walking around, I pay a lot of attention to them and am very cautious around that person. Why? Because this person is not signaling that they follow the rules, so they might walk up and punch me in the face (or, more likely, urinate on the ground or launch into an angry monologue, because they've suffered a psychotic break, or smash their butt into my window to leave a butt-print because they're streaking).

Personally, I don't have any desire to signal to people around me that I follow gender norms. So, despite reading as female and identifying as female, I don't shave my legs and I do shave my head.* My refusal to follow gender norms does signal that I don't respect gender norms, but it doesn't signal that I don't respect the individuals around me who do respect gender norms. For purely practical reasons I hide my hairy legs with trousers while going on job interviews. But it's not out of respect: in a way, it's out of disrespect, because I think that most hiring managers are blinded by gender norms and incapable of looking past their prejudices about leg hair.

Some comments specifically on the conversation here as it's gone recently ...

I absolutely adore Noc's post on the top of this page. I completely agree with what Jessica said about trans people and gender expectations, and what Elivish Pillager said about the many different disadvantages lots of groups have with dressing professionally. Try looking presentable enough while homeless in order to get a job from a job interview! My ex simply grew up poor in the country, and always has trouble figuring out how to dress "appropriately."

Ormurinn wrote:You could just as easily say that the strictly defined rules of sartorial elegance make it easier for those suffering from social anxiety to dress according to convention - you can wear smart, socially acceptable clothing just by following a short list of rules you can get from google.
Elvish Pillager wrote:... it is not true ...
Ormurinn wrote:It is true. Try here;
http://voices.yahoo.com/how-dress-rules ... 44706.html
http://artofmanliness.com/2010/04/02/ar ... t-buttons/

There were any number of others on google. Charcoal grey, black leather shoes, white shirt, snug fit, cuffs past the sleeves of your jacket. go for two or three buttons.
There are strict and easy to follow rules. I don't know what you were trying to imply here.
Ormurrinn, I'd like to bring you back to the context of this discussion. You linked two pages full of gender-specific rules for men's dressy clothing on the feminism thread in order to prove how easy it is to dress "correctly." Guess what? Women don't have rules that specific, clear-cut, and long-standing. And androgynous people don't either! Appropriate dress for non-men dances a knife edge between "too sexy" and "not attractive" or "mannish," changes greatly with fashion, and, like fancy clothing for men, costs lots of money!

*My primary reason for shaving my head and not shaving my legs is to make my life easy. Making my curly, frizzy hair look presentable is a lot of work. Making a shaved head, and my short hair for the first month or so after I shave my head, presentable takes absolutely no work at all. Shaving my legs takes a lot more time than not shaving my legs. I like to take care of myself and cook good food and such, but I have no interest in spending large amounts of time every day (or even every week), making myself look presentable. I am particularly disinterested in paying a time and energy tax because of my perceived gender. I can spend a lot of time getting ready for a party or making myself look a particular way for a particular reason, but I refuse to do so just to go to work or to the grocery store.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue May 29, 2012 1:10 pm UTC

doogly wrote:And the fact that an employer currently has the power to dictate dress does not mean that this is best. Let us not commit the is/ought fallacy.
As I recall, there's been a little work done on exploring the psychological impact of dress codes and how they create a culture of conformity and obedience (particularly in schools). A culture of conformity and obedience might be exactly what an employer wants--particularly if it's a job that doesn't call for a lot of creativity and 'out-of-box' thinking. So enforcing a dress code might actually be in their best interests!

But again, this is a different situation. We're not talking about decisions made at the macro-level by people you'll never even meet--we're talking about decisions made at the micro-level--by individuals. We're talking about someone getting angry or displeased or even disgusted with you because your appearance doesn't fit their particular standards, and expressing that emotion toward you. And my point is that this represents one of two things--either a mistranslation (you somehow take my appearance to be an insult directed at you), or you're just behaving childishly (you don't like pistachio ice-cream, so you've decided no one should eat pistachio ice-cream in your presence).

EDIT: As an aside, just to reference the point brought up above, I do think it's fine to take what someone wears as a reason to be cautious. I am cautious around people who's clothes send clear signals of 'I am an angry person', because I don't like violence. I would also be very careful around a naked person because that sends clear signals of 'something here is wrong'.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby doogly » Tue May 29, 2012 1:16 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote: So enforcing a dress code might actually be in their best interests!

Absolutely. Pardon me while I get my anti-capitalist and -classist buzz going. I know we haven't actually achieved even modest goals like "can I seriously just please get to sit on the train without being hassled or given dirty looks" but it's nice to also imagine how great it would be if we could just smash every hierarchical structure, amirite?
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Sytri » Tue May 29, 2012 1:21 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Sytri wrote:I never said it was equal, the power is always with the employer when it comes to dress code but you can get leeway if your demands aren't too extreme and that was my basic point. Society as a whole doesn't have rules; but work generally does so you can't use work as an example of general societal expectations.
I think I understand what you're saying, but we aren't talking about contracts; we're talking about how people respond to how you appear, and whether or not that response is reasonable. If an employer decides that they're going to make it their business--by enforcing a dress-code--we're now talking about an entirely different situation.


Sorry, I just made myself a coffee and pondered on what I wrote and realised that my posts make no sense seeing as I didn't post my longer, slightly more thought out entry. I was more pointing out to Orm that he can't really keep using work as a reason why certain norms should be adhered to as they are artificial and don't stand up when put into everyday life and using work as an example is a bit of a strawman (I think). Sorry I'm terrible at wording my thoughts and I'm trying to be as clear as I can.

And for reference, I don't care what people wear and I think the idea of having strict dress codes is something that should be put in the past.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue May 29, 2012 1:27 pm UTC

Oh, not at all; I see what you mean now and I took it the wrong way. 'Artificial' is a good word to describe the situation with dress codes, I think--they're standards put in writing, enforced by actual penalties (rather than merely social pressure), so comparing them to more 'socially enforced' standards doesn't get us much at all (really, dress codes can probably just be seen as a consequence of our obsession with what other people are doing with their bodies).

Sidenote: Where I work recently put forward a dress code that disallows hair-dye, piercings, and tattoos. Okay, the first two, there are ways you can work with that--but tattoos? One of my coworkers is covered in them. Th'fuck is she going to do? Cover them in skin-paint? I can't shake the feeling this new policy is the direct result of ornery customers obsessing over what the people serving them have done with their bodies. I find that a little depressing.
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Re: The radical idea that women are people

Postby Elvish Pillager » Tue May 29, 2012 2:08 pm UTC

(From earlier on the page; I missed this earlier)

The Great Hippo wrote:
Why would it be reasonable to assume that? Is it common for people who don't care about banker positions to do interviews for them?
Oh, no; I meant if you showed up to be interviewed in a sweat-stained t-shirt. I, as an interviewer, would receive the message 'I don't care about getting this job'. And I think that's fair, because it's hard to imagine what else you're trying to communicate.

And I don't think it's a fair interpretation, because by doing an interview for the job, they're much-more-explicitly communicating that they do care. So interpreting their clothing as "I don't care" is actually "Based on one single piece of evidence, I now believe that you're lying to my face". That doesn't seem fair, when there are lots of other plausible reasons you could assume, like "It's hot out and I care about the environment, so I bicycled to this interview instead of driving".

Or, if it really matters, you could ask.
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