Feminism | Posted by Bre K on 06/28/2011

When Parents Are Wrong

Do I have to be business Barbie?

Do I have to be business Barbie?

Lately I’ve been getting into fights with my parents. Well, one main fight. They want me to find a job.

The argument part started when my hair turned out three different colors by mistake this year and I really wanted to dye my hair back to its natural, dark color. They said they will pay to dye my hair, but only dirty blond because I need to have “sex appeal” in order to find a part time job while going to school. Gross.

I want to be all natural and real, not fake like I’m trying to look like workplace Barbie. They told me, “You need to use your femininity to get a job. Half the workers are male workers and you can’t even do those jobs because you are a female.”

I just refuted, “Not every woman gets a job based on what she looks like…there have to be some jobs based on merit!”

My mother said, “Sometimes it’s merit…mostly it’s sexual appeal. I got hired into the oil industry after college and I was so excited and thought it was all because of my hard work paying off and then my boss directly told me ‘you want to know why you were actually hired? You’re sexy.’”

Can I vomit now? I mean, you’d think in the year 2011 the workplace would be different. Or at least the way my parents feel about it would be different.

Oh yeah, and let’s top this little piece of unfair cake off with a beautiful ending, provided by my Dad. I told him that he shouldn’t be telling me to use my sex appeal to get a job and that I’d never seduce anyone to get work. His response? “You sound gay.”

Thanks, Dad. Thanks for making it sound like being gay is bad when all I did was tell you that I disagreed with what you said. Does that make any sense? I think not.

The worst part is, while I know they are wrong for saying that to me as my parents, I can’t help but wonder if there’s some truth in what they’re saying. Do I need to have sex appeal to get a job? Even if it is true, I’m a feminist, and I’m going to use my brain to get a job, not my looks.

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  • Ashley @ at 12:40 pm, June 28th, 2011

    Uh that’s ridiculous. I’ve never encountered a job where I was hired for my sex appeal. What if the employer is female, like more and more hiring employers are becoming? She’s not going to give a damn about your femininity or sex appeal.

  • Azkyroth @ at 4:04 pm, June 28th, 2011

    Not a job you’d actually want.

  • Wiley @ at 4:23 pm, June 28th, 2011

    I am about as “unattractive” as they come–I’m butch, short, aggressive, and have a huge vocabulary. I got several jobs in high school and got a job RIGHT out of college–it can be done.

    You go girl.

  • Anna @ at 5:02 pm, June 28th, 2011

    Your parents are being incredibly archaic, sexist, immature, and degrading. When you mother told the story of being hired for being “sexy,” she was being sexually harassed in the work place, and (in the state I live in the U.S. anyway) can report that person. There are support structures (not always great ones) built so women don’t have to deal with sexism in the work place. I’m glad you are fighting for your position and what you know is right.

    I have been working since I was fourteen and every employer I have had has been female (not that women don’t find other women attractive). You should remind your parents that the job market are changing, women make up 57% of all college students, ~60% of women are part of the labor force, and 40% of employed women work in management/professional fields – http://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/main.htm -.

    I say let ‘em keep there money, shave your head, and prove that you can still get a job. Remind them that you are clearly a very smart young woman and you deserve to get recognized for your ability. And if you do find a job where your boss tells you you’re sexy or creeps on you in any way, report the fucker to DSHS and keep your job! You have power, you are awesome, keep fighting the good fight!

  • Anna @ at 5:03 pm, June 28th, 2011

    Sorry for all the typos, you get the idea.

  • Genesis @ at 7:47 pm, June 28th, 2011

    Wow. You’re right your parents shouldn’t have told you that. I’m proud of you for knowing that they’re wrong too. As females we have to know that in the workplace it’s about our brains and not our sex appeal.

  • Bre K @ at 8:05 pm, June 28th, 2011

    Wiley-I doubt you are unattractive and no YOU go girl :) woo go us haha

    Anna-I agree. Very archaic and sexist. They don’t understand. But that’s ok. They’re somewhat true. I’ve been hit on by bosses and there’s nothing I can do because I need that job and it’s not like they’ve done anything physically to me.

    I actually love it when the employer is female-that way I feel like I deserve the job.

    I actually have a second interview tomorrow to work at a cafe. and they’re not dying my hair until tomorrow…so far I’ve gotten at least SOMEWHERE looking the way I do :)

  • Miriam @ at 8:27 pm, June 28th, 2011

    Bullshit! By the time you get to the part where they actually invite you for an interview, there’s a good chance you’ll be hired anyway.

    Besides, I know many “attractive” women and many “unattractive” women, and most of both groups are employed.

  • QuantumInc @ at 12:26 am, June 29th, 2011

    I guess some version of the “Feminist = Lesbian” trope? It’s a hilarious nonsequitur for those who actually know what “gay” means…until you realize these are your own parents. I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

    It certainly helps to dress up for a job interview for anyone. However any boss you hires a woman based primarily on looks (barring a model I suppose) is irresponsible and probably plans on inappropriate advances.

  • Katherine C. @ at 11:06 am, June 29th, 2011

    Wow, what kind of parents do these people think they are?????? I’m *sorry!* And I reiterate what Anna said: keep fighting the good fight!

  • Alex Catigirl @ at 3:35 pm, June 29th, 2011

    Let you in on a little secret.

    Is it a coincidence that the majority of “young” guys (just out of school 20 somethings to early 40 something looking to reach the “C” level positions) could be male models?

    Seriously, *look* at them(I do because they are choice dating material). Good hair, good skin, fit, confident, handsome, usually ruggedly so.

    Er it may not be fair in the big picture, but as equality between the sexes go, it’s pretty close.

    My huge problem with it is that the guys refuse to admit that their looks had something to do with the status they hold, where as many people judge us solely by our appearance.

    Of course, your parents sound like sexist shits.

  • DalaRose @ at 12:26 pm, June 30th, 2011

    My employer is a female…I work in retail at a baseball stadium. Honestly, looks really didn’t have anything to do with who got hired. There’s a good mix of old, middle age, and young people at the store. I think it depends more on your employer, because there are definetely assholes in the world who will hire a sexy person just because they’re sexy and not because they happen to be really good at their job. I got told by an inebriated customer that I got this job because I was “so hot that the guys will buy shit from your kiosk just to talk with you.” ummm thanks? It’s more of a male thing, I think.

    Also, why should you dye your hair dirty blonde? If they want you all sexy, show them a picture of Angelina Jolie–sexy dark hair!

    Good luck with those parents.

  • Cat @ at 6:31 pm, June 30th, 2011

    I agree that your parents are wrong in this case. You should be able to get a job based on your abilities rather than your appearance and that beyond making yourself neat, tidy and appropriately dressed there should be no need to alter your appearance.

    What I have noticed, having worked for a couple of years, is that there seems to be more discrimination against how women look as they get older, particularly within the professions. If I look at men in senior positions, they come in all shapes and sizes and it seems acceptable to be an obese man – a suit hides many sins. When I look at women in similar roles, they tend to be slim or not significantly overweight and neatly turned out and if not fashionable then not a million miles out of date in how they dress. Is this just me or have others noticed the same?

  • Amy @ at 7:22 am, July 3rd, 2011

    Wow…I’m surprised your parents (or anybody, for that matter) even have these sorts of opinions in the 21st century. Yes, there are probably women (and men) who get hired based on their looks, but it isn’t always the case. Careers aren’t these magical, mystical things that only the “pretty people” have access to.

  • Nano Muse @ at 5:07 pm, September 27th, 2011

    Good grief, your parents told you that?! Yikes.

    Also, everything they said is bullshit. I had two jobs in high school with no sex appeal involved whatsoever, just merit and convenience. I’m going for an interview in two days, and while I will be presentable and professional, I won’t be “sexy”. Unless you are actually in an appearance based career (i.e. model, actor), then any job I get hired to because of my looks is not a job I want.

    Alex Catigirl did have a point about how both men and women seem to be more likely to be hired based on looks, but I think that’s more correlation than causation – a large part of looking good is just taking care of yourself and looking professional, and I can see how people might decide to look professional, and end up looking good in the process – and all of that in a positive way.

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