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Professionalism: Not just inauthentic but also perpetuates bigotry

William Rein

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Illustration by Miles Huffman

I wrote about professionalism in a previous column. I’m returning to it because of all the reaction and resistance. I’ll start with the fact that there are great truths to the universe, and we need only consult nature to understand them.

Does a baboon dress up in a suit Monday through Friday? The answer is no, and it still accomplishes its life missions, no less complicated than a human’s, of sustenance efficiently and happily.

Professionalism is an unnatural phenomenon that has no place in an existential society. It is no different than any other human attempt to stigmatize or praise others based on trivial differences, in this case chosen behavior or dress.

Everyone seems to think people have to dress up to be taken seriously. I would take someone in a business suit no more seriously than someone in a banana suit and actually, the banana suit is probably more comfortable and practical.

Take a job interview. The candidate who opened his wallet widest for impractical clothing isn’t the best applicant. He’s only the one most whipped by the system.

Although, maybe an employer can identify this willingness to please, akin to an adopted puppy, and that’s why a dressed candidate is guaranteed a position.

It’s beyond simple impracticality. Professionalism perpetrates gender roles and prejudice. In the workplace, at weddings, women are expected to dress up in a certain way and men another, whether it’s blouses or polos or slacks.

This isn’t the 1920s anymore. Yet consistently, women are held to a higher standard of aesthetic effort: wearing makeup, high heels or other uncomfortable clothing and tying up their hair.

Professionalism also perpetrates ethnic prejudice and racism. It’s no secret that middle- to upper-class white kids have a greater shot at higher education, although fortunately, affirmative action is working on this disparity.

For the low-socioeconomic-status kids failed by the system or raised on Ebonics, who is going to hire them in a society where proper English with zero slang determines success?

Being white collar has nothing to do with respect either. That idea is so ridiculous and outdated I don’t even know how to begin debunking it. The two are uncorrelated.

I dress up for job interviews and when I’m working service jobs because I’m poor, and I need to be hired, and I know what society currently requires of me. I somewhat censor myself on social media. And even though I stuck my neck in a guillotine for things like these articles, my chin’s up.

Yet while I do any of those things, I know exactly what I am saying: I am controlled by an outdated, restrictive, useless and bigoted system.

Everyone has an opinion, but opinions are often wrong. Professional conduct will be dissolved in a few decades, much like how we got rid of school dress codes and everything else stupid and impractical and divisive.

People who are practicing being professional are practicing a lie. I personally love theater and would have loved to work on an acting career, but I’d rather not invest it in a work spectrum.

And I’d rather be hired because of my work ethic than because of my willingness to play dress-up.

William Rein can be reached at [email protected] or @toeshd on Twitter.

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Professionalism: Not just inauthentic but also perpetuates bigotry