Saturday, November 10, 2007

noun: a sharp division; a split

On a recent "Today" program there was a segment on "Cleavage In The Workplace". Evidently this is quite an important issue - otherwise a serious news program such as this wouldn't be giving it any airtime. The guest squabble-heads were Donny Deutsch (apparently a successful advertising guy and host of an MSNBC program) and Karen Salmansohn (author of twenty-nine books including "How To Succeed In Business Without A Penis").

Although it seemed that there should be a sharp division between them, both Donny and Karen agreed that standards for appropriate office attire varied with the type of job - e.g. financiers and creative advertising types should not be dressing the same way.

Donny however felt that "too much" cleavage was not a distraction to professional workers while Karen felt that there was such a thing as "cleavage power" that women should embrace and use to their advantage.

Donny then unbuttoned his shirt and the conversation, which had started in a chasm, went rapidly even further downhill.

I admit to being one who appreciates cleavage but my professional experience with the subject is minimal. I spent thirty plus years in information technology - a field filled with creative types, albeit "geeky" ones - and actually can only recall one instance. A female co-worker pointed out to me that a sales representative attempting to sell us some software always unbuttoned the top three buttons of her blouse before giving a presentation. I felt obliged to pay attention and in fact she did. Ultimately we bought the product. It worked well but did not totally live up to the promises that her sales-glimpse implied.

My only other commercial cleavage episode involved a jeweler in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her name is Aga and she was discovered several years ago at the local Flea Market by our son Bram who shortly thereafter introduced us to her at her newly opened shop on the town plaza.

Aga is in her late twenties, attractive, and clearly a practitioner of Karen Salmansohn's "cleavage power" business model. At one point during that first meeting as she arranged herself in position for me to look down on her she said semi-privately "I like for men to remember me." She was at the same time totally attentive to Mars - suggesting items and offering to modify pieces or custom make them.

In spite of my efforts to get Mars to buy all of Aga's stock she limited herself to a couple of necklaces and some earrings. Nor has she changed her blouse selection.

In the political arena Hillary Clinton recently came under criticism for her low-cut display while speaking on the Senate Floor. Some in the house were seemingly offended by the inevitable comparisons that homophone-savvy viewers would make. Republican senators pointed out that their leading presidential candidate was much more demure and modest during his own explorations in cross-gender dressing - further evidence of his toughness and adherence to right-wing principles.

Mars and I have also noticed that certain professions on television are consistently portrayed as decolletage displaying - most notably CSI investigators. I don't personally know any forensic scientists but I am being called for jury duty next week. With any luck I will be selected for a criminal case with lots of testimony about DNA and exsanguinations and I'll be able to look more closely into the truth or falsity of this portrayal.

We continue to watch the Today program as part of our campaign to keep us abreast of the latest news, ideas, and information. Just this week for example Al Roker was in Ecuador talking about everybody's favorite bird name, the Blue Footed Sula Sulidae.

And to think that some effete, intellectual, NPR-loving, elitists call it the boob tube.

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