Re: Wendy Dager's July 7 column, "Taking a new look at head-turning beauty":
On July 7, Wendy Dager wrote a column about the case of Debrahlee Lorenzana - a woman in the midst of an employment suit against her former employer, Citibank, claiming appearance discrimination. Dager's column, far from arguing her point, perpetuates sexism and further subjugates women to second-class status in the eyes of our discourse.
This is most evident in going through Dager's column - the premise of her argument is that because Lorenzana so-happened to have cosmetic enhancements and that her clothing, whether or not it violated the stated dress code, was too much for the men at her Citibank branch to bear, her firing was justified and necessary.
What Dager does - dangerously - is blame the victim. Lorenzana has repeatedly claimed that she was given a special dress code by her male supervisors because she was being a "distraction" to her male colleagues. Dager doesn't disagree with that. Dager's language effectively treats this woman - a human being - as a piece of meat to be cut apart and evaluated, talking endlessly about her breasts and her "clothing that hugged every square inch of roundness," almost as if we'd started considering a Christmas turkey and no one bothered to mention it.
What this case and this column show is that there still exists a glaring double standard in our culture that systematically oppresses women. If Lorenzana's male superiors couldn't keep their libidos in check, that's their problem, and they should have been the ones fired. The public response - how we see fit to judge her appearance down to the last scrap of meat, and how we think it's okay to use the same logic used to blame rape victims for being raped to justify Lorenzana's firing - shows us that this case isn't a question of beauty. It's a question of patriarchy.
~ Stephen T. Marsh,