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Is your furniture plotting against you?

Disclaimer: Everything stated below is in relation to *most* jobs. Of course, if you’re in any industry focused on beauty or fashion, this will not apply to you.

 

Hello, Precious Readers!

 

Thank you to everyone who participated or visited the Night Owl Reviews Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt this year. It was a joy to be a part of it, and I’ve already been notified of the winners. I hope you were one of them!

 

Yesterday, I came across an article suggesting that modern-day office design is subtly sexist. I won’t go into details, you can read the article for yourselves. If you’re a longtime blog follower, you know that I used to be a¬†massive¬†workaholic. The stereotypical office drone commuting for long hours, sitting at a desk, and staring at a computer. As a writer, I still do this, but it’s a desk space of my choosing (my home), and I’m surrounded by things and style that bring me peace of mind, not what an architect and interior designer decided that I needed in my life.

 

Also, I’m old enough to remember the days when cubicles were first popularized and ceiling-to-floor length walls separated each individual by those fuzzy, gray, sound softening panels. After a few decades of this style, scientists decided that the top-to-bottom walls were unhealthy for humans by causing isolation, depression, and other physical and mental illnesses. Thus, a new era was born: the day the walls came down.

 

Those in the current workforce or just entering are probably more familiar with employees working in spaces where cubicle walls barely reach the average-height-adult’s sitting position shoulder height, if there are walls at all. Desks are also “open concept” providing a reduction in “visual noise,” often with table legs instead of solid panels covering the person from the waist down. There are no longer walls or dividers, but open glass to provide as much natural light as possible and a transparent view to encourage accountability and teamwork.

office

 

While I don’t fully agree with the article regarding women feeling the need to make additional effort beyond their normal routine, I¬†will¬†point out that open concept does not necessarily keep women’s needs in mind.

 

The article made me think back on how I would dress myself. I dressed according to the general office policies, but didn’t make any additional effort with hair and makeup unless I felt like it. I spent most of my life as a tomboy, so if someone didn’t think it was “feminine” enough for me to not style my hair or wear makeup, tough cookies for them. If someone judged me on it — that’s creating a hostile environment. If someone is judging me on my looks to meet the judging person’s idea of “attractiveness” — that’s sexual harassment. I have confidence enough in myself to know that my looks are no one else’s concern except mine. If someone is using my looks against me and stifling my career because I’m not “feminine” or “pretty enough” — that’s sexism.

 

For anyone¬†judged based on someone else’s opinion about your looks and/or are being rated by someone else’s idea of an idiotic scale of “attractiveness,” I’m so sorry.¬†You shouldn’t have to put up with that. AT ALL.

 

Having said that, I’ve worked several different styles of jobs, which came with several different styles of environments. This includes the “open concept” desk space. As a woman, society is *crawling* into the 21st Century where our needs are actually thought of in a respected and conscientious manner as human beings, but we have a looong way to go. Once in a while I like to wear skirts, whether long or short. However, whenever I leave my home and I’m wearing a shorter skirt, I have to think if my legs will be covered by the furniture or not. I am not a thin person. It is highly uncomfortable to cross my legs. Doctors have proven that crossing your legs is bad for your posture, your hip and knee alignment, and can cause long-term back problems. I tend to cross my ankles, but doing that for long periods of time (say ~6.5 hours of actual desk time excluding lunches and times to get up and go to other areas and walking) is also highly uncomfortable. This also doesn’t negate the fact that if a skirt’s hem is anywhere close to your knee-length, or shorter, if there isn’t enough fabric to politely tuck between our knees, we run the risk of accidentally flashing our underthings to people. Does this make sense to you? For women to be considered “feminine” we should wear dresses or skirts, but skirts don’t always function to allow women to sit comfortably? This has never made sense to me. Probably why I mostly stick to pants.

 

I have a secret for anyone who has never worn a dress or skirt before: women like to sit without having to cross our legs! There’s also the issue of “manspreading” on seats, but that’s a different discussion: In short, please don’t “manspread” on public transportation or spaces. It’s rude, disgusting, and completely encroaching on personal bubbles. If it’s a public space, that means it’s PUBLIC and the space DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU. Women’s personal space is a HUMAN RIGHT, not a privilege for someone else to take away. It is not for anyone else to decide where that boundary line is except for that individual woman.

 

A simple “love shout out” to any restaurant or office space that actually covers a person from the waist down either by long-length tablecloths or desk design, respectfully. I love you. Thank you.

 

Long before reading the article, I binge-watched seasons of¬†Cupcake Wars*¬†on Hulu* and remember thinking how badly I felt for the female judges for the show. Being on TV, the host and judges must look flawless (and do! You’re fabulous!), but that often includes being up-to-date on fashion. Add in the judges table does not have a front panel, and I sadly empathized episode after episode, season after season, with the female judges. Realizing for a majority of the show, the women are dressed in dresses and skirts at, or slightly above, the knee. While the men sit comfortably with their feet at hip-width, their shoes resting on the floor or bar stool shoe ledge (not quite sure what that’s called, but I hope you understand what I’m talking about), the ladies either sit with their legs crossed the entire time or perch¬†on the edge of their seat at an angle to keep their waist from the camera’s (and America’s) view.

table

 

The show is only 22 minutes long of air time, but if you think about the actual amount of time spent on that set for each episode: filming time, the prep for each round, the length of each actual¬†round (some are 2 hours),¬†cleanup after each round, the judges deliberation time, etc. That’s a FULL DAY. I imagine easily OVER 12 HOURS OF SITTING ON THAT CHAIR. With your legs crossed. Hoping you don’t have a “paparazzi” moment on (inter)national television.

 

Does that sound comfortable to you? Not to me. My back, hips, and knees ache at the thought of it.

 

I wear pants and shorts so I can be comfortable. Not to please anyone else. I wear skirts and dresses to please myself if I feel like wearing one. Not to please anyone else. However, watching these women try to emulate being comfortable while constantly wondering if their underwear is flashed on camera, all I could think of were times I dressed and fretted over what I was wearing — if my destination would be skirt/dress friendly… if I should even bother wearing a skirt or dress so I didn’t have to deal with that headache.

 

One part of the article that I found rang true was the idea of privacy. In an open office plan, if you need to make a private phone call, there is no reprieve. You often have to leave the building. My last corporate job, they had the right idea, and I’m grateful for it. While they believed in an open floor plan, they had created one-person, door-closing, private “pods.” These were workspaces if an employee needed to conference call or do virtual training with clients. Although it was created with the intention of eliminating background noise during training, it also allowed a temporary private space to talk without the background sounds of, “Whoo! Did you catch the Seahawks last night!” or “Did you hear about X lately?” or “Who took my lunch from the refrigerator? It had my name on it!” It had a second benefit of, if an employee was caring for dependents and received an unexpected call from their dependent, they could take the call quickly without divulging their personal and private information to the whole office.

 

 

Overall,¬†I want you to know that I like¬†open-concept offices. I think they inspire creativity, collaboration, teamwork, and provides a bright work environment. However, if you plan to have this design, it is¬†critical¬†to have a few “office pods” available for people. Make the desks have a front panel for privacy and comfort for your employees (if they want it). Also, in an ideal world, people wouldn’t be judged on their looks for their careers. Don’t get me wrong: I¬†do¬†believe in a required level of personal hygiene and gender neutral¬†dress codes that apply to everyone.

 

*Not a sponsor.

don’t worry, i won’t reference Thor

Can’t we all just get along?

So, of course, my first attempt at a weekly blog post would be to tackle a highly sensitive topic: Science versus Faith.

That’s right.

This topic is one so passionately discussed, it has divided and united colleagues, friends and even family. It has been the tiniest kindle to spark a conversation, all the way to being the vessel that spawned wars amongst great nations.

The Crusades, anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?

One of my all time favorite shows, which is of course the entire world’s favorite: J. J. Abram’s,¬†LOST.¬† Heck, an entire episode was dedicated to this debate.

Are you beginning to grasp that I’m a huge J. J. Abram’s fan, yet?

Though several¬†critics believe¬†the titular battle¬†was between characters Jack¬†and Locke, the producers insist it was actually an internal struggle of the character, Dr. Jack Shepard, a gifted spinal surgeon or “man of science” who must confront several spiritual questions by The Island, such as the concept of free will, fate and¬†destiny.¬† Several plot devices are the direct consequence of a “leap of faith” choice each character makes.

Now, from previous posts I’ve made, it is clear that I am a woman of faith. But I promise, Precious Readers, I’m not going to use this blog to get preachy.¬† This is an important topic for any writer to explore, and this post is just to open the door for some friendly debate.¬†

Keyword: FRIENDLY.¬† Let’s keep it nice here.

Now keep in mind: religion is the “showboat” of faith, it’s the sexy representation of “faith.” But remember, “faith” is¬†a concept. Not a religion itself. Many people forget this, but it’s true.¬†In fact, organized¬†religion isn’t even the top definition:

Dictionary.com defines faith as:

1. Confidence or trust in a person or thing
2. Belief that is not based on proof
3. Belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion
4. Belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.
5. A system of religious belief

Now bear with me, sciency-based peoples, you’ll have a turn too.

It’s important to note that faith was first described as “confidence or trust in a person or thing” and that “belief that is not based on proof” was definition #2, NOT #1. Having faith is not directly tied to a religion.¬† It is the idea of believing in something.¬† It can be yourself, in others, in another concept such as “love” or “destiny.”

And what about science?  Is science strictly all numbers, equations, and hard fact?  Read this next description and you tell me:

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines science as:

1. The state of knowing: knowledge as distinguised from ignorance or misunderstanding
2. A department of systemized knowledge as an object of study
3. Knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method
4. Such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena: natural science
5. A system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws

The way I’m interpreting this, is that humanity has driven a hard line between science: a concept of discovery or search for understanding, and faith: believing in something without understanding.¬† But are these areas so clearly separated?¬† Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.¬†I think these two concepts are more intertwined than we care to admit.

Discovery is the journey of finding something we haven’t seen or understood. Science is the process of making a discovery. But, wait a second.¬† Isn’t believing that “the truth is out there” its own version of faith?¬† Wouldn’t a scientist have to believe that there is more knowledge “out there” to pursue discovering it?¬†Research is just a method to prove their belief, whether that proof is right or wrong.¬†A researcher must have faith that the proof is “out there.”

Now, you may¬†be wondering,¬†what’s¬†my theory?¬† It’ll probably be just another “Bible thumper” answer and that Christianity is the end all/be all. That believe in Jesus Christ is all that matters, and that’s it.

Well, you’d be wrong.

It is human nature to want to understand our surroundings.¬†“Science,” the need for discovery and understanding¬†of our world¬†is a necessary thing. Nature, humanity, love, connection –¬†these are all mysteries that should never go unsolved. Sure my foundation¬†of how this world was created may be different than yours, but maybe you and I aren’t that different after all.

Some find it surprising, but I’m a Christian and I have a love of science fiction. I’m a semi-Trekker and paranormal enthusiast.¬† But even Star Trek was “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Isn’t that having faith that there is more to understand, even though we don’t have proof that it’s out there?

I know. Long-ass way of getting here, but this is a lengthy topic.¬† But…

Riddle me this:

What is the absolute question that everyone asks themselves at least once?  Of course, the answer is: Why are we here?  The core of any human is the pursuit of finding a greater understanding of who we are and our purpose.

But wait, a second… Didn’t we just decide that was also the entire purpose of science, too?¬† The pursuit of understanding?

I am a Christian, but I also believe God gave me a brain. I enjoy using it. Although there are some individuals I swear have theirs shoved up their a- Oh, never mind. Back to the topic at hand! 

I believe there is a place for science and faith in this world, and discovering the unknown¬†is the the ultimate pursuit, whether it’s science-driven or faith-driven.¬† Instead of thinking of them as enemies, think of them more as concepts that need each other. They’re not at war with each other. They’re at perfect¬†balance and will help us to understand more than we ever dreamed of.

What do you think?  Does faith have a home in science and vice versa? Or are they really two different animals?

And… Ok,¬†I can’t help myself. Maybe ONE Thor reference. Enjoy.