You might think that patronizing, obnoxious modestly trolling is the domain of them backwards religious fundamentalists and/or those scary people who live outside the late-capitalist west. You might think that upper middle class liberals are always and everywhere the best friends and ceaseless champions of the radical liberation and dignity of women.
Or you might read Slate.
“Skintern is a term I first heard from a male colleague who disapproved of the yearly ritual of scantily-clad young women showing up to do summer internships at our company.”
Oh Goody! Someone using coy, finger-wagging portmanteaus to discuss women’s clothing. As a women, I find difficult concepts easier to digest when I don’t have to process too many words at once.
Other things that help me as a woman:
–Nasty, dismissive nicknames suggesting that my professional identity is entirely defined by how much skin I show. This is especially helpful to interns, as it reminds them that they are slaves, not colleagues.
–Cutesy, eye-brow waggling, rhetorical burlesques made of my body and appearance.
And the guy who introduced you to the nickname? He sounds like a real winner whose approval should absolutely be valorized as a motivating professional goal! I’m glad his special thoughts will be forever immortalized in such a thoughtful and necessary meditation on female flesh.
“…And cleavage straight out of a men’s magazine.”
Yes! Yes! More comparisons of women’s bodies to pornography! This can only be good!
“But don’t worry, ladies. I’m not here to judge. I’m here to help.”
You are too merciful, Oh great Propriety Cthulhu! We are not worthy!
” spent most of my early 20s is a state of panicked confusion about what was appropriate professional attire.”
You know, my early 20s have seen a marked lack of any panic or confusion about appropriate professional attire. This may because I am a nanny and not the kind of real feminist with a real job who is allowed to read Slate. Or it may be because my stints in the white-collar workplace brought in me in contact with mentoring women who treated me like a professional adult who needed help learning the ropes instead of a naughty little girl or volatile time-bomb of sexy sexflesh.
“[Advice that would be a sensible list of proscriptions, were it not for the fail sandwich encasing it. No helpful tips on how to assemble a work-appropriate wardrobe on intern cash.]”
“I’m less bothered by sneakers and flip flops than laceup, over-the-knee boots and sexy four-inch heels.”
Really? In most places I have worked, sneakers or flip-flips would be an immediate and definite breach of propriety, while heels and boots would be a judgement call. So is this about your personal human resources department? Or is this whole workplace propriety gimmick just an excuse for you to cluck at the Bad Sex Women?
“So continue the winning streak by saving the glittery platform sandals for another occasion, like pole dancing class..”
Yes, thank you, that answers my question.
Women, like men, have bodies, bodies with sexual organs! But unlike men, their bodies are overwhelmingly, cartoonishly sexual, always just teetering on the verge of the grotesque, degraded, and punishable. Strippers are the most grotesque and therefore most hilarious examples of humiliating feminine sexual bodies, but young vulnerable female interns aren’t that far off, which is why it’s so funny to sneer at their skin in public forums!
Now, we could all just sit around all day laughing our heads off at strippers and female interns, but Katherine Goldstein is a feminist, dammit. She knows that eventually you have to stop laughing, take these hapless young things in hand, and say “No no no! I know you want to turn into a stripper, but not at work. Work is how you become one of the respectable women.”
“I hire and manage some interns during the summer, and exactly one intern has asked me what was appropriate to wear to the office”
Everything you’ve said so far has made me think that asking you to comment on my wardrobe would be a really mutually respectful and edifying experience, so I can’t understand the dearth of advice supplicants. It’s almost like young women entering the workforce sense some subtle but deeply entrenched hostility that they want to be very careful about engaging.
“Now that you are armed with this essential knowledge, go forth into the workplace and impress everyone you meet with your hard work and keen intellect. Ladies, I will see you on the other side of the glass ceiling.”
Oh I see. The real threat to women’s equality in the workplace isn’t the universal de-valuing of care-work, nor corporations whose family leave policies remain structured around the housewife model, but the bare shoulders of unpaid interns.
Once we fix that, corporate America will shower women with the respect, consideration, and cold hard cash it has been begging, pleading, dying to give us as soon as we get our clothing situation under control.
Remember, young, female interns: your priorities should not be affordable housing, student debt, and job precarity, but keeping your latently whorish bodies under wraps until your employers make CEO.