So there’s an issue with workplace dress codes happening around the world and the consequences are problematic, sometimes fatal.

As in, people are suffering and literally dying because their boss told them to wear something. It’s obviously an important topic, but before we talk about it, I have to make a quick disclaimer;

Divisiveness is not the solution, to anything, for anyone.

In that spirit, I’ve replaced every instance of the word “man” or “management” in the following text with the word Self-fish. What is a Self-Fish, you ask?

A Fish that feeds itself through its lack of consideration for everyone and is concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure. Many of the world’s most influential decision-makers are Self-Fish. It’s mating call is a sound akin to ‘Meeeeeee!’

The reason for this is simple; the blame game gets us nowhere, and I don’t feel like lumping in excited allied readers and chauvinistic pigs under the same umbrella, so by replacing the word “man” in various quotes and statistics, we can focus on the problem, which is that we are all suffering from the actions of the Self-Fish.

By that same logic, it makes no sense to exclude victims of the Self-Fish simply because they share a gender.

So, let’s try it;

"Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of [the Self-fish]; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth." Simone de Beauvoir

Let’s take our first steps by starting with an example using everyone’s favourite accessory; shoes.

Homer eating donuts

I love shoes. I love IceCream too, but I don’t want to drown in a tub of it.

The Heel Issue

Despite all the empirically proven evidence explaining the serious issues that can arise when one wears high heels for extended periods of time, they’re still required in a shocking amount of workplaces.

The detrimental effects it can have on your body, particularly your spine, are horrifying to say the least.

High heels aren’t just mandated for airline stewardesses 1 (as if that made more sense); women have been sent home or even fired for not complying with these literal walking hazards at all kinds of jobs.

A UK woman, Nicola Thorp was one of the ones sent home because she refused to wear heels, as a receptionist working behind a desk, no less. 2

Nicola Thorp outside Parliament in London in a red dress

Nicola Thorp outside Parliament in London.

She fought back; a petition she started sparked a Parliamentary investigation that exposed shocking widespread discrimination against women when it came to UK workplace dresscodes.

Other places weren’t that lucky; in Japan, when a group of activists tried to do something similar, the nation’s labour minister publically and officially stated that “high heels are necessary for work”. 3

One step forward, two steps back, it seems, which btw is hard af to do in high heels.

Yumi Ishikawa, the founder of the Japanese movement in sneakers at a press conference

Yumi Ishikawa, founder of the Japanese ban forced high heels movement.

"It's shown up outdated attitudes towards women in the workplace, and it has shown that constantly women are belittled when they try to challenge those attitudes." Helen Jones, committee

The committee-published report makes for a sobering read; it has hundreds of women sharing their stories about the pain and damage they’ve suffered at the hands of the high-heel mandate. 4

When you take into account the psychological repercussions of having to wear revealing outfits daily as part of your job and the issues that arise when one is required to constantly reapply makeup, dermatological and emotional, it turns out that the employees got a lot more than they signed up for…

Women in the police and army aren’t exempt from this plight; “Safety” boots are also a problem, as a female police officer/crime scene investigator once explained to the UK Trades Union Congress;

"The PPE boots supplied are the same as those for males and the females find them uncomfortable, too heavy, and causing pressure on the Achilles tendons. Our uniform stores refused to address the matter." 5

This was in 2016. No change yet.

Dirty army boots

Across the pond, the US Army buys ‘different boot styles for hot and cold weather, mountain and desert warfare and the rain’[WP]. For every occassion it seems, just not for the “atypical sex”, meaning anybody but the Self-Fish.

Next, we come to an example that is near and dear to many women’s heart’s, or at least their bladders...

The peeing issue

In the UK, all Coastguard officers are issued with overalls meant to be worn underneath various other pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The PPE range from foul-weather clothing to life-jackets. The underneath-overalls have a front-facing zipper that works great if you need to pee... and have a penis.

Kate Hannet coastguard in overalls

First female coastguard rescue officer on Isle of Islay.

As explained in the 2017 Trades Union Congress (TUC) report, peeing becomes a ‘major operation’ for women as all the PPE must be stripped off, followed by the overalls themselves. It’s far from easy, and even further from safe.

The design in principle obviously comes from a time when the Self-Fish ruled, but in an increasingly equal and modern world, is there a place for needlessly gendered uniforms?

"As the type of incidents which we are called to regularly involve long searches which can last for many hours,’" one of the coast guards explained,

you can imagine the discomfort which female coastguards end up having to experience as a result.

"It has been suggested to [the Self-Fish] that the current overalls should be replaced with a two-piece outfit which would allow the trousers to be pulled down without having to remove the top section,

and while [the Self-Fish] have acknowledged the advantage of this idea nothing has so far been done to implement it."

This issue is far from unique to coastguards; scientists studying climate change in Alaska face the same problem. A number of female scientists tried to mitigate the mess by bringing a rubber funnelled approximation of a penis, though this apparently usually resulted in them just peeing all over themselves… 5

Microplastic collection scientsit

Climate change scientists wearing a standard uniform while researching micro plastics.

I dunno about you, but I think climate change is a big enough issue to deal with without having to choose between a UTI or being drenched in urine while in the middle of the freezing wilds.

The Body Armor Issue

Black female police officer

A police officer in Manhattan, New York.

By now we know that a poorly-fitted uniform is more than just a fashion hazard; it can be a mortal danger to the wearer and everyone around them.

When your uniform is also your first line of defence against actual bullets, you might just get a little antsy when there’s a “wardrobe malfunction”. It’s as much about “aesthetics'' as a parachute jumper’s concern is for their equipment...

In 1997 a British female police officer, Nina Alexandra Mackay was stabbed and killed while using a hydraulic ram to enter a flat. She had removed her body armour because it was too difficult to use the ram while wearing it 6

Nina Alexandra Mackay

Funeral of Nina Alexandra Mackay.

Two years later, a female police officer revealed she had had breast-reduction surgery because of the health issues caused by the wearing of the armour. 7

After that, it was reported that another 700 officers came forward to complain about the body armour. This was well over 20 years ago, and still, nothing has changed. 7

British female police officers also report being regularly bruised by their kit belts; many have had physiotherapy as a result of the way stab vests sit on their body. Stab vests are supposed to prevent injury, not cause it. Ridiculous.

And it keeps going; US police uniforms are often designed to fit a Self-fish’s body and nobody else’s. The pants typically have a longer rise putting the waistband — and thus the duty belt — above the natural waistline. This creates an awkward angle when female officers reach for their gun and can delay reaction time amongst other things, creating further complications. 8

Police officers in uniform

Female police officer in a standard uniform.

These high-rise pants also cause measuring issues when fitting anyone but the Self-Fish for a ballistics panel, forcing the protective layer to be placed higher on the body than it should, leaving vital lower organs unprotected.

This issue is far from some "hysteria" regarding clothing; people are suffering and dying because they’ve been reduced to second-class citizens who’s only clothing options are obviously unsuitable for them.

I don’t think anybody wearing a uniform or protective equipment should feel like they’re wearing hand-me-downs from a very differently shaped sibling, especially when it’s these very people we rely on to keep us safe…

A lot of genuine issues are swept under the rug and this effect is catalyzed by the fact that it’s clothing-related, which allows for a superficial narrative to dismiss the gravity of the situation.

At the end of the day, it’s clearly not just about the shoes, or the boots, or even the vests. It’s about the bigger picture; by not implementing obvious, easy and readily available solutions, the message being sent is that if you’re not a Self-Fish, you don’t matter.

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