HOT TIPS For Men Too Scared To Work With Women In A #MeToo World!
This week, Bloomberg published an article about the "controversial strategies" that the men of Wall Street are employing in order to navigate this strange new world where their female employees and co-workers will actually say something if they sexually harass them. Calling it "the Pence effect," these bewildered finance guys have now decided that the only possible way to handle this is by avoiding women and being alone with them entirely.
It's not surprising. Since #MeToo started, we've seen more than enough men huffing about "You all know this is going to lead to is us NOT hiring any more women, right?" along with lots of handwringing over a potential "backlash." There's a certain desperation to turn this around and find a way to use it in order to punish women. It's not surprising -- sexual harassment has always been about power. If you truly feel you can say "fuck me or lose your job" to a person, you are someone who feels pretty powerful. Part of that "power" is the part where they don't complain because they're more afraid of what you'll do to them than vice versa.
There's even power in the anticipation of a "#MeToo backlash." It's very "One of these days, Alice, right to the moon!" Keep quiet, ladies, or you'll only make things worse for yourselves.
No more dinners with female colleagues. Don't sit next to them on flights. Book hotel rooms on different floors. Avoid one-on-one meetings.
In fact, as a wealth adviser put it, just hiring a woman these days is "an unknown risk." What if she took something he said the wrong way?
Yeah, that sure is a tough one! Women are so mysterious! Who knows how their lady brains work or how they process words and actions? If you ask a woman to pass the salt, will she think that is code for "wanna bang" and then sue you for all the money that you ever ever had? WHO CAN KNOW?
Well, I am here to help! I have compiled a list of helpful pointers for the menfolk out there who seem to think that the only possible solution to navigating this world is to go out of their way to make things even harder for women.
1. Think About Things You Want To Say Before You Say Them Out Loud. This seems like a nearly impossible task! After all, you are not a mind reader! And isn't it important that you get to express yourself?
But guess what? Millions of people all over the world do this every day. Women, especially. It's part of the way we're socialized. Women are not magically empathetic because that's just how we are; in a world filled with fragile male egos, it's a survival strategy. Now you must learn this survival strategy too. Think about what you are going to say. Think about how the person you are saying it to is most likely to take it. Consider them as a person, your relationship to them, etc. Ask yourself "Is it kind? Is it necessary?"
The answer to those questions, if the thing you wish to say is "Nice tits!" is almost always going to be a hard no.
2. Try Interacting With Human Women. Do you have a mother? A sister? If so -- good news! You may already be on your way to having some idea of how to interact with a woman without trying to bang her. Try, even, making friends with some women and having conversations with them that are in no way about your dick. Soon, you may even find yourself being comfortable talking to all kinds of women without being horrible. Moreover, you might even learn enough about them to realize that #NotAllWomen are planning their careers around falsely accusing poor men of things they didn't even do, and most are just trying to get through the goddamned day.
3. Have Manners! While some people think of manners and etiquette as merely rules for fancy people about what fork they are supposed to use, their true purpose is making other people comfortable. We don't chew with our mouths closed at the dinner table merely because it is verboten to do otherwise, but because we do not want to make other people sick. Think of it as your job, to some degree, to make sure that other people feel comfortable when you are talking to them.
4. Hire MORE Women! It sounds counterintuitive, sure! More female employees just means more opportunities for those sirens to trap you in some little misstep and ruin your life forever, as you know they all desperately want to do. But having more women around will reduce the chances of your co-worker bar outing being a bunch of drunk dudes and one lady and help the fellas on your team learn how to be normal around women they work with, just as women and many other men manage to do every day.
5. Don't Hire Men Who Cannot Talk To Women. Guess what? Outside of perhaps a cloistered monastery or maybe a bath house, being able to talk to women is an integral part of most jobs. If someone feels that they cannot talk to women without getting their dick involved in the conversation, if they feel they cannot talk to women in general, they are not qualified to hold any job that involves doing this.
6. Act The Same Way You Would If You Were Talking To A Man You Respected. This, really, is the easiest solution. Before you open your mouth, imagine yourself saying this same thing to a male employee. If it feels weird, it probably is!
7. Try Worrying About Some Other Stuff! Life involves some amount of risk. Sure! Some woman might someday accuse you of sexual harassment and you may not feel it was warranted. Also, every time you leave your home, someone could murder you. Someone could even come in your home and murder you. That sweetener in your morning coffee could be anti-freeze. Someone at work could frame you for stealing the petty cash. The police could frame you for murder. A man could accuse you of sexual harassment. You could get hairy palms from masturbating too much. The ceiling could fall on your head at any moment. All of these things could happen, but you're probably not rearranging your entire life on the off chance that they will, are you? You're not doing shit that affects other people's ability to work and be successful in life because you're afraid they might murder you, are you? So learn to live with it.
Think about all the extra things you'd have to worry about if you were a woman. Am I coming off as a bitch? If I reject this man, will he murder me? If I go out at night in a miniskirt and someone rapes me, will people think I was asking for it? Is there a roofie in my drink? Will I be able to get another job quickly if my boss fires me if I don't sleep with him? If I don't laugh at this sexist joke, are the men I work with going to think I'm uptight and no fun? If I say I was harassed or raped or assaulted, would anyone believe me? Will I not be taken seriously if I do ____, _____ or _____? So many, many things! We live with all of this and it sucks. So now you have a thing you have to live with. Tough shit!
8. Don't Be An Asshole -- Deep among all the hand wringing from all these finance bros about how careful they feel they have to be now that they live in fear of being #MeToo'd was one brave, non-stupid man who managed to figure shit out all on his own:
There are as many or more men who are responding in quite different ways. One, an investment adviser who manages about 100 employees, said he briefly reconsidered having one-on-one meetings with junior women. He thought about leaving his office door open, or inviting a third person into the room.
Finally, he landed on the solution: "Just try not to be an asshole."
That's pretty much the bottom line, said Ron Biscardi, chief executive officer of Context Capital Partners. "It's really not that hard."
It's almost like magic, really!
Maybe you already know all this stuff and this list is not helpful for you! Good! That's great. I hope that all the men who read this list, have -- like Ron Biscardi -- already figured all of this out on their own. So what you guys have to do now is make sure that this "Oh gosh, I guess I'll just exclude women from everything and make things harder for them career-wise so they don't accuse me of sexual harassment!" bullshit from other dudes doesn't happen in your office. And, hey, you can even pass this list on to them. Or just tell them "Hey, just don't be an asshole."
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse