Incentives, installment #1438

by on May 21, 2011 at 7:07 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

I think we’re going to find a reversal in the next few years: Sexual harassment will creep up the corporate ladder as men try to protect themselves by harassing only women who have careers they need to protect.

That’s from the always-interesting Penelope Trunk.

E. Barandiaran May 21, 2011 at 7:43 am

Two comments. First, DSK is not accused of sexual harassment. He is accused of serious crimes that go well beyond any definition of harassment.
Second, and more related to PT’s point and to the interest of your readers, I believe that her point is an example of a more general phenomenon. Ambitious people (I mean people with ambitious projects for their life) often realize that they need protection against powerful people (that is, people able to block their projects). To succeed ambitious people are willing to ask those powerful people to be part of their projects as promoters –how many times we have heard about government policies to promote all sorts of projects and activities– but ultimately ambitious people are demanding protection and willing to pay a price for it. Would you undertake a risky project that can be frustrated by powerful people without bribing them in advance? The relevant issue, however, is how to prevent the rise of powerful people.

dirk May 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm

E., in your country men kiss women on the cheek upon greeting them in the workplace. Over here that would be considered sexual harassment. I found it awkward working in Chile because I was the only guy at meetings not kissing the women.

E. Barandiaran May 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Bill May 22, 2011 at 7:21 am

I want to go to Gomorrah.

So I can say, when in Gomorrah, do as the Gomorrahans do.

Itstime May 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm

It’s time for men to start getting their balls back from out of a woman’s purse: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34551310/The-Principles-of-Social-Competence

Itstime May 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm

It’s time for men to start getting their balls back from out of a woman’s purse: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34551310/The-Principles-of-Social-Competence

E. Barandiaran May 22, 2011 at 7:45 am
Andrew May 21, 2011 at 8:19 am

What we need is to get the government out of the protection racket and replace it with transparency. Coincidentally, there is this new thing called the internet that some think has promise.

Buzzkill May 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Brillant non sequitur. Congrats.

Sandeep May 21, 2011 at 8:20 am

From the article :

“This is why men are going to focus harassment at the higher ranks of the corporate ladder.”

I wonder if this kind of sweeping language would be deemed acceptable about *any* demographic other than men.

Jim May 21, 2011 at 8:50 am

Of course!

Whites. Catholics. Tea Partiers. And Americans from the South.

Sandeep May 21, 2011 at 9:43 am

To some extent, but not with this degree of blatancy. You will hardly see “Whites are going to focus on such and such areas for oppression of blacks”; at least, articles featuring such sentences will not get the approval of TC etc.

Jim May 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm

>You will hardly see “Whites are going to focus on such and such areas for oppression of blacks”

Actually, I see it all the time.

“Now that slavery is illegal, whites are going to focus their efforts to oppress blacks on:

– Keeping blacks out of work, so we need affirmative action
– Keeping blacks out of college, so we need race-based admission
– Keeping blacks out of nice towns, so we need more affordable housing laws
– Alienating blacks in the office, so we need to impose sensitivity training”

The sweeping, demographic comments above are not just the offhand thoughts of a blogger posted once. They are foundational beliefs of significant segments of our economy, all of our higher educational institutions, and the editorial boards of the New York Times and 97% of the rest of the US media.

So, there’s that.

unblinkered May 22, 2011 at 5:42 am

And your shadow boxing is based on another foundational belief of a significant segment of our economy, that the real problem is:

–affirmative action
–race-based admission
–affordable housing laws
–sensitivity training”

and the impact on your privalages

unblinkered May 22, 2011 at 5:50 am

Sandeep you are quite correct, , it’s an interesting read to go through all the comments on Penelope Trunks site, or Jezebel for that matter. The context of victomhood is so deeply ingrained in feminism that everything tilts on that axis, and in light of Jim’s comments below, race is the third rail topic with no rational footings either. The level to which it’s de riguer is quite jarring.

Rahul May 21, 2011 at 8:28 am

She’s grossly confusing rape and sexual-harassment. Rape does not need a power differential. I suspect many rapes are committed by poorer / less powerful people on others up the scale.

And whatever happened to the presumption of innocent until proven guilty? I hope she has to eat her words if DSK wins the lawsuit.

Rahul May 21, 2011 at 8:31 am

From the blogpost:
Newsflash: Women do not willingly give blow jobs to men they have never met before.

That should classify a fair fraction of hookups and one-night-stands as rape………….

Dave May 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm

And this sort of reasoning also leads to other bizarre conclusions, such as on p. 15 of this report from the US DOJ’s National Institute of Justice which, in addition to numerous other flaws, notes after being told based on their description of behaviour that they’d been raped, more women than not disagreed, saying that this was not the case.

Most studies also seem to suggest a higher rate of false rape accusations than for other crimes, as summarised in this study.

Jamie_NYC May 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm

… which is how they should be classified, according to Ms. Trunk, if I understood her correctly. Overall, I found this article has very strong misandric undertones:
“the sexual harassment laws in the US are so murky that it’s nearly impossible to use them to prosecute unwanted advances.” – instead of just saying no, women should be able to sue ugly men?
“The bottom line is that just about every woman who has entered the workplace has experienced sexual harassment” – Wow! How far are we from the statement “all men are rapists”?

Tyler, there is a rich vain of gold in looking into differences in impact of the recession (and the last 10 years in general) by gender, when power in and outside of the workplace is concerned. I’m waiting…

Miley_Cyrax May 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm

…which, actually, some feminists would like to do.

ladderff May 21, 2011 at 9:31 am

I knock wood every time I recall how wonderful it is to work in a unit without any women. Eventually they will assign us one, and no matter how qualified or dedicated or honorable she might be, we will all have to carry on with the possibility that one day the police will come storming in looking for someone who slipped and said or did the wrong thing around her (whether on duty or not). Those of us who aren’t clueless about these things will never fully be able to trust her. Come to think of it, a woman who wanted to could probably make evidence out of this very comment in a contention that she’s encountered a “hostile work environment.”

Trunk’s casual conflation of “accusation” / “guilt” and “rape” / “sexual harrassment” / “nothing” contributes to this state of affairs and I don’t like it. Don’t laud her. Don’t credit the crass illogic she unthinkingly accepts in posts like this.

NetWriterM May 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm

The bar is higher than that for hostile work environment. Just FYI. It takes more than a comment.

You know what? If you are human and decent, no one will care about an off color moment or remark. At least not the rational ones (the people with mental issues, will cause trouble even if you’re perfect, I know, I hired and fired someone with BPD). However, men in groups can create inappropriate work culture. Work is not a locker room but too many guys treat it as such.

My comment with my experience as a woman in Fortune 500 environments is on Penelope’s post. You can read it there, same name Netwriterm. The thing is, it’s not one off color moment, that’s just one symptom of how women are blocked professionally. The guy I tangled with, held me back and made sure I was ‘kept in my place.’ Something my second boss (a man) was appalled to learn. I was systematically bad mouthed by the first boss on top of inappropriate touching that was all about power and domination.

I would be lying if I didn’t say the day I got him booted from his office so I could move in wasn’t a happy one. (And I never once made any complaints about his sexually inappropriate behavior, he hung himself on his work, all I had to do was tighten the noose.)

The boss I had trouble with , has a daughter. I sometimes wonder what he thinks will happen to her given his behavior?

M

Rahul May 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Didn’t we stop punishing children for the crimes of their parents a long time ago?

NetWriterM May 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Sure, but if your father is perpetuating a culture that demeans professional women….

M

doctorpat May 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm

We have stopped, the universe hasn’t.

Sandeep May 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm

You know what? If you are human and decent, no one will care about an off color moment or remark.

Do you realize you are saying that there cannot possibly be any trouble from the female side? In other words you are smugly and brusquely dismissing laderff’s complaint as something that cannot arise except from mentally ill people, at the same time being serious about what you had to face. Please try to be similarly considerate about problems men face as well. There are indeed duplicitous and deceptive women too, as in the Duke Lacrosse case. You are judging the “generic” woman based on your view of yourself and the “generic” man based on your first boss. That is what makes your view so gynocentric.

NetWriterM May 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm

No, I’m judging based on what I see here. I’ve worked with good men, I don’t see many on here based on what’s being written.

There are bad people on both sides, but if you have decent manners and social skills, people aren’t going to crucify you for one mis-step. That was my point in response to the hyper over functioning idea that someone’s comment on this thread would be evidence of a hostile work environment.

My other point? The legal bar for hostile work environment is higher too than a comment online.

M

Sandeep May 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm

In that case you are just interpreting him too literally.

Sandeep May 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Also, I take offence at your comment that you don’t “see many” good men on here “based on what is being written”. For that matter I could characterize Penelope Trunk as a “bad woman” because she speaks so sweepingly of “men” (eg. Men will focus on…) without even bothering to throw in the word “some”. If Penelope’s prose doesn’t irk you it is only because you are on the same side as her.

May be you too are put off by what you see as hostile language from the other side, which prevents you from sympathizing with the gender-related difficulties they face. In that case, I recommend highly to you feministcritics.org where they rather constructively try to engage feminists in debate.

doctorpat May 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm

if you have decent manners and social skills, people aren’t going to crucify you for one mis-step

So now you can be crucified for being a nerd with poor social skills? Are we in high school?

dave May 22, 2011 at 12:57 am

“You know what? If you are human and decent, no one will care about an off color moment or remark.”

There are numerous cases where this isn’t true, and not just at the anecdotal but statistical level.

And how many more times if the situation unreported but used by the female for personal gain (as per Penelope’s recommendations).

Ray May 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

The “always interesting” version of “links are not recommendations.”

dave May 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Penelope Trunk was a pro beach volleyball player. She was probably very high status in the sexual marketplace and rejected 99% of the men around her. Sexual harassment is basically sexual advances that are unwelcome, so for her nearly every advance by a man that wasn’t in the top 1% of status was unwelcome.

Which brings up the nature of sexual harassment. Plenty of woman want to be hit on at work. Many seem to go into high status professions and schools for the express purpose of meeting a high status man and marrying him. But they don’t want lower status men hitting on them. Men, of course, have to guess, because its men’s job to approach. If welcome, its not sexual harassment, if unwelcome it it. My guess is that if you made both sexual harassment, if you made welcome advances a crime, women would be up in arms. They are perfectly comfortable with the current heads I win tails you lose situation.

So back to Penelope. She is definitely a status whore looking to marry up. Apparently she was married for a long time until her husband became a stay at home dad (they have a kid with autism, so that seems like a total nice guy thing to do). At which point she lost all attraction to him because he lost his status and they either are or were considering divorce. What she really wanted was for him to find a way to get so rich they could hire a team of people to take care of the kids and all their other problems.

My guess is Penelope would love to meet that kind of successful man that could make the issue of her autistic kid less of an issue. At least when she was younger she probably had the looks to snag that man. But now she’s older. Her increased status from a moderately successful career really doesn’t increase her sexual market value. And she sees young secretaries with nothing to show but their looks getting the attention of the powerful men she wishes she married. Of course she wishes sexual harassment might move up the corporate ladder. Then her career status might be worth something to men.

I also love her advice that women should use shame and blackmail to advance in the workplace when a man makes an unwelcome advance. She is quite the narcissistic harpy. My guess is she wore flattering clothes when she was younger and fit to try and advance too, which is why she got hit on all the time. This is what men have to look forward too at the workplace.

Miley_Cyrax May 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Not sure about your contentions regarding Penelope herself, but the rest of your analysis is spot on. Also, I would venture that most attractive girls see nothing wrong with using their looks to get hired or special treatment in the office (or don’t admit to others or themselves that their looks get them hired or favored: “male interviewers always seem to like me, but the women are such bitches!”), but don’t want to face any of the consequences that comes with leveraging their attractiveness. Something about having cakes and eating them…

anon May 21, 2011 at 7:05 pm

In all fairness, women often do act as bitches to their attractive coworkers and subordinates. AFAICT, this is because women often take dressing attractively as an implied bid for status/dominance, so poor treatment occurs as a response to this implied challenge. But I’m not female, so I can’t be sure about that.

anon May 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Frankly speakng, hitting on your coworkers is a horrible idea regardless of sexual harrassment policies. There is always a risk that the interaction will fail, at which point the social milieu at work is irreversibly damaged. Moreover, when the social interaction fails, it is liable to fail especially hard, because your coworkers are largely forced to interact with you, unlike folks you might pick up in a club or on the street. Add to this the proverbial paranoia women seem to hold about males, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. The only remaining question is where the damage will fall: harrassment policies actually get the incentives right in this respect.

Miley_Cyrax May 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Right, I think most guys going into a new job understand that. But most guys aren’t too successful at randomly approaching girls at bars and their social circles aren’t wide enough to provide a steady supply of girls… so girls at work look evermore tempting.

dave May 22, 2011 at 12:55 am

People meet lots of like minded people at work. Time + similarity = things happen. I’ve never done it myself, for the reasons listed, but I’ve seen it happen plenty.

When it ended in marriage, it wasn’t harassment.

When it ended in a breakup the girl didn’t like, its harassment.

SteveX (formerly Steve) May 22, 2011 at 6:02 pm

“If welcome, its not sexual harassment, if unwelcome it it.”

@dave: Couldn’t agree more with your observation. I saw it time after time over 40 years of corporate life. If the “hunk” from marketing made a comment to one of the women in the office, she couldn’t wait to brag to all the other women. If the geek from IT made the same comment, it was harassment. For any system to be taken seriously, it has to be consistent.

anon May 22, 2011 at 6:49 pm

The “same” comment can mean very different things depending on how exactly it is delivered. IT guys usually have a bad attitude in the workplace because their work is not considered a core competency, despite actually being mission-critical in many ways: the IT geek who made that comment was probably dealing with the umpteenth request to “please let me install this free smiley software/browser toolbar from http://www.downloadfunsoftwareforfree.ly on my business computer–what do you mean, there is an IT security policy?”, or re-imaging a bunch of malware-infested boxes and restoring work-related data from backup.

Marketing guys do not have the luxury of dealing with such issues, so they get their fill of stress and excitement by trying to start workplace relationships with their coworkers or making snide comments about the IT department.

doctorpat May 22, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Lose the long range psychoanalysis by telepathy and this comment might be quite a good one.

dirk May 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

“Sexual harassment will creep up the corporate ladder”

Let’s see… up the corporate ladder the women get older. Men don’t hit on, I mean “sexually harass”, women because they are powerless but because they are attractive. Her theory is that men will hit on less attractive women in the workplace because they will calculate it as less risky — yet men who hit on women in the workplace are already miscalculating the risks.

Yet who can blame powerful men for hitting on the hot chicks working around them? Such men are usually too busy to hang out at bars in the evening to meet women.

Miley_Cyrax May 21, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Good point, Trunk misses the obvious–that corporate seniority is inversely associated with female attractiveness.

I keep getting promoted… the office assistants stay the same age.

dirk May 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm

PT also conflates French culture with American culture. If the stories are to be believed, DSK would have been in trouble a long time ago if he behaved as he did in the U.S. This isn’t a case of “it took a maid with nothing to lose to report this” — if he had done to a high power woman in the U.S. what he allegedly did to this maid he would have been reported and thrown in jail just as fast. If high power women don’t report “sexual harassment” as often as lesser power women it is probably because they have the social intelligence to realize that most “sexual harassment” is normal male behavior and they deal with it like a normal social person would instead of hiring an attorney.

E. Barandiaran May 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm

You don’t need a dubious conflation. Yesterday I wrote a comment on an Ilya Somin’s post on DSK and Conspiracy Theories at Volokh Conspiracy. I argued about mistakes as a necessary condition for conspiracy theories and then I said:
Forget about the French. Let me tell you what I think of the DSK affaire. It is another case of mistaken identity, one that may delight Law & Order’s fans. DSK asked for room service but he mistook the maid for one of the hookers the hotel usually provided him as part of its room service (this time not a courtesy of E. Spitzer’s madam). When he realized his mistake it was too late –the maid didn’t want to play his games and ran away. Now a Coasian bargaining is taking place while property rights are being defined by the process. Hope my version turns right, so you can write a paper for Jo. Law and Econ and a script for Law & Order. Stay tuned.

dirk May 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I like it. I’m writing the episode. It’s the most plausible theory I’ve heard yet. If true, it would mean that DSK could have reasonably believed that the sex was consensual, because even if the woman seemed to resist he could have interpreted that as role playing, if he was into that sort of thing — and according to the OK Cupid poll most 62 year old men ARE into rough sex. It seems so plausible. It would explain why he left the door unlocked while he showered.

E. Barandiaran May 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm

By June 6, we will know (it’s too expensive for DSK not to agree soon and the “Good Wife” may stop paying the huge bill if she is not offered a reasonable “narrative” –I like this word because it makes clear how ignorant we are and how willing we are to move on).

SteveX (formerly Steve) May 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm

“…most 62 year old men ARE into rough sex.”

@dirk: I’m 62 and let me give you some advice. At this age ALL sex is rough sex, just as ALL sports are extreme sports.

Bill May 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I don’t understand the logic of the author’s claim, that the man will focus on higher up women, for several reasons.

1. Higher up women get eventually get promoted, and can take retribution later against the guy who acted like a jerk.
2. Higher up women talk to each other, and if there are women who are even higher up in the organization, there will be a lower chance of retribution against women lower on the ladder who get treated this way.
3. The premise of the article posits a steady state, where women remain in the same position over time. If they advance like men, then this thesis falls apart.
4. A woman could advance because she charged sexual harassment–you do not know which way the ball will bounce–which increases the prospect of deterrence.
5. Men don’t like men who sexually harass and get points for eliminating those who do, so the guy who punishes a sexual harasser advances and develops loyalty from women employees who will advance into more senior positions over time.
6. You don’t have to report if everyone knows what the jerk does, and group norms will ultimately deny the harasser advancement.

Bill May 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I would also add one additional empirical point that is worthy of some research.

One of my partners who deals with labor law issues tells me that sexual harassment is more prevalent in businesses where the CEO owns the business than in publicly traded companies where the manager gains wealth only by advancement. So, in that respect, the authors claim may be true, but not true in the publicly traded organization context.

dirk May 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm

There would be less sexual harassment in the workplace if the punishment for harassment were less severe. Sexual harassment accusers are shunned because those accusations can ruin a man’s career and cost the firm big money. The legal stakes are so high now that the accuser and the accused are likes drunks brawling in a barroom. They both get kicked out and arrested because nobody wants that shit going down around here, it doesn’t matter who started it.

But imagine a world where women can’t sue an employer for big money because a male made inappropriate remarks to her. She could still complain and those complaints would likely be respected MORE if the stakes were lower. The company wouldn’t be in fear of a lawsuit but would have the incentive to approach the guy and embarrass him and say “Cut that fucking shit out. You’re going to drive the talented young women off.” Social norms and shaming would lead to more correct behavior, whatever the “correct behavior” of the culture is.

NetWriterM May 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm

There are way too many of you posting comments here who have no clue.

None.

If this thread is representative of the business world in the US, there are way too many women keeping secrets about bad corporate behavior.

M

Miley_Cyrax May 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Oh, clearly you are the only one with a clue. All the commentators should just bow down and defer to you, Miss Holier-than-thou-because-I’m-a-woman-who-has-worked-at-a-Fortune 500-corporation.

NetWriterM May 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Miley, don’t work so hard to prove my point.

M

Miley_Cyrax May 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Ah, the defensive reframe.

alwaysfiredup May 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Well, you see, we should definitely presume these girls are lying, because having to defending against lawsuits is much worse than suffering groping and lewd comments, coupled with career retaliation should we tell anyone.

For a group of people who hate “victims”, they claim the mantle for themselves well.

dirk May 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm

My point is: change the law. If corporations didn’t have to worry about lawsuits they would have more not less incentive to behave transparently with regard to sexual harassment. Moreover, others would be more likely to believe complaints about sexual harassment since everyone would have both less to gain and less to lose over the issue. Social norms tend to enforce themselves. But with the danger of lawsuits the incentives is for firms to view sexual harassment accusers as DANGER. Is that a good thing? No, it’s a bad thing.

NetWriterM May 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Yes because corporate behavior is so stellar to begin with. Enron. BP. Wall Street.

Clearly we need less punishment, not more because everyone is so honest and ready to do the right thing.

But only if the punishment isn’t too hard.

You live in an interesting world, Dirk.

M

dave May 22, 2011 at 1:06 am

So if we don’t have crazy harassment laws we will have oil spills?

dirk May 22, 2011 at 1:49 am

Thanks for giving my point genuine consideration. I’m on the same side you are. I don’t like these creeps who sexually harass women. My point is that the law makes the situation worse not better. Do you care about outcomes or do you care about self-righteous indignation?

And for the record, I’m sure I hate fucking corporate America worse than you. Al Qaeda had the right idea. Flying planes into buildings is the right idea. America has become a worthless land of corporate drones. Kill them all. Kill the Jews, kill the niggers, kill the white people, kill the bitches. We all deserve to fucking die and Penelope Trunk reminds me why.

The Patriot Act alone is a good reason to nuke fucking America. None of us deserve to live if we are willing to vote for politicians who support this fucking police state shit. Al Qaeda won.

Fuck America. We blew it.

Curt F. May 22, 2011 at 12:15 am

Your first comment in the thread, the one where you shared a story of your personal experience in the corporate world, was a great contribution to this thread. Thank you for that.

doctorpat May 22, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Women keeping secrets? I thought “everyone knew” about it all, but we were operating in a conspiracy of silence?

Are we ignorant or guilty? Can’t be both.

anon May 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm

If there ever was a stereotype of a ruthless, careerist bitch, Penelope Trunk sure fits it to a tee. Wait, I forgot to add unscrupulous and misandrist.

dave May 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I just saw her blog for the first time today, and after about 30 min I’m thinking of writing off the entire gender.

dirk May 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm

“sexism is the poor man’s racism. i mean, poor woman’s.” – @myqkaplan

Tom West May 21, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Oddly enough, the odd time I’ve found myself in a conversation with men claiming that being “hit on” at work is nothing to be annoyed or upset about, when I asked how they’d feel about a *male* coworker or boss hitting on them, they seemed to have an entirely different opinion.

One became almost belligerent at the idea that his persistent “harmless flirting” might be viewed by his victims in the same light as he would view a homosexual advance. I suspect that most of these men could not really conceive of the idea that their advance might be viewed with disgust.

Plenty of woman want to be hit on at work.

Data? This sounds far more like males speculating to justify grossly unprofessional behavior (probably on the part of other males, but still).

Truly, I find the “they’re asking for it or they’re lying” attitude towards sexual harassment in this forum to be somewhat shocking. Not what I’d expect from a group of presumed professionals who I’d expect comprise the majority readership of this blog.

anon May 21, 2011 at 7:38 pm

“Oddly enough, the odd time I’ve found myself in a conversation with men claiming that being “hit on” at work is nothing to be annoyed or upset about, when I asked how they’d feel about a *male* coworker or boss hitting on them, they seemed to have an entirely different opinion.”

Riiight–because saying: “dude, sorry about disappointing you, but I’m 100% straight. cut it out plz kthx.” is so hard and hurtful. My guess is that the men you were interacting with were not among the most confident or assertive in social/sexual matters. Not that there’s anything wrong with that–but IMHO it colors their opinions on the issue as fairly uninformed.

Miley_Cyrax May 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm

“Oddly enough, the odd time I’ve found myself in a conversation with men claiming that being “hit on” at work is nothing to be annoyed or upset about, when I asked how they’d feel about a *male* coworker or boss hitting on them, they seemed to have an entirely different opinion.”

Well… yeah. Since most men are heterosexual, I imagine they’d feel differently about getting hit on by men vs. getting hit on by women.

“Truly, I find the “they’re asking for it or they’re lying” attitude towards sexual harassment in this forum to be somewhat shocking. Not what I’d expect from a group of presumed professionals who I’d expect comprise the majority readership of this blog.”

We’re presumed professionals, so instead of discussing sexual matters frankly and analytically, we’re supposed to tip toe around the subject, blame men for being evil and devious, and anoint women as angelic beings incapable of malice and undeserving of being held responsible for anything? Got it.

ladderff May 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Well said, Miley

NetWriterM May 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm

“We’re presumed professionals, so instead of discussing sexual matters frankly and analytically, we’re supposed to tip toe around the subject, blame men for being evil and devious, and anoint women as angelic beings incapable of malice and undeserving of being held responsible for anything? Got it.”

No you’re just not supposed to sound so…lacking in basic information and respect for human beings.

M

dave May 22, 2011 at 1:05 am

Respect is earned. Women act in lots of ways that cause them to lose respect.

If you look at Penelope’s blog she’s a deeply narcissistic woman. She freely uses her sexual appeal to manipulate people and advance her career. She pumps and dumps men for favors and generally takes advantage of any man she meets (probably every woman too, she seems kind of psycho). Women like her are becoming the norm, and plenty of women are taking her advice. They aren’t acting in manners that promote respect.

Rahul May 22, 2011 at 1:33 am

If only Miley sang as well as she writes. Attagirl!

Tom West May 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Well… yeah. Since most men are heterosexual, I imagine they’d feel differently about getting hit on by men vs. getting hit on by women.

That would be my point. They need to understand that there “Wow, you’re looking hot today, think you’ll get lucky tonight?” comment is as welcomed by many women as it would be by the speaker if it came from somebody of the same sex. i.e. slightly off-putting, and possibly somewhat threatening. If they find it annoying that women don’t welcome the “attention”, that’s their problem. (Work occasionally demands counter-intuitive behavior – I find it annoying that I have to get work by nine each morning. That’s my problem, not the work-place’s.)

We’re presumed professionals, so instead of discussing sexual matters frankly and analytically, we’re supposed to tip toe around the subject, blame men for being evil and devious, and anoint women as angelic beings incapable of malice and undeserving of being held responsible for anything? Got it.

Given that the focus of many posters here is entirely on the cost of maintaining a threat-free workplace and the occurrences of malfeasance by those misusing the laws, I would say that that lacks professionalism. To me, at least, it smacks of the “I was here first, why should I have to change?” mentality that you find in a schoolyard rather than in a workplace that is indeed made up of people with a wide variety of backgrounds.

Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I’m pretty certain professionalism is defined as doing what is best for your profession. At this point certain behavior that was ignored is now understood to be heavily counter-productive. Times have changed. We need to adjust.

Again, bringing up costs or misuses in the context of the over-all gains is one thing. But that is not what we see here. Here, it often looks far more like one facet of a more general “(most) women are scum” attitude (that Dave pretty much makes explicit). Again, not what I expected from this forum.

Having said all that, I should note, that much of the volume of posting on this subject are being made by a few posters who feel very strongly on the subject and are posting multiple times. Thus I am reminding myself that this is almost certainly not an expression of the general sentiment of readers (I hope).

Miley_Cyrax May 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm

When you’re accustomed to the default position that all males are demons and all females are angels, any deviation from this may not be “expected.” But unfortunately, we are not as “old” or “educated” as unblinkered and thus may not have the wisdom to know that men = bad, women = good.

As Dave noted: “People meet lots of like minded people at work. Time + similarity = things happen. I’ve never done it myself, for the reasons listed, but I’ve seen it happen plenty.

When it ended in marriage, it wasn’t harassment.

When it ended in a breakup the girl didn’t like, its harassment.”

Having men pinch the asses of the attractive women when they walk by would not be best for my profession. But nor would having the men getting accused of sexual harassment whenever office relationships end poorly be conducive to my profession. And since so many people spend so much time at work, I’m sure we’d all like the option of a little fun with our attractive co-workers if the opportunity comes up. Which is why I posit women want to have their cake and eat it too in two ways:
1. Being able to enjoy office relationships when it’s to their liking, and when advances or encounters go bad or when relationships end poorly… they can send an HR crusade after the men.
2. Leveraging their physical appearance for hiring, promotions, and general favoritism, then complaining about any perceived “harassment” arising from the leveraging of said appearance.

Tom West May 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm

thus may not have the wisdom to know that men = bad, women = good

Oh please. No one here has claimed that these laws, like *any other* law, are without cost or are immune to abuse. However, I think most sensible people also acknowledge the advantages of not having a workplace that is as hostile to women as, say, Japan’s.

Which is why I posit women want to have their cake and eat it too in two ways:

I am certain that there are *some* women (although none in my work experience) that fit your description. The answer is so what? They’ll have to suffer. Sorry, but relationships between those in close work proximity are not appropriate for a professional environment. A messy end to a relationship can result in a hostile work environment for *either* side.

Also, while general attractiveness is an asset for either sex, any company that is unprofessional enough that sexual attractiveness has a pronounced effect on hiring, etc., is already in deep trouble.

Perhaps it is only how they come across, but it certainly feels that the posters in question consider the rare abuses that occur to be of vastly greater import than the ability of millions of women to work in a non-threatening environment.

doctorpat May 23, 2011 at 12:00 am

It’s not a difficult problem to solve for the employee: no relationships or even flirting at work.

If you’re a sexually harrassing boss with a hot new assistant… too bad.
If you’re a hot new assistant with an attractive and rich boss… too bad.

It’s not worth getting upset about the rules, because they are so simple. It’s not like we’re in prison here.

The problem is what if you are the employer. Then you have to pick and choose, try to distinguish he-said-she-said over events that are notoriously prone to illogical emotional breakdowns even when they start off well.

dirk May 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm

doctorpat, that’s the worst advice I’ve ever received from a doctor. People all the time begin romances in the workplace which result in long happy relationships. A major component of lifelong happiness is often choosing the right person to marry. Why would you start out by ruling out everyone you are around on a daily basis and have likely gotten to know the best?

Tom West May 24, 2011 at 12:12 am

dirk, the problem is not there is no possible upside, it is that there is a *considerable* possible downside. Normally when a relationship fails badly, one side or the other moves out of proximity of the other. That’s not necessarily possible in a an office, and given that people can be irrational, failures can lead to all sorts of unfortunate office behavior by either partner.

While a malicious call of sexual harassment seems to be the big fear here, far more likely is the more senior of the pair (statistically likely to be male) forcing the other out of work.

Anyway, this is simply cost benefit for the company as a whole – the possible costs are too high for the possible benefits.

And yes, banning workplace relationships *is* a cost of having a workplace where women have an equal opportunity to succeed. Nobody is claiming that there is *no* cost, just that the cost is easily worth the price.

NetWriterM May 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm

You are not alone.

This thread is very disappointing.

M

unblinkered May 22, 2011 at 6:07 am

I have to agree NetWriterM, MR used to be a sanctuary for good solid analysis, often arguments would be presented, absorbed, and counter argued. Opinions could be changed. And you could learn from people. This is rarely the case here anymore outside of the direct economics subjects. It was an older better educated crowd. Sorry Tyler, I have been coming here for years, and it’s depressing

ladderff May 22, 2011 at 10:48 am

adhominemadhominemadhominem

Oh, please. It’s become quite clear that for you two, “professional” and “educated” mean “thoroughly conditioned to accept our bullshit.” So far the only argument you’ve presented goes something like, “Don’t worry, if the people with the power to screw up your career/reputation/life think you have social skills or whatever else they happen to find relevant from case-to-case, you’ll probably be fine.” Great. Meanwhile, you respond to Dirk’s thoughtful posts with pure hysteria and announce that people that disagree with you are necessarily ignorant bigots. Cheers.

Bill May 22, 2011 at 7:13 am

Tom, I agree with you. For a site that would believe in markets and having the value of goods and services be correctly valued in the market, I am surprised that some would tolerate imperfections that do not permit people from achieving their full potential, be it sex, race, or other uncontrolled attribute.

This is also the case on why persons who profess to believe in meritocracy are so defensive when it comes to inheritance taxes or impediments to social and economic mobility.

john malpas May 21, 2011 at 9:10 pm

From these comments it seems that these days women never ‘ hit on men’ and really have little interest in sex for its own end.
Times change

Anotherphil May 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Let’s discuss this frankly, indeed.

Here’s the present and future of “sexual harassment” in the workplace.

Disgruntled older female employee with male supervisor and extensive documented history of aberrant behavior (laughing out loud for no apparent reason, hostility to subordinates, paranoid over-reaction to ordinary work place stressors, verbal tirades, and wishing federal officials physical harm) is counseled for brandishing a benign object as a gun.

Employee produces a nine-page handwritten list of fantasy accusations that included physically impossible and impossible to engage in during work hours unseen as retaliation for being referred to employee assistance vendor after said incident.

Result: three month investigation, imperilment of male supervisor’s employment until investigation produces “no evidence” of accusations. Despite workplace ethics rules prohibiting obstruction of other employees efforts and filing of false reports, accuser cannot be disciplined due to federal law prohibiting “retaliation”. Secret file apart from normal personnel file is retained indefinitely.

Conclusion? Present law theoretically designed to protect actual victims is easily misused by individuals seeking to secure employment when discipline is likely or when anti-supervisor animus is present. There is no sanction for false reports.

How do I know about this? Guess.

1

Bill May 22, 2011 at 7:18 am

You have a justified complaint. But, that doesn’t mean justified sexual harassment complaints should not be investigated or punished.

SteveX (formerly Steve) May 22, 2011 at 6:35 pm

phil: I would have never guessed from your comments on earlier threads that you were a whacked-out, disgruntled older female who carried a gun to work.

Anotherphil May 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Let’s discuss this frankly, indeed.

Here’s the present and future of “sexual harassment” in the workplace.

Disgruntled older female employee with male supervisor and extensive documented history of aberrant behavior (laughing out loud for no apparent reason, hostility to subordinates, paranoid over-reaction to ordinary work place stressors, verbal tirades, and wishing federal officials physical harm) is counseled for brandishing a benign object as a gun.

Employee produces a nine-page handwritten list of fantasy accusations that included physically impossible and impossible to engage in during work hours unseen as retaliation for being referred to employee assistance vendor after said incident.

Result: three month investigation, imperilment of male supervisor’s employment until investigation produces “no evidence” of accusations. Despite workplace ethics rules prohibiting obstruction of other employees efforts and filing of false reports, accuser cannot be disciplined due to federal law prohibiting “retaliation”. Secret file apart from normal personnel file is retained indefinitely.

Conclusion? Present law theoretically designed to protect actual victims is easily misused by individuals seeking to secure employment when discipline is likely or when anti-supervisor animus is present. There is no sanction for false reports.

How do I know about this? Guess

guy May 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I’m always slightly embarrassed for you Tyler when you link to penelope. Her whole persona is little more than “hey look at me what else can i do or say for attention” and its a disappointment to see you fall for it.

JohnMcG May 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Indeed; I’m always a little sad when Prof. Cowen sends traffic PT’s way.

Itstime May 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm

It’s time for men to start getting their balls back: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34551310/The-Principles-of-Social-Competence

Curt F. May 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Thanks for the link, that was totally hilarious.

Chuck May 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Wow, this post was like a Rorschach test…

Mercy May 25, 2011 at 9:26 am

That ridiculous MRA manual has totally redeemed this shitty thread. It even has a chapter on how to beat your wife! Amazing, amazing. Also for all the whining about feminism nobody has actually pointed out the real problem with Trunk’s post, which is the idea that low level workers are in a more secure position than higher paid ones, and thus less likely to sue for sexual harassment. The maid in the DSK case was a union member. Most domestic workers are not so lucky, and it is far from uncommon for them to put up with much worse treatment for fear of losing their jobs and being deported.

Ray Ban Eyeglasses June 9, 2011 at 5:30 am

This shows which they last very much lengthier and thus saving you income which could otherwise are actually utilized to purchase new ones.
ssa

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: