Lady Business: Cleavage in the workplace

I find myself distracted by my co-worker's low-cut tops. Is she dressing inappropriately or am I being a boob?

Published July 2, 2010 1:01PM (EDT)

One of my younger female co-workers wears really low-cut, cleavage-revealing tops. I don't mean to be a douche bag and stare, but, as a hot-blooded straight young-ish dude, how can I not? It's really distracting and makes it hard to focus on the task at hand. What do I do?

It sounds like you're nostalgic for the "good old days," when a slice of pie cost a dime and college tuition was a nickel and ladies were kept away from desks and chairs and other things that weren't ovens, because of the hips that babies crown out of when they are birthed near there, and other such tempting fruit on our body-trees. Who can blame you!

Oh, that's right, everybody in the world can blame you, because you are awful. Look, is it cool that the woman you work with wears tight things that may or may not be appropriate for work, depending on what kind of office you work in, how the clothes fit her and other things that have to do with the context of her culture, general style and, frankly, body type (thank you, Lane Bryant for making an issue out of that banned ad and its reflective bias)? Maybe, I don't know. 

What I know is definitely uncool is for you, a young, straight man in the workplace -- not a minority unless it is Opposite Day -- to take umbrage with a female colleague's apparel choices. Because, frankly, what Perla in accounting wears to work so she can cover her bits and feed her family is really none of your business -- even if your erection disagrees. If she's violating a dress code rule that she'd been briefed on at the time of her hire, somebody in H.R. will talk to her, and she'll probably be embarrassed and start wearing a scarf. Wow, what a victory: treat yourself to an extra Michelob Ultra if and when that goes down.

As for your not being able to "focus" on your work? It's, no offense, so down on the list of problems I'm worried about that the oil-coated ducks in the Gulf are taking their last gasps of breath just to call you a chode.

By Julie Klausner

Julie Klausner is a New York City writer and performer. She is the writer of Salon's Lady Business column and the author of "I Don't Care About Your Band."

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