Friday, September 17, 2010

Cleavage career guides

I have a weird tag for some of the business/career books that I come across that are written for women, but seem to have more to do with how much cleavage we show (toe or otherwise) than our skills and capabilities. Reading these books make me all nostalgic for the day the the boys discovered bra straps and a new way to bully girls. Next up, slut shaming, in which all participate.

I want to say no one depends on their boobs to get ahead, but Pamela Anderson springs to mind. And not all boobs (or biceps, for that matter) mesmerize equally: there is usually some cunning and social engineering involved on the part of the person attached to the sexy flesh.

Some of these books may have some good advice interspersed with Wonder Bra and cosmetic surgery ads. So, I call them cleavage career guides and let you make up your own mind.

Recently, there was a some chatter about a tip sheet that was supposed distributed within Citibank, adopted from a book called Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office. Jezebel spurned it. Cynical Girl (former Punk Rock HR) wrote a sorta defense of Citibank and the book.

The problem is this: masculine and feminine behaviors are perceptions, which means they exist in our minds, either as we project them or receive them. This doesn't mean that we turn off our biological sex, but people project some of their perceptions on to us and we roleplay back. These behaviors are also dependent on culture. You might think you are a feminine cheesecake in North America, but you may seem pretty beefy beyond these borders.

Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps -- And What We Can Do About ItMy hearty handshake and aggressive humor do not make me a male--but some people perceive these behaviors as masculine. If they are really smart, they will skip the category. The brisk handshaking does come with bored hair twirling.

Do we really need rules about how to behave and where to put our eyeballs? Sometimes, because we are creatures that need rules. But they should be applied fairly to individuals, not to categories.

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