According to a new survey, a majority of male managers are uncomfortable working one-on-one with female subordinates.
CNBC has more:
Senior-level men also say they are 12 times more likely to be hesitant about one-on-one meetings with a junior woman than they are a junior man, nine times more likely to be hesitant to travel with a junior woman for work than a junior man, and six times more likely to be hesitant to have a work dinner with a junior woman than a junior man.
This news has been met with predictable finger-wagging by the finger-waggers on the Left. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, insists that it is “totally unacceptable” for men to feel uncomfortable. She concludes that women are the real victims of men’s discomfort: “Women already weren’t getting the same mentorship men were, particularly women of color … No one has ever gotten a promotion without getting a one-on-one meeting.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decided that the men in the survey are just having a “hard time” not being “creepy.”
Heidi Stevens at the Chicago Tribune offers some dismissive and sarcastic “pointers” for men in the workplace. Although it’s hard to take the pointers seriously, as she admits outright that she doesn’t understand the issue:
I’m confused about the root of these male managers’ discomfort. Do they not know how to interact with women in a way that doesn’t accidentally (or overtly) imply they’d like to sleep with them? Or do they worry that #MeToo has women going around, willy-nilly, making up stories of harassment and assaults that didn’t happen, and they can’t risk being the subject of such stories?
Despite her professed ignorance, she plugs along with some helpful pieces of advice anyway:
Don’t masturbate into potted plants, as Harvey Weinstein is alleged to have done.
Don’t have a secret button that locks your office door behind people, as Matt Lauer is alleged to have done.
Don’t send a bunch of gross, inappropriate texts to a direct report, as Kevin Quinn, a former staffer for House Speaker Michael Madigan, is alleged to have done.
Okay, don’t fornicate with the fauna and don’t have secret locking mechanisms installed in your office. Easy enough. By the latest count, approximately two men in the country have actually done those things. And she’s not done doling out advice:
Treat your female colleagues and subordinates the way you’d want to be treated by a male in power. Would you want him to tell you how nice you look in that suit? Would you want him to ask if you’re happy in your relationship? Would you want him to rest his hand lightly on your shoulder when he talks?
Talk to your female colleagues and subordinates about the same topics you talk to your male colleagues and subordinates about: The NBA Finals. Their kids’ summer break plans. The China tariffs. The weather. Your book club. Why the break room coffee is so bad. The profit-and-loss report that’s due later that day.
Actually, I have been told by men that I look good in my suit, and I have myself dispensed similar compliments to men. There is nothing strange or inappropriate about complimenting someone’s outfit. In many quarters of society, it’s considered polite.
Would I want a guy asking me how my marriage is going? Sure. Why not?
Would I want a guy resting his hand on my shoulder? No, not particularly, but I wouldn’t report it to HR, either. I prefer to avoid physical contact with everyone who isn’t my wife or my children, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been sexually harassed just because someone doesn’t respect my desire for a 30-foot radius of personal space.
It is recommended that we talk about the NBA Finals instead. But, wait, I thought sports lingo at work is “hidden sexism” that “reinforce[s] the idea that the workplace is (or should be) a man cave with water coolers.” I imagine the same could be claimed about any attempt to talk politics on the job. And their kids’ summer break plans? Book clubs? Won’t we be guilty of stereotypically assuming that the woman we’re conversing with has kids and cares about book clubs?
See, this is exactly the point. This is why men are uncomfortable talking to women at work. The rules change from moment to moment and person to person. Anything can be sexist. Anything can be construed as harassment. Maybe your female coworker is like Heidi Stevens and would love to discuss the NBA Finals. Maybe she’s more inclined to see such talk as “sexism” that “reinforces” a male-centric environment. We have no way of knowing, and it’s clear that the woman isn’t necessarily going to speak up. She may just suffer through the sexist conversational assault, seething silently that we have failed to read her mind, and then later use the incident to get us fired or worse.
The MeToo movement and feminism in general have made a few things clear: 1) Literally anything can be sexist harassment. It all depends on the woman’s feelings. 2) Women are not expected to speak up and let you know that they’re uncomfortable. They might wait a week or a month or 10 years. No matter how long they wait, and no matter how willingly they seemed to participate at the time, we still have to take their belated harassment complaints seriously. 3) “Believe women.” The woman’s version will be believed — must be believed — and the only thing the male offender is allowed to do is grovel and apologize.
Is it really so surprising that men, in this environment, with the rules set up this way, may be wary about interacting with women — especially when nobody else is present to witness? Perhaps, rather than shaming the men who feel this way, we should take a moment to consider the matter from their perspective. After all, if 60 percent of women reported that they were uncomfortable mentoring males, or being mentored by males, Sheryl Sandberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Heidi Stevens and every other feminist would conclude that the fault lies with men. Yet if men are uncomfortable, still the fault lies with men. Men lose either way. And they’re beginning to notice that fact. And, yes, it makes them uncomfortable. It’s not hard for a reasonable person to see why.