Etiquette and Professionalism. Both seemingly harmless social implementations that are used to ensure appropriate and formal behavior among peers and colleagues, and among all members of high society and the professional world.
They are guidelines, but they also dictate the behavior of all people who try to function within these worlds. The general rules are to wear appropriate clothing, have appropriate table manners, use indoor voices, have appropriate conversations, and treat each other appropriately.
All of these things seem like reasonable rules to live by in the grand scheme of life, but are they really necessary? Do we really need to explicitly state these rules? Who values these rules? Why do they value them? Who gets to define professionalism?
There are many rules that dictate what is considered proper and professional.
I have to wear dress pants rather than jeans if I want to get a job. I can’t reveal the tattoos or piercings on my body or I am automatically placed into “the world of the unprofessional.” I can’t talk about how much things cost or how much I paid for things. I have to cover certain parts of my body, but others are expected to be visible, especially depending on who I am interacting with.
It is about catering to your audience. You have to alter yourself to whoever is going to give you a job or has given you a job. In reality, these rules are asinine. These rules show the values of the people who enforce them.
Cotillions are rituals that guarantees the continuation of these asinine rules and expectations by passing them down to the next generation of the wealthy, high class society. The purpose of these rituals is to ensure that the current systems of power remain in place for generations to come.
At a cotillion, there are numerous rules about who is supposed to be introduced first in conversation. Women are to be introduced first with men being introduced after them. Adults should be introduced before children, and elders should be introduced before adults and children.
Women are also expected to organize and run a cotillion because men are expected to do important things, like taking care of business ventures. The wealthy are usually the only people that comprise these gatherings. The wealthy are also the most valued in the business world because they have autonomy in that world.
Women, one of the obviously less valued groups in the world of proper etiquette and professionalism, are charged with teaching the next generation of high society to behave properly, rather than to support the family.
If the future generations of wealthy people also believe in these rules, they will enforce them in the business world, where they have power over the working class. This reinforces the systems of power that place value with certain groups over others. This also eliminates the ability of the working class to create the systems of value in our society, despite the fact that they greatly outnumber the wealthy. The rules are used to keep control over certain individuals.
One issue with this is the appropriateness of clothes as defined by the wealthy. The appropriate dress for men is usually stated as dress pants, not jeans, and a dress shirts. Women’s approved dress is something that covers their breasts and comes to at least the back of the knee. This is used to control the sexuality of women.
In formal society, women should not be sexual, but by defining what is appropriate dress for these women and demanding they cover their bodies, they are defining them as sexual objects that need to be covered in order to be seen as appropriate for high society. These rules are presented in a way that makes them appear to be good for society, and people who chose not to follow them are miscreants.
Another rule of proper etiquette is to show concern for other people, but should do we actually live in a world where there needs to be a rule to remind you to be compassionate towards other people? The compassion that is shown is for other members of their social circle, however, not for the working class.
These rules are created by the people who have power through money in our society because they are the ones who decide if the working class has work. It is a tyrannical system that forces the working class to function in the world of the wealthy minority.
These systems of power are not so easily visible, though, since they function under the guise of professionalism in this rhetoric of formality as defined by the rich and powerful.
Therefore, considering that these rules are obviously used to maintain control over certain members of society, is the real issue with people who reject these rules or with those who make the rules?