Humor · Women in the Workplace

Let the Light In

I work in an office building downtown.  My office is big and there are three really large bank windows that face a concrete garage.   It’s a beautiful view.   I have blinds that I keep open to let the light in.

Some of the attorneys I work with are less fortunate.  Their offices are smaller and they have no external windows.  For reasons unknown to me, the designer of the office space added windows beside the doors to those offices that are nearly the height of the doors.

The two attorneys who manage our office have large offices at the entrance to our space. Their offices have one entire wall of windows that faces the reception area.  There is a strip of the window walls to those offices that is grayed out.

The place where I work takes health and wellness seriously.  In that regard, we are all allowed to participate in a fitness activity three hours a week on the clock.  It’s a wonderful benefit.

The people who work in the cubicles in our office space use conference rooms to change into clothes suitable for their preferred fitness activity.  When the conference rooms are being used for changing clothes, a sign hanging on the door reads “Please Knock Before Entering.”

Those of use who are lucky enough to have offices, change into our gym clothes in our individual offices.  When people change clothes in the offices that have windows beside the doors, they turn the lights off and go over into a corner of their offices that is not visible from outside the window.  Or at least they think.

Similarly, when the two managing attorneys change clothes, they turn the lights off in their offices and go to a corner of the office not visible to the outside.

Today, one of my colleagues without an external window sent me an email asking a question.  I left my office and walked over to his to discuss the question with him.

When I arrived, his door was closed and the light was out.  I could see through the window that his computer was on.  So, instinctively I looked to see if he was in there or on the phone before knocking on the door.

There he was changing his clothes!  Whoops! Whose being a creeper now?  I felt so bad also a little outraged because what genius decided to put those windows in that space knowing that people change clothes in their offices?  (I should point out here that these offices are new.  The windows were put in just a couple months ago.)

And my colleague, what was he thinking?  Doesn’t he know people can see him changing clothes through the window?

Today was not the first day that this happened.  It is a systemic problem.

This afternoon I decided to go to the gym myself.  (Lately it has been a struggle.  It’s just so much easier not to go to the gym.  But I persisted.)

Just like I’ve been doing the past several months, I changed clothes in my office.

I took off my top and put on a sports bra. Then I noticed something I’d never noticed before– a car driving through the parking lot.  Wait! What was it doing there?

Only then did I realize that I’ve been flashing people in the parking lot for the past several months.

It simply had not even occurred to me that there was anyone in the parking lot.   I am certain I would have been more discreet if that building were an office building or an apartment building because who wants to be the Ugly Naked Gal?  Not me.

I’ll be collecting my tips soon.




Women in the Workplace

Weinstein, O’Reilly, Ailes, Clinton, et al.: Shame, Fear and the Misconception of the Neanderthal Man Syndrome

Dare I say, we’ve all been there.  At one time or another, we have all had someone who had power over us (perceived or actual) say or do something sexually inappropriate.

We’ve been there.  We’ve blamed ourselves.  We’ve felt ashamed.

Was it something we were wearing?

Did we bask in the attention a little too much?

Maybe we sent the wrong signals.

We caused it.

We’ve wondered how someone else might judge us if they found out.

One thing was for sure:  if the world found out we would be shamed.

Our world (the media, our friends, our family) would ask us all of those questions that we asked ourselves and we would know we didn’t have an answer for them because we had the same questions.

It would be harder to speak our truth than it would be to remain silent.

So, we stayed silent.  Or if we didn’t stay silent, if we were brave enough to speak our truth to even just one person, that person would ask us all those questions and we would be afraid to tell anyone else.

If we were real lucky, we wouldn’t fear ultimate career ruin if we dared to utter the truth.

But for most of us, we knew it would.

We heard all the late-night comics make fun on Monica.  That dress.  I mean Monica wanted IT didn’t she?  She was trying to sleep her way up.  That hussy.  Am I mistaken or wasn’t that the memo we were all given?

I know I was young and naïve but I don’t recall hearing anyone take up for her.   Maybe Gloria Allred did –but she comes to everyone’s rescue—bless her sweet little feminist heart.  And anyway, isn’t she just that crazy civil rights lady always playing the female card?

I don’t recall anyone making the POWER issue clear to me.

And let me be clear.  That’s what this is about.  Power.  It isn’t about sex.  It isn’t about affection.

It is about power and control.

Maybe it was drowned out by the memo that we all got that it was just Bubba, and he was just doing his THANG.  He’s a Neanderthal man. . . . that’s what men do.   Right?  Wasn’t that the memo that all the young men were being given around that time?

Powerful men can treat women anyway they want—and they still get to be the President.

Shouldn’t the memo have been:  The most powerful man in the world abused his power by getting his rocks off with a 21-year-old intern?

Did he even apologize for to her?  Did he say, “Sorry, my God what was I thinking?  I hope you are O.K.”   I don’t recall that.

I can only hope that he apologized to her in private.  Not that an apology would repair the damage he did but at least it would be an acknowledgement of bad behavior.  Even if it was an insincere apology.

I remember him lying.  I remember the “other political side” impeaching him for lying. But that was all political, right?

Did the Court of Public Opinion recognize him for the predator he is?  If it did, I don’t remember it.

I do remember being judgmental about the whole thing.  Monica had sexual relations with a MARRIED man.

Does the Court of Public Opinion even recognize Bubba as the predator he is today?

Let’s consider this, 22 years ago we as members of the Court of Public Opinion were given the unique opportunity to address abuse of power at the highest level.  We could have held the most powerful man in the world accountable for his predatory abuse of power.  But we didn’t.

Instead, we crucified the victim.  We shamed her.  That 21-year-old intern is 44 years old now.  I’d venture to guess her life didn’t turn out the way she’d have hoped.  Maybe I’m wrong.

Meanwhile, what were young men told?  They are Neanderthals who have a complete inability to control their basic physical functions.  As a result, they never have to worry about being held accountable for bad behavior—because even if the case is pretty clear—you can even be President if you are a predator.

In fact, it probably makes you more of a Neanderthal man to be a predator.

I have to think that if we had addressed Bubba’s bad behavior 22 years ago, Bill and Roger may have behaved better, and Harvey may not been so emboldened that he continued to do business in his bathrobe.

The good news is that the brave women who are coming forward today are not being publicly shamed—at least not as bad as Monica was.  That’s progress.  Hopefully, that means that we are writing a new memo.

That memo should go something like this:  People in positions of power who abuse it by making inappropriate sexual advances should be taken out of those positions.  Rather than shaming the brave victims: we protect them and help them heal.

And boys, dear dear boys, including my little love, you are not Neanderthals.  You do have control of your basic physical functions and so does everyone else.  That means, that everyone has the ability to keep their hands and other body parts to themselves and that no one should be subjected to an unwanted touch or other inappropriate sexual advance.

Just be decent humans.