Saturday, November 22, 2008

Being harassed about sexual harassment training

Professor Alexander McPherson speaks up on the sham of sexual harassment training (via Reason):

Four years ago, the governor signed Assembly Bill 1825 into law, requiring all California employers with more than 50 people to provide sexual harassment training for each of their employees. The University of California raised no objection and submitted to its authority.

But I didn't. I am a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at UC Irvine, and I have consistently refused, on principle, to participate in the sexual harassment training that the state and my employers seem to think is so important....

I am not normally confrontational, so I sought to find a means to resolve the conflict. I proposed the following: I would take the training if the university would provide me with a brief, written statement absolving me of any suspicion, guilt or complicity regarding sexual harassment. I wanted any possible stigma removed. "Fulfilling this requirement," said the statement I asked them to approve, "in no way implies, suggests or indicates that the university currently has any reason to believe that Professor McPherson has ever sexually harassed any student or any person under his supervision during his 30-year career with the University of California"....

What's more, the state, acting through the university, is trying to coerce and bully me into doing something I find repugnant and offensive. I find it offensive not only because of the insinuations it carries and the potential stigma it implies, but also because I am being required to do it for political reasons. The fact is that there is a vocal political/cultural interest group promoting this silliness as part of a politically correct agenda that I don't particularly agree with.

Some of the hard-core commenters at Reason say the professor should comply--he signed up to work for the state and is a parasite, says one:

He is the one who chose to work for The State and make a living as a parasite. Work for the state- do what the state tells you.

This is ridiculous. The professor did not sign up for this crap 30 years ago when he took the job. Now due to political reasons and feminist dogma, he is supposed to attend training implying that all male professors are guilty of sexual harassment. Sure, women may have to attend the workshop too, but we all know who they're really talking to. I think the state has more obligation, not less, than private enterprise not to force workers to participate in politically charged training that they find offensive. Those who push this politically correct agenda should remember that what goes around comes around and they may one day find themselves being forced to do something they do not agree with or risk losing their job. Then, they will have no one to blame but themselves.


Blogger Trust said...

I do find it amusing how self-proclaimed pillars of tolerance are some of the most intolerant people you'll ever encounter.

Shows how ridiculous things have gotten when we need training in order to teach people that they will get fired if they do things like tell employees they will only get promoted if they have sex with them.

11:30 AM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Melissa said...

I had to attend one of these when I was in undergrad (because I worked part-time for the university computer lab and the university insisted that all university employees do so), and it really wasn't so bad. Oh, sure, it was dull and silly and a waste of time, but what work-related meeting isn't?

If there was anything in it that was insulting to men, I didn't catch it, and I never heard complaints about it from my male friends. Mostly it just discussed some common issues and how to report them if they come up.

Of course, this was Tennessee, not California, so the program referred to here may be completely different- or it may not be. The professor gave us no information that would allow us to determine either way, and did not appear to have made any investigation as to the actual content of this program (other than what he had heard from a few friends- who I'm sure knew his opinion on it from the start).

I say, either attend the program or get a detailed description of the contents (from a neutral source), and, if he finds specific elements that are insulting, demeaning, or what have you, then protest. Don't just assume.

12:34 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

For men sexual harassment training is a form of sexual harassment as the overall point is that men are a problem.

12:47 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

Since my experience (50 years worth) is that men are most often the harassers and the damage done can cause severe and long lasting damage to an organization a little training on what not to say and do is probably a good thing. If you are offended by some element of the content, as I was, say so, as I did. Maybe the trainer doesn't understand that something they say may be offensive to someone like me who spent my whole working life behaving in a professional manner.

12:55 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Lester Hunt said...

I agree with Glenn: There is nothing perse wrong with sexual harassment training, and it can even do some good. Nonetheless, a conscientious objector like McPherson should be left alone. Wise administrators would let him go his own way.

1:17 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger fivewheels said...

the problem with sexual harassment training is that I imagine it generally is not conducted by sensible people with sensible advice. No, it's conducted by the kind of person who would get into the business of giving sexual harassment training for a living. What kind of person do you suppose would do that?

The kind I had to deal with told us that you couldn't do or say anything that a co-worker would take offense to. When I asked who would determine what was offensive, she said, "The offended party." I asked, So I asked, "If someone you don't know tells you after the fact that wearing a red tie makes them uncomfortable, their standard of offense is automatically accepted and I'm guilty?"

Her answer was, "Yes, but you wouldn't necessarily be fired. There are many levels of discipline."

Well, OK then.

1:39 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

There is nothing perse wrong with sexual harassment training

I disagree. Businesses have no right to engage in this sort of indoctrination, regardless of whether you agree with the content. I suspect this would be more obvious to you if the content was different.

Maybe the trainer doesn't understand that something they say may be offensive to someone like me who spent my whole working life behaving in a professional manner.


1:42 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger BobH said...


Does "behaving in a professional manner" include dressing professionally? Where I work there are a fair number of female college interns who like to dress "attractively", i.e., in clothes that are very often too short and too tight. This isn't in Hollywood; it's in a large engineering department where 95% of the men are too old to be of interest and/or married.

FWIW, anthropologists call these women's behavior "broadcast flirting". The problem is that flirter loses control of who receives the flirtation and, if the flirter is really good, he/she typically attracts far too many people. The behavior that this necessitates has resulted in broadcast flirting also being called "bait and bash". This type of behavior is the norm in bars and understandable on college campuses, but why should men have to put up with it at work?

I have, in the past, walked into the Human Resources department and asked the question: How short does a miniskirt have to be before it is considered sexual harassment? That stunt didn't have the desired effect and it certainly didn't do my career any good.

1:50 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

The easiest way to solve this problem is for men to start suing companies and organizations for the most insignificant comment or suggestive action. The problem with sexual harassment is not that men are assumed to be guilty. The problem is that men don't sue enough. If men started suing en masse then these laws would either go away or be enforced in a different manner.

For example, if men started suing when women talked about their birthday parties or their periods, companies and courts would think twice about their policies. If men started suing when women went to work with their top button unbuttoned, companies and courts would think twice about their policies.

So again, the answer to this problem is not for men to fight these policies, but for men to embrace them whole-heartedly and turn them on women. Only then will women as a whole recognize that these policies are crap and ought to be revisited.

1:58 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

The people at Reason are mostly "lifestyle libertarians". I would not expect to find any serious opposition to the state there, except when the state interferes with their drug of choice.

2:00 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

So again, the answer to this problem is not for men to fight these policies, but for men to embrace them whole-heartedly and turn them on women.

There's some logic to that, even though we all know that such law suits would get exactly nowhere and would ruin the careers of the men bringing them. But rubbing the hypocrisy of the situation in peoples faces might be a worthwhile exercise on its own.

2:05 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Johnny$ said...

J. Bowen @1:58 PM

You are a genius!

2:25 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Jerub-Baal said...

Interestingly enough, I worked for several years for a major HR law book publisher. After that, I worked for a neat little start-up (about 175 people). I was a conservative guy in my mid-40s, with a family. The great majority of the new-hires group I was trained with were women fresh out of University. During the sexual harassment training, I happened to be sitting right next to the instructor (the head of HR). She went through the list of things, "Could this be harassment? Could this? Could this?" and I quietly replied to everything, so that only she could hear, "Yes." As the questions intruded more and more into the private sphere, more and more of the group replied "No, no way!" The questions finally ended with something like "You're at a bar, and a married couple from work also happens to be there, and you see them kissing, could that be harassment?" [or something equally far-fetched] and everyone said "No!" with some indignation, except for me, who quietly said, "Yep, of course."

The HR director stopped, looked at me, and asked, "You've done this before?" When I told her the publisher I had worked for, she said "Oh, that makes sense." and went back to the training.

What struck me, was that (in Massachusetts, no less) the majority of young folks just out of college, who you would assume would have the most aggressive attitude on the subject, really didn't understand how intrusive the law was. They were much more taken aback by the subject than I was.

2:39 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Maybe J. Bowen has a good idea. The only place I worked where I thought sexual harassment was a problem was a mental health center and women were the greatest offenders. The woman who was the greatest offender later became the president of the mental health society of that city. That goes back to the point fivewheels made about the type of people who conduct sexual harassment training. Many of mental health professionals with an agenda.

BTW - fivewheels, a blogger in the Knoxville area used to use the "OK then." phrase a lot.

2:40 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger iconoclast said...

It's not totally clear to what extent McPherson is objecting to the imposition of the training IN AN ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT versus to what extent he is objecting to it as a general matter. Would he, for example, object to similar training being required of blue-collar workers in a steel mill?

Not saying he wouldn't, just wondering.

2:48 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger fivewheels said...

"Sensitivity training" is also probably the one non-academia job on earth that you can get with a women's studies degree. And that's likely a large reason such a thing exists at all.

2:50 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Factory said...

I always wondered what a women's studies degree qualified you for....

Sexual harrassment law, among other social customs, are designed to place men in a characterization of the "barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen" stereotype of the '50s woman. Along with such things as overly draconian rape laws, sexual harassment laws have succeeded in criminalizing normal male flirtation/mating behaviour, while attempting to "empower" women's choices in these areas. Men must be "chaste" and moreover "submissive", women must be the aggressor (and I hate to say it, but straight women SUCK at being the aggressor).

This is why women tend to not object to the same things men object to in these areas.

So, I agree wholeheartedly that men should embrace these laws with open, loving arms. Men should press lawsuits whenever possible. Hell, maybe we can even cause a "wave of firings" like happened in the early 90's, only women will lose out this time, not men.

Maybe then women will wake up to what they're doing.

3:50 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger fivewheels said...

Maybe I should admit that I don't quite wholeheartedly approve of the professor's particular strategy here. Clearly, my own strategy was to go to the training and challenge the instructor -- which also accomplished nothing but was kind of fun.

But when I read the LAT story, I left a ocmment there that I will paraphrase here: People there are saying that he should just suck it up and deal with what his supervisors are telling him to deal with, and that it's stupid for him to be offended by the possible implication that taking the training is some kind of accusation that he needs it or has committed harassment.

Would any of the people saying this tell a woman complaining of "hostile work environment" that she should suck it up, deal with what everyone else deals with, and that it's stupid to be offended by whatever she's offended by? That's exactly what the training says you can't do.

4:10 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

There's some logic to that, even though we all know that such law suits would get exactly nowhere and would ruin the careers of the men bringing them.

These laws didn't get to be so all-encompassing overnight. When they were originally passed, they had specific meanings. It was the constant reinterpretations and adjustments that made these laws so oppressive.

But rubbing the hypocrisy of the situation in peoples faces might be a worthwhile exercise on its own.

You'd at least have the opportunity to get a hefty settlement or judgment out of the whole ordeal, even if your effort didn't lead to more widespread actions.

The problem, as I see it, is the culture that places a premium on hard-work and individualism. We need to fight for a more victimist attitude. We need to stand up against the people who say that looking for handouts and engaging in fraudulent behavior is immoral and the mark of bad character. We need to raise our boys to be more like those women who use their gender as a weapon. We need to raise them to be the next victims who will be able to take advantage of well-intended, though horribly misguided, laws.

Okay, even I couldn't type that with a straight face.

4:14 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

Maybe I lived a sheltered existence in my working life but I did see in two cases the devastating effect that false accusations of sexual harrassment had on the careers of fellow employees. And I did see actual cases of harrassment have serious effects on company morale and on labor relations in the company. Anyone who classifies training as to what you can or cannot say or do in a particular situation as indoctrination without examining the content of the training probably has no business managing people. And anyone who sits in a training session conducted by someone who is only interested in male bashing without politely objecting isn't being professional. the business or gov't entity you work for is presenting these classes in order to comply with a state law. That law, like it or not was passed by legislators elected by a majority of the voters. Since in California I am often, almost always, in the minority I don't like having to go to these training sessions. Our sessions were conducted by a well respected local attorney who specialized in harassment cases, he laid out the provisions of the law and how they applied to actual cases. And yes, behaving in a professional manner does include dress. My company had a dress code, it applied to salaried and hourly employees. It was documented and enforced and resulted from a young lady wearing very revealing attire to work and complaining when male employees asked her out for a "drink" after work. Point is behaving in a professional manner at work isn't all that hard. And if you don't know how to do it maybe some training, even if you object, isn't a bad thing. Check you ego at the door and go listen, you might actually learn something.

4:16 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

When I worked at UMB, the women wire operators and secretarial staff were dressing very openly; tight dresses, opened at top and very caustic if any men looked at them. A group of some twenty men went to HR and complained about their dress. The women were incredibly pissed when a new book of dress rules came out.

As I told a female coworker at the time "If it ain't meat in a display case, don't shrink wrap it." She agreed.

Glenn -- "And if you don't know how to do it maybe some training, ... isn't a bad thing."

So send those that don't know how to it, not every damned body.

4:21 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

"As I told a female coworker at the time "If it ain't meat in a display case, don't shrink wrap it." She agreed. So send those that don't know how to it, not every damned body."

Don't take this personally but if you really made that remark in our jurisdiction you might get away with it once because of the "one bite of the apple" principle. If you say it twice and the female co-worker complains it's going to be a long day with the HR folks. And you have to send everybody, because if you don't you'll get in trouble for being inconsistent. And worst case someone like you who doesn't "need to go" offends and the offended party gets a lawyer and in deposition the lawyer asks "So Mr. HR manager for XYZ corp, did every employee get trained?" Answer "no" Question, "Who didn't?" Answer "The accused employee" Question, Why not? Answer, "Because he said he didn't need to go" I hope you see where this is going. And believe me I don't like it any better than anybody else, All the BS we went through in my company, reputations sullied, people not speaking out because they'ed been told "The company doesn't care, they won't do anything" Sexual harrassment ain't beanbag. people and organizations really get hurt because a few of us will behave badly or try to gain by lying about someone else.

4:48 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger gs said...

Per Helen's Reason link, McPherson's first sentence is factually wrong. The 2004 California law requires employers to provide training for supervisors, not for "each of their employees".

If I'd made a mistake like that back when I wrote up my graduate research for publication, my advisor would have had my ass--and rightly so.

What little I know about the situation puts me on McPherson's side, but it's a good thing he didn't debate a knowledgeable opponent.

4:55 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

what he signed up for 30 years ago is now obsolete! Does he expect the pay he signed up for 30 years ago? In fact, my wife must from time to time handle such cases of sexual misconduct from time to time at her large place of work and there are a number of cases in which women are the ones "accused." Interestingly, most of the stuff is not sexual as we usually mean it. But many people simply don't know what can and can not bring an institution into a legal mess in court, so, therefore, the employer has every right to make sure the place stays as court-free as possible Object? Open your own place.

5:00 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

While I was in graduate school the school's HR folks came over for our sexual harassment training. Things went fine till they got to the hostile environment part. The lady doing the training said that a hostil environment only had to exist in the mind of the victim.

We really piled on her talking about PTSD patients and borderline personality disordered people whose entire life is a hostile environment. To her credit, she took it well, but I doubt that the policy wording was changed.

Unhealthy people see hostile environments everywhere they go. Sheesh, just look at some of the moonbat comments on this blog!


5:28 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Nom dePlume said...

I have to say that the actual harassment training at my company this year was quite good. The instructor was cheerful and reasonable, and the content was all about what managers should look for, how to keep employees and the company out of trouble, what to do if someone raises a complaint, and so forth. It was practical, and covered the entire spectrum of discriminatory and harassing behavior, not just the narrow realm of sexual harassment. All in all, it was a good class, and I have no complaints about it.

I think this is a case where "life is what you make of it." Companies typically pay a training firm to come in and give these classes. The person who puts out RFPs and reviews proposals has a responsiblity to vet the firms for the quality of work they provide. This is no different than contracting for any other service. So if your workplace gets a poor training class, find the person who selected the training firm, and complain.

5:40 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

Unhealthy people see hostile environments everywhere they go. Sheesh, just look at some of the moonbat comments on this blog!


5:50 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

Common sense will out. And did the good professor get his letter?. If he did I'd advise him to have plenty of witnesses when he talks to female co-workers and students.

5:56 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

"many people simply don't know what can and can not bring an institution into a legal mess in court"

The root of the problem is that a lot of things are legally actionable now which never were before, and should not be be now. Why are the courts involved in cases over injured feelings?

6:36 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

Sexual harrassment ain't beanbag. people

Perhaps not. But it really ought to be.

6:42 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

glenn --

I wasn't clear. The woman I said that to was sitting with me chatting about another woman who was shrink wrapped. We were friends and she agreed with me.

"Sexual harrassment ain't beanbag. people and organizations really get hurt because a few of us will behave badly or try to gain by lying about someone else."

Funny how the lying about someone else gets swept under the rug. People can and do use sexual harassment as a tool to wreak havoc on others through false accusation. The accused is the guilty party regardless of actual innocence (particularly and espcially if male). And, even if the accused is determined innocent by the support of co-workers, the accuser rarely gets any punishment. There's a dearth of 'classes' on not making false accusations.

I'm not talking about how things are, but how they should intelligently be. If someone isn't harassing someone else, it is axiomatic they don't need 'educating'.

6:46 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

"Anyone who classifies training as to what you can or cannot say or do in a particular situation as indoctrination without examining the content of the training probably has no business managing people."

I guess that's true, considering that you think that it's a managers job to tell people what they can say and do in terms of their interpersonal actions. But that being the case, it's pretty clear you have no business trying to tell people what "indoctrination" means. Here's the definition:

"Indoctrination is the process of inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology. It is often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned."

What's being discussed here is indoctrination, plain and simple. Not "management". Not unless we expect managers to assume the roles normally reserved for parents, and employees to like children.

6:53 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger fivewheels said...

The worst thing is, under the CYA rules at a lot of workplaces, it doesn't even take a lie to screw everything up. At a different company I worked at, we had multiple staff meetings, with lawyers being called in, and months of angst, because one person (see if you can guess if it was a man or woman) was claiming a hostile work environment because of audible swearing. No people swearing at that individual, just swearing near them. LIterally, in instances such as "Gaah! My $%&@! computer just crashed!" The man-hours we lost to that situation ... it was horrendous.

And all so someone could bully people. I'm certain the occasional f-word was not really the issue.

6:53 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

employees to BE like children

6:54 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger fivewheels said...

Hey, I don't want my employer to expect me to like children either! I like toddlers, but after that they they tend to annoy. =^)

7:09 PM, November 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is difficult to find a workplace this day and age where there are no women, no otherwise "oppressed" individuals. We are one person deep in almost every area. Leave your baggage at the door. Just do your job. Perform or hit the road. You know, it's actually refreshing. I consider myself extremely lucky. I own better than a half dozen variations of the red tie, and nobody cares.

7:56 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

Boy, there is a generation gap here, In my world and in the world of corporate governance under the LAW use of the f word has NO place in a business environment. bottom line; If you wouldn't say it to your elderly grandmother don't say it to a co-worker. And the argument about not signing up for something 30 years ago won't hold water either. I didn't sign up, when I took on environmental compliance for my company, to do all the paper work and attend all the continuing education classes and spend the time training other employees, that keeping my company in compliance with a host of rapidly changing and sometimes conflicting laws that some "environmental wacko" dreamed up required. But my job was to keep the company in compliance with current law. And that's what I did. The alternative was the company being fined and eventually my losing my job. And if you get your company on the wrong side of a sexual harassment suit that's what'll happen to you. And should.

7:56 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

glenn is big on "the LAW". Tough to have any sort of intelligible debate with such people.

"my job was to keep the company in compliance with current law."

Stop going on and on about your stupid bloody job for five minutes and think as an adult American citizen. Can you still remember what that means?

8:05 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Ern said...

I assume that Professor McPherson is, in fact, a full professor; specifically, a tenured professor. According to his account in the Los Angeles Times, he has been told, "if I didn't comply with the law, I would be placed on unpaid leave."

That's rather a contrast with what the University of Colorado had to do to rid itself of Ward Churchill for lying about his ancestry and claiming the research of others as his own, wouldn't you say?

8:07 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

Ah, personal insults, the last refuge of someone who is wrong on the issues, wrong on the law, and can't pound on the table 'cause it's the internet. And I "go on about my bloody job" because it's where I learned about sexual harassment training and that's the original subject of this post on this blog. Remember?

8:27 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger fivewheels said...

It is partly generational, but not entirely, because it is often younger women who have learned the lessons of how they can get away with this bullying.

I was not one of the parties accused in the swearing case. But I worked among them. And this was not a buttoned-down corporate environment, it was in a business where most people would probably reasonably expect some salty language. Not longshoremen, but in that ballpark. And after the meetings were held, people did watch their tongues. This did not mollify the complainer, who wanted retribution against those who were named, for actions that were not covered in any training. They never told us not to say "s---". What about "damn"? Is that enough for a lawsuit? What about dang-diddly-oodly? Who's to say? That's for the victim to decide.

This is part of what the professor (I hope) is getting at: Once you agree to play by their rules, well, you've agreed to those rules. And those rules say the complainant is always right, that if the woman says her feelings are hurt or affected in any way, the accused is ipso facto guilty. Offense is self-justifying, it's tautological, it can't be argued against.

He doesn't want to get in the game at all.

8:51 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

Five wheels is right and being right made my point about not using inapproiate language in the work environment. Another story for the young folks to show what can happen even with no bad intentions on anyones part. One of my friends worked for a utility company, not a buttoned down corporate environment, in the office there was a young lady, very smart, good worker, very outgoing and friendly. She got right in and dished with the guys, salty language, sexual connotations, the whole package. They told each other all the jokes they heard and she was right in the center of the action. After several years she met Mr Right, they got married, she continued to work. Mr right was a born again Christian, she became one, found Jesus and decided that all that bad language was wrong and more important it was a form of harassment. Now my friend was a little older and a lot wiser, he had never participated in any of the "office interaction" but he was named along with 5 or 6 other men as harassers because he hadn't objected to the language and content of the humor. All the men got letters in their personnel files. Common sense would tell you that if a certain behavior is tolerated over time and everyone regardless of sex is willingly participating no harm has been done. But the young lady got a settlement and participant or not the men got letters in their files. Of course it's not fair any more than it's fair to force a 30 year employee with an unblemished record to take any kind of training training but as JFK once famously said "Life's not fair" Get over it, you might learn something. And since it isn't fair, what are YOU going to do about it?

10:20 PM, November 22, 2008  
Blogger Michael Lee said...

I sexually harassed someone I never met, saw or knew who she was.

I worked at a software company as a tester. There was a "bug hotline" for important bugs. I'd called the hotline three days in a row to report a ship-stopping bug. No response.

Day 4: I left a message on the hotline, Hello? I've reported this 3 days in a row. If I have to sleep with someone to get this looked at, just tell me who.

Next thing I know, I'm in HR-land because I finally got the attention of the lazy woman who was supposed to process the calls.

I didn't know it was a woman who was supposed to process the calls. My sexist assumption was that it was probably a guy who might laugh and finally do something about this if I made a joke.

Foolish me, I should have known that even in the 95% male environment of software engineering, women are hired to answer the phones.

Long story short, I never found out who she was but I would be allowed to keep my job if I would profusely apologize in writing.

Sarcastic bastard that I am, I jumped at the chance and turned in 20 pages straight out of the McKinnon/Dworkin canon. I took responsibility, deadpan, for every male sin since and including the Rape of the Sabines.

Of course, this has had no impact on my willingness to mentor, help or socialize with women at work.

12:21 AM, November 23, 2008  
Blogger Cappy said...

Professor McPherson is doing the right thing by requesting the written statement. My experience with liberals in Domesitc Relations court is that once you've signed on to an apparently innocuous agreement you are on the hook legally for damages said liberals will inflict.

9:55 AM, November 23, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

Back to my original theme, never in the course of conducting business make statements, send e-mails or other written communications, or tell jokes that have sexual content. Ditto anything ethnic. Michael, I sympathize with you and what you did was really funny but see where it got you. And management reacted the way the did because the alternative was a complaint from the "offended' party to some state agency. If you think your HR dept put you through the ringer wait'll you go through a state audit.

10:39 AM, November 23, 2008  
Blogger Steve Bartin said...

It's time to separate education from state.Since,this will not happen soon: I suggest videotaping the whole event,if you can.Or better yet,show up with legal council to send an intimidating message to the state of California.

7:20 PM, November 23, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if it is a vindictive "payback" mindset that leads to these situations.

It appears people have forced their way in these days (via the courts, magazines, TV news) and seem to want to make men pay for the time they were "excluded". Left behind while the men went out for the hunt. I do firmly agree with the fact (having experienced it first hand) that some women dress rather provocatively and inappropriately in office environments, and almost dare you to look at them or say something. Or get pissed if you don't say something. Truly, it is better without them in an office environment at all. And of course it isn't all women. However, with no women in the office, there is no need for an HR department - usually run by a female - or sexual harassment training. Again, I feel very lucky in the work situation I am in. No women.

Many women seem to want in to everything male, but don't want men in anything considered female only. I have yet to see any male sportscasters in female locker rooms. I've gotten home early more than once only to interrupt a husband bashing fest in my own kitchen with my (now ex) wife and some of her friends, whose husbands were at least acquaintances of mine. You know something is up when you walk into a room with a table full of women in it and no one is talking, and no one will look at you. And of course, all the husbands were at work.

9:36 PM, November 23, 2008  
Blogger Micha Elyi said...

Today's lefties among the University of California professoriat still make much of their predecessors' refusal to take the loyalty oath that was once required by state law. My, how times have changed. Now the lefties are squealing in delight to impose loyalty oaths to feminist ideology on all U.C. staff, including fellow professors.

By the way, gents, be sure you pipe up and complain that women who arrive at the workplace wearing clothing typically seen in nightclubs are indulging in the sexual harassment of men. The red-tie example was so lame. Instead, point out that trampling on a man's libido is the female's sex-role counterpart behavior of fanny-patting. There is an important difference, though. A man can keep his hands to himself but Ms. Sexual-Display's clothing doesn't stop grabbing attention so she can keep on stomping on the libidos of every man around.

2:24 AM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger flambeaux said...

While I agree with the commenter who said that many Reasonite's are more concerned with pharmaceuticals than actual liberty, I have to agree with them. The professor took the king's shilling, and now he has to live with the consequences of that or find a new employer. Surely in California the writing was on the wall about this harassment business even 30 years ago...

8:37 AM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

Micah wrote: "Now the lefties are squealing in delight to impose loyalty oaths to feminist ideology"

Good observation.


9:32 AM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Hannibal Lecter's Evil Twin said...

I've been in the corporate workforce for--god, can it be?--30+ years now. I've mentored and helped women (and members of other minorities) many times just because they belonged to a group that had been on the short end of the stick for a long time.

I don't help like that anymore. Instead, I try my best to avoid business dealings with anyone in a protected group. At work, I have legal obligations that I follow to the letter. In my personal life, I won't hire PIGs (PIG = member of a Protected Interest Group).

I'm dismayed to find myself becoming rationally racist and sexist, just like the PIGs. Long years of experience with PIGs has changed me. At work, if I hire a PIG, especially a SOW (I'll leave it to the reader to populate that acronym), it's likely to cost the company much more than hiring a garden variety white male. But I do it anyway, knowing that it will cost even more to not take our fair share of PIGs.

Women are far more likely than men to bail on their careers after a few years--I've watched it happen time and time again. I'm talking 70% here who don't make it to 10 years before leaving the workforce.

It really is a waste to educate or train most women, as far as economic return on the investment goes. I've worked with and promoted some stellar women--but have to admit from long observation that they are the exception, not the new rule that the feminists promised us in return for putting up with their attitude and hairy armpits.

Women are also far more likely to take advantage of vapourous disabilities, at least in my white collar world. On nearly every floor in my company, there's a cubicle or three that's been empty for months because its intended occupant is on disability for something that cannot be objectively validated.

95% or more of the time, that phantom occupant is female. Actually, I can't remember a single time in my experience when it was a male, but I guess it must happen.

Typically, she was hired and worked lackadaisically for several months, then got depressed. She took her 3 months at 60%, then her year at 40% and then finally wandered off for good, so we could finally hire somebody to replace her. In the meantime, the men at work have to do her work while her headcount is in limbo.

I suppose there are plenty of men in blue collar jobs with "back pain" who are similar to these women morally and hypochondriacally, but not in near the same numbers.

If this post were traced back to me at work, I might get fired. I would never say what I'm saying here at work, though everyone knows it's true, including the lesbians who run HR (I'm not saying they're lesbians to insult them--they're loud and proud lesbians and they're large and in charge--that last was an insult, in case you're not sure what's descriptive and what's insulting.)

So why risk my career by posting here, even relatively anonymously? One of those lesbians could get in a vindictive snit and trace me back.

I actually like the thought of many large lesbians at many large companies being insulted enough to divert themselves from designing diversity posters to spend their time trying to catch a rat like me.

And what does this have to do with sexual harassment? I'm tired of being harassed, that's what.

12:12 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Twenty or so years ago they called this training: "Sexual Harassment training." I guess they realized that wasn't a great name; now it's "Prevention of Sexual Harassment training."

12:13 PM, November 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hannibal Lecter's Evil Twin:

That's pretty much how I see it (except the part about lesbians in HR, the common characteristic in my HR department is simply: stupidity).

I will likewise keep my mouth shut at work and just watch it all go by.

12:25 PM, November 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I think about it, I am probably very lucky to have a completely passive HR department. All they do is send out e-mails on birthdays, coordinate the various fund-raising drives and put up posters that demean white males in subtle ways. And they rotate in and out quick as the women find husbands so they can finally sit home.

12:27 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

So, Helen, whaddya think of the comments on this thread? Still think sexual harrassment training is just a form of indoctrination?

12:51 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger tomcal said...

Perhaps since blacks and latinos forn the overwhelming majority of California's prisons, all black and latino students should be require to take a "Behaviours to Avoid to Stay Out of Jail" class during freshman orientation.

12:55 PM, November 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You're a swell guy. I can just tell. Hero of all the downtrodden women.

1:22 PM, November 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even the way you say "whaddya think" - it's just how a real down-to-earth guy would talk.

1:23 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Joe said...

I've attended many sexual harassment meetings and find most of them to be a waste of time. However, to imagine that they aren't needed is naive. Two girlfriends of my 20-year-old daughter work at the same very large medical establishment and have been subjected to blatant sexual harassment. Worse, the man's manager, a woman, has covered for him. I advised the girls to get a lawyer and quick. I predict that after a simple letter to the employment lawyers at this company the shit will hit the fan as it should.

(Sexual harassment charges are too often just a weapon. Unfortunately, this masks and diminishes the genuine cases of sexual harassment which should be pursued.)

One more point: Too many HR departments at even large companies are staffed by people not trained to function effectively in that capacity. Far too many don't even know basic employment law. How they are expected to understand sexual harassment law, let alone give seminars on it is beyond me.

1:26 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

Not that this has anything to do with anything but a week ago a female friend of mine who works in a place that has sexual harassment training received an email from a male coworker through the company email system written during company hours suggesting in the most disgusting terms that the two of them get a hotel room where they could get together and have oral sex.

She forwarded the email to her boss, the boss forwarded it to HR, HR confronted this older male married employee who earned well into the 6 figures about what he wrote. His response? "I was just kidding".

He had "kidded" before with other female employees, and this time was not only fired but stripped of the very credentials that allowed to earn what he did. The man can't even collect unemployment compensation.

1:58 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger tomcal said...

Obviously if he had been forced to take a class, he would have not suffered such a fate...

2:13 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...


He took the class, everyone at the company took the class. The man knew what he was doing was wrong. Either he wanted to generate a self-created crisis or test whether he could get away with writing sexually explicit emails to this woman. If it was the former, he did a great job. If it was the latter, he was incorrect in his assumptions.

2:18 PM, November 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well that was certainly a fitting punishment for a sexually explicit e-mail (doesn't matter what the real deal was on the woman's side to prompt that) - if he now commits suicide, justice will be perfect.

Women have to be protected, because they are weak hothouse flowers.

But women also RULE! and they won again against this creepy white male.


2:21 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don't know as I've been given sexual-harassment training - but I've been given "sensitivity to my co-workers" training, and "sensitivity to racial minorities" training. Both bothered me - a lot.

But bosses don't care. "You all vill take this training, and you all vill enjoy it. And I guess, come the revolution, I will eat peaches and cream, and will like peaches and cream.

I'm glad I'm retired.

2:21 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...


I know this woman, she would have never done anything to prompt a sexual discussion in the work place. When it comes to her job she's all business. She doesn't dress suggestively, she adores her family, and she has a steady boyfriend. Other than having to deal with this man as a coworker, she had nothing to do with him.

And I know you didn't ask, but she feels horrible that he lost his job.

2:28 PM, November 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got out of the corporate scene decades ago and became self-employed. I couldn't stand the political crap in companies even back then. A lot of men are starting to do that: The men left in corporations are going to become more and more feminized and politically correct. Following all of the detailed behavioral rules is much more important today than innovation, carrying projects through to the end or ability.

It's surprising that the big US industrial companies (like auto companies) are still competitive on the world market with a bunch of politically correct yes men and women ... oh, wait ...

2:37 PM, November 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of you proponents of draconian sexual harassment punishments DO realize, don't you, that false accusations are very common?

They are much more common in certain sectors than others. But no one seems to figure that in here. I've seen it with my own eyes.

2:40 PM, November 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The leverage that can be obtained is sometimes just TOO tempting. And you really can get leverage (and money in a lot of cases).

Some of the big brokerage houses are now going the other way, though. The old idea was that a secretary gets fired, she cries sexual harassment and the brokerage house gives her a $10,000 "settlement" (cheaper than a lawyer).

That got around, though, and became all the rage (just like the Twist). So now the companies are fighting it.

2:43 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Quasimodo said...

I read a study once that claimed that the place with the most profane language on earth was the typical women's mental ward. I think I work in the place that finished second in the competition. The women are as bad as the men or worse. Needless to say no sensitivity trainer has ever darkened our doors.

My wife, on the other hand, worked in a large multi-culti institution and attended mandatory sensitivity training. Her take-away from those events: White + man = bad and Christian = suspect. The trainers knew only what they were prepared for and if a question came up for which they had not been trained themselves, they answered off the cuff and beclowned themselves giving very insensitive answers.

3:13 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

I was talking to Dr Helen. Butt out.

3:59 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...

Mary, Lydia, now glenn,

Why the fake names?

4:05 PM, November 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, would a man say "butt out"?

Cham, there are men who are walking sexual harassment cases waiting to happen. I had a boss like that at a prior job. He was promoted and moved to another office at corporate so he could be closely watched. He got fired for walking up behind all the women, putting his hands on their shoulders and peeping down their blouses. The guy was over 60, for crying out loud.

6:31 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

While I agree with the commenter who said that many Reasonite's are more concerned with pharmaceuticals than actual liberty, I have to agree with them. The professor took the king's shilling, and now he has to live with the consequences of that or find a new employer.

That does not strike me as a very libertarian thing to say, though I admit I'm not an expert. And looking over there I see several people saying that employees at private companies also have to "take the consequences".

Since this stuff is mandated by the state I'm not sure how anybody is supposed to "find a new employer" who does not engage in it.

6:36 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

I'm shocked! that glen is being dishonest with us. Seemed like such an upstanding sort.

6:39 PM, November 24, 2008  
Blogger glenn said...

When you're taking flack you know you're over the target. And BTW my real name is Glenn, I did have a 50+ year working life and I did see or participate in all the SH incidents I recounted. And I really believe that if your employer offers you any kind of training that is free to you you should take it. You might learn something. Or in the event that the trainer is one of those dumb twits who spout SH buzzwords and jargon, have a little fun. If you can't outsmart those folks you probably don't belong in a job where you have subordinates anyway. Look at it as an opportunity to practice your debating skills.

8:45 PM, November 25, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember the Kiran Chetry days of Fox and Friends in the mornings. There are web sites devoted to her with pictures taken off the tube. I suspect many watched her in the mornings waiting for the "bingo" moment. There were many, evidently.
Considering there is a monitor in front of the hosts (off camera) for them to see what they are doing, I submit she knew. Judging by the length of the skirts she wore, I submit she enjoyed it. I prefer people sitting behind desks while on TV.

One of the last females in our office was famous for the same thing. Well aware of her "bingo" moments, the flashing made it very difficult to work with her. Whenever the word "bingo" was heard in the office, we all knew what it meant. We were glad when she moved, and left the company. Although it took a while before one came in looking for the position and was accepted, she was replaced by a male.

8:19 AM, November 27, 2008  
Blogger Peter Dane said...

I always had a better solution.

One, when forced to take sexual harassment training, I did my level best - with all plausible deniability - to disrupt and make a mockery of the training, and to insure it was never really completed.

Two, I never dealt with a female co-worker or subordinate without a witness or a recording.

And the latter saved my ass twice.

"Be Professional" is a platitude, in that you trust the other person will be professional as well. In this day and age where false accusations are part of clearing the way to climb the corporate ladder, "Trust but verify" is much wiser.

8:31 AM, November 27, 2008  
Blogger Michael Lee said...

We spent Thanksgiving with very good liberal friends. At one point late in the day, the talk turned serious.

Long story short, a beloved father died a few years ago, under the cloud of accusations by his son of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. There were never any specifics, much less charges. The son has been in and out of jobs all his adult life, always treated unfairly and bizarrely. He's a mess.

But the charges stick. Because the kid is a mess, ironically. How did he get to be such a mess if dad didn't rape and beat him constantly? We now live in a world where the irrationality of the accuser is further proof.

I asked the question, How do people make this stuff up? I really don't know how I'd get started concocting such a story if it weren't true. That's probably why I'm not a novelist. And why I give undue credit to incredible accusations, as do most normal people.

It hit me suddenly that there is a significant percentage of the adult population who are natural and plausible liars and that false accusations of horrible things are probably used much more often as a weapon than normal people think.

If you're normal, you think that where there's smoke, there's fire. But that's wrong.

My only brush with this kind of insanity was in a divorce. My ex played the sexual abuse of my daughter card. I asked my lawyer about it, and he said I should lay low. He said if it gets out, you'll never live it down. I ignored my lawyer.

I went to everyone I knew that day and told them what my ex was saying about me. And I told my daughter too. Bad thing to do, to involve your kids in the divorce fight, so everyone says.

Lucky for me, my daughter was 14 at the time. Had she been 8, it might have turned out very bad for me. My daughter went nuts on her nuts mom, and quashed it all for me.

I know that most people accused of witchcraft do get burned. I was just lucky in circumstance.

Anyhow, we're supposed to have automatic sympathy and credulity for anyone who claims horrible things were done to them. But I now think most of them are full of crap and deserve our skepticism.

We normals don't realize how crazy certain other people can be, and how they take advantage of us to serve their nasty little agendas.

10:23 AM, November 29, 2008  
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