The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘work’

Woman Working In Objectifying Job Charged With Being Immodest

Posted by Mel Campbell on August 14, 2009

Geez, you really can’t win, can you? You’re working as a “skimpy barmaid”, a job that requires you to wear a cleavage-revealing bodysuit and French knickers. You go up to take a customer’s order, and then he turns out to be an undercover cop arresting you for “being immodestly dressed on licensed premises”.

This is the absurd predicament facing Megan Brooks, who appeared in Fremantle Magistrates Court today after an incident that occurred at her workplace, the Market City Tavern in Canning Vale, WA, last November. Even the presiding magistrate seemed to think it was a rubbish charge, advising that he was probably going to dismiss the case.

“I just felt like I was doing my job and I don’t think that I was immodestly dressed,” Megan said outside the court. “There’s more important things out there (for police) than sort of sneaking around undercover hoping to catch skimpy barmaids wearing not very much clothing.”

I’m not sure what is more startlingly offensive:

  • the fact that it’s possible to face legal charges (and the associated penalties) arising from the moral judgments of an individual law enforcement officer. I wonder if this aspect of the Liquor Licensing Act was originally drafted to prevent prostitutes from looking for business in bars, pubs and clubs;
  • the fact that a woman is facing these charges over clothing that she is required to wear at work;
  • the fact that her body was nonchalantly discussed publicly in court as if it didn’t belong to a thinking, feeling person.

It’s shameful that when even the magistrate agreed that Megan Brooks probably hadn’t done anything wrong and did not have a case to answer, she was still subjected to the this kind of treatment:

The court was told that the accused was wearing black lace French knickers with a buttock exposed, but [her defence lawyer] Mr Dobson wanted to know which buttock was exposed as well as the extent of the exposure. It was also stated that Ms Brooks’ nipples were erect, although Mr Dobson questioned whether that too was criminal conduct.

Luckily, the incident has not put Megan off working in what WA Today calls “the barmaid industry”. (I wonder if this is a separate industry to “the hospitality industry” that I’d always presumed bar staff work in.)

So far I’ve left aside the issue of whether it’s right or wrong to offer people employment on the basis that they wear skimpy or demeaning clothing. On one hand, I don’t want to be judgmental about the existence of “skimpy barmaid” jobs, because people aren’t obliged to work in a job whose requirements they find repugnant. You wouldn’t take a job as a stripper, for instance, if you weren’t prepared to take your clothes off.

But more realistically, many of the uniforms that rob people of their dignity are in low-paying service-industry jobs typically filled by people who don’t have the luxury of many choices. Take Nando’s, for instance, which requires its mostly young staff to wear sexualised slogan T-shirts that imply they agree with and personify sentiments such as: “I make the chicks hot”, “Chicks rule”, “Take me home, I’m basted” or “I’ve done your chick”.

It’s frustratingly hypocritical that our culture so persistently seeks to turn women into sexual objects, and then seeks to punish a woman for acceding to that objectification.


Posted in law | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Today In ‘Sweeping Generalisations Digest’: Australian Women Are “Too Timid” At Work!

Posted by Clem Bastow on August 19, 2008

Hey ladies, wondering why you just can’t get ahead in the workforce? Perhaps it’s because you keep lying down and letting yourself get walked all over? That’s the word from the latest “study” of questionable value, this time from – ahem – “US researcher Sharon Goodson”, who reckons Australian women are “too timid” in the office:

U.S. researcher Shannon Goodson says Australia’s professional women are not earning what they are worth because they “struggle with stage fright and sensitivities about appearing too forward, pushy or intrusive.”


Ms Goodson was surprised by the results, given the stereotype of the meek English woman and the brash, outspoken Aussie.

“They’re not comfortable with conflict,” she said of Australian women.

Right, so she actually thought that stereotypes were accurate reflections of her sample groups before she began the study? Gee, off to a flying start.

My experience in the offices of Australia is fairly limited given I’ve worked from home for the past four years, but in the office I did work in, the women were amongst the most outspoken members of the team. I can’t help but feel that hollow studies like this are just another way to perpetuate outdated ideas about the way women work.

I’d be interested to hear from those who do the 9-to-5. Do you think this research is accurate?

Posted in Business, Media Watch | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

“Are You An Average Australian?” Dunno, Do You Have Boobs?

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 22, 2008

Yet more sunny sexism from the stock photos folder – today we have this charming example, illustrating a piece on what the “average Australian” earns, spends, and so forth:

Can’t read the first little bit of the caption? It says “Stacking up…” GEDDIT? Like “stacked”? Boobs? Hur hur hur!

Click through to the article and there are our anonymous bosomy friends once more. This has nothing to do with anything, really, unless they’re clutching at straws and tying it in with this alarming statistic:

This is bad news for people on the brink of retirement.  The average super payment for men this year is expected to be $155,000, while women can expect an average payout of $73,000. These payouts have to stretch a long way.

There’s no word as to whether this is to do with men currently at retirement age having worked more, over their years in the workforce, than their female counterparts, or whether it’s to do with discrepancies in pay rates between men and women, which is still a huge problem.

But why answer the difficult questions when you can just show some bazoongas in a tight t-shirt?

Posted in Media Watch, Sexist Stock Photo Watch | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

“Women Managers Make Greener Business Decisions”: Report

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 18, 2008

Reader Sophie sent through this little business tidbit – a study has found that women managers and CEOs are more likely to make environmentally sound business decisions than their male counterparts. Here are the findings in not-so-easy-to-read tabled format:

If you’ve lost your microscope, the actual results can be found in this PDF report of the findings, which are part of a larger survey of green business practices.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the findings are accurate? Or is the idea of a “green” female manager just another way to flip the whole cigar-chomping man-in-suit stereotype of business on its head, in essence another way to brand female business leaders as the fairer, greener sex?

Posted in Business, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Just In Case You Didn’t Know How To Dress Yourself For Work

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 14, 2008

The Fairfax Digital sites just keep rolling out the pearlers when it comes to pointless/sexist stock photos illustrating their, shall we say, B-side news. For the last couple of days on the online presences for The Age/WA Today/et al, this one has been advertising a MyCareer piece on dressing for job interviews:

Goddamn, you wacky bitch! You’ll never get a job with a zany haircut like that! Watch out, The Man is checking you out! And so on. But it doesn’t get any better from there – click through to the article and you’ll find the Fairfax Digital special, female bodyparts!

And a runway fashion show has what, exactly, to do with dressing for corporate job interviews again? Who knows, but the gist of the article seems to be something to the tune of, “Girls, don’t dress like slovenly whores”:

Two thirds of those surveyed said that bad grooming, such as unpressed shirts and untidy hair, was the most common failing. Just over half said that bad body odour was also common!

When it came to clothing, lowcut tops (45 per cent) and loud or over-the-top make-up (40 per cent) were two of the most common examples for women. Very short skirts also were noticed.

Watch that bad body odour, girls, or you’ll end up in the typing pool until you die, a spinster, at 56!

Posted in Business, Sexist Stock Photo Watch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Groan-Inducing Action-Movie-Related Quote Of The Week

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 9, 2008

If you regularly cruise the movie news/gossip sites you will be aware that a G.I. Joe movie is currently in production (no doubt inspired by the success of other toy-cum-movie franchises like Transformers and The Godfather), with Sienna Miller cast as The Baroness.

Thus, you’d expect toy/cartoon nerds to be sulking over whether or not she looks enough like either of the original incarnations of the character, but the film’s own director Stephen Sommers? Here’s what Miller had to say about the creation of her character:

Miller admits she was left slightly stunned when Sommers told her that her small chest had to be given an extra boost so she would look more curvaceous on screen.

She says, “(I wear a) tight black leather outfit. And much bigger boobs.

“They gave me these things that looked like chicken fillets. The director said, ‘I’m gonna be honest, I like girls with big boobs,’ and I don’t have them so we made them bigger.

“At least he’s honest. But I was mildly offended.”

Slightly stunned? Mildly offended? If I were Miller I would’ve employed my newly minted action figure power moves and issued him a swift flying kick to the jugular.

Sexual harassment: it’s okay if you do it through a megaphone from the Director’s chair!

Posted in body image, Celebrity, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Smashing The Myth Of The Moustachioed ‘Lion Tamer’ (Sort Of)

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 1, 2008

The Age has a feature interview today with zookeeper Kathy Scanlon, who works at Werribee Open Plains Zoo. Scanlon is part of Werribee’s all-female lion keeper team, and has been working with Melbourne Zoos’ various zoological reserves for ten years. Part of her job is training and conditioning the lions to be at ease when around people, so that if they have to have a medical examination (for example), the experience is less stressful for them.

She is one of three lion keepers at the zoo — all are women — and an integral player behind the scenes of the big cats display.

So far, so good; I’m always pleased when careers features look at jobs for women that don’t include the usual teacher/nurse/PR options (not that there’s anything wrong with those, it’s just that sometimes you’d be forgiven for thinking they were the only options available to women).

It’s a shame, then, that Gordon Farrer (the writer) then has to resort to tired old sexism and cutie-pie prose to approach Scanlon’s work:

At about 165 kilograms each, Werribee’s two male lions — 12-year-old brothers Tonyi and Tombo — are smaller than their cousins in the wild, but they dwarf Scanlon, who scrapes in at 140 centimetres and 42 kilograms. She looks as if she’d have trouble blowing the head off a beer, yet with a few words the petite animal keeper has the beasts doing tricks worthy of the Ringling Brothers.

Right, because she’s clearly a tiny, precious little doll, playing with those lovely big pussycats!

Seriously, Farrar, what does her size have to do with anything here? She’s not picking up the lions and juggling them over her heads. Why not delve deeper into the subject – why not explore why it is that Werribee’s lion keepers are all female? Are women better suited to the role, or is it just coincidence?

The article gets better from there, but I couldn’t help but feel a bad taste in my mouth. When will a kick-ass woman ever be allowed to be just that in the eyes of the (largely male) media? Why is there always some little “remember, you’re just a girl” sting in the tail?

Posted in Media Watch | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Age: Office Stress Makes You Haggard… Or Something

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 1, 2008

They just keep kicking goals at the Fairfax Digital sites and today’s bit of photo editor brilliance comes from The Age. This article (syndicated from The Guardian) is about dealing with office stress, and how best to approach working with passive aggressive types; all good, sensible stuff.

But watch out, ladies, because those passive aggressive emails could be making you UGLY! Or at least, that’s what the accompanying image seems to be telling us:

“Mmm, that’s much better! Since I confronted my passive aggressive co-worker, my fine lines have been visibly reduced by up to 86% and I am free to wear this flattering beige lip-gloss again!”

Why is it that generic/stock photo images chosen to accompany business articles are so often a) perpetuating sexist gender stereotypes and b) totally pointless?

Posted in Sexist Stock Photo Watch | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »