Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Touching at Work: The Good Old Girl Network

It seems there is a double standard in the workplace--if Katie Couric slaps her male staff for (horrors!) using a word she doesn't like, it's just cute but if the genders were reversed--watch out. Just touching a woman or even making a comment is often seen as sexual harassment that can get you placed in sensitivity training, on probation or fired, while massaging men at work doesn't raise an eyebrow--not even from the men who aren't looking for a free back rub. Craig at Buffalog blog posts on his experience:

There's a manager where I work, a woman, who demonstrates an unnatural need to give back massages to the men in the department (most of whom are younger than she). We work in an open-office and so the, um, attention, is quite public. Now, I assure you that, in this particular case, the attention is not welcome, but men being men, even in 21st century America, no one will go to H.R. about it. Imagine if the sexual tables were turned.

Yes, just imagine--the women would be up in arms. But when the tables are turned, it seems that the nurturing sex is as unsympathetic toward men in the workplace as men were toward women years ago. MSNBC has an article entitled, "Male Sexual Harassment is not a Joke" that describes the case of Thomas:

Thomas, who works in academia but didn’t want his full name used, found himself in an office made up of mainly women who would routinely share and copy each other emailed jokes and emails about men. A few, he adds, “made fun of men’s unique anatomy, if you know what I mean.” The behavior, he says, made him feel isolated. When he finally addressed the matter with the women in the office, “the women were stunned, generally with a ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’ kind of attitude. And they kept doing it.”

I am not a big believer in charging co-workers and others with sexual harassment over trivial matters. Perhaps Katie Couric really didn't mean to slap the male writer and maybe the women in the example above with Thomas the academic didn't think that what they said was done in a malicious manner. But their conduct shows that they have no respect for their male colleagues and employees--surely, if the tables were turned, they would support a woman taking action against this type of behavior. Are the good old girls so sexist that they expect men to sit quietly and take whatever behavior they wish to dish out? If so, then equality in the workplace has nothing to do with equality between the sexes and everything to do with women seeing themselves as the new nobility.



Blogger Cham said...

Helen, you imply all women see themselves as unsympathetic in the workplace. You have listed a couple of isolated examples of female sexual harassment of a male employee. This doesn't necessarily make this issue a widespread epidemic.

If Craig won't go to HR and take action regarding his massaging boss exactly how does he expect anything to change?

5:42 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


These incidences are on the rise with about 2000 claims filed by men at the EEOC last year. Men often won't go to the HR department for fear of being mocked and it sounds like, with good reason. Perhaps our response to the problems some men might face in the workplace should change, but you make a good point, that men will have to step forward also if they want to spotlight some of the problems.

5:54 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

See themselves? No, I'd wager some see themselves as quite sensitive, a very few as proudly unsympathetic, and for the most part absolutely unaware of any such discrepancy. (Ask a fish about being wet, as the saying goes.) Craig absolutely should, considering the unwelcomness (is that a word?) of the contact, bring it to the correct authorities.

I think that the world would be better off if people were less uptight about such things rather than more, but that is a much harder row to hoe. In the mean time, leveling the field at least might point up the absurdity of it all.

Or, as I like to say, I gotcher equality right here.

5:58 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Craig absolutely should, considering the unwelcomness (is that a word?) of the contact, bring it to the correct authorities."


The way the world works right now, I don't know if that would be Craig's best move if he wants to move up in a career. Running to mommy, I mean the Human Resources Department, is not usually the sign of an up-and-coming executive who can handle people.

In addition, women seem to be given more of a pass with this stuff. If a woman runs to HR and tattles, well, that's just what women do. That's how a lot of people think. And they have to simultaneously, with a rigid smile on their face, say that women are exactly equal.

All of the above is a good argument to become self-employed.

6:32 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If so, then equality in the workplace has nothing to do with equality between the sexes and everything to do with women seeing themselves as the new nobility."


I don't know about "new" nobility. Quite a few housewives before the 1970s or 1980s were tyrannical monsters at home. Now they're just in the workplace in greater numbers. I know the typical depiction is that the man was always the tyrant back in those days, but I have some definite memories of the housewives I saw while growing up in a suburban neighborhood. Media presentation is not always reality.

6:39 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger BobH said...


You seem unwilling to understand the fundamental problem. Men will only go to the "proper authorities" when they believe that doing so isn't positively dangerous to their careers and/or social reputations, in other words, when they believe that most women aren't self-righteous, hypocritical, petty, vindictive, manipulative and teacherous.

I've lived in a feminazi police state my entire life and the above description is exactly how I think most women should be viewed. Most women behave like you do. In your postings, you have habitually blamed male victims for their negative situations, providing adequate evidence that you personally are self-righteous, hypocritical....

Get my point?

7:01 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend, upon walking into a work meeting, addressed all with a typical greeting used in the south, "Hey guys." Because there were women in the room he was forced to go to sensitivity training for 2 or 3 days. Personally, I would have quit. For him at the time that wasn't a viable option.

7:11 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

What is ironic is that the workplace rules and laws we have on the books regarding sexual harrassment and conduct in the workplace were all written to cater to the alleged Victorian sensibilities of working women of the time. Seeing a nekkid pinup in the locker room or a dirty joke told by a co-worker would send them into the vapors. Now they are the ones telling dick jokes around the men. Typical.

7:21 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I started a new job and got assigned a small office facing the street. The guy in the next office would come over and talk once in a while. He said that I got a good choice in offices, and I said the office was nice because a good-looking female jogger came by every day (outside the window). The office door was half-closed, and I didn't think anyone else was around. It was kind of mindless prattle on my part.

Around a month later, the boss called me in and told me to shut his door (gulp!). He said that he was saying this for my own good, but one of the secretaries in the office was sending in monthly reports to the human resources department because one of the old men in the office (70+ years old) sometimes called the young secretaries "honey". As in: "Can you type this up, honey?". It was just an ingrained habit with him, I don't think he meant anything sexual or malicious with that.

So the boss said that I made the report that month. She wrote the comment I made (even exaggerating it a bit). I actually had to think for a while to remember making the comment.

That was back in the mid-1990s, not too long after the Anita Hill / Clarence Thomas thing. I could see that the boss was pretty much afraid of this secretary and her friggin' monthly reports. It was just bizarre that the human resources department was partially basing its evaluations of people on these "reports" and that these minor things couldn't just be handled in the office. Kind of like the snitch system in East Germany.

I just shut my mouth for the rest of the time I was there and eventually moved on.

7:25 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something I've noticed is that a particular breed of woman tries to get sexual attention wearing clothing that is a bit too provocative etc.

Those are exactly the types who will also run to HR at the drop of a hat. Those are the ones to absolutely avoid.

I almost cringe when a new guy hires into the office and doesn't get it. She flirts with him, wiggles her butt in her tight dress, he takes it as a sign of interest, BOOM, Human Resources to the rescue of the damsel in distress.

I think that the attention-seeking women are also engaging in a form of sexual harassment. I'm a heterosexual man, but I honestly want to get work done and don't want these women constantly doing their subtle crap to confirm that they are sexually desirable. Or whatever their game is. Their whole friggin' life consists of sexual interaction, apparently, and that's why they are still secretaries (although I admit that their approach may make them far richer than I will ever be - if the hook sits right). Men wouldn't dare say that at work, though.

8:22 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katie Couric:

When she finally gets the boot, it will be proof to her that women are oppressed in society.

The truth is: Her show is so bad, it's painful to watch. The square peg of the perky bubblehead has to be pounded into the image of a serious anchorwoman - who has to say big words like "sputum" (she apparently pronounced it wrong on TV, which is probably what sparked her rage).

Katie gets 15 million a year plus her other income from ancillary things, but she is an oppressed woman.

8:33 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger GeorgeH said...

Men don't go to HR to complain because it isn't macho, and because they often sense it would do no good.
In a lot of companies HR is simply a nest of militant feminists with nary a man in sight. I think there is a feeling that if you did complain, you would be the one sent to sensitivity training.

9:44 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've often wondered why companies will go to great lengths to squeeze every penny out of budgets in some areas, but the human resources department is mostly a huge center of nonsensical waste.

I've WORKED as an engineer and had to produce something or I'd hear about it. In the meanwhile, I get e-mails from Human Resources about International Women's Day and the fund-raising effort for this or that charity and sensitivity / tolerance reminders and a whole load of crap that a company shouldn't be involved in.

Managers are simply afraid to point out all the crap that they produce.

9:48 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger Vinnie said...

I started being demeaned in the workplace when humans became a resource.
Men going to HR sort of goes against the way some of us were raised. do the job, deal with the B.S.

10:26 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

Vinnie wrote: "Men going to HR sort of goes against the way some of us were raised. do the job, deal with the B.S."

Part of what gives us pride as men is that we are tough and willing to suffer for what we believe in, or to provide for our family. There is a cool, strong ethic to that. Maybe it is the upside of machismo.

So we say "Big deal, who cares" about the stuff that does not break our arms. There is a maturity about that when it is not taken to the extreme, a calm, strong focus on what is crucial and what is fluff.

I am not sure that the feminist movement has that down yet. Trying to put myself in their position, what is important is equality of pay, of not being groped or intimidated at work. "Honey" is not important, not important at all.

When I think of many of the progressive agendas, they seem trivial to me. Not equality of opportunity, hell no. That is crucial. But some of it , like "sensitivity training," is just trivial and too few people seems to realize that.


10:37 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tattling to HR for minor rudeness is ineffective for men, women, or anyone else. A reputation as a whiner gets around. Every member of the not easily offended group, white men, understands that this whining can cause them lots of grief. They respond by avoiding these groups as much as possible. That's why HR and corporate staff is full of "diversity", because most people just don't want this bother when working on the corporate bottom line and the HR quotas have to be met somewhere. Some women and minorities clearly think of themselves as workers rather than whiners and are treated as co-workers rather than members of easily offended groups.

11:00 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred Reed points out:

“Today men are accountable for their behavior. Women are not. The lack of accountability, seldom clearly recognized, is the bedrock of much of today's feminist misbehavior, influence, and politics. Its pervasiveness is worth pondering.

“A man who sires children and leaves is called a dead-beat dad, and persecuted. A woman who has seven children out of wedlock and no capacity to raise them is not a criminal, but a victim. He is accountable for his misbehavior, but she is not for hers. It is often thus...

“Note that a woman who brings charges of sexual harassment against a man suffers no, or minor, consequences if the charges are found to be unfounded -- i.e., made up. A man who lied about a woman's misbehavior would be sacked. He is accountable. She isn't...”

Sex, Equality, And Kidding Ourselves

11:02 PM, July 10, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Before anyone had ever heard the words "sexual harrassment" there was a phrase that eliminated unwanted touching. It still works.
"Keep your hands off me, please."
Works very well, regardless of the genders involved.

11:50 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a step father who was violent to my mom. I am also gay. So, as a little faglet I wanted nothing more than a happy home, and my own make-up kit. And like most faglets, I saw myself as just one of the girls. Therefore, I refuse to patronize women. When a woman slaps me, I slap her back...twice. Then I yank her hair out of their roots and make a little hair doll with it. I would have enjoyed doing the same thing to Katie Couric.

In 1993, I did the unthinkable. I joined the Marine Corps which I think violated the Ten Commandments and, I think, Luke 12:69 or something by pretending to be a boy. One time, our scribe, who was super cute, was making a firewatch list. A boy and a girl was chosen for each hour of the night. A female Lance Corporal was being super bitchy and didn't like being in the list that night. An argument ensued and ended with her slapping our scribe. At that moment, all I could think about was putting on my wig, high heels and camouflage bikini so I could mud-wrestle the bitch in style.

Well, the truth is, I would have wanted to do that even if the scribe had a hunchback. What the female Lance Corporal did was totally disrespectful, violent, and out of line. I coaxed my scribe to slap the LCpl back or to file a formal complaint at least. I was really disappointed that he didn't do either one.

I saw this kind of thing happen many times. I equally hated it when a guy did it to a girl. But most guys were afraid to do that in front of another guy for they'd get beat up for sure. Those who did anyway were ALWAYS...ALWAYS... punished severely. In contrast, the guys almost never sought help, and those who did NEVER...EVER... got the same treatment as the women. I knew many men who lost a rank or NJP-ed (non-judicial punishment) because of the response differential.

Many straight men simply do not know how to respond to a violent woman. Pussy power renders them powerless. We gay men simply hold our noses and move on.

Sexual equality is still far from complete and gay men may have a significant part in completing it. Women have made significant adjustments in the balance of power. Men haven't even begun to think they are entitled to demand adjustments as well. As lesbians were critical in making the case for women's equality, so too are gay men in men's equality.

Men have never really been meant to live long because they were always busy killing each other off in tribal wars. So skin care, comfort, and complaints in general didn't really mean anything because one died so soon anyway. But as the world gets better and people in general are living longer, men should demanding a greater piece of life.

11:54 PM, July 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Men have it so hard. How do they manage?

1:32 AM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger HokiePundit said...

It's not really about the rights themselves. It's about having a dependable society. A group that it must always be looking over its shoulder and a group which can do wrong with impunity get rid of the stability necessary for dependability. You can see something similar with affirmative action, as many white people are suspicious of minorities as they believe them to be tokens, while many of those of the minority experience self-doubt from not knowing whether some factor other than their abilities got them their job.

2:42 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, men do have it hard. How do we manage? We suck it up, swallow it and die seven years sooner than the have-it-soft sex. Men have it so much harder that even black women outlive white men. That factoid, by the way, is guaranteed to go right past the typical university Victim Studies department professor; the prof will go open-mouthed for a moment then the reset routine kicks in and the prof continues on as if nothing enlightening had happened.

2:47 AM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

i lost a job because i wasnt female, not that i couldnt do the job, i had been doing it temporarily for 15 months before the job was advertised as being permanent.

i worked in a majority female office, there was only 2 men, one a manager in a different department, and me, the rest was women. and the job was good, i was good at it, but they moved a woman sideways into it. ok.. she hadnt had any experience, so i was asked to train my replacement.

another job i went for, in liverpool i was unofficially told i wouldnt get it because the female staff would be embarrased about talking about their "problems", and that i would be embarrased as well.. nothing about the job just they didnt want a man working with them.

men do get uncomfortable with certain anti male jokes, like the old bobbit jokes, like the male model calenders, it is one rule for one and another for the other.

once again men get called whiners, when they want equality, is equality only for women, dont men deserve the same treatment.. i guess not..

3:59 AM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

My experience with sexual harassment was interesting.

I was doing a 20 week temp. assignment creating test procedures for a nearly all female company. I'd just published my first magazine article, about lone fathers. I left a copy of the magazine on the lunchroom table as I was a bit proud of seeing it.

Well! A few of the women got right up in arms. Comments like "I wouldn't let a father have the kids, he'll molest them." became the norm and were VERY common.

I didn't want to create waves, but I also couldn't listen to that bigotry. I had a chat with their union boss and she had the talk shut down, at least where I could hear it.

BTW: The women in the shipping and stock departments had nude photos of men spread all over their walls. I was told LOUDLY not to complain or there would be real trouble headed my way.

I think my experience is fairly close to normal for men experiencing female harassment.

4:34 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

women are[...] self-righteous, hypocritical, petty, vindictive, manipulative and teacherous.

You think it's bad now? Wait until we have exactly that in the White House, along with her HR-nightmare of a husband.

7:20 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wait until we have exactly that in the White House ..."


I think Hillary is going to become president, and I honestly don't care. I wish Congress would also become majority women along with it.

Then feminists would finally shut up (maybe) that female governance is the long-awaited utopia.

Sometimes things HAVE TO get a lot worse before they get better.

7:23 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would vote for a Katie Couric / Paris Hilton ticket for president / vice president.

7:38 AM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger rhhardin said...

I think men can take it okay. It's a non-issue.

It used to be that women would take it okay, too. Threaten to tell the guy's wife, the guy's mother or the guy's boss and he'll move on. Saying no is the natural and frequent counterpart of asking, and you want asking or the species won't survive.

We're not as neuter as pine boards, as Marge Piercy put it somewhere.

Hmm, Wm. Kerrigan on men and women .

7:43 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:54 p.m. made my day. I'm not sure if I believe the part about the Marines, but in any case: Great stuff!

9:29 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Men have it so hard. How do they manage?

By drinking excessively. At least that's how I manage.

But seriously, you miss the entire point. It's not that men have it so hard, it's simply that men have to put up with things that women wouldn't tolerate for a second. For example, I hate being touched, especially by people I don't know very well or at all, or people I simply don't like very much. It's just one of my "things". If you're not related to me, or I'm not in a serious physical relationship with you, don't touch me. Yet, female coworkers do it somewhat regularly. It's not exactly sexual harrassment, but I don't like it.

But what can I do about it? Even if I ask them to please not touch me, I come out looking like the asshole. However, if I touch a female coworker (which I would never do) and she complains, well, I again come out looking like the asshole. In either case, I'd be the one who has to apologize.


9:42 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I got to thinking, and realized that I haven't touched another human being in the last 48 hours. And I'm married with three kids.

I take it back. The activist gladhanding the neighborhood last night insisted on shaking my hand when he came to the door.

I have not touched a coworker in any manner for as long as I can remember. That's how my world is. I must live in a completely different world from the one where female managers give unwanted massages, phallic jokes are routine, and nude male pinups are the rule. During my 17 years in the work force, I've seen exactly one nude pinup, and it was of a nude woman and posted in a woman's office.

10:04 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a consultant, I visit many offices, large and small, and contrary to what I've been reading, there is a lot of "touching" going on.

10:09 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It all comes down to a lack of respect for the other human being, regardless of sex. Although I'm a woman, I will agree that yes, I've seen women abuse this "free pass" before and it's not at all becoming. My husband came home very disturbed one day about an event that happened to him at work. Some woman who was new there, and who he didn't know from Eve, came up to him, propositioned him and was rubbing all over him. He didn't go to HR "because men just don't do that." I don't think they should feel that way about it. If a woman's violating your personal space, forcefully tell her to back off and then contact HR. Telling her he was married didn't seem to phase her at all. After that, he was gun-shy of her. If he saw her coming from one direction, he'd go the other.

10:15 AM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger paul a'barge said...

I don't want to go to HR.

I want to go back to the old days when we could tell jokes about women and grab their butts without consequence.

If a female superior wants to rub my back, why not? Why can't I suggest that she keep rubbing, but do it "a little bit lower ... even lower"?

Sounds pretty good to me.

10:27 AM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Jami Hussein said...

I've had a similar experience when I worked at a university teaching hospital. One of the administrators was a skinny redhead who was like Katie Couric. One minute she acts like a highly paid executive in charge, the next minute she's whining the women-are-victims feminist dogma. Even in the 1980's I knew enough to never touch anyone at work. But Red was constantly laying her hands on me, grabbing my arm to see if I'd 'flex', grabbing my coffee cup to drink out of it and then handing it back to me. Frankly I did not want her attention but could do nothing about it as she was the boss's favorite.

She was constantly playing games with the men at work, one minute trying to entice them to come closer and then complaining if any of them followed up on her signals. One minute she'd sit in her office chair, spread legged like Sharon Stone, flashing her panties. But if anyone looked she'd act the victim. I think she played this game for leverage. Even the other women in the office were scared of her, especially the lower ranking secretarial staff. In the staffing cutbacks I was cut loose but she's still there.

''women are[...] self-righteous, hypocritical, petty, vindictive, manipulative and teacherous.'' I've come to think this is true of most people in management. But a little more common among women than men.

10:34 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vinnie wrote: "Men going to HR sort of goes against the way some of us were raised. do the job, deal with the B.S."

Then tmink added:
Part of what gives us pride as [a confident capable person] is that we are tough and willing to suffer for what we believe in [i.e. being evaluated on our job product rather than office relationships], or to provide for our family. ......So we say "Big deal, who cares" about the stuff that does not break our arms. "

"[An employee] will only go to the "proper authorities" when they believe that doing so isn't positively dangerous to their careers and/or social reputations"

I'm an engineer, so I'm surrounded by men. Some of the men have the anti-feminist attitude displayed by some commenters on this blog. Add the defense industry.

I don't play golf. I don't have a stay-at-home spouse.

For me to go to HR would be a career killer, even though my last team lead was verbally harassing all the teammates.


10:44 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The entrenched secretary network in the civil service is very capable of gamesmanship should they not like someone. A boss tried to have a male admin staff in the early 90s; didn't last long.

In one organization, certain 'ladies' on the security clearance staff play these types of games.

Most of the support-staff ladies are nice; it's just the few you learn to avoid or deal carefully with. Same with certain guys in the engineering/production staff.

This is not gender stuff, it's just normal high-school-ish cliques.


10:47 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting conversation. Obviously a lot of anger from men who are 'forced' to suck it up. I don't think it's fair and I see it a lot at my workplace.

I'm a female and I HATE to be touched by anyone who isn't a relative. And even some relatives. But I also let everyone know that and no one tries to give me hugs or back rubs. *shudder*

It's a respect issue. Men and women should be more respectful. Women are taught (and the media urges) to see men as stupid, bafoonish, and less important than women. Watch any sitcom...the father or any other man is generally an idiot. Give me Jack Bauer any day.

I had a boss when I worked for the state (I was 19) who told me I should wear skirts and more makeup. I just laughed. I could care less what he thought. I didn't run to HR to boo hoo and complain.

So everyone just suck it up and do your job and we'd all be much happier. :)

11:20 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sick to death of women. The feminization of our culture was needed - up to a point - back when women were discriminated against and the culture was unfairly dominated by men. But the pendulum has swung way too far, and now we're living in a world where masculinity in all its forms is regarded as an anti-social disease, from boyhood onwards. No wonder there's push-back. (And no wonder guys like me express misogynist sentiments like the one above.)

11:43 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I had a boss when I worked for the state (I was 19) who told me I should wear skirts and more makeup."


Some women today wouldn't see that as a rude comment from a dolt, they would see it as a suffocating steamroller of oppression that intends to subjugate women. Thus starts an epic battle in which they are cast in the role of heroine for all that is good and right.

Or something like that.

Plus, if they're on their quash-oppression trip, they don't have to do much of that boring "work" stuff in the office - the company wouldn't dare fire them while they have complaint(s) running in HR, especially for sexual harassment.

Maybe the Lifetime channel should do a series on these profiles in courage.

11:44 AM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, let's get back to the days when men were in charge. I've had it with these crazy women starting wars and whatnot. We should line them all up and kill them. No more women!!!

12:33 PM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Hey, not all of us HR types are whiny feminists.

You know why we do the things we do? Ask the federal government. If I don't follow procedures on every complaint--rational or irrational--and that person goes to the EEOC or the OFCCP we can get audited and that can lead to real trouble.

We have sexual harassment training because that makes us less liable if an employee does something stupid. We have diversity training for the same reasons.

HR people are not the "mommies" of the company.

12:37 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm just naturally rude. I recommend punching someone (lightly) or slapping (for the ladies). If they complain, stare at them coldly, and say "Assault is illegal."

As I understand it, if you touch someone without permission, that's a crime. And you're entitled to defend yourself with somewhat disproportionate force.

If you're feeling nice, just growl at them. And no, never apologize.

Of course, this might not help you climb the corporate ladder, but I'm not wholly convinced of the virtue of that anyways.

BTW, in line with this philosophy of not having to deal with jerks, I completely understand Dr. Helen's decisions on banning anon. comments. And I say that as an anon. commenter.


12:43 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evil HR Lady makes a very good point regarding liability & gov. regulations.

But I still find a guiding princple of business life to be "Human Resources is not your friend."

They work in the companies' interest, not in the interest of the employee.

12:46 PM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Joe said...

I've been lucky. I work as a software engineer and almost all the women I've worked with have had even less tolerance for other women getting "free passes" than the men.

At one company, we had sensitivity training. There were several women in my group. One was a die hard feminist who started railing on men (and even claimed it was impossible for a woman to be sexist.) The funny part is that the other women in the group verbally tore her to pieces. They said things few men would have dared say.

12:51 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question for "evil HR lady"

My company uses a sexual harassment training video that, based on the clothing, is at least 10 years old. Is that acceptable?

Proposition: The use of this old old video perpetuates negative feelings by men that Harassment Training is about women taking power from them and being able to falsely accuse them. An improvement would be a newer video, with more gender neutral commentary and with examples for both genders, preferably examples from court cases not goofy made-up actor-actress scenarios.

Even better, instead of sexism indoctrination (and racism/diversity indoctrination), a generic harassment video would comment on a desire to achieve a productive workplace culture. It would promote merit-based performance evaluations, and a-priori explain the process should you receive a counseling that you consider unfair/arbitrary (harassment via the HR system). The video would discuss how/when to take an issue up the performance chain (your boss and/or your bosses' boss) versus with Human Resources (or IG). The cultural intimidation to not use HR/IG is huge.

Is the current training old, and thus perpetuating an us-vs-them problem? Would newer videos/training help; and what should be in them?

12:55 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, speaking of the "women are victims, men are bastards" view of the world, am I the only who can't stand listening to Mrs. Obama for precisely this reason? Can someone tell her that alienating half the voters isn't doing her husband any good. (Like she cares, according to her he's a lazy no good son-of-a-bitch but a great guy at the same time.)

12:56 PM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger 64 said...

I was at a party at an all-female college. They had a rule against smoking in the dance hall, and when I handed an unlit cigarette to a lovely lady who requested one (my last one), some chick on a power trip (she had some kind of badge, like Hall Monitor) snatched it away. I saw her dancing with friends and placed my hand on her shoulder and kindly asked if I could get my cigarette back. All of a sudden she flew into a rage, you can't touch me, blah blah, ROTC guys are coming over to defend her, etc.

Later I was told by many of the students that she was a well known bitch.

1:03 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many of these problems begin in childhood? Most boys are taught to at least some extent that with power comes responsibility and a need to act decently toward those who are at your mercy or need your help. Such teaching seems less common with girls--morality for girls traditionally focused on sexual matters, and that's largely disappeared with nothing much to take its place.

And what's with all this "princess" stuff--have little girls ALWAYS been encouraged to think of themselves as little princesses? Is a princess a good role model?

2:14 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone here ever dealt with female nurses in an ER? The absolute worst at male-bashing, lewd talk, and mean-spirited behavior. If a male tries to interact with a female patient he's watched like a hawk, and if you dare speak to one under 18 you're in trouble (even if it's part of your job) but they'll stick a foley catheter in a guy without blinking an eye, fast, hard, and laughing while they do it.

Equality my ass.

3:14 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Returning to the actual incident that inspired this post, forget the sexual harrassment issues and speculation about the genders being reversed. Consider instead if the genders were the same. Would Couric ever slap a female editor like that? If she had, wouldn't it just be simple assault? Likewise, if a male boss struck a male employee, he would probably get in trouble. What makes it "permissible" in this case is that women are supposed to be frail harmless little creatures and men are supposed to be strong, stoic, and able to take it. Katie couldn't possibly really hurt him, after all. But what if the woman is built like Venus Williams and the man is built like Pee Wee Herman? Would she still get away with it?

4:00 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of blogger here, I think we all ought to be calling CBS News in NYC and demanding that she resign.



4:28 PM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Anon 2:14 - Only the kind that occurs in A Little Princess.

6:08 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we need to call CBS News and offer synonyms for the word "sputum." My suggestion will be "loogies."

In Katie's case, as in all cases everywhere, we need to address the root causes of violence.

6:10 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I've said this before. To alleviate the problems associated with equality, if you will, there are no women in our office. No secretaries, male or female. We all handle whatever needs to be handled. When the phone rings, whoever isn't already on the phone, answers it. Lower, middle, or upper management. Period.

We get an awful lot of work done, and if you slam the copy machine lid on your fingers, you don't have to be concerned about what comes out of your mouth.

In the work place, it's all about work. You can handle it, you can stay. You can't, we have to get someone else. HR? That's a home run and has no other meaning where I work.

We don't have any problems. However, there are probably a million people who would like to change that.

7:11 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how helpful you can really be to your clients, male or female, when every post of yours screams self-hatred, along with a hatred for the entire female gender. A specialty in men's issues is a fine thing, but how can you possibly be helping these men do anything but blame women for all their problems? I just picture every man coming to you for therapy ending up divorced, bitter and self-righteous.

8:18 PM, July 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:18, start a blog then. I'll drop by to see what gives.

So far, you're like a tree hugger in the woods. You've brought nothing, left nothing, and taken nothing.

8:53 PM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Cincinnatus said...

"But what if the woman is built like Venus Williams and the man is built like Pee Wee Herman? Would she still get away with it?"

Dear God, tell me where I can watch the video. ;D

10:31 PM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

The "good ole girl" stuff is bothersome and there are those, male and female, that always find ways to take advantage of situations to make life miserable for others. Under current conditions, the rules favor the females, thus they can more easily spread misery.

What really irks me is how the company where I work falls all over itself coddling females while denying the same "rights" to males. A prime example is non-traditional schedules. In excess of 20 women (out of about 100 to 150 full-time employees) have work schedules that allow them to work at home, quit at 3:30 PM when the kids come home from school, etc. Males that have requested such schedules have been told a flat "No."

When every function of your job can be performed equally well via tele-commuting, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that men's desires to be there for there kids don't count but women's do.

As other commenters have stated, going to HR would be a joke and threaten one's career. At the first opportunity, you would be looking for a job.

The non-discrimination statement in the equal opportunity statement only goes one way.

10:44 PM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Why do so many people believe that a male has no right to make valid complaints? Is that not a part of equality?

It would seem not. For a male to make a valid complaint, seems to many people, to be an attempt to harm all females. Why?

I do not get it and never have. A similar thing goes for any female who says males have the right to make valid complaints: These women must hate other women, at least to a solid number of people. Why?

I don't get that either.

Lastly, there's the males must 'suck it up' crowd. They too reject equality and decency. Why? I don't get that either.

4:41 AM, July 12, 2007  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Judge Crater said...
But I still find a guiding princple of business life to be "Human Resources is not your friend."

They work in the companies' interest, not in the interest of the employee.

That's one of the common misconceptions about HR. My loyalty is to the company. I firmly believe that treating employees correctly is financially responsible for companies, so that is helpful to the company. But, if you are a bad employee, I'm going to help you "leave" one way or another.

8:19 AM, July 12, 2007  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Anonymous at 12:55--I'd have to see the video. I hate perpetuating stereotypes as well.

Keep in mind that those things are expensive so there may be cost concerns as well.

8:20 AM, July 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those men who think the system is supportive of women who file complaints, please see the scene is "Disclosure" when Michael Douglas' character tells his wife that he has filed a complaint.

"Sexual harassment is the theme, but here it is the man who is harassed by his new female boss."

When Douglas' character, Tom Sanders, tells his wife, she is aghast. You don't go to HR; you deal with it inter-personally. Anyone unable to deal with people shouldn't expect to get promotions into management. Both Tom Sanders and Meridith Johnson (Demi Moore) then each use the HR process, but really there is a bigger game behind the scenes. The HR complaint process is just a new element of that 'competition among the managers' game. Some managers play more ethically than others, both in work production and in the HR element.

10:30 AM, July 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There's a manager where I work, a woman, who demonstrates an unnatural need to give back massages to the men in the department..."

Here is a suggestion. I read this is an article about 10 years ago, when I was early in my career and trying to anticipate what I might do in a situation. I've never had to use it, but it was from an actual situation:

Summarizing the article from memory:
A male manager was well liked in the office. However, he was a huggy-touchy type person by nature. He had a habit of touching when he talked to you -- placing a hand on the shoulder, back, butt -- which he thought was a friendly caring gesture.

Some of the women in the office were comfortable with this gesture, and asked other women what to do; i.e. how to let the Manager know it was inappropriate and not appreciated but in a friendly, sincere, non-threatening way. Instead of a direct confrontation, they decided to let the Male Manager know that his style could use amending in a casual way: with a little bit of shame and also some humor.

They all agreed to begin saying something when touched. So starting at the beginning of the work week, each time he touch an employee, they would create a mini-scene:
- Oh, excuse me, your touch surprised me. Let's move a couple steps over here where the cubicle aisle's not so crowded. Your comment about the work was really on target. You were saying...
- Yes, I would get that report done by...oh, you startled me. Here, hold this report. Review slide 9 in your office later and you'll see what I mean about the financial analysis.

The startle reaction scenes went on for a few days. Then the Male Manager quizzically sought out a female trusted colleague in the office to ask what was going on. Once he understood, he was more conscientous about being aware of his gestures; and adjusting them for individuals' comfort levels. The ladies in the office were able to call attention to the unwanted behavior in a way that did NOT put the male manager on the defensive, but rather in a way that he was emotionally open to change and retained the good elements of office morale.


For the woman giving back-rubs:
- Ouch, I got a sunburn there. Please don't touch.
- Yikes, you startled me touching me from behind like that. (Worse case, with a witness preferably: elbow goes back but stops short of hitting here by two inches: "Never touch me from behind please. I practiced martial arts for a time as a hobby, and you're risky catchy a reflex reaction." Witness chimes in, supportive of the elbow. "Yes, man. Don't do that. He almost got me the other day. Gotta admire his disciplined training that he stopped himself. My college roommates were in ROTC, and use to play 'gotcha' games in our apartment. I have a reflex reaction too.")
- Mamm, please don't do that. My girlfriend is the jealous type. Wouldn't want a Fatal Attraction moment now, would we.

10:55 AM, July 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For outside the office, I added a comment to the discussion with "Girl" on rude partying behavior.


11:36 AM, July 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

evil HR lady: Thank you for the comments. I do respect what you do.

A friend had to use you/HR to defend himself against false accusation. This was false negative allegations on his performance by mid-level managers who had an ego grudge.

"That's one of the common misconceptions about HR. My loyalty is to the company. I firmly believe that treating employees correctly is financially responsible for companies, so that is helpful to the company. But, if you are a bad employee, I'm going to help you "leave" one way or another. "

Yep, once HR is involved someone is going to end up leaving. The better performer is not always the one who ends up leaving, but HR is not an impartial judge: benefit of the doubt is to the managers.

I brought to HR that my team lead had cut my Monthly Report inputs and replaced them with a lie: something in research actually done 2 years ago. Her answer: the managers are aware of that "T", my team lead, was a problem and were giving him training. But our supervisor was new to being a supervisor; non-technical so he bought into "T"'s mispresenations of my work; and, over the next three months, the team lead manipulated the research into a claim that the work was no longer "suitable" for my skills.

I'll get the last laugh, sorta, since my co-workers all have their resumes on the street and the projects continue their downward trend.

Fortunately, we're a 2-earner household (and with a lot of savings, which is why I had the gumption to raise a concern to management about the team lead). But I was perceived as the complainer, especially since I also had asked questions about the timesheet versus the tasks (questionable stuff but technically not illegal). Two items that I'd expressed concern (complained?) were proven right when problems occurred 2-3 months later. The manager didn't want me around because I'd shown, via email documentation, I was right and he could not counsel me for poor performance. So, conveniently, there was no longer "suitable work" for me.

Life is too short to file a complaint on it, and dwell in my emotional hurt/anger over the situation. I expect to have a new job soon, as interviews wrap up into job offers. Eyes are more open about the egos of managers, and how to choose 'staying under the radar' versus how/when to raise concerns without becoming a target.

(Hat Tip for the link: a commenter on the blog "Durham in Wonderland". To read Nifong's testimony to his disbarment hearing helped remove my shock about the severity to which a team lead or manager may be willing to lie/distort to protect his own ego.)
P.S. Yes, I have an ego too, and have matured some through my recent experience. Being right, technically and strategically, does not always produce 'right' results. Ask Billy Mitchell or any number of whistleblowers. Some whistleblowers are right; some are just complainers who 'need to be encourage, through HR procedures, to leave'.

12:04 PM, July 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oop, correction:
The lesser performer is not always the one who ends up leaving.

The better performer is not always the one who ends up staying.

12:05 PM, July 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Workplace bullies abound. They can be, and are, of either sex. They can, and do, prey on either sex. It is usually because they are afraid of their target's abilities, and their own lack there of.

I've been through it before, so have millions more, is my guess.
The hardest thing for me was to keep my balled up fists in my pocket, and off the bully's face.

You cannot help becoming a target at times, but it is up to oneself not to become a victim.

12:52 PM, July 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another story Katie probably won't do.

3:28 PM, July 12, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

anon 10.30, your mention of a "FILM" is interesting, the proof of your comment is a semi fictionalised if not fully fictional film.. so thats proof then.

what about life of brian, is that "truth", what about other films are they the "truth".

there is a vast pro woman, pro family bias in the workplace. inequality.

5:34 AM, July 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need a pro-family bias. Pro-woman, not so much. The libertarian delusion that everything is only about you, and only your concerns are ever valid begs the question--why should I care about your concerns? And as a second step, if I think equality is not good for me, what then? There is either objective moral values which include caring about others, or their isn't. Either way, the sword cuts you.


10:27 PM, July 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a retired airline pilot. When I started in aviation it was an all male affair. For better or worse the cockpit was a a male bonding room. Rough language, of-color jokes, and the like were standard fare.

Then the women's sensitivity movement began. And so did the problems. Flight attendants would come to the cockpit to chat, take meal/drink orders or just get a quick respite from the passengers. Some were capable of telling jokes that would make a sailor blush. On the other hand, others would get upset if an off-color joke or swear word was used in their presence. Some harrassment chrges started to be filed. Things became a lot less relaxed. Whenever a flight attendant came to the cockpit we never knew quite what to expect. As a result we just sat there and kept our mouths shut. It made the atmosphere a lot less collegial.

Then the airlines started hiring women as pilots, and more problems arose. A captain had to be "gentle" when presenting constructive criticism to a female co-pilot. Most took it well, but a few filed suits for harrassment. Sensitivity training classes became standard.

Fortunately, I retired before any of the ladies became Captains, but I heard scuttlebutt about a few female Captains that were very difficult to fly with because they knew they could get away with just about anything. If a male co-pilot complained about their attitude all they had to do was accuse him of harrassment and he was toast.

This is not to say that women in the cockpit was a bad move. However, coupled with the "female empowerment movement," it changed things quite radically and certainly not favorably for men.

1:13 AM, July 14, 2007  
Blogger 1charlie2 said...

While I agree about the media bias, I've seen a lot of change in Corporate America.

I have to admit, our Sexual Harassment Prevention training (at a Really Big Bank) is top-notch in terms of equality. Offenders are split among hetero males, hetero females, homosexual males and homosexual females.

Similarly, our other EEOC training crosses all ethnic and religious boundaries.

Not saying the job doesn't SUCK sometimes, you understand. Just that there is no institutional bias in the training.

Same was true at my last job, at a Really Big Insurance Company. So I think the training, at least, is improving.

9:39 PM, July 17, 2007  
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