We *could* file this one under the “What Were They Thinking” category, but by this time I assume most of you have concluded that thinking is pretty much a lost art in Washington. Hot on the heels (hang on… there’s a pun for that coming up) of the decision to allow women in combat roles, The Defense Intelligence Agency ushered in a new briefing for employees showing that you might not have come such a long way after all, ladies. Their latest attempt at advising workers on office attire should be making the rounds of the late shows this week.
A week after women were cleared to serve in combat, Defense Intelligence Agency employees got a different message. “Makeup makes you more attractive.” “Don’t be a plain Jane.” “A sweater with a skirt is better than a sweater with slacks.” “No flats.” “Paint your nails.” “Don’t be afraid of color.” And, “brunettes have more leeway with vibrant colors than blondes or redheads.”
To their credit, agency officials quickly realized that somebody had missed a memo somewhere along the line.
Men and women at DIA were given fashion advice in a presentation prepared by an employee at the agency this week. Susan Strednansky, public affairs officer at DIA, offered the agency’s regrets about the briefing, which raised eyebrows among some employees, saying, “I’m not going to deny that it exists, and it was bad. It was inappropriate for sure.” She added, “Neither the agency nor the leadership has condoned anything that was in that briefing.”
I originally picked this story up at Outside the Beltway, where Dr. James Joyner added a very dry comment.
The “I” in DIA apparently does not stand for Intelligence.
The sad part, which Joyner also notes in his article, is that while we’ll all have a good time with this story and it will raise hackles on the Left for quite some time, there’s actually more than a little truth in the brief. For most professional situations where office work is required, workplace attire is a concern. And it’s decidedly more of an issue for women than men. I can’t think of a single situation such as that where a guy can’t get away with a decently cut suit and a conservative tie, decent shoes and a basic haircut and shave. Women have a lot more options, and thus more opportunities to run afoul of conventions.
Further, (and you can all break out the pitchforks and come after me for this part) I don’t see anything wrong with the idea of women dressing up professionally for work while still being stylish. Is there really something wrong with the idea of wearing some makeup, a nice, modestly cut skirt or nail polish? I’m unsure what the objections to slacks is, though. Then again, there’s probably some key difference between slacks and a “pants suit” which I’m unaware of. But how you dress for the office does matter and it’s going to affect your chances for advancement and how you are perceived. This applies to men as well as women.
But given the current political correctness environment, this will still turn out to be an “oops” moment, and I won’t be surprised if somebody is shown the door over it. And now I’ll go lock the doors and barricade myself in the basement before a hoard of NOW members shows up at my door.