The office air-conditioning debate is a hot one.
Arctic A/C is the Manspreading of Summer ’15. People had a lot to say on the subject after I wrote Thursday about the gender divide, thermostat edition.
After an exhaustive investigation (talking to people outside at lunch, plus years of listening to my female co-workers complain about the frigid air at The Post), I laid out the state of things: Women are shivering in their offices all summer. Their suit-wearing male colleagues are fine.
I think I heard from every man in America who said he was cold at work, too. #NotAllMen.
And there was a bunch of guys eager to blame women of a certain age for the whole phenomenon:
“While I was in a hospital a few years ago I asked a nurse why it was so cold. I expected a medical answer, like promoting healing or controlling germs,” wrote one reader. “She said, ‘The thermostats are controlled by fat, menopausal women!’ ”
Well. Last I heard, skinny menopausal women get hot, too. Plus, I’m not buying the idea that it’s menopausal tyrants seizing control of thermostats, especially not in corporate settings. It think it’s pretty reasonable to assume that men control the temperature around them to keep them comfortable in the business attire they feel bound to wear.
In fact, the suit situation came up a lot. From men trying to school us on how hard it is to be told how you’re supposed to look. Because women don’t get that.
“Men have far fewer clothing options than women, and their bosses, not their closets, dictate what they wear to work,” one reader from Virginia pointed out.
“No man wakes up in the morning and puts on a suit when the temperature is 95 degrees outside if he didn’t have to,” explained a doctor from George Washington University. “In a city full of politicians, lawyers and other professionals, a man is expected to be dressed according to society’s expectation. No one will take his doctor or lawyer seriously if he was dressed in shorts and flip flops.”
We’re not mad at you, suit men. We feel for you, really, we do.
Here’s the thing. For years, society expected women to wear corsets. And hoop skirts. And skirts that didn’t show the ankle. More than a century later, when we finally forced our way into the corporate workplace, we tried to dress like the men, in little ladysuits, with big, floppy bows at the neck.
But look at us now! Somehow, through courage, grit and a million knock-downs, we freed ourselves of many of society’s sartorial expectations. No more hoop skirts; maxi-dresses only if we’re pretending to be in St. Bart’s; bows largely gone; pants here to stay.
Now it’s time for men for step up and rage against the jackets and ties constricting your lives and leaving us shivering all summer. Start with short sleeves at work. Be strong.
Social revolution, guys! Try it, you might like it.
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