24 thoughts on “Regulations on cleavage– in chess

  1. I was happy to see that the reason for dress code was *not* what I had assumed it would be: that male players would be distracted by low-cut tops or short skirts.

    Interviewer: “Don’t you think that the dress code for women should protect male chess players, who may be distracted by too open clothes?”

    Sava Stoisavljevic: “It’s a funny question and I don’t think it can be taken seriously. We didn’t think about that while making the regulations.”

  2. hmmm I get confused by this, why is it wrong to state that men would be distracted by women’s low-cut tops or short skirts? Isn’t that just human nature? I know that women are distracted by men in short shorts or buttoned-down shirts…Seems like both categories are maybe for the beach or the club (if thats how you want to present yourself) but certainly not professional wear, whether it be for men or women.

    I don’t see this as just a women’s issue, though I do realize it comes up directed at women more but maybe that is because women tend to wear short skirts and low cut tops and men don’t (isn’t that interesting? why don’t men objectify themselves in fashion? maybe a little more so lately but in general not so much).

    As a woman I get very irked when I am in a professional setting with women who are dressed for the club. It was especially annoying when at law school having my female professors teaching while dressed in this way, a nice reminder of my worth as a woman no matter how high a degree I attain.

  3. I’m not distracted by men in short-shorts…
    And yes, I wear (very nice) mini skirts to teach & give talks and at conferences, and I’m not remotely sorry about it. I am a woman and I am a philosopher. deal.

  4. lol, I don’t understand why that response is hostile Ms. Abramson, and of course I do deal with it, what else can one do? I also am not sorry for disagreeing with you about your opinion concerning the professionalism of mini skirts or short shorts on men or the distraction that men in short shorts present. Obviously it touched a nerve with you, but perhaps thats something you have to deal with? In any event, isn’t it interesting that we never see male professionals in buttoned down shirts or short shorts?

  5. In addition, in thinking further, I don’t think the distraction that unprofessional clothes on women present is just a distract for men or visa versa, I think it detracts from a professional setting in general. Women are often distracted by the unprofessional wardrobe of other women and men are certainly distracted by men in short shorts

  6. My response is irritated, to begin with, because the comparison between a very nice mini-skirt and short-shorts is inapt. The latter is “beach wear”, the former is not. My response is irritated because I have witnessed too many women graduate students told to wear outfits that would maximally disguise the fact that they are women as a way–they are told– of trying to garner the basic respect they are due and which respect will never be afforded them by the sexist cretins for whose sake they are supposed to disguise the fact that they have girl parts. My response is irritated because the invocation of “professionalism” is in these and other respects is in this context a thinly veiled cover for sexism. We are women, we are philosophers. Little pin striped skirts and all.
    And I am Dr. Abramson.

  7. Dr. Abramson, please understand that I really meant no disrespect, I just happen to disagree with you and do not at all feel that it is based in sexism. for example, I work in employment law and often see very sexist dress codes (for example, forcing women to wear makeup), which, in addition, do not allow for individuals to dress in a manner that is normally seen as reserved for the other sex. My take on this is to present a uniform dress code, male or female skirts and shorts may only be so short, tops may not reveal cleavage etc. I do understand that this is often used as a way to harass women, but, as I am sure I don’t have to tell you as you are quite a learned woman, things are complicated and just because something can be used one way doesn’t mean there is no validity to it being seen another.

    I understand that you and others feel that this asks women to “hide” their “girl parts” but just as men don’t feel that they are being told to hide their man parts by not wearing outfits that reveal them you may try to see it that way, a different way. We are talking about the burka vs. the bikini, there is a happy medium, there is a third option, that is how I see it and others happen to agree with me. Also, i don’t see revealing clothes as feminine at all, male or female, i see it as a masculine trait, something very in your face. Of course what have been deemed masculine traits vs. what have been deemed feminine are silly, when you consider that we all exhibit traits from both categories and have likely only been socialized to exhibit more or so from one category or the other. However, i find it very interesting that women seem to have taken to the so-called masculine values more than men have taken to so-called feminine values. I happen to find modesty to be a wonderful value that seems to be a thing of the past for both men and women. I think thats too bad, thats my opinion Dr. Abramson, you are welcome to yours.

    Please don’t feel that I am attacking your femininity, as a middle eastern women who ran away from attempted honor killings I do know a thing or two about sexism and fighting against it, I just have an opinion that happens to differ from yours.

  8. She really is Dr. Abramson.

    Note that the initial OP and the first comment are about exactly the opposite matter: Neither the interview nor the first comment say that the dress code IS about anyone being distracted by what a woman wears. So debating whether or not distraction is the issue is somewhat beside the point.

    Also, please don’t attribute hostility, especially with an “lol” attached, as that’s a fairly clear message that you are refusing to give what anger you perceive, and overcharacterize, any uptake. If someone is irritated, she can ably identify her own irritation, as we’ve seen.

    Moving on.

  9. Whoa, I will apologize for the lol, I am sorry for that. But why did you presume I didn’t believe her to be Dr. Abramson? I actually addressed her as such to show respect , sorry that you assumed sarcasm. The debate may be beside the point but obviously from the convo that ensued it is one worth having in a respectful way. When you tell someone “deal” that is objectively hostile, I wasn’t looking for a tower with a gun because I couldn’t handle it, I was just disagreeing. I find it interesting that there is so much anger directed at me for having this different opinion, for people against sexism you sure are trying to shut-up this woman from having an opinion as it differs from yours.

    I apologized for the lol and am trying to have a rational conversation about an important point that happens to come up in contemporary society often. Can we move on and continue the conversation? Or you just disagree and refuse to discuss (i.e. engage in philosophical discourse) this further? That is fine if you don’t want to, lets drop it, but please I have apologized and I would appreciate if we can at least agree to disagree. I am not the enemy and I do not want to take away anyones right to dress the way they want, I just disagree with objectification of any humans in any way that can be helped. I have enjoyed this site and hope that I am not unwelcome after this exchange.

  10. I also hope you’re not unwelcome, PJ, because I agree with you. Dressing in sexy clothes (e.g., low cut tops, see-through tops, very short skirts, very tight clothes) is not at all the same thing as dressing like a female. That is, one can dress in a lot of very feminine ways without wearing sexy clothes. The point of dressing professionally is not to hide that you are a female but to show that you are serious about your subject. It is not a time to be sexy; be sexy when you’re not at work. The clothes you wear send a message — is “I am sexy” the message that one wants to be sending while teaching or giving a talk? I also do think that wearing sexy clothes is a distraction to both men and women. I pride myself on the fact that in the ~15 years that I have been teaching, I have never had a student comment on my clothes one way or another (that is, no criticism about them being too asexual (?), no criticisms about them being too sexy — no comments at all). And that is exactly how I want it. I am there to teach, not to put on a fashion show. On the other hand, if I did want to dress like a man, what is wrong with that? I don’t understand when I hear feminists saying that they embrace many genders yet they are critical of women who wear pinstriped suits (or whatever) because they are “trying to be like men” in order to advance their careers. Why do we assume that we know the reason why women dress like that? Perhaps it is simply that they are more comfortable dressing like that.

    And the same rules about sexy dressing do apply to men. If a man showed up to teach or give a paper with his shirt unbuttoned to his navel or in super-tight pants or something similar, I would find that a distraction and think that he was not serious about his subject.

    As for the topic at hand, I didn’t really hear what the chess dress code *was* — as best I could infer, they thought that chess should project a certain “image” (or professionalism?) and that short skirts and low cut blouses were not consistent with that. Did someone else see another reason presented?

  11. Justanotherfemale: It’s *you* who is assuming that length of skirt = sexy. Why? I’m glad that you feel comfortable in pinstriped suits. Some of us don’t. Some of us don’t really find that they fit us very well. So we are more comfortable wearing skirts. I’m little, the skirts do now and have always fit me better than the pants suit. That’s what I’m more comfortable wearing. Do you really assume that a woman who shows up in a short-skirt suit doesn’t know her subject as well as one wearing pants? About whom is that revealing?
    Second– I don’t make any assumptions about women wanting to dress like or appear like men if they wear, well, anything. But I know graduate students who were told, quite explicitly, to dress as much like men as possible, indeed to dress in a way that hides the fact that they were female. And it makes them uncomfortable, and it makes me irritated to have them told that.
    Finally, to the extent clothes send a message, that message is highly context sensitive. Part of the context is one we create, in forums like this, when we announce to our students that a woman’s sartorial choices are no reason not to take her seriously. Or when we communicate the message that it’s okay to think that a woman wearing a short skirt is “not serious about her subject”. And there are other complications, as I’m sure you know. People who know a bit about me from certain professional contexts have not infrequently expected me to show up wearing birkenstocks, a lumberjack shirt, and drinking celestial seasonings. Stereotypes come in all kinds of flavors, and a woman in a short skirt might as easily be in a context in which her clothes communicate a message that shakes that stereotype. Like stereotypes about the type of person some people expect to show up in birkenstocks. Or the stereotypes about what a philosopher looks like….

  12. I don’t think I am out on a limb when I say that a short skirt is sexy. Maybe we’re not being clear on how short. I am *not* saying that a several inches above-the-knee skirt is short. But a skirt that barely covers a woman’s behind is revealing and therefore sexy. If this says anything about me, I think it says that I am aware of western culture’s views on what counts as sexy. Showing a lot of leg is uncontroversially sexy. I am not “creating” the context by stating this. The context already exists.

    Do I assume that a woman who wears a short skirt doesn’t know her subject? No, I would never assume that. Do I get the impression that she’s not fully serious about her subject and that she is conveying (whether she intends to or not) other messages besides her philosophy? Yes. You can rail against me all you want, but you might also consider that I am expressing a view that others have, and do with that information what you will.

    I never said that I wore pinstriped suits. I have never worn a pinstriped suit in my life, and avoid suits in general. I said that there were alternatives between dresssing sexy and dressing like a man. Would you agree that one can dress in a feminine way without wearing clothes that are revealing?

    If women are being told that they should dress like men in order to succeed, I agree that that is a problem and shouldn’t be happening. I don’t think that women need to wear Birkenstocks either. (Full disclosure: unlike pinstriped suits, I have been known to wear Birkenstocks. Not with a lumberjack shirt, though). However, if women are being told not to dress sexy, I think that is good advice.

  13. I need to sleep, & have a full day tomorrow, so I’m going to need to leave this to others for a while after this msg. I will say that I think the category of “sexy” needs a good deal more close examination than you are giving it, justanotherfemale. [makeup, e.g. is uncontroversially ‘sexy’ in one sense of the word–the same sense of the word on which any short skirt, no matter how well tailored and designed is sexy– and no one here is, I think, about to suggest that women refrain from wearing make up because it’s sexy] “Sexy” is also a word notorious for its sexist presumptions, and for that reason alone, I would be concerned about women being advised not to dress “sexy”. What exactly does that amount to? And why?What’s the conception of “sexy” such that it’s inherently in tension with professional? Consider, for instance, that many of us (I know I’m not alone in this) find intelligence sexy. Intelligence is clearly not for that reason unprofessional. I have similar worries about the word “revealing”.
    As for the fact that you are perfectly willing to say that you get the impression that women in short skirts are not “fully serious about their subjects”– well, for now, mostly what I have to say is “that’s very sad”. Is that what you think of Martha Nussbaum?

  14. I am sorry, but I am not persuaded by what seem to me to be attempts to change the conversation. Of course, I am not talking about intelligence when I say “sexy.” (disclosure: I too find intelligence sexy, but I don’t think there is any problem distinguishing the wearing of revealing clothing from a display of intelligence). A person who displays her intelligence is not displaying herself in a way that mimics displays that you find in magazines, ads, etc., that are clearly selling sex.

    As for make-up, again, I think there is appropriate and inappropriate make-up (disclosure: I don’t wear any myself. I don’t like the way it looks on me, I don’t like the way it feels, and I don’t like worrying about a mess on my face if it smears.). I wish there were less pressure on women to wear make-up. I find beauty in natural skin.

    As I said above, my concerns about wearing revealing clothing apply equally well to men as to women, and I find both equally problematic. I think I was pretty clear about what that advice amounted to.

    Sexy is in tension with professional because our profession does not consist of attempting to attract sexual partners. Certain modes of dress are associated with attempting to attract sexual partners, or to sell a product because of the way a person looks. The fact that the person dressing in those ways might not want to send those messages doesn’t change the societal context.

    I only know Martha Nussbaum by her work; I’ve never met her, so I can’t comment on her clothes. But I will say that well-known established people can get away with things that most of the rest of us cannot. That does not make it good advice for women going on the job market or women who are still establishing their careers.

    I hope that when you are able to return to the conversation, you will answer my question about whether there is something intermediate between wearing revealing clothing and dressing like a man. I am now also curious if you think that there is any clothing that would be inappropriate for a person (man or woman) to wear while teaching or presenting a paper.

  15. Thank you justanotherfemalephilosopher, I think we are on the same page and I appreciate the manner in which you described our shared point of view.

    And thank you Dr. Abramson for continuing the conversation despite the way it started – again I hope you accept my apology and know I truly did/do not want to offend you and am sorry if I did. I look forward to agreeing and disagreeing on a variety of points in the future on feministphilosophers. And, I hope you got the sleep you needed :)

    Oh and thank you website hosts for deleting the troll remark (Dr. Abramson, before I went to sleep I noticed and laughed at your reply to the troll, as unwelcome as the comment was it was a reminder of who the “enemy” really is :)

    Obviously this debate can continue for some time, maybe it is one that will always continue, as long as its an issue feminists/womanists are concerned with I certainly hope it does. For now I will leave it as is and expect it to come up again another time likely right here on feministphilosophers. I just wanted to express how pleased I am that I woke up to see that the debate continued in a respectful manner, and that it continued.

    I am no longer worried about feeling unwelcome on this site and rather feel more of a productive part of it as a result of this exchange. Intense debate on crucial womens issues seems like it would come with the territory of a site like this and I thank the blog hosts for creating just such a space.

    Peace and equality be with you all. Enjoy your day, I’m off to continue tiresome and tedious renovations for the little girl I will be bringing into the world in the next three months! Yay for her that we live in a society with so many feminists :)

  16. Are women feminists sometimes tilting at windmills of their own imagining?This dress thing is important,,but these debates tend to run into bogs.Semantics is one,most difficult to avoid is that social human functioning cannot always be pinned down as being sexist,exploitative,manipulative,power-over,and so on.There are subtleties which defy analysis,that,even if they can be expressed in words by one person,other people will not know exactly what it means.Norms in dress code change over time in any culture and sub-culture.Yet have deep significance in human communications.In perfect world,it shouldn’t matter if professor is giving her paper in the nude.But,anything more is part of human communication.Context is everything.How we interprete a given communication per dress(ing) in a context depends on the sub-context of the people who are leading the tone of what is considered normal.These people are attuned to the rest of the crowd,who tend to follow.When crowd has other ideas,leaders in ‘fashion’,tone of manners sartorial,pick up on that and morphe their leading with a following of the discernible trend which crowd does not realise is happening.To understand this interplay between crowd and ‘tone-givers’ is important for feminists.It reduces the endless “how many short-skirted angels can dance on the head of a pin without falling out”.The answer is:Only one.This,if understood,would allow feminists to realise their goals.It’s psychological,and for those who have faith,ultimately,spiritual.The key word is ‘individuation’.Ultimately,people have to get along without the obsessive need to agree on every detail.Also;For a lot of hetero males,short skirts are not always sexy.Quite often,it’s the opposite.It’s aesthetics,personal taste,time of day,context/occasion/purpose/subliminal messages/personality/character of the short-skirted person,etc.

  17. “Oh and thank you website hosts for deleting the troll remark (Dr. Abramson, before I went to sleep I noticed and laughed at your reply to the troll, as unwelcome as the comment was it was a reminder of who the “enemy” really is :)”

    glad i can help.

  18. Andreas: that comment, which is now at home in spam, was out of bounds. Even as a joke.

  19. Never was much of a chess player,but re:20,I’m convinced that women and men are wired differently,with some exceptions.I never played chess against a woman,but I should think they ought to compete here regardless of sex.

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