Conflicted by Culture: Current Issues with Dress Codes and “Appropriate” Attire

midriff shot of women standing aside onanother
From: http://girlsgenerationwallpaperss.blogspot.com/2013/10/girls-generation.html

By Remington Jensen

Whether you’ve have had a School Resource Officer question your overall health on the appearance of your outfit or have possibly been sent home due to observable bra-straps, it’s plausible that you’ve seen the rise in strict dress codes, especially those in schools.

Though schools aren’t the only location that dress codes are enforced; workplaces, public spaces, and even homes are all authorized by those who can control what others wear. In strict households this could be a parent who doesn’t enjoy the openness of an outfit, at work it could be a Human Resources member, in public even the government has the power to deem what is or isn’t allowable to play

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Suicide Rates in America

By: Madeleine Clow

Disclaimer: This article may be triggering and handles sensitive issues regarding mental health

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Work Place Entrapment

Not asking for it

“I did work at a mall in college- I think working retail/customer service is one of the most hideous jobs in the world.” – Jayma Mays (Actress/Singer)

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so. I have in worked in retail since high school, in almost every capacity. While I made some great connections while working at those places, the job of putting on a happy face and trying to help everyone is exhausting. And what made it worse? Even after I was at my job for two years and was trained as a manager, no one believed I, a young woman, knew anything.

They would ask to speak with the department managers, or in a few cases, ask if there was a man they could speak to. Both men and women have done this and are probably doing it somewhere right now, much to my chagrin. Most of us are familiar with this narrative, but unless you’ve worked a service job or talked intimately with someone who has faced these issues, you can’t imagine how retail employees feel trapped. I think it’s high time to shed a little light on this.

Every retailer store I’ve worked at uses the classic model “the customer is always right”. That’s not a bad way to treat people who have gotten a bum product or have questions, but it is very seldom true. The customer is not always right.

Correcting customers in the wrong is like herding cats. They could just go with it, they might realize what you’re trying to do, but most of them will go their own way or may snap at you. This creates fear of the customer, especially when they change very quickly.

You’re probably thinking, but wait, isn’t the company supposed to protect employees? Can’t management handle these situations?

Companies, say they can and managers can only handle so much and most of them aren’t even prepared to handle situations. Training videos might describe and demonstrate how to handle a grumpy customer or when to get a manager, but every situation is unique and management just can’t always be there. This creates both a feeling of independence and one of isolation.

Now for the most part there is hope—grumpy customers usually just vent or go to Customer Service or can be handed off to a department. The problem I have faced as a woman is when primarily male customers start to get to friendly, flirt, ask out, or in a few cases make blatantly sexual advancements. In my case, I’m lucky none of them have gotten physical, but that is not always the case.

I worked with a girl, we’ll call her Gene. Gene worked in a clothing store, and she was helping a man find some pants. Management was in a meeting and while we all had our radios on, we all had different projects in a fairly large store. Gene helped the man even though she could “feel his eyes wandering.” They talked for a while, because in the world of retail you want to get to know your customers to help them. He started making comments, trying to flirt. Gene felt uncomfortable but was polite, trying to keep things professional. He took this politeness as an invitation to ask her out. She declined. He got very mad and started yelling all sorts of obscenities which I heard, and I rushed over to ask the man as politely as possible to leave. He called me and the other mostly female workers other obscenities, and then management escorted him out of the building.

Now if you’re wondering why Gene didn’t radio for back-up initially, let me remind you. In retail/customer service positions, politeness is key. Presentation is key. You cannot be rude to a customer unless it is a last resort, because bad behavior on your part reflects poorly on the store, and in many places can get you into trouble. We had a good management team but it’s hard to call for back-up when your customer is standing right there watching your every move. In some cases, it’s genuinely terrifying. So radioing for back-up vaguely usually results in “What do you need?” “Is it a question I can answer?”, and when you don’t have a radio, you can’t just hand a customer off to someone else in the same way at all.

I can tell you that after this, we developed phrases, we had signals, and for a while we tried to help customers in pairs because it was so scary. There is no one you protect more than your friends at work, because they really do become your family.

The worst thing is though, while not to this extreme those little microaggressions that have made me as a woman uncomfortable happen every day, and retail workers have to put up with them. Eyes will look everywhere they shouldn’t, people will get asked if they have significant others, what they’re doing later, when they get off, etc. Certain regulars will pick you and go only through your line and say “See you later” in an all-too-familiar tone. The worst things that happened to me were verbal, but I refused to interact with those customers again, and I told my management so. Did I still have to interact with them if there was no one else around? Yes. Did I plan my quickest escape route as soon as I registered they were in the store? Yes. Did I smile and do my job despite my skin crawling? Yes.

Is politeness while someone working a reason to flirt with that person?

No, it is not. It never is. They’re doing their jobs and their job should not include compromising themselves so that you leave happy.

Or at least that’s what every retail handbook says.

Choosing Not to Report

By Makayla Sundquist

Trigger Warning: This post discusses multiple survivors’ sexual assault experiences and may be triggering for others who have also experienced sexual assault. 

A woman holds a sign that depicts the words "#MeToo"
The #MeToo movement created more awareness about the presence of sexual assault. Photo from Poynter.com

If you have been keeping up with the University of Idaho news lately, you will notice the attention a 2013 sexual assault case is getting. The Idaho Statesman recently discovered a survivor’s testimony on a blog site, and ran a story that covered the investigation. (Read here). Long story short, the survivors did not receive the help from the athletic department they needed. Both people involved were athletes at UI, but the athletic department only protected the assaulter. The survivors then went to the Women’s Center, and the staff there took the case to the Dean of Students for an investigation. The assaulter was no longer allowed to play football at UI. However,  he is now playing for a team in New York (which I do not agree with, but that is a conversation for another day).

Throughout all of this buzz, I have heard some comments questioning why the survivor did not go directly to the Dean of Students. Some of these comments were in poor taste. Others were genuinely curious. Even though the two women who were sexually assaulted at UI chose to report their assault to the police and the athletic department, it is common for survivors to never report. But why?

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Pro Planned Parenthood

By Makayla Sundquist

Let’s talk about Planned Parenthood.

“Abortion Clinic!” you scream.

“Murderers!” you cry.

“They sell fetal tissue!” you claim.

(That last one has been proven false, read here).

Sign reading "I stand with Planned Parenthood" on a pink background
Common signed used to support Planned Parenthood.

There are many myths about Planned Parenthood, and there are people who believe their clinics should not be established because they perform abortions. Before we continue, abortion is legal in the United States. It has been since the 1973 Roe v. Wade case. Planned Parenthood provides women with legal abortions. Do you want women to die from coat hanger abortions? No? Neither do I, let’s move on. Some of the clinics only provide a medication abortion, a pill taken up to 10 weeks that blocks progesterone and causes the fetus to detach from the uterine wall, but other clinics provide surgical abortions. In case you were wondering, the Planned Parenthood in Pullman only provides a medication abortion. However, abortions are only a small piece of the services that Planned Parenthood provides. The most common reason people access Planned Parenthood is to receive STI testing/treatment. 

What makes Planned Parenthood so amazing is that it provides a wide variety of health-related services, and not all of them are related to sexual health. Fun Fact: you can go receive a sports physical at the Planned Parenthood in Pullman, WA. Then again, if you do need some “down there” assistance, Planned Parenthood is a fantastic resource. They provide STI tests, pap smears, pregnancy tests, UTI treatment, and even vasectomies. That’s right, men, Planned Parenthood can be your health center as well! And it is starting to be. In 2014, PP clinics served 250,000 men, which is a 76% increase from a decade ago. The Pullman Planned Parenthood helps men with erectile dysfunction, male infertility, premature ejaculation, and routine physicals. Other Planned Parenthood Clinics can screen men for testicular and prostate cancer.

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Has it Gotten Any Better?

belly-body-calories-diet-42069
Measuring tape on a womans waist

By Delaney Hopen

In America’s fashion industry,  the “plus-size” identity has always been a prominent component. This “size” range is considered sizes 8 and above, and isn’t carried in every store. From my perspective, I never noticed any sort of shaming or disrespect towards women that don’t weigh 100 pounds in the media, but of course how could I? I was only a young teen in the grocery stores looking at the covers, I couldn’t possibly notice all the praise of major weight losses that are just subtle conditioning set in our societies to convince us losing weight is a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, adjusting your life in order to be a healthy you is a great thing. Me being an exercise freak, I think it feels amazing to set a body goal and achieve it but I’ve never been told I had to change like a lot of women have in the fashion world. There are all types of trends today in the beauty and health industry that I’m sure the older generations might not legitimately believe are popular because advancements in makeup, skinny teas and dieting techniques, and online weight loss plans have become so accessible.

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Living in the Feminine World

Rodin's The Thinker
Rodin’s “The Thinker”

By Dave Eubank

I exist in a constantly changing world. One that at present seems full of fear, anger, hate, and chaos. However, I sense and see a change coming. Transition that brings the promise of love, contentment, and serenity. How do I live in and through this period of development? How can I be a part of it and work to encourage and influence it positively?

 

Learn about me

shadow
A “shadow man”

Carl Jung states,

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

I must work to go inside of myself, explore, and get in touch with all aspects of who I am and what I am made of. The good, bad, and ugly. If something/someone outwardly affects me, then I need to ask myself, “What is it inside of me that I am bothered by? What problems do I have accepting parts of me? What have I buried or made unconscious or denied?”

The more I look to understand, accept, and love all the myriad ways and the wondrous mosaic that my being is, the easier I will tolerate and live amongst differences and embrace the full spectrum of cultures and humans I come in contact with. Continue reading “Living in the Feminine World”