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A Helping Hand: Inappropriately Dressed Co-Worker

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Why do some women dress in an unprofessional way at work and then get mad when men stare?

Why do some men see an inappropriately dressed woman and think this frees them (some men) of their professional responsibility to behave appropriately?

Some women, too, make rather harsh judgments of their co-workers' style of dress, but it's not often that women do or say anything above the radar. While a man's stare or blatant comment is out there for all to see or hear, a woman's whispered judgment or knowing glance to another co-worker is much harder to detect. For the record, the woman's actions are just as inappropriate as gawking or a crude remark.

If anyone in the workplace is inappropriately dressed, a higher-up will eventually have something to say about that person's lack of professionalism. In the meantime (or if the higher-up doesn't take notice), you have the option of reporting your co-worker for dressing inappropriately (an understandable distraction – sexual harassment laws work for both genders) or ignoring it. You also have the option of putting yourself in the position of getting your own quality time with the boss by doing or saying something inappropriate in reaction to the inappropriately dressed co-worker.

No one is responsible for the way someone else chooses to behave or react – even with regard to a scantily clad co-worker. If one has no more control over oneself than that, then perhaps it's time for one to consider a job that requires little or no human interaction.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • sadhant

    it’s not far from an “inappropriate dress” judgement to the justification a mullah provides to explain why women should be whipped for showing a little wrist…

  • http://www.taureandevi.blogspot.com/ Danielle

    There is yet another option. Say something to an inappropriately dressed coworker. In conversation bring up the subject of appropriate attire very generally and listen to their response. Speak nonjudgmentally since no matter how someone is dressed they shouldn’t be succumbed to judgment. If you work in a communications department redistribute the company dress code. By saying nothing at all while being offended or judgmental is living untrue to yourself and contributing to an uncomfortable work environment. If the person in question refuses to get the hint, you will know that you have been honest to yourself and others.

    Very good piece.

    Be well and enjoy the day.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Men can (and should) hold their tongues, but they simply cannot avert their eyes. That’s, like, Rule #1 in the Book of Men.

    When a young, attractive female dresses inappropriately (say, exposing vast amounts of cleavage) in the workplace, her male co-workers will look. (Assuming they are heterosexual, of course.)

    That does not mean they are a bunch of perverts. Heck, even elderly, happily-married, and completely impotent men will look at what is shown. It’s an inborn behavior, much like breathing.

    And if a slut female co-worker is freely showing her goodies in the workplace, management needs to step in before there is trouble. Rule #2 in the Book of Men states that men will fight amongst each other for the attentions of attractive women. And as a manager of a business, that is not a beneficial outcome.

    If all else fails, convert to Islam and demand that she wear a burka to work. I’m pretty sure the ACLU will back you up on that.

  • MCH

    Re #3;
    So do you think that’s why Newt Gingrich committed adultery with Callista Bisek…because she was freely showing her goodies in his office?

  • jack dumas

    Of course rules are just for men. Women have more freedom in dress than men, yet they see themselves as the victims. No, you do not have the right as a women to wear anything you want at the office, I repeat, WOMEN DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO WEAR ANYTHING THEY ANT IN THE OFFICE. This is where most women get it wrong. Men do not have that freedom, women are given way too much freedom here. In three of my previous workplaces, men have risen up and complained about the double standards in dress code betwee men and women (I think you will see this more from the younger generation). One of the workplace actully did take action and women were no longer able wear shorts to work since men were not.

    “No one is responsible for the way someone else chooses to behave or react – even with regard to a scantily clad co-worker” This quote does not even make sense, this would be a great defense for a flasher. In addition the quote still does not make sense because this is exactly what the woman often want, to control how other look. If the guy is interseting and good looking, she does want the look and staring becomes ok, but if the guy is ugly she does not want him to stare. This is one of the way women weild power on men, buy being passive aggressive, and acting like victims to get sympaty when their plan don’t work. When it comes to dress, two men can make the exact same comment to a woman and mean the exact same thing, if the woman like one guy, then everything is OK and she’s happy, if the women does not like the man, for example the man is ugly, then the woman can act offended and cry sexual abuse and/or harassmenn. Women that dress in this way have to stop acting like victims escpecially when they know that they are in fact the aggressor and that is why they are doing it.

  • Ross Campbell

    Im a man and I dont think there should be any restriction for a woman or man to dress sexy in the office . men would get used to having lots of cleavage, miniskirts, tank tops, and skimpy clothes around them if it is a common site at work and they would get used to it and it wouldnt find it a distraction if they were very used to it – so the solution is Ladies dress sexy as often as you want to work, wear push up bras, form fitting clothes, tight blouses, high heels and lots of makeup- men will get used to it if they havent already and it will become completely acceptable in time- people wont be bothered about it eventually.
    Ross

  • Prof. ART

    What women wear in the workplace DOES matter, for three reasons. One, provocative clothing DOES distract both men and women a work; men for the obvious and indisputable reasons, and women because they tend to compare one another constantly, inevitably leading to a bad conclusion when sex is flaunted with inappropriate clothing at work. Two, people who take the time to dress professionally naturally feel resentment toward those who come to work dressed like they just came off the beach, and as if THEY don’t have to follow the rules. Three, dressing professionally DOES make both wearers and those who deal with them feel more respect for the business relationship. Simply put, when you dress better you feel better, you act better, you are better–and others think more highly of you. The self and mutual respect that comes from dressing professionally is a good and proper feeling, and in the workplace it is essential to keeping co-workers’ and clients’ thoughts about business and not about the idolatry of sex. In other words, dressing in an overly sexual way makes people take men and women less seriously, and think that sex is part of what is being sold in a business transaction–this is inescapable.