The intersection of personal and professional

So, in my class this summer we ended up having many debates about the distinction between personal and professional. I did my best to introduce the notion that professional standard, being a product of our society must inherently replicate the same injustices that are so common in our society.

A great example is black hair. Often deemed unruly and unprofessional just for existing. Of course, the context of the debate had more to do with professional ethics. Still… That really doesn’t solve the problem. Proper conduct as a professional often is very sex negative: Weiner suffered a shit storm for sexting. Sexting. Who the fuck cares? Obviously many people do care. But they shouldn’t.

Still, they insisted that professional ethics referred to things like not revealing private data or not not discriminating. Nice idea but simply writing down and ethical intention doesn’t actually mean that these ethics are followed. Often, things like non-discrimination are not only ethical guidelines, but encoded in law yet they happen all the time. They happen because things things are not really about the actions of individuals.

Anti-oppression 101 states that discrimination is prejudice plus power. It is the systems that are the problem. Thus, changing our understanding of what is professional and what is personal is what needs to change in the first place. Changing our understanding of what is relevant to a job and what isn’t.

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