How much does appearance matter?

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A'nold
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby A'nold » Mon Aug 02, 2010 4:07 am

IAFG wrote:
goosey wrote:
UFstudent wrote:To avoid shaking someone's hand you can clasp your hands in front of you, smile, nod your head and say "very nice to meet you". I know women who do that.

thanks, that sounds like a really good alternative. I will try this out next time I am in a hand-shaking situation.

i think you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't disclose you don't shake hands for religious reasons. giving people insight into the reason will stem off any feelings of being rejected.


I don't know, I think the bowing and hand clasping thing is a better idea. Most people's gut reaction to somebody telling them that they "can't shake your hand for religious reasons" would make people feel like the person is calling them dirty or something and that they can only touch someone who is worthy or holy or believes the same thing they believe. While this would likely never be the intention, I could see many people taking it that way. Like how Jews could not touch pig meat or they were unclean for a certain time.

12262010
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby 12262010 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:15 am

A'nold wrote:
I don't know, I think the bowing and hand clasping thing is a better idea. Most people's gut reaction to somebody telling them that they "can't shake your hand for religious reasons" would make people feel like the person is calling them dirty or something and that they can only touch someone who is worthy or holy or believes the same thing they believe. While this would likely never be the intention, I could see many people taking it that way. Like how Jews could not touch pig meat or they were unclean for a certain time.


I don't think that's correct. She'll be interacting with reasonably intelligent people; it's not hard to infer that she can't shake hands with men from her attire and a subsequent refusal to shake hands with men. I doubt any reasonable person would "feel like [she] was calling them dirty or something and that [she] can only touch someone who is worthy or holy or believes the same thing [she] believes." Give me a break.

Also, incredibly stupid comparison to Jewish dietary laws.

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ZXCVBNM
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby ZXCVBNM » Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:07 am

A'nold wrote:
IAFG wrote:
goosey wrote:
UFstudent wrote:To avoid shaking someone's hand you can clasp your hands in front of you, smile, nod your head and say "very nice to meet you". I know women who do that.

thanks, that sounds like a really good alternative. I will try this out next time I am in a hand-shaking situation.

i think you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't disclose you don't shake hands for religious reasons. giving people insight into the reason will stem off any feelings of being rejected.


I don't know, I think the bowing and hand clasping thing is a better idea. Most people's gut reaction to somebody telling them that they "can't shake your hand for religious reasons" would make people feel like the person is calling them dirty or something and that they can only touch someone who is worthy or holy or believes the same thing they believe. While this would likely never be the intention, I could see many people taking it that way. Like how Jews could not touch pig meat or they were unclean for a certain time.


not to mention that it's completely wrong. muslim's won't touch pig meat. jew's just can't eat it...but can touch it if for some reason they would need or want to. moreover, religious jew's don't touch member's of the opposite sex (aside from family members) in order to discourage illicit relations and not because of impurity.

by the way, you can't really expect to navigate successfully in the business or legal world for more than five minutes if you don't shake hands. even very religious jews are permitted to shake hands in business situations because its more important not to embarrass people than the small danger of a physical relationship ensuing from a handshake. by the way, more evidence it is because of minimizing contact with the opposite sex than because of impurity. just saying, if you're gonna talk about this stuff than know what you're talking about. (Disclaimer: not 100% sure muslims don't even touch pig meat...please educate us if you know)

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mbw
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby mbw » Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:58 am

booyakasha wrote:
A'nold wrote:
I don't know, I think the bowing and hand clasping thing is a better idea. Most people's gut reaction to somebody telling them that they "can't shake your hand for religious reasons" would make people feel like the person is calling them dirty or something and that they can only touch someone who is worthy or holy or believes the same thing they believe. While this would likely never be the intention, I could see many people taking it that way. Like how Jews could not touch pig meat or they were unclean for a certain time.


I don't think that's correct. She'll be interacting with reasonably intelligent people; it's not hard to infer that she can't shake hands with men from her attire and a subsequent refusal to shake hands with men. I doubt any reasonable person would "feel like [she] was calling them dirty or something and that [she] can only touch someone who is worthy or holy or believes the same thing [she] believes."


The bolded is generally the case. The majority of people she will meet will clearly understand it is cultural/religious custom, not personal rejection.

This whole shaking hands thing is being blown way out of proportion. I'm not a big hand-shaker (shock! touching strangers is also frowned upon as a cultural, not just religious practice, even by peoples indigenous to America!) and haven't had it hold me back, even while working, and campaigning, in politics. People will respect the OP for staying true to her cultural/religious beliefs while pursuing a "modern" career, and I suspect that as long as she has good grades, she'll have many options, whether in private practice, NGOs or even government.

sbalive
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby sbalive » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:05 am

Given what I've picked up by skimming it, the subject of this thread really upsets me. Anyway, I have two comments:

1. The OP's religious practices are as representative of "Islam" as a whole as a devout Seventh Day Adventist's refusal to put mustard on his Chik Patty would be representative of Christianity as a whole. That's not to say it either practice isn't based on "valid" religious beliefs (however that's defined) or that it shouldn't be respected, but I worry that people don't realize that Islam is as diverse as it is.

2. I think there was advice upthread about OP doing NGO work or becoming involved in working with ethnic communities that are predominately Muslim. It strikes me that the stereotypes associated with OP's practices are likely to be even stronger in those communities, where wearing an abaya and refusing to shake hands would not just be a "cultural quirk" but actually suggestive of a set of political beliefs -- and could actually lead to greater marginalization, both by men and women.

rynabrius
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby rynabrius » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:17 am

Due to Title VII mightn't your religion be an asset rather than a detriment to your job search?

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:19 am

sbalive wrote:Given what I've picked up by skimming it, the subject of this thread really upsets me. Anyway, I have two comments:

1. The OP's religious practices are as representative of "Islam" as a whole as a devout Seventh Day Adventist's refusal to put mustard on his Chik Patty would be representative of Christianity as a whole. That's not to say it either practice isn't based on "valid" religious beliefs (however that's defined) or that it shouldn't be respected, but I worry that people don't realize that Islam is as diverse as it is.

2. I think there was advice upthread about OP doing NGO work or becoming involved in working with ethnic communities that are predominately Muslim. It strikes me that the stereotypes associated with OP's practices are likely to be even stronger in those communities, where wearing an abaya and refusing to shake hands would not just be a "cultural quirk" but actually suggestive of a set of political beliefs -- and could actually lead to greater marginalization, both by men and women.

I also have some religious restrictions that do not mesh well with a typical biglaw environment, and in speaking with older lawyers who have successfully navigated biglaw despite these restrictions, I was told to expect that open hostility will almost entirely come from more liberal coreligionists (who may consider themselves experts on what is and isn't "really" required), as opposed to Christians who are generally very respectful of the boundaries. I don't know if that's the idea you were getting at, but it reminded me.

12262010
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby 12262010 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:50 am

rynabrius wrote:Due to Title VII mightn't your religion be an asset rather than a detriment to your job search?


people won't overtly discriminate against OP and good luck proving underlying discriminatory sentiment.

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dresden doll
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby dresden doll » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:53 am

booyakasha wrote:
rynabrius wrote:Due to Title VII mightn't your religion be an asset rather than a detriment to your job search?


people won't overtly discriminate against OP and good luck proving underlying discriminatory sentiment.


I highly doubt that employers need excuses to decline hiring a BLS grad, especially ITE.

Also, a huge LOLWUT at A'nold's post. Why the hell would anyone infer from OP's failure to shake hands that she deems them insufficiently holy?

12262010
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby 12262010 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:54 am

dresden doll wrote:
booyakasha wrote:
rynabrius wrote:Due to Title VII mightn't your religion be an asset rather than a detriment to your job search?


people won't overtly discriminate against OP and good luck proving underlying discriminatory sentiment.


I highly doubt that employers need excuses to decline hiring a BLS grad, especially ITE.

Also, a huge LOLWUT at A'nold's post. Why the hell would anyone infer from OP's failure to shake hands that she deems them insufficiently holy?


I guess anyone as ignorant as A'nold might.

Jarrett
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Jarrett » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:57 am

You should be able to wear it especially if it is religious attire. The sad truth of the world we live in especially america is that you will be judged on what you wear. There are so many ignorant people who used 9/11 as a scapegoat for xenophobia and their unique attire.You should wear what you feel is appropriate and doesnt offend anyone.

Azmatt
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Azmatt » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:09 pm

Lets see.... it's been a few days. But, I was just posting a juxtaposition because I found it amusing. A little perspective always helps. That's not my attempt at educating the group. I wasn't trying to make a comparison. I don't have the energy. But, that wasn't the point...

Underneath this whole thread are tones of whether she should conform or not. There are overt comparisons to culture and differentiation as well. If I post a picture of two groups which have such stark differences, but appear very similar under a cursory juxtaposition... just because I found the absurdity of these situations to be amusing at times, ... sue me.

All of this aside, I'm surprised no one focused on the actual meat of my original post. I hope she did at least. :)

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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:20 pm

dresden doll wrote:
booyakasha wrote:
rynabrius wrote:Due to Title VII mightn't your religion be an asset rather than a detriment to your job search?


people won't overtly discriminate against OP and good luck proving underlying discriminatory sentiment.


I highly doubt that employers need excuses to decline hiring a BLS grad, especially ITE.

Also, a huge LOLWUT at A'nold's post. Why the hell would anyone infer from OP's failure to shake hands that she deems them insufficiently holy?


I didn't read that post. But, to be fair, one of the reasons why OP won't shake hands would actually be to avoid the risk of touching someone insufficiently holy. I doubt most non-conservative Muslims, who'd respect the decision anyway, would actually care. As mentioned by a poster above, a more liberal Muslim (even one who is quite devout) might find it weird and off-putting, since they'd know the place it was coming from.

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dresden doll
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby dresden doll » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I didn't read that post. But, to be fair, one of the reasons why OP won't shake hands would actually be to avoid the risk of touching someone insufficiently holy. I doubt most non-conservative Muslims, who'd respect the decision anyway, would actually care. As mentioned by a poster above, a more liberal Muslim (even one who is quite devout) might find it weird and off-putting, since they'd know the place it was coming from.


I'm not an expert on Islamic practices, but OP's mentioning that she doesn't shake hands with those of the opposite gender leads me to think that holiness isn't the issue at hand.

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goosey
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby goosey » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
dresden doll wrote:
booyakasha wrote:
rynabrius wrote:Due to Title VII mightn't your religion be an asset rather than a detriment to your job search?


people won't overtly discriminate against OP and good luck proving underlying discriminatory sentiment.


I highly doubt that employers need excuses to decline hiring a BLS grad, especially ITE.

Also, a huge LOLWUT at A'nold's post. Why the hell would anyone infer from OP's failure to shake hands that she deems them insufficiently holy?


I didn't read that post. But, to be fair, one of the reasons why OP won't shake hands would actually be to avoid the risk of touching someone insufficiently holy. I doubt most non-conservative Muslims, who'd respect the decision anyway, would actually care. As mentioned by a poster above, a more liberal Muslim (even one who is quite devout) might find it weird and off-putting, since they'd know the place it was coming from.


thats actually completely off by a long shot. Not shaking hands with the opposite gender has nothing to do with deeming somebody insufficiently holy---I didnt exactly fall from the pure blue sky myself :) It is, as I said, because we are not allowed to have physical contact with non-relatives of the opposite gender. All muslims, liberal or otherwise, know the reasoning behind it.

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Duralex
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Duralex » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:32 pm

And, as a former anthro student, if you really wanted to insist on exploring how anxiety around ritual pollution related to gender is encoded in Muslim codes of modesty, despite its day-to-day understanding, you'd have to explore how its manifestation (gendered pollution and taboo, that is) varies wildly over various Muslim cultures and traditions.

Also, I kinda wish I had such a good reason to have bespoke clothing. ;P
Last edited by Duralex on Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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A'nold
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby A'nold » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:45 pm

booyakasha wrote:
dresden doll wrote:
booyakasha wrote:
rynabrius wrote:Due to Title VII mightn't your religion be an asset rather than a detriment to your job search?


people won't overtly discriminate against OP and good luck proving underlying discriminatory sentiment.


I highly doubt that employers need excuses to decline hiring a BLS grad, especially ITE.

Also, a huge LOLWUT at A'nold's post. Why the hell would anyone infer from OP's failure to shake hands that she deems them insufficiently holy?


I guess anyone as ignorant as A'nold might.



Yep. I am a dumbass. I mean, lawyers are above petty first impressions due to their vast knowledge, acceptance of others, and ESPECIALLY their non-A'nold-like ignorance.

Newsflash: Just b/c you guys say something doesn't make it true. Add in the ad homs with a token "LOLWUT" and you guys are very convincing.

Haha, note also that the VAST majority of lawyers are not biglaw lawyers and you will be dealing with your dreaded "ignorant" society members that you are so far above.

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worldtraveler
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby worldtraveler » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:55 pm

OP I just remembered that I know someone in big law who wears a veil and an abaya. She's in a secondary market in the Midwest. I haven't talked to her in a couple years, but I talked to her on facebook this morning and asked her what her experience was like. She said that instead of shaking hands she just did a slight nod of the head, and that for clothing she wears things a lot like what women in Dubai wear. She said she didn't think it affected her career much, and that people sometimes asked her questions, occasionally ignorant questions, but she wasn't denied any work or career opportunities based on it.

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Duralex
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Duralex » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:00 pm

In A'nold's defense it doesn't really matter if the person whose handshake is refused thinks it's because of religious modesty over gender or religious concern over pollution. Both are categorical and so the potential to offend people who perceive themselves being categorized as 'untouchable' exists either way. And given that the prohibitions against touching that exist in other religions often are based on ritual pollution from contact with the less holy, it's fair to think that some would make that assumption. (What's more, depending on the world-view of the person whose handshake was declined they might or might not remain offended even after learning more about the custom.)

If there wasn't a lot of potential for confusion and misunderstanding, this whole thing wouldn't be a such a minefield.

Worldtraveler--that sounds interesting and encouraging.

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jayn3
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby jayn3 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:09 pm

goosey wrote:I was interning at a senator's office and was invited to an event with a bunch of politicians---I was walking into the meeting area with the senator and this congressman, when the congressman turned to me and extended his hand. My boss was behind me...I got super awkward and said "i'm sorry..." and did the above. He got embarassed, my boss got embarassed, and i was mortified.


i hate to say it, but i think this is going to be a huge obstacle for you in any western country. could you ask at a business school if they have a better way of handling the situation? if you can find a response that would make the situation less awkward for everyone involved, then you might be able to get by. otherwise, you may well be limited in terms of where you can interview successfully.

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A'nold
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby A'nold » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:53 pm

Duralex wrote:In A'nold's defense it doesn't really matter if the person whose handshake is refused thinks it's because of religious modesty over gender or religious concern over pollution. Both are categorical and so the potential to offend people who perceive themselves being categorized as 'untouchable' exists either way. And given that the prohibitions against touching that exist in other religions often are based on ritual pollution from contact with the less holy, it's fair to think that some would make that assumption. (What's more, depending on the world-view of the person whose handshake was declined they might or might not remain offended even after learning more about the custom.)

If there wasn't a lot of potential for confusion and misunderstanding, this whole thing wouldn't be a such a minefield.

Worldtraveler--that sounds interesting and encouraging.


Thank you. I mean, I've said stupider things in the past with less opposition. :wink:

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Aeroplane
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Aeroplane » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:40 pm

From The Ethicist column in the NYT in 2002:

The courteous and competent real-estate agent I'd just hired to rent my house shocked and offended me when, after we signed our contract, he refused to shake my hand, saying that as an Orthodox Jew he did not touch women. As a feminist, I oppose sex discrimination of all sorts. However, I also support freedom of religious expression. How do I balance these conflicting values? Should I tear up our contract? J.L., New York

This culture clash may not allow you to reconcile the values you esteem. Though the agent dealt you only a petty slight, without ill intent, you're entitled to work with someone who will treat you with the dignity and respect he shows his male clients. If this involved only his own person -- adherence to laws concerning diet or dress, for example -- you should of course be tolerant. But his actions directly affect you. And sexism is sexism, even when motivated by religious convictions. I believe you should tear up your contract.


The response continues... see link for the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/27/magazine/the-way-we-live-now-10-27-02-the-ethicist-between-the-sexes.html?scp=1&sq=%22the%20ethicist%22%20shake%20hands&st=cse

Letters to the editor here (scroll down):
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/17/magazine/17LETTERS.html?scp=8&sq=

Edit: I disagree with the Ethicist's response. I only post this to demonstrate that there are probably plenty of blue-state people who consider themselves liberal and tolerant who are ignorant and rigid on issues like this.

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PKSebben
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby PKSebben » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:47 pm

Aeroplane wrote:From The Ethicist column in the NYT in 2002:

The courteous and competent real-estate agent I'd just hired to rent my house shocked and offended me when, after we signed our contract, he refused to shake my hand, saying that as an Orthodox Jew he did not touch women. As a feminist, I oppose sex discrimination of all sorts. However, I also support freedom of religious expression. How do I balance these conflicting values? Should I tear up our contract? J.L., New York

This culture clash may not allow you to reconcile the values you esteem. Though the agent dealt you only a petty slight, without ill intent, you're entitled to work with someone who will treat you with the dignity and respect he shows his male clients. If this involved only his own person -- adherence to laws concerning diet or dress, for example -- you should of course be tolerant. But his actions directly affect you. And sexism is sexism, even when motivated by religious convictions. I believe you should tear up your contract.


The response continues... see link for the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/27/magazine/the-way-we-live-now-10-27-02-the-ethicist-between-the-sexes.html?scp=1&sq=%22the%20ethicist%22%20shake%20hands&st=cse

Letters to the editor here (scroll down):
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/17/magazine/17LETTERS.html?scp=8&sq=

Edit: I disagree with the Ethicist's response. I only post this to demonstrate that there are probably plenty of blue-state people who consider themselves liberal and tolerant who are ignorant and rigid on issues like this.


Interesting food for thought. I've had enough experience with Muslim and Jewish friends to have tolerance where someone declines to shake hands but I can see how it could be misinterpreted. I wonder if some of those writing in would be more tolerant of women declining to shake a man's hand.

rynabrius
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby rynabrius » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:50 pm

It is amazing how consistently bad The Ethicist's advice is.

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Aeroplane
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Re: How much does appearance matter?

Postby Aeroplane » Mon Aug 02, 2010 3:52 pm

PKSebben wrote:Interesting food for thought. I've had enough experience with Muslim and Jewish friends to have tolerance where someone declines to shake hands but I can see how it could be misinterpreted. I wonder if some of those writing in would be more tolerant of women declining to shake a man's hand.

I think a woman would probably get more leeway, yes.




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