wedding ring removed for sales pitch
April 6, 2007 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Is it ethical for a women who is in sales to remove her wedding ring so that prospective clients will be more interested in hearing her pitch?

I've heard that some women will remove their rings when being interviewed so that the new boss won't discriminate against them. I know that some men will and I guess some women will remove their rings while traveling to say perhaps" extend the possibility of fun". I also know that some single women will wear rings on their wedding finger when the travel to ward off the men who are looking to " extend their fun" But this business sales tactic of "acting single" has recently come to light and I'm just not sure how I feel about it. your thoughts would be appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (63 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by charlesv at 9:06 PM on April 6, 2007

None of what you've described would be considered "ethical". They're all instances of deception.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:08 PM on April 6, 2007

The fact that clients would choose not to listen to a married woman seems to be what's screwed up. Her doing something to even out that disadvantage, while not great, seems like the lesser of two evils here.
posted by occhiblu at 9:13 PM on April 6, 2007 [6 favorites]

Deceit is generally considered to be unethical by many people.
posted by trip and a half at 9:15 PM on April 6, 2007

and I guess some women will remove their rings while traveling to say perhaps "extend the possibility of fun"

It depresses me that such people exist. Used to further your career, I agree with cmgonzalez: it's deceptive and therefore less than acceptable to me.
posted by saraswati at 9:15 PM on April 6, 2007

I think it matters that the deceit is not narrowly targeted; it's aimed at sleazy and non-sleazy audiences alike.
posted by grobstein at 9:17 PM on April 6, 2007

Interesting question. I really think it can be argued either way. In an ideal world, things like that wouldn't matter, but in addition to things like wedding rings, there are also other markers of success, like what you wear and the car you drive. I have heard managers tell some of their employees in the insurance industry to always drive a nice car to their client's houses to keep up the image of success and to increase the chance of a sale.

However, I think the ethical issue doesn't necessarily lie with the business, but also with the woman's partner, if there a mutual understand that those rings are to be outward symbols of their relationship.

If a long-term business relationship is desired, I would simply keep it on. But then again, I'm not a woman. If I were a client and were to later sense that I was being manipulated, I would be less inclined to continue doing business with that company.

I believe it is unethical for a man to remove his ring on vacation to "extend the possibility of fun", because he likely took a vow to his partner when he accepted that ring. On the other hand, I think it's acceptable if a woman wears a ring to ward off men, because there is no vow associated with it.
posted by perpetualstroll at 9:19 PM on April 6, 2007

It is wrong. If you do it, you will likely feel bad -- if not immediately, then later, I suspect. Your job may be fulfilling, important, etc, but your marriage - in theory - should be more fulfilling, important, etc.
posted by davidmsc at 9:21 PM on April 6, 2007

Clarification: if you and your husband have discussed this and he is OK with it - absolute, complete fidelity on both sides, no trust issues, etc - then it's probably OK.
posted by davidmsc at 9:31 PM on April 6, 2007

Do you think it is ethical for a married person to choose never to wear a ring in the first place? If you think wedding rings are obligatory for married people, then this would violate that obligation. If you think rings are optional, to be worn or not worn by joint agreement of the people involved, then it's hard to see what obligation this violates.

If someone asks if you're married, and you lie, well, lying is unethical (in most cases). And obviously if you violate your wedding vows by cheating on your spouse that would be unethical. But just denying professional contacts information about your personal life -- when they haven't even explicitly asked about your personal life? It's not so clear why that would be unethical.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:46 PM on April 6, 2007 [7 favorites]

cmgonzalez: "None of what you've described would be considered "ethical". They're all instances of deception."

trip and a half: "Deceit is generally considered to be unethical by many people."

Bingo on both counts.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:50 PM on April 6, 2007

This all depends on whether you believe in the "sanctity of marriage." As a child of divorced parents and a reader of Heinlein, I don't. In my eyes, people who want to "extent the possibility of fun" are alright, provided they aren't lying to their spouses. AS for preying on someone's biases to make a sale, that's part of the fun of capitalism, and as long as you don't actually lead the person on and break their heart, it's all good.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:50 PM on April 6, 2007

To clarify: I'm not saying I think this is a great thing to do. It's pretty clearly using sexism to one's advantage, which is always dicey as hell because it can tend to reinforce the sexist attitudes that are problematic in the first place (ie, that male clients will only listen to a female salesperson if they think they can go to bed with her). But unethical? It's hard to see that. Is it unethical for a waitress (married or single) to flirt to get better tips? No, even if it's problematic in various ways.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:51 PM on April 6, 2007

It's fine. If it hurts nobody, and it helps you get ahead, do it.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:55 PM on April 6, 2007

It's only bad internally if the intention is to deceive.
Externally, no-one is obliged to mark themselves out into some arbitrary category, and anyone who is influenced by the presence or absence of a ring is a victim of their own prejudgements.
So in this case, not good for the first reason I gave (bad habit for yourself to get into too, as much as anything).
posted by Abiezer at 10:00 PM on April 6, 2007

It is an interesting question.
Because some married people do not wear rings -- and neither do many of those who are stably coupled but do not or cannot marry -- failing to wear a wedding ring cannot be construed as representing yourself as single. If it is thought that those sales-reps who don't wear rings do better, strictly due to some unvoiced psychological effect on clients -- eh. Why not? If the sales rep finds herself constantly having to explain that no, the girl does not come with the car -- then she has a more problematic situation.
posted by Methylviolet at 10:02 PM on April 6, 2007

It's only unethical if your marital status is so central to the products or services you offer that it is a material factor for potential clients. If not, then it is not central to the business relationship. Under these circumstances, wearing your ring is a matter of personal preference. If you're more concerned about what it would mean to your spouse then that could be a different matter. It's probably unethical to represent yourself at work in a way that would be deceptive from your spouse's point of view.
posted by ads at 10:14 PM on April 6, 2007

As a pop sociologist, I think this question is great. I wish the OP had asked for age, gender, and marital status with each answer.

I think if you were wearing a ring before, and you took it off for a specific audience, you're doing so to deceive that audience, and it's unethical. Not the same as a mechanic or electrician, who doesn't wear a ring to work because it's dangerous to do so. Also, if you've been married long, the pale divit on your ring finger may give you away despite your efforts.

(I'm 32, female, and married.)
posted by nadise at 10:15 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

No, it's not unethical to do this.

It would be unethical of your potential customers to take more interest in your product because you're single. For you to remove the disadvantage imposed upon you by your married status, so that your dipshit customers will actually listen more attentively to your presentation, is entirely ethical.

It would be like a black salesperson, who makes telephone cold-calls and knows that customers in his sales region are less likely to agree to meet with a black sales person, adopting a stereotypically "white" manner of speech in an attempt to get a meeting with customers by giving the impression that he is white. That's deception, but it's deception in order to overcome an unethical, acted-upon prejudice.

You may say, "Well, this is different because the female salesperson is attempting to lure customers by a prospect of romance," but I think the examples are analogous. If customers come into a potential transaction with unspoken ulterior motives, they are not victims when the salesperson uses these ulterior motives to the salesperson's own advantage.
posted by jayder at 10:27 PM on April 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

Completely 100% ethical and fine. I can't believe anyone thinks it's "deceitful". Since when is a married woman (or man, for that matter) required to advertise her status? That's your personal life; clients and other strangers have no business knowing anything about it.
posted by equalpants at 10:33 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

On the other hand, I think it's acceptable if a woman wears a ring to ward off men, because there is no vow associated with it.

Thanks. I've done this many times in the past, when single or partnered-but-not-married, and found it really did help to filter out unwanted come-ons at the workplace, while waiting for public transit, etc. Really, anyone who would think it wasn't worth the time to talk to a woman who was "unavailable", that's probably someone I didn't want to waste my time with either.
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 10:35 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

i (unmarried hetero male) have no problem with it. it's no more unethical than waitresses leaving their rings off to get more tips (and as a frequent diner, i salute the women who serve me, and would support them going topless if they thought they could get more tips that way). it all gets down to whether you feel you have the obligation to disclose your status on your finger. i don't recognize that obligation.
posted by bruce at 11:04 PM on April 6, 2007

I think the variety of responses just shows that there's very little consensus, and a whole lot of individual variation, into what people consider "ethical."

Personally, I don't think it's fundamentally any more wrong than putting on a certain set of clothes because you know that's what your client wants to see.

If I go to pitch a big presentation to someone, chances are I'd wear a suit. But I don't wear suits that often; I'm not really a "suit" kinda guy. I'm more of a shirt-and-khakis kinda guy. By wearing a suit, instead of what I normally wear, I'm putting forward an image that's not exactly honest.

Unless you go into the office or to a client wearing whatever you bum around the house in on the weekend, you're engaging in what's arguably deception; you're creating an image that's tailored to your assessment of the irrational preferences of the people you're with. (Because, if they were rational, they wouldn't care what you wear wearing, because in most circumstances it's irrelevant to your actual job/product.) We do this every day of our lives; it's just part of being human, at least in our culture.

As long as you're not actually lying (if someone asks you a flat-out factual question, you're obligated to respond honestly or just decline to respond if it's inappropriate or privileged), it's all fair game.

But with that said, just because in my mind it's permissible, doesn't mean I think it's a great idea most of the time. Playing on other people's prejudices is dangerous and might come back to haunt you. (People really hate feeling like they've been played, even when---perhaps especially when---it's only because they were being an ass in the first place.)

So yeah, if you think some sleazebag is more likely to sign a deal if you're not wearing a ring than if you are, by all means take it off. (Although might be worth talking to the person who gave you the ring, first...but that's outside the scope of the question.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:15 PM on April 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

Well, maybe not, but is it ethical for women to make less money then men for the same work? I say take revenge on the patriarchy, and take off the ring.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 PM on April 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

It's your prerogative to wear whatever jewelry it pleases you to wear at any point in time. There's no ethical component to jewelry choice beyond concerns such as conflict stones, environmental harm, and the like.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:30 PM on April 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

This question is about ethics, right? It's about performing an action that deceives people to your advantage, right? That pretty much fits my definition of unethical. But then, marketing (sales) is pretty much the career of evil as far as I am concerned. Marketing is not generally about telling the truth.
posted by DarkForest at 11:31 PM on April 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm coming down on the "not unethical" side. If the world was fair, whether you were wearing a wedding ring wouldn't matter -- I'm sure it doesn't for male salespeople -- but it's not, so why shouldn't you level playing the field?

I'm surprised at how many people say otherwise; I guess it shows that a wedding ring is pretty heavily freighted with meaning.
posted by SoftRain at 11:52 PM on April 6, 2007

What? How is this deceitful at all? Is the OP telling people she's not married? Jesus, loosen up.

I'm not married, but I'm in a committed relationship with my live-in girlfriend. We have no intention of getting married anytime soon, but we don't really envision a future where we're not together. It's just that the actual ceremony of marriage isn't a priority for us. So are we being deceitful because we're not advertising to everyone around us that we're not on the market?

If it's cool with you and cool with your guy, take off the damn ring if it'll get you a sale. I agree with the comment above that it's a little dicey because you're sort of reinforcing sexist attitudes, but on a scale of Gloria Steinem to Phyllis Schlafly, I'd say you're in pretty safe waters. It's not like you're sticking tassels on your tits or anything.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:18 AM on April 7, 2007

How is this deceitful at all?
To reiterate, I don't think it has to be, but it could be the intention (seems to be why the question was posed), and actually it's the intent that's not good. Even here, where the deceived would actually be suffering because of their own poor attitudes, if it's a yes or no question, I say no, it's not a good habit to have that intent. Obviously, I don't work in sales.
posted by Abiezer at 12:52 AM on April 7, 2007

Favoring someone for a job, a sale, etc, is more unethical than misrepresenting yourself.
posted by wackybrit at 1:04 AM on April 7, 2007

Well, is there anything other than anecdotal evidence that it will help you get more sales? When I'm looking to buy something, I'm looking to buy something, not hook up with the saleslay, er, saleslady.
posted by londongeezer at 1:11 AM on April 7, 2007

It is deceit, although hardly world-ending. If the sole goal is to make better sales, then it's hardly any worse than many other widespread tactics.

However, the most observant clients may see a tan line or notice a ring appearing suddenly at a meeting where the saleslady forgot to take it off. Then things could get a bit more complicated than they have to be. Some people will overlook things like this, a few will be turned away.

So, in short, it is unethical. Many, many things about sales are unethical. Just because the world isn't fair, that does not turn a lie into something else. It simply makes the lie more necessary to achieve certain goals.
posted by Saydur at 1:30 AM on April 7, 2007

I don't think there's anything wrong with this as long as your partner is on board, but then it would never occur to me to actually do this either. Since when did what's on my finger mean anything about my availability? Or did my availability mean anything about my professional life?

I'm also interested in the variety of answers. I added the partner on board bit because obviously for a lot of people this does sit badly and your SO is the most important person in your life, so if in your relationship it feels like deceit to put a ring on or off then don't do it. It seems like a fairly individual decision and probably varies by industry too (e.g. I don't change my jewlery but do wear my glasses to job interviews, being of the academic bent. But they're real glasses and I wear them two days a week anyway, so it's not a total con).

I'm sure my complacency in this matter is coloured by my being totally unavailable, been in a relationship for 13 years and planning on staying in it forever, without a ring or legal contract in sight. The lack if a ring means nothing. If it's important or relevant then I know if someone is available/they know about my boyfriend, it comes up in conversation, if it's irrelevant then why change anyway?
posted by shelleycat at 1:33 AM on April 7, 2007

Hell, i stopped wearing my wedding ring years ago when my second pregnancy made me swell up so much i couldn't put it on, and she's now 14 years old. I also use Ms on job applications and, occasionally, I might mention my partner to my colleagues without specifying gender. It's nobody's business but mine who I sleep with and pay bills with. Seriously. I can't believe anyone who thinks it's their right to know whether or not I'm married.

Of course, if I was telling you that I was single and looking, now that would be a deception. But to not mention my private life, that's being discreet.

But I tell you what, studies seriously show that single women have it over married women in a number of competitive fields, and it's not just because their husband/partner is distracting them at home, if you know what i mean. It's because, surprise surprise in this non-glass ceiling, no sexism (ha!) time, people discriminate against married women. Yup. They do.
posted by b33j at 3:31 AM on April 7, 2007 [4 favorites]

If you knew your competitor's product was better than yours would you tell your client? If you would you should find a new job. If not ditch the ring if it will get you the sale.
posted by afu at 3:47 AM on April 7, 2007

Is it ethical for a women who is in sales to remove her wedding ring so that prospective clients will be more interested in hearing her pitch?

What exactly are you selling? :)

Think about the question this way: If you have the ring off and then a prospective client finds out you are married, would it cause a problem?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:00 AM on April 7, 2007

Nothing about sales is ethical. As long as you're not misrepresenting the product to the point where you're outright lying to the customer, then you do what you can to get their money. Removing a ring is a subtle move, and not the same as denying her husband or wife.
posted by saturnine at 5:35 AM on April 7, 2007

What does your spouse think of this idea? That person's opinion is more important that all these AskMe answers put together.
posted by TedW at 6:02 AM on April 7, 2007

TedW just beat me to it. Personally, if I were married (which I'm not, so, grain of salt), I might feel a little upset about my symbolic gift of undying love drawing the short straw against the mere potential of closing one more deal. Me or the money, baby?

Then again, I might have already spent many merry evenings with my hypothetical spouse, mocking the jerks whose sales decisions are dominated by their dicknonprofessional interest in said hypothetical spouse, and in that case I might think it was a laff riot.

Which kind is yours?
posted by eritain at 6:14 AM on April 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

How about a criminal defense lawyer? A lawyer may be deceptive (telling the jury something he/she doesn't honestly believe) but is not being unethical. This is because the standard code of ethics applied to the profession allows one to be deceptive in that manner.

So the question in my mind is does the standard code of ethics applied to sales require one to operate without any appearance of deception?
posted by sexymofo at 7:07 AM on April 7, 2007

Oh! I didn't know other women put rings on their finger to ward off men. I do that sometimes. Men can be so forward and I don't like being bothered. I think that's fine because I'm protecting myself.
posted by onepapertiger at 8:19 AM on April 7, 2007

So many women insist on the extremely expensive wedding ring only to take it off for more money? Seems absolutely and utterly shallow to me.

My husband and I spent $20 getting a small diamond tattooed on our ring fingers, I cant take it off, but I assure you I still get hit on, and sex will ALWAYS sell, married or not.
posted by trishthedish at 8:24 AM on April 7, 2007

Deceit is generally considered to be unethical by many people.

Many people who don't work in sales, you mean, right?

I've worked in sales; not wearing a wedding ring is almost too small a "deception" to bother discussing. Seriously. For many salespeople. the entire job is making the marks think the salesperson is their new best friend. If a wedding ring gets in the way of best-friending, it's an obstacle.

(I was never one of those salesmen, myself, which is one of the reasons I had to get out of sales. I'm just saying that's how it is.)
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 8:32 AM on April 7, 2007

After reading some of these responses, this strikes me a bit like the rules about police officers lying to suspects. The police can more or less tell legal lies, or lies that, when told to an innocent person, would not put that innocent person in legal jeopardy.

This seems like the same thing. An ethical client won't notice, or care, about the ring one or the other. An unethical client who's making business decisions based on whether the salesperson will sleep with him will care about the ring. So removing it is really only fooling already unethical people, and it's doing so by taking a subject (the salesperson's private life) off the table that shouldn't have been on the table in the first place.

I suppose that some clients who don't want to sleep with the salesperson will feel "deceived," but it would seem that most clients who feel deceived because a woman is refusing to advertise her marital status are also acting unethically. Why do they need to know? Why are they placing importance on an aspect of her personal life that has nothing to do with her product? I can't find any answer to these questions that isn't pure nosiness or prejudice.

Is a woman not mentioning that she has kids during a sales pitch deceptive? There was a study in which identical descriptions of potential candidates were given to people. One description was labeled male, one as a father, one as a single woman, one as a mother. The mother was offered the lowest salary, and declared least qualified for the job. Presumably, in many people's minds, mothers deserve less money for the same job. Does that mean women with kids should be required to bring that up, so as to give the clients the "full picture" about things that apparently influence their decisions?

I think it's hard to act truly ethically in an unethical, biased society -- especially if you're in a group that's usually treated poorly -- so you just need to do your best to do right by the people who are important to you (that is, anyone removing a ring should probably mention it to their partner) and do what you can to maintain some integrity with everyone else.
posted by occhiblu at 8:55 AM on April 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

Well, maybe not, but is it ethical for women to make less money then men for the same work? I say take revenge on the patriarchy, and take off the ring.

Taking off the ring reinforces the patriarchy by managing the status quo: namely that a woman flaunting her single status (fake as it may be) is making herself available to suitors, and that suitors should buy her goods because of it.

Change to the system comes when you confront its inadequacies and faults. Denying them keeps things broken.

If you're more concerned about the almighty dollar, take off the ring and sell, sell, sell.

If you want to live your life on your terms — and since you're asking if it is unethical (something only you can really answer), it's clear you already know the answer, even if you're not comfortable admitting it to yourself — leave on the ring, consequences be damned.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:01 AM on April 7, 2007

But it's totally a "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. Everything we do is reinforcing the patriarchy -- wearing the ring in the fist place is reinforcing the patriarchy. I think it's totally unfair to blame any individual woman for doing what she needs to do (yes, within reason) in order to pursue a career in a society that makes it stupidly, sexistly hard for women to do that.

You have to work within the system that exists, even while you work to change it. Sexism doesn't go away just because you ignore it. And I would argue that holding up this one woman's actions for censure is actually reinforcing the idea that women's choices should be dictated by men more than her action of taking off the ring.
posted by occhiblu at 9:25 AM on April 7, 2007

Mod note: this is an ethics question, if you want to debate sexism, the patriarchy or just have a back and forth that has nothing to do with the OPs original question, metatalk is the place for you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:59 AM on April 7, 2007

I don't have a problem with it. If a prospective customer can be swayed by the remote prospect of sex with a woman just because she is ringlessly pitching him a product, he deserves to be taken advantage of. Sales is an adversarial situation. Both sides will press their advantages, and both sides need to be on guard.

Here's another, subtler ethical question for you: I had a friend who was married and in a customer-facing position (not exactly sales, but sort of). He only wore his wedding band at work, because it was perceived in his line of work that married men were more trustworthy (or some such nonsense). Deceptive?
posted by adamrice at 10:24 AM on April 7, 2007

I think that if she removes the wedding ring in order to avoid anti-married-woman bias (which definitely exists, as occhiblu pointed out), and gives the same sales pitch that she would have given with her wedding ring on, then there's no harm and no foul. I agree that this is a similar "deception" to wearing a suit to a big meeting; wearing a suit creates the impression that you are professional and wholly dedicated to your job. For women, unfortunately, being unmarried creates a similar impression.

If, however, she removes the ring, flirts with the potential customer, hints that they might "extend their fun" after the sale is closed (even if she has no intention of following through), and uses the lack of a wedding ring as a way of signaling that she's available in order to sweeten the deal, then she's way over the ethical boundaries. She's no longer selling a product, she's selling herself as well.
posted by junkbox at 10:39 AM on April 7, 2007

Seems to me that taking your ring off is an extension of using your sexuality in your job. We all do this, usually in the way we dress.
posted by humblepigeon at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2007

Sure, it's ethical. Ethics in sales means not misrepresenting what you're selling, so, since presumably you're not selling yourself, you're free to do whatever you want with your ring finger. If you were selling to people in Texas, and thought (rightly or wrongly) that wearing cowboy boots would help your chances of making a sale, you'd surely feel free to do so, even if you'd never worn cowboy boots before in your life, right? So how is this really any different?
posted by cerebus19 at 11:32 AM on April 7, 2007

Think about the question this way: If you have the ring off and then a prospective client finds out you are married, would it cause a problem?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:00 AM

Seconding the above.

humblepigeon, isn't wearing a wedding ring also an extension of using your sexuality in your job? Either way, you're publicly communicating an aspect of your private life.
posted by desuetude at 11:36 AM on April 7, 2007

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.

-Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night
posted by Meatbomb at 11:42 AM on April 7, 2007 [3 favorites]

Is it ethical for a women who is in sales to remove her wedding ring so that prospective clients will be more interested in hearing her pitch?

It's fine. She believes that the wedding ring gives certain people a false impression: that her sales pitch is not worth listening to. It would probably be a mistake for her to keep the ring on. By removing the ring, she's not pretending to be single; she's just removing the indicator of her marital status. She has an obligation to her employer and to her own livelihood to make her best effort to overcome the prospective client's resistance and objections.

Nadise, I'm 50, female, and married. I used to wear a ring, but now I don't.
posted by wryly at 1:13 PM on April 7, 2007

Response by poster: You know, I was on the fence about this until I realized the only people you'd be deceiving are the clients who are scummy enough to try to hit on a salesperson during a business transaction.

So fuck them. If your partner doesn't mind go for it.
posted by Anonymous at 1:58 PM on April 7, 2007

I second schroedinger.

This is a discussion to have with your partner. If he (or she) doesn't mind, then I think it's fine, especially in a business practice. Of course, a tan line might give away that there's usually a ring on that finger, so consider putting on another ring to cover that up - otherwise, you'll be busted.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 2:05 PM on April 7, 2007

From the original post it's not quite clear if you are the saleswoman, but if you are, and this type of thing triggers your "is it unethical" button, then you are quite simply in the wrong line of business.

Salespeople, taken as a whole, are loathsome, despicable creatures, not to be trusted or have your back turned towards. For god's sake don't show them your unprotected neck.

Individual salespeople run the gamut from borderline saints to truly evil bastards. People on the first side of the spectrum don't last very long.

I'm quite serious in saying that if this makes you uneasy, you need to run towards the nearest exit.

As far as using sexuality to sell, it happens all the time. I've had more than a couple situations where I was fairly certain the saleslady was indeed offering herself, along with the product. These women usually wear very nice jewelry and drive European cars. I'm just sayin'.

But to get to the nut of it... is it unethical? The question is easily answered: do you normally wear a wedding ring?

If so, and you remove it for the purpose of deception, then yes, it is unethical.

Pretty straightforward really. Although this ranks on the "barely perceptible" end of the scale.
posted by Ynoxas at 4:45 PM on April 7, 2007

The question is easily answered: do you normally wear a wedding ring? If so, and you remove it for the purpose of deception, then yes, it is unethical.

I disagree. As has been said above, wearing a wedding ring is not required by law. People generally wear them, in part, to communicate non-verbally that they are married. If one is going into a situation where actively communicating that they are married would be a hiderance, it is not unethical to remove the ring. It's a passive deception for a greater good. Not all "deception" is unethical.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:52 PM on April 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

very common
posted by jannw at 6:18 AM on April 8, 2007

No, it's not deceptive at all. How you present yourself in a business environment is very different from how you present yourself on the bus or in a bar. There are very real money, power and legal factors that necessitate a different mode of behavior. And so people change their appearance all the time for the purpose of gaining advantage in a business transaction. There's nothing at all deceptive about this because everybody understands the 'business you' isn't the 'real you.' That's why we laugh at the unfunny jokes of our bosses and compliment co-workers who we secretly despise. (At least until you work your way up into executive management. There one is allowed the great privilege of having enemies.)

And don't bother with the childish Puritanism of the Green either. The last thing you want is a bunch of stupid guys telling you how to behave. The best person to answer this question is your boss. She can explain the values and mores of your business environment and determine whether such behavior is acceptable or not on the job.
posted by nixerman at 8:09 AM on April 8, 2007

Calling this unethical (which was the poster's question) is not the same as saying she shouldn't do it. No one cares if she does it. In the world of business "ethics", this doesn't even amount to spitting in the ocean.
posted by DarkForest at 9:19 AM on April 8, 2007

Just curious, but all this "discrimination against married women" interpretation seems to be leaving out the possibility of discrimination against any and all but single women. If the prospective clients are favouring supposedly single women over supposedly married women, I think same-sex vendors are probably out in the cold, too.

In which case this is not about thwarting discrimination, per se, but courting unfair advantage, which is a slightly different ethical angle, don't you think?
posted by dreamsign at 2:04 AM on April 9, 2007

DarkForest: "marketing (sales) is pretty much the career of evil"

This made my morning. A career of evil?

As a law student (no, not making legal arguments here) I know that most of my classmates take off their engagement/wedding rings during interviews. Interviewers aren't allowed to ask about marital status or children, since they tend to discriminate against marrieds/parents (or perhaps just in favour of the unattached). Everyone puts on a show every minute they're in public, and all that matters is that you aren't hiding anything you have a duty to disclose. So I'd say taking off a wedding ring (or wearing a fake one, under certain circumstances) in a bar or on vacation is less ethical than the asker's scenario.
posted by sarahkeebs at 5:25 AM on April 9, 2007

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