Every day a woman wakes up to go to work, she decides how she wants to present herself to the world. Men do, too; but it's different for them. Men's choice of clothing is extremely limited: They pretty much wear a suit or a nice shirt and pants. Maybe a jacket.
Women, on the other hand, have a vast array of options and thus make clothing decisions for all kinds of environments. If a woman is going to a funeral, for example, she'll dress in a somewhat subdued fashion. If she goes to a school function in which children are present, she'll probably dress more modestly.
Why should it be any different for the workplace?
Our current workplace tension exists amid a strange culture that insists women should be able to dress however they like and no one, male or female, should react.
Of course, no workplace attire ever justifies sexual assault or harassment. Establishing that obvious truth, however, doesn't make it somehow verboten to say that how you dress at work will affect how people treat you.
It is perfectly reasonable to expect women to dress professionally at work. If I want to be taken seriously as a professional, I don’t dress sexy. And if I want to be sexy, I don't dress like a professional.
Megyn Kelly is a fantastic example. Kelly has stated, on more than one occasion, that women should be able to wear whatever they want and experience no ramifications for their choice. “I can be smart and challenging while I wear spaghetti straps, and everyone is just going to have to get their heads around that."
And so she does. Here is Kelly in a meeting with world leaders.
World leaders. And her outfit was a deliberate choice. It was a political statement, really. She wants the world to know a woman can be sexy and smart simultaneously.
I certainly agree they can be. But the irony of this approach is that Kelly's choice of clothing has the opposite effect. Kelly is unquestionably stunning, and most people, men or women but especially men, will have a difficult time listening to what Kelly says because what she's wearing is so distracting.
Presumably, she wants to be revered for her intellect. But her choice of dress at times makes her beauty, not her brains, stand out. It's counterproductive.
We cannot remove sexuality from the table unless women in the workforce lead the way, and they aren't doing it. This isn't victim blaming; it's called being a mature adult. Of course it's not okay for a man to take advantage of a woman because of what she's wearing. But that isn't the point.
The point is, women who want to be taken seriously at work and who want to keep sexual interactions at bay don't call attention to their sexual side. They dress modestly and prove their value by using their brains.
Suzanne Venker (@SuzanneVenker) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is an author, Fox News contributor, and trustee of Leading Women for Shared Parenting. Her fifth book, The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men & Marriage: HOW LOVE WORKS, was published in February.
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