A Lawyer Judges "Standards of Modesty"
Two years ago a judge in a moot court competition I competed in looked me in the face and told me that I needed to wear a skirt to court instead of the pantsuit I had chosen that day. The judge said that the male judges prefer to see women arguing in skirts rather than in pants. What angered me about the judge's comment was not just that I was criticized for wearing pants, but that the judge did not have A SINGLE PIECE of constructive criticism about the 20 minute argument I had just given.
This isn't the only story I have, nor is it the most egregious. It's just the one I decided to share that shows how tiny comments reflect a much bigger problem. Women receive feedback about our appearance before receiving feedback about our intellect; assertive women are called bossy before they are called powerful; women who talk about the inequality they face are "complaining" rather than whistleblowing.
Critics of feminism ask women to stop blaming men. I don't blame men. I blame society as a whole. The judge who made that comment to me
A black woman in fact, a double minority like me, who took it upon herself to accept the standards that the men in the room desired rather than fighting against them.
I could throw statistics at you. Stats about the small number of female partners in law firms as compared to male partners, the tiny number of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, the unequal pay women receive compared to men in the same position. I spent last semester in law school writing a 24 page paper full of stats about gender inequality (and I got an A! woohoo!! lol). But when you look at stats, you forget that there are real people behind them. People like me, who receive criticism about what I wear in legal competitions while male competitors receive advice about how to improve their legal arguments. People like me, who are told that male judges in a moot court competition need to be able to see my legs in a skirt rather than staring at pants.
I am an outspoken, independent woman and I am not begging for help or assistance. I am demanding that society move its nonsensical wall of standards out. of. my. way. so that I can further my own success. Until then, I will continue to voice my displeasure regarding an unfortunate truth: that women still have to work twice as hard to get half as far. And that truth, that sad reality, is not ok.
EDIT: If you are interested in reading my 24 page paper, just message me your email address via Instagram and I'll send it over! It's called "Standards of Modesty: How These Meaningless Guidelines Negatively Impact Women."