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Observances

Where is this Big Book of God’s Rules where God spells out all these new rules that some people know all about but I’ve never heard of? Like the rule that a girl who works at Burger King has to wear a long skirt instead of trousers? I seriously have no idea where that rule is but apparently it’s such an important and real and binding rule that Burger King has to hire her because of it and it has to let her wear a long skirt instead of trousers on the job. Also if it slips up and fires her instead it has to give her 25 thousand dollars.

Burger King has agreed to pay $25,000 to a Pentecostal teenage girl who was fired because she wished to a wear a long skirt instead of pants.

In August, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit on behalf of Ashanti McShan, who had been hired to work at a Burger King restaurant in Texas. “At the time of her interview for the job, Ms. McShan asked to wear a skirt instead of uniform pants as a religious accommodation,” the EEOC lawsuit stated. “Defendant assured her that she could wear a skirt to work. However, when she arrived at work for orientation, the store management informed Ms. McShan that she could not wear a skirt and that she had to leave the store … The result of the foregoing practices has been to deprive Ashanti McShan of equal employment opportunities because of her religious beliefs and observances as a Christian Pentecostal.”

What beliefs? What observances? In what sense “religious”? Is it an official “religious belief” that women have to wear skirts and not trousers? Are you sure? Are you sure it’s not just a stupid prejudice in favor of the way women used to dress before they got so god damn uppity, disguised as a pretend religious belief? Because I’m not. I remember battles over skirts v jeans when I was a child. I remember always always always wanting to be allowed to stay in jeans at all times because skirts are so damn inhibiting. I didn’t use that word, of course, but I hated wearing skirts and that was why. Skirts are an invention to make girls and women unable to move freely. The whole point is that if you make a wrong move everybody will be able to peer at your crotch! Gotcha! I see Spain, I see France, I see Sally’s underpants. It’s the underage version of talk about kicking women in the cunt.

So I want to see this mysterious Big Book of God’s Rules where God says women and girls can’t wear trousers. Then I want it tested for authenticity.

Comments

  1. says

    Forget all of this.

    What about safety?

    You’re supposed to wear tight-fitting clothes when working in places like Burger King because it’s simply safer for you. She would have put herself in a shit-ton of danger if she had worn a dress or skirt to work in a place like that.

    Why is her safety less important than her religion?

  2. says

    Well that too, yes, but then that’s part of what I said. Skirts are crappy for a lot of practical reasons, just as high heels are. A long skirt in a food preparation place – oh good grief. A contamination-absorbtion device.

  3. anon1152 says

    I agree that wanting to wear a skirt in general is a bit ridiculous. Pants are so much more… useful. (Though I recently met a young man in a kilt–he called it a “utilikilt”–who swore that kilts were better than pants. I figured: who am I to judge?).

    But I digress.

    If someone wants to wear something because they think that “God” wants them to (whether that something is a skirt, hijab, turban, or whatever), I’m inclined to let them wear it. Telling them that they can’t wear it isn’t going to convince them that there really is no God or Gods. It’s probably more likely to further entrench their belief in a deity.

  4. jamessweet says

    So, I’m always a little divided when it comes to tolerating what are essentially expression of oppression of women. On the one hand — no, that sucks! On the other hand, if women in a situation such that they feel compelled to wear long skirts at all times are also unable to find employment outside of the house, that can become a self-perpetuating cycle. Perhaps if we tolerate this sort of thing, then the be-skirted women get more exposure to the world outside their insular religious community, and they eventually realize it is bullshit and that there is a better way to live.

    In any case, as NateHevens says, the safety issue may trump all that, at least if she was working in the kitchen. I suppose if it was just somebody to run the register or mop the floors or something, then probably it would make sense to allow it on the grounds that I described. But if she’s working in a busy kitchen filled with hot griddles and deep fryers, nah, sorry, loose fitting clothes are a baaaad idea.

  5. embraceyourinnercrone says

    NateHevens @1 Yes, thank you. If your religion mandated clothing violates safety regs then either you wear the require clothing , or find another job. If you work with deep fat fryers and dangerous machinery there are safety rules.

    I’m reminded of when I was in the navy and every guy who had one to shave his beard because the emergency breathing apparatus would not seal snugly over your face if you had a beard. Some of my husbands friends were not happy.

    Not sure why people think that because they are such a special snowflake the rules don’t apply to them. Of course she should not have been told she could wear a long skirt in the first place.

  6. says

    Trivia on the subject of pants vs skirts.

    There’s a good argument* to be made that wearing pants is in at least in part tied to the practice of horseback riding. Basically that the reason pants caught on culturally was because it was much easier to ride a horse in pants then in a robe/dress/toga like garment. The increasing value of cavalry in war and the kind of status symbol that became (knights being lords etc) lead to a shift towards particularly men wearing pants.

    If anyone wants to read the arguement a bit more theres this and the follow up post (you can find it at the bottom in this link)
    http://socialevolutionforum.com/2012/07/07/cultural-evolution-of-pants/

    Now a days the pants/dress distinction is all pretty pointless and just a cultural holdover of ours. No reason men shouldn’t wear skirts or vice versa (at least barring possible safety hazard). Back on topic the fact that dress like garments were the norm for both sexs during roman and preroman times is why they won’t find any scripture directly relating to pants. The best they can do is find more general passages about how the sexs are supposed to be seperate and try to argue that way.

    *at least as far as I know its fairly good if somewhat circumstantial, prove me wrong other commenters!)

  7. embraceyourinnercrone says

    jamessweet @4 You make some good points but, when you are talking about a minimum wage job like Burger King, what the employer is looking for is someone who can do the job and work with a lot of other people in limited space. Making special concessions for one person is probably not going to go over well (how come she’s allowed to violate the uniform rules when no one else can) . And while being able to follow their strict religion’s clothing rules AND take a job like this may help get them out of the house, for most fast food/minimum wage employers it will probably be seen as not worth the added headaches.

  8. Didaktylos says

    @#6 – I believe that in Herodotus there’s a passage where one of the Greek leaders derides the Persians as being “unmanly” because they wore trousers.

  9. Sercee says

    @anon1152 #3

    “If someone wants to wear something because they think that “God” wants them to (whether that something is a skirt, hijab, turban, or whatever), I’m inclined to let them wear it.”

    Sometimes it doesn’t matter what their beliefs are one iota. If you’re working in the oil patch or underground mines, or any place where you might one day be forced to put on breathing apparatus to survive, you don’t get to wear a turban or a dress or anything like that that could prevent you from donning safety equipment or from crawling through a small space. You can’t wear facial hair in any way that might come between your body and a mask seal. So while yeah, Burger King isn’t exactly a high industry job, safety matters and uniforms matter. Dress code doesn’t always make sense (women in the insurance office my Mom worked at HAD to wear blouses and skirts) but if you want to dress comfortably you sometimes have to wait till your shift is over.

  10. says

    jamessweet @ #4:

    I suppose if it was just somebody to run the register or mop the floors or something, then probably it would make sense to allow it on the grounds that I described.

    The old adage “it’s better to be safe than sorry” applies here. In places like Burger King, the dress code exists for safety, not annoyance. Even if her job had been to stand at the door and greet people, she’d still have to follow their dress code, because it exists to protect her from harm and protect Burger King from the legal and monetary headaches that would result from her being harmed on the job.

    I hate tight-fitting clothes. I wear baggy a) because they’re comfortable and I like the room, and b) to hide a body I don’t like. But when I worked in fast food, I caved to the dress code because I though my safety was more important.

    If she is insistent on wearing a dress, then she’s going to have to find a job that will let her do so, like a Christian shop or a store like Publix or Target or something like that where she can work up front away from all the dangerous. She could also work as one of those people in a fancy restaurant who greets and sits new customers. She’d definitely get paid better for it, and skirts/dresses are part of the dress code for women for a job like that (well… depending on how fancy the restaurant is), so it’d be a win-win situation.

    But if she really wants to work in a place like Burger King, she needs to cave and wear pants; otherwise, the danger she presents to herself and others is too much of a liability for cheap, fast food companies like Burger King.

    Also, we don’t know how much of the story we have, here. If they really did first say she could, then tell her that she couldn’t and kicked her out, then they did treat her like shit. They should have explained why they can’t allow her to wear skirts, and leave the choice up to her: work at Burger King wearing pants, or refuse to wear pants and find a new job. Had they told her that, they would have had a valid argument against this and maybe would not have even had to pay out. As it stands, it appears that they treated her like shit, so they did kind of dig a hole, which she took advantage of.

  11. ismenia says

    The business about not wearing trousers is another aspect of ‘modesty’. It may also relate to prohibitions on cross-dressing, although most women wear trousers more than skirts these days.

    I actually find long skirts extremely comfortable. No good for running around in or indeed working in a busy kitchen full vats of hot fat but I often take off my jeans when I get home and put on a long skirt.

    No fears of flashing your knickers either.

  12. Simon says

    Assuming there are no safety issues with her attire then I see nothing wrong with with wearing a skirt. Employment law allows for reasonable accommodations like that.

    Plus she was hired under the promise that this was OK.

  13. says

    Libby Anne grew up in long skirts. She’d probably be the one to ask about the rationale for the mandate (if there indeed is one beyond unreflective stick-in-mud-ism, which is the real reason behind a lot of religious prescriptions, ie. Old==Godly. And if it helps control the wimmin-folk, so much the better).

  14. says

    Eamon, the whole thing reminds me of Libby Anne – that confusion of “from the good old days” with “Godly” that she’s done such great work exposing.

  15. sheila says

    She has to wear long skirts, because otherwise men will see the shape of her hips and be overcome with lust. She will lead them into sin and it will be all her fault. A woman’s place is in the wrong, you know. If I remember correctly, the correct term is that she will “defraud” them (by turning them on and then not providing sex). Men cannot possibly be expected to control themselves in these situations.

    I forget how men’s utter lack of self control fits in with women being the emotional ones, unfit for leadership.

  16. Lovely says

    The people in this religion follow the part of their Bible that says women should not wear men’s clothing. They believe trousers are men’s clothing. It’s their religious freedom that they are entitled to. The issue the company has here is that someone told her she could wear the skirt and then she was told she could not. Had she been told up front that she could not, there would be no grounds for a case. Burger King does not have to bend to the rules of her religion. It just can’t lie to her about the dress code.

  17. Simon says

    Um, no. The quote you provide shows that action was taken due to her religious freedom, or else the EEOC would not have gotten involved since they deal with discrimination cases.

  18. Lovely says

    Institutions are not at all times subject to complying with the first amendment’s clause that “CONGRESS shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. For safety reasons, religious reasoning can be ignored. You wouldn’t allow a female firefighter to wear a skirt. Female police officers aren’t allowed to wear skirts while in uniform. Uniforms are what they are, uniforms. If a religion conflicts with that uniform and the religious conflict cannot be dealt with while maintaining safety, you can deny to accommodate it. The only reason she had a real case is because she was initially told she could wear a skirt. If it had been explained to her in the beginning that she could not wear a skirt because of safety, there would have been no case. This is not about religion at all. It’s about a person who said the wrong thing and a woman who took advantage of it because she thinks the world should bend to her religion.

  19. says

    Anyway, my basic point was and is that it’s odd if this is considered a matter of religious observance when it’s really just some dopy confusion of old-timey with religious. The free exercise clause results in some very weird rulings.

  20. says

    Simon @ #22:

    Can you show were it says that her wearing her skirt is a safety issue?

    It doesn’t have to. It’s common sense. You don’t wear loose-fitting clothing, including skirts and dresses, when working at a place like a fast food joint because it is a safety hazard to the person wearing it and other, resulting in very expensive liabilities for the company.

    Burger King should have told her up front that the skirt was a safety issue. that’s the mistake they made.

    For those of you saying this isn’t a religious issue, you’re absolutely right. It’s this woman who made it a religious issue because she’s sued BK on the grounds that they violated her religious freedom… why else would the EEOC have become involved, as Simon pointed out?

  21. Simon says

    Ophelia, yes I realize :-)

    No, that is not how it goes. If Burger King wants to claim an employee is required to wear pants for safety reasons then they have to have some kind of evidence for this that they can present if challenged.

    Also, this has little if anything to do with the first ammendment legally speaking. The first ammendment relates to the liberties afforded people by the government. Burger King is not the government.

    Employment discrimination is part of Title VII aka civil rights legislation. This is the law that dictates your rights with relation to a private employer. That is why someone can go to the EEOC and pursue their complaint. Title VII also states that an employer has to make a “reasonable accommodation” for an employee’s religion: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/religion.cfm

  22. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    I recently met a young man in a kilt–he called it a “utilikilt”–who swore that kilts were better than pants.

    According to soldiers in Highland regiments, Anon1152, the kilt was the ideal clothing for fornication and dysentery.
    There are probably two reasons Ms McShan was awarded- remarkably generous,I agree- damages. One is that she had been told by a company official that she could wear a long skirt and offered a job on that basis; the other may be that there is no evidence to support the company’s claim that long trousers are safer than skirts.

  23. theobromine says

    I find it somewhat ironic that 40+ years ago, almost all women/girls wore skirts/dresses most of the time, at home and at work, and at play, and I bet that a woman working at Burger King (or the equivalent) would probably get disciplined (if not fired) if she showed up for work wearing trousers.

    As for dress codes in general, I think that, in general, people should be allowed to wear whatever garments they choose, subject to health and safety regulations. However, I strongly object to the idea (stated by anon1152) that the religious obligation argument in favour of or against a certain form of dress ought to be given greater weight than an argument from personal preference. It’s an interesting question to ask how this ought to apply to “uniforms” or other dress codes, which are frequently gender-specific (ie bars where women servers are expected to wear short skirts and skimpy blouses.

    With respect to this situation, if BK told her that she could wear a long dress, and rescinded that, it’s a no-brainer that they should face consequences.

  24. Simon says

    Also, the fact that she was initially told she could wear a skirt calls into question any later claim of “safety reasons”. Of course, these claimed are judged ultimately on the merits.

  25. Georgia Sam says

    There is a passage in the New Testament, in one of the epistles attributed to St. Paul if I’m not mistaken, that condemns women who wear “that which pertains to a man” (or something like that), & vice versa. A few hardcore fundies, especially Pentecostals in my experience, take this as a prohibition against women wearing pants. (Some also preach that women should never cut their hair because of something in one of the epistles about women & their hair.) Most likely, that’s where the religious freedom assertion comes from in this instance.

  26. jenjiveg says

    I respect Ophelia’s opinion regarding her personal preferences for jeans vs. skirts. However, I found this statement: “Skirts are an invention to make girls and women unable to move freely,” false. Perhaps in the context of Pentecostalism and Islam, it may be the *intention* of a rule. But I don’t think there is any evidence that the person who came up with “skirts” was a man who rubbed his hands together concocting evil schemes to bind and enslave women. But perhaps I’m misreading and it was merely hyperbole, in which case…”Good on you.”

    Personally, I don’t find anything restricting about skirts (that aren’t too tight). But then, I don’t worry about flashing my knickers at anyone. I’m a sexual being and so are the humans around me. I’m not ashamed of anyone seeing my vulva or the undies that cover (or don’t cover) it. In my opinion, the sad face here is another woman insinuating that a peek at some panties is something to be embarrassed about and avoid at all costs. Perhaps I misunderstand, but that’s the impression I got from Ophelia’s post.

    Also, for the record, I worked in a coffee shop/restaurant for two years. I was allowed to wear long skirts, as long as the hem didn’t come below the front of the shoe (for safety reasons). I can’t imagine BK being any worse, but I can imagine them having a stricter dress code. It seems to me that BK just fucked up. I mean…why not say: “hey, I’m not sure about the dress code allowances, let me get back to you.” Also…I don’t think 25K amounts to much to a company that large. I dislike religion, but this seems to me to be reaching for a story.

  27. says

    Aren’t “panties” a type of underwear or something like that?

    Or am I wrong? I don’t keep track of different types/styles of clothing (aside from the difference between pants and shorts and t-shirts and shirts) and all that, as I never cared…

  28. jenjiveg says

    Panties=common word for women’s underwear in the States, synonymous with “knickers.”

    Never considered it a diminutive. However, if the point of reference is “pants” for men’s underwear, I can see how one would come to that conclusion.

    jenjiveg

  29. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    There is a passage in the New Testament, in one of the epistles attributed to St. Paul if I’m not mistaken, that condemns women who wear “that which pertains to a man” (or something like that), & vice versa. A few hardcore fundies, especially Pentecostals in my experience, take this as a prohibition against women wearing pants.

    Do you know how they deal with cultures where skirts are traditionally “that which pertains to a man”.Georgia Sam?

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