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Musing about something with attractive work partners


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1 hour ago, happysmileylady said:

What if he has never given off creeper vibes, and she doesn't actually believe every male human is a potential predator.......but still feels uncomfortable.

I mean....we can assume that every adult person who ever leads any sort of youth organization (scouts, ball teams, youth group leaders) is not a sexual predator and yet......we are totally comfortable with the concept that no adult is ever alone with a child....regardless of gender (and regardless of the statistics regarding adult males vs adult females.)

 

So....really, I wonder how this all meshes together?

Because adult women are not children no matter how many patriarchal type people want to treat us like children “for our own good”. 

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I would be bothered. I'm not gorgeous by any stretch of the imagination, but it's more than that. Dh and I have a great relationship and have been married a very long time. However, I recognize my own

Why the woman? Why should not the man who feels he needs to put up those rules reconsider the type of work he is in?

I have not read the responses yet bc I'm in a rush, but I'll tell you really quickly the conclusions I came to... My husband works in a job that has A LOT A LOT of infidelity associated with it,

Just now, Bootsie said:

Who would do the recording?  How would it be stored? If it is confidential, who would be allowed to hear it?  Would both parties have to agree?  You have 1000 professors on a campus having every one-on-one conversations recorded every day?  How long would the records need to be kept?  I just don't see how that would be practical.

Having a third person in the room would not necessarily make me feel better.  If Person A gets to choose who Person C is, it could even be worse for Person B--because if Person A and C are working together or protecting each other, Person A now has a "witness" who protects and lies for Person A.  I have seen that play out in the workplace before.

I feel like this has seriously jumped the shark, but if a witness is involved because things are that serious and the witness is making stuff up to get someone in hot water, maybe a closed door meeting one-on-one isn't the best idea either.

Otherwise, all I'm saying is meet where a door can be propped open or there is a window into the office or there is some official way of documenting what happened. I don't find this to be revolutionary in a metoo culture where women have trouble being believed about being in compromising situation, but I'm not a college professor either. Maybe they don't get in trouble for getting involved with students ever and that's just something that happened at my JC.

Interestingly, I used to be a transcriptionist. All sorts of people, including doctors and psychiatrists and professors, record confidential sessions. I have transcribed them. There are ways to anonymize them and such that probably vary by state and federal law.

 

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11 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Because adult women are not children no matter how many patriarchal type people want to treat us like children “for our own good”. 

Good to know that the problem of women being believed about rape and sexual assault when it's her word against his has totally been resolved!

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3 minutes ago, EmseB said:

Okay, so you're saying women don't get sexually assaulted at work at high enough rates for an open door or glass window policy to be in effect? Or if I feel uncomfortable meeting with a coworker in private then I should ignore that feeling and do it anyway? I think there is a huge chasm of difference in any case between being alone in an office with someone with the door closed and no window and being in a restaurant with them. It's interesting you put those two things in the same category. They seem like apples and oranges to me 

What percentage of women would make this a problem in your view? How many women would have to be assaulted for it to be a reasonable standard for me to not want to be alone with someone in a closed door setting?

I'm not being snarky in case it sounds that way. I'm genuinely wondering because I've never heard this kind of advice before.

I put closed door meetings and working lunches in the same category because some people in this thread have explicitly said that the prohibition on a man being "alone" with a woman applied in both of those situations.

I think that having a policy that discriminates based on gender cannot be justified by the very remote possibility that a man who has shown no sign of being a creeper or a threat might suddenly decide to sexually assault a woman in his office just because the the door is closed. 

I also think that the goal posts have shifted quite dramatically in this discussion, from a man should never be alone with a woman — not in an office or even a public restaurant — because it might cause temptation or start an affair or give rise to gossip or make a spouse jealous to women should naturally be uncomfortable in any situation where they are alone with a man, because any man is capable of suddenly committing sexual assault, even in a busy office or university.

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4 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

I put closed door meetings and working lunches in the same category because some people in this thread have explicitly said that the prohibition on a man being "alone" with a woman applied in both of those situations.

I think that having a policy that discriminates based on gender cannot be justified by the very remote possibility that a man who has shown no sign of being a creeper or a threat might suddenly decide to sexually assault a woman in his office just because the the door is closed. 

I also think that the goal posts have shifted quite dramatically in this discussion, from a man should never be alone with a woman — not in an office or even a public restaurant — because it might cause temptation or start an affair or give rise to gossip or make a spouse jealous to women should naturally be uncomfortable in any situation where they are alone with a man, because any man is capable of suddenly committing sexual assault, even in a busy office or university.

They don't show signs until they do and then 10 women say, you too?? No signs of being a creeper, really??? Of course they don't and that is how the Matt Lauers of the world get to have an office door that locks with the push of a button from their desk and no one comes forward for 20 years because they are made to feel silly and also crazy for feeling uncomfortable with a meeting with their boss.

But good to know this is no longer an issue.

I give up, honestly. If sexual assault in the work place is so statistically low so that it is silly to take precautions as a woman then we're in a lot better shape than I thought.

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1 minute ago, EmseB said:

They don't show signs until they do and then 10 women say, you too?? No signs of being a creeper, really??? Of course they don't and that is how the Matt Lauers of the world get to have an office door that locks with the push of a button from their desk and no one comes forward for 20 years because they are made to feel silly and also crazy for feeling uncomfortable with a meeting with their boss.

But good to know this is no longer an issue.

I give up, honestly. If sexual assault in the work place is so statistically low so that it is silly to take precautions as a woman then we're in a lot better shape than I thought.

So now all men are potential Matt Lauers with secret buttons to lock their doors? All men, everywhere, should be treated as potential sexual predators at all times, by all women? 

MOST men are not rapists or sexual predators. In fact, women are FAR more likely to be raped by a spouse or former spouse than a professor or coworker, so "statistically" you're safer if you never get married (or divorced) than you are if you meet with a professor with the door closed or have lunch with a male colleague.

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Also, the goal posts aren't moved. This is all part and parcel of the same basic issue surrounding office and other professional relationships. Should a wife feel comfortable if her husband is spending a huge amount of time alone with another woman? Can the lines of a professional relationship and a personal relationship get blurry in a quickness? Should a woman feel comfortable if her boss wants to meet with her alone repeatedly where no one else can see them? Should a man be transparent and open about his meetings with individuals in the workplace? Is favoritism or appearance therof a problem? Can we just prop a door open or meet in the open? If not, can we take meeting notes and compare or record what is discussed? Is there a power differential that makes this relationship inappropriate? What does this meeting look like to an objective third party? Am I demanding too much of my employees' personal time?

And replace genders and orientations as needed for any of these questions. People are, of course, more than their urges. At the same time, office affairs happen, sexual assault happens, bosses, professors, doctors get in trouble for crossing boundaries, women and men. And it's not exactly rare. We make rules for adults with children because we know adults cross lines that children can't defend themselves from. Adults are not children but they still cross lines with each other and no matter how many Alias episodes you've seen, most women cannot defend themselves from most men and according to some will not be believed when they tell their story, or according to others will lie about being assaulted. Either way, not being in a situation that requires witnesses to prove or disprove a story helps immensely.

If you've never witnessed or been a party to workplace drama or seen some of the stupid and malicious choices people can make, please be thankful, but don't be naive about how not-rare these things are among all genders of all classes of jobs, and all stripes of people. Any rule should be flexible, but I'm not a jerk for feeling uncomfortable about meeting someone alone who could overpower me if they so choose. People we know and even know well can and do commit sexual assault or harassment.

Incidentally, I recommend the book The Gift of Fear. Being uncomfortable with a situation is often the most reasonable indicator of a problem situation.

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10 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

 

So now all men are potential Matt Lauers with secret buttons to lock their doors? All men, everywhere, should be treated as potential sexual predators at all times, by all women

MOST men are not rapists or sexual predators. In fact, women are FAR more likely to be raped by a spouse or former spouse than a professor or coworker, so "statistically" you're safer if you never get married (or divorced) than you are if you meet with a professor with the door closed or have lunch with a male colleague.

Should Matt Lauer have been treated that way before people knew what he was doing? Or, heck, even after? How many women were shamed into going in to meet with him alone using this very line of questioning??

Having an open door or a window into an office is hardly treating men or women as sexual predators.

Notallmen, lol.

Edited by EmseB
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10 hours ago, Corraleno said:

MOST men are not rapists or sexual predators. In fact, women are FAR more likely to be raped by a spouse or former spouse than a professor or coworker, so "statistically" you're safer if you never get married (or divorced) than you are if you meet with a professor with the door closed or have lunch with a male colleague.

Not that it matters, but your stats are off-base.

AFAIK, 33% of rapes are perpetuated by current of former partners [no worries: I'm sure all THESE rapists don't have jobs!] while 39% are perpetuated by acquaintances. 

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10 hours ago, EmseB said:

 

Incidentally, I recommend the book The Gift of Fear. Being uncomfortable with a situation is often the most reasonable indicator of a problem situation.

But many of us are saying that there are situations where there is no hint of impropriety, that we DON'T feel uncomfortable, so we don't want someone else making decisions about when and where we can meet with someone.   If I felt uncomfortable meeting with someone one-on-one, I would take steps to make it so I feel more comfortable.   But that's never happened in over 20 years of working in an office, in a support position for many many men.  

I'm not saying affairs don't happen.  But that's generally a mutual decision and open office doors aren't going to stop that.  If two people are going to screw around, they'll find a way. 

And, as others have said, this has moved on from saying a man and a woman shouldn't eat together in a restaurant alone.  

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This is interesting for me to think about in the context of my work, which has always been in an academia/education environment.  For many years, I worked in research labs.  While most people did most of their work during the day, there were people coming and going at all hours due to needing to sign up for a slot with equipment that was in constant use or because there are situations where your culture needs to grow a certain amount of time and you can't fit all of the sampling in during a normal work day.  Off the top of my head I remember the time a male professor came back to help undergrad me learn a new procedure on a culture that would be ready at 10pm, the male grad student who showed me how to use the film developer in the darkroom (in the dark), and the many times that I was in the lab early or late and was thankful when anybody, male or female, was around because the empty building was creepy.  Sometimes male coworkers would walk me to my car and then I would drive them to theirs, or vice versa.  I usually packed food, but sometimes we'd walk to a campus restaurant and get lunch or dinner, and we didn't worry if it was a large group or a pair - it was just about the food.  My husband worked in a similar environment in a different field, and I know that he had similar interactions. 

We lived apart for parts of our engagement and early marriage while we were finishing school, and he travels frequently for work.  I know that he occasionally goes out to dinner female colleagues - I usually know them, but not always, and if a former colleague of mine was in town and we wanted to grab a bite and catch up he wouldn't care.  The other of us would always be welcome to tag along if we wanted to, and we might or might not, depending on food, kid situation, and whether we also wanted to visit with coworker.  

Grad school and my postdoc would have presented another issue for how to deal with this rule - conference travel.  These are a big deal and tended to involve driving 1 1/2 hrs to the airport, a flight, then a shuttle service or car rental to housing, and then the conference.  We also did short drives to meet colleagues at other universities.  Because of the makeup of my labs at the time, it usually ended up being groups of 3, but if it hadn't, skipping the trip would have been detrimental to the student careers, and renting a separate car for 4 days would have needed to be out-of-pocket because no grant is going to pay for 2 cars for 2 people.  

In my teaching as a grad student, I usually taught from 6:30-9:30 at night.  I left when the last student did, and the last student, or, when we taught in pairs, my co-teacher, was often male.  My community college teaching was on the weekend.  Because of the population that I taught, I had office hours immediately before and after class (mostly people who worked, none of us wanted to make a trip to campus on a different day). Other students could come in at any time, but if a student came I was generally alone in the classroom with them.  But, if there were no students, generally the only other person in the building was the male security guard.  

It's not that I was unaware of safety issues - I was never uncomfortable with male colleagues because I knew them, but meeting with students, especially early in the semester when I didn't know them at all..well, I was definitely aware of my surroundings.  But, I do remember my undergrad professsor, who took me with him when he had to make a visit to a campus 1 1/2 hrs away because he thought I should check it out for a possible grad school (it's where I ended up earning my PhD), saying that he was a harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.  In other words he was also aware of the risks of mentoring a female student but he did it anyway.  And, as a final kind-of-funny, my grad school advisor was militant about keeping the door at least cracked, which was fine.  One day, unusually, he had his 2 year old in his office for a few hours while his wife had an appointment.  I popped in to ask a 2-minute question and kid kept making a mad dash for the lab.  I finally pushed the door closed to keep kid in the room.  My advisor got a look of panic, despite the fact that we had worked together for years at that point.  I said 'I just have a quick question and once you can answer it I'll be out of here' - a minute later, we were done.  One one hand, I understand...on the other hand, there was a desk and a rambunctious toddler between us and I was there for less than 2 minutes.  It was probably the most awkward male-female moment I ever had at work, and at the time that I closed the door I wasn't thinking of anything except protecting the kid from running into a lab - my babysitter/mom thinking definitely overrode my 'possible harassment thinking'.  

 

Edited by ClemsonDana
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1 hour ago, ClemsonDana said:

We lived apart for parts of our engagement and early marriage while we were finishing school, and he travels frequently for work.

DH and I were doing our postdocs 1000 miles apart. I shared a 2 br apartment with a male room mate. My grandmother could never get over how I was "living with another man" and what my husband would think. Yeah, there was nothing TO think. It was the most normal thing. (The second year, my room mate was another guy, but he had his girlfriend live with us part of the time and it was fantastic since she did not work... she did the dishes etc. It was like having a stay-at-home-housewife, lol)

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4 hours ago, OKBud said:

Not that it matters, but your stats are off-base.

AFAIK, 33% of rapes are perpetuated by current of former partners [no worries: I'm sure all THESE rapists don't have jobs!] while 39% are perpetuated by acquaintances. 

No, I was comparing the statistical likelihood of rape by a current or former spouse specifically to rape by a coworker or professor in their office during normal work hours, not rapes by any acquaintance of any type in any context. That was precisely my point in responding to claims that women should never meet with any man behind closed doors because any man could turn out to be a rapist. By all means avoid being alone with a guy at a frat party where everyone is drinking, avoid being alone with a first date in his apartment, etc. But the risk of being sexually assaulted by a coworker or professor during a normal office meeting, just because the door is closed, is infinitesimally small and is not a rational fear.

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1 minute ago, Corraleno said:

But the risk of being sexually assaulted by a coworker or professor during a normal office meeting, just because the door is closed, is infinitesimally small and is not a rational fear.

Perhaps, but a coworker and a professor would fall under "acquaintance" for statistical purposes, and to make your point you said:

15 hours ago, Corraleno said:

In fact, women are FAR more likely to be raped by a spouse or former spouse than a professor or coworker,

...which does not bear out. Unless the stats have really changed a whole lot since the last time I looked. 

As a rule, it's not great to tell other people what qualifies as a rational fear for them to have. This conversation has moved from "are some women too pretty to spend a lot of time with your husband?" to "it's irrational for women to have fear toward men if they're at work." It's pretty bananas. 

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5 hours ago, Where's Toto? said:

But many of us are saying that there are situations where there is no hint of impropriety, that we DON'T feel uncomfortable, so we don't want someone else making decisions about when and where we can meet with someone.   If I felt uncomfortable meeting with someone one-on-one, I would take steps to make it so I feel more comfortable.   But that's never happened in over 20 years of working in an office, in a support position for many many men.  

I'm not saying affairs don't happen.  But that's generally a mutual decision and open office doors aren't going to stop that.  If two people are going to screw around, they'll find a way. 

And, as others have said, this has moved on from saying a man and a woman shouldn't eat together in a restaurant alone.  

I think that this discussion is all over the place and if people want to put eating out for pizza and closed-door, no-window meetings in the same category of privacy to either refute or advocate for any position, I don't agree with that.

But to the bolded, if I get a vibe that a guy or gal is a creeper or that a closed-door, no-window meeting would be unsafe for me, no matter how ridiculous some might say I'm being, you're darn right I am going to let my lack of comfort make decisions about when and where I meet with someone. I am going to make that decision for someone else for my own peace of mind and dictate terms of meeting in public or in a room with a window or with a recording device or with a friend or co-worker. And to be honest, I don't care how that impacts someone else's career or my own, really. And I am going to allow anyone and everyone else I hypothetically work with to make that same call based on their own personal standards. The sentence after the one I bolded seems to indicate you would do the same in circumstances you would deem it necessary?

You are truly, truly fortunate to have never worked for or with someone who made you uncomfortable. Sincerely, that is awesome. I have worked for both men and women, albeit a small number, who I definitely didn't want to accept a dinner invitation from or be alone with in an office with no windows. Probably nothing would have happened, but there was a vibe that I didn't want to ignore. I have also worked with people who had improper office romances that affected the morale of the whole office. If you've never been in these sorts of situations, don't you think it's more difficult to evaluate how or if they should be handled? Or are you saying that because it has not happened to you it is rare enough that precautions are not necessary?

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I am all for precautions. I am not for paranoia. Precaution is wearing a seatbelt in a car, paranoia is refusing to let yourself and others in the family drive because you fear something bad will happen otherwise. The first one is a healthy way, the second one stunts others because it was more about control than fear.

I've grown up "protected" as a girl and was brought up differently than my brother always. I never realized how much opportunity I lost. My family did not mean to control me, but that was what they thought was "good" for me. If you grow up that way, it basically stunts you. You struggle to speak up, you struggle to learn new things, you struggle a lot as an adult.

I never wanted my daughter to live the way I was brought up so I never put any boundaries on her. She has rules and we always protect her like helmets for bike rides, car seats, seat belts and so on. But I never "protect" her because she is  girl but bring her up with the same opportunities as her brother. She is 4 years old, she amazes me with what she can do. I was never that person even at 16. She has so many skills at a young age because no one tells her she cannot do anything because she is a girl. She sees the world differently at 4 than I her mother at middle age do. She sees a world of possibilities, tries new things with confidence, has opinions on everything, is articulate. I always hesitate, have fear, I think I cannot do any new thing. My instinctive response is fear and uncertainty, hers is confidence. 

We teach her always to protect herself, but we never stop her from doing anything just to make us feel safe. That is the difference I think. There is fear, legitimate fear. There is abuse. There are statistics but that does not mean we tar every man as a monster. If I thought that I would live in my house boarded up and not even have a husband. 

There are monsters among us people like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Bill O'Reilley, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby. The way to deal with them is to believe women when they say there is abuse, not think they are trying to bring down a powerful man. Investigate. Most abused victims do not lie. We do not cover up allegations because all these men were skilled at what they did and made money for corporations or studios. We do not tar all men as monsters or all people who say they are victims of abuse as gold diggers or vindictive people. There is a vast difference between some and all. It decides how we see the world, see society. Do we create barriers, impinge on other's privacy because we are paranoid or take legitimate steps to prevent abuse.  

 

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1 hour ago, OKBud said:

Perhaps, but a coworker and a professor would fall under "acquaintance" for statistical purposes, and to make your point you said:

...which does not bear out. Unless the stats have really changed a whole lot since the last time I looked. 

As a rule, it's not great to tell other people what qualifies as a rational fear for them to have. This conversation has moved from "are some women too pretty to spend a lot of time with your husband?" to "it's irrational for women to have fear toward men if they're at work." It's pretty bananas. 

Unless every acquaintance included in the 39% statistic raped a coworker or student in their office, then yeah it's accurate to say that a woman is statistically far more likely to be raped by a spouse or ex-spouse than by a coworker or a professor in his office.

I do think it's completely irrational to fear that any time a woman is in an office with a man, closing the door greatly increases her chance of suddenly be raped. I think that's "bananas," and if I personally knew someone with that level of fear, I would suggest they might benefit from therapy to figure out why they feel that way, because it's likely to impact their ability to function in a lot of careers and it just adds a lot of unnecessary anxiety to their life. 

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10 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

Unless every acquaintance included in the 39% statistic raped a coworker or student in their office, then yeah it's accurate to say that a woman is statistically far more likely to be raped by a spouse or ex-spouse than by a coworker or a professor in his office.

I do think it's completely irrational to fear that any time a woman is in an office with a man, closing the door greatly increases her chance of suddenly be raped. I think that's "bananas," and if I personally knew someone with that level of fear, I would suggest they might benefit from therapy to figure out why they feel that way, because it's likely to impact their ability to function in a lot of careers and it just adds a lot of unnecessary anxiety to their life. 

I see, it's the location of where rapes happen that concerns you most. That helps me make sense of what you're saying more, and why you've repeatedly said that women shouldn't go to frat parties and drink or go to a man's apartment on a first date  if they want to avoid rape. 

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27 minutes ago, OKBud said:

 

Like what? 

Off the top of my head and in no particular order.

Believing women who say they have been sexually abused or raped. Not institutionalized cover up.

Not say anyone bringing an allegation of assault against a powerful person is vindictive or a gold digger. But investigate with stringent penalty if proved wrong.

Getting rid of NDA's when victims settle. It is easier to cover up a pattern of rape or sexual assault.

When a woman is being harassed in a public setting like eve teasing or even groped, step up. Do not look the other way because she is silent.

Do not say "boys will be boys" and expect women to put up with bad behavior.

Do not threaten or force victims to be silent because such an allegation will "ruin their lives" and "shame". In my culture, many women are the ones who  silence victims of rape.

Making it easier to report rape. In my native country, there are all female police stations set up for this very purpose because may women just would not go to a male policeman.

Not victim blaming saying she should not have been outside at that time or wearing that dress.

More funding for solving sexual assault cases.

Stringent punishment for rape. Not light sentences that are mere slap in the wrist. In my native country there was a law introduced that gives the death penalty for rape of a minor under 12.

Changing the culture especially religious where women are supposed to dress in such a way not to "tempt their brothers". 

Teach boys genuine respect for women. It goes beyond opening doors and pulling out chairs. Genuine respect means treating a woman as a capable, equal being, not a sexual object.

Bring up girls equal to boys with opportunities. I thought that thought was more prevalent in countries like mine, surprised to find that in America.

More female friendly work places such as a room with a locked door for breast pumping, not a bathroom. Glass walls in conference rooms. More safe, private places for one on one meetings.

Stiff penalty for up skirt pictures and closing down of sites like that. 

Vote for female friendly politicians. 

Edited by Dreamergal
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Good list, Dreamergal,

I would add on to your list and ideas:

HR departments that don't minimize even "little" harassment like sexist jokes and innuendo, attempts to brush up against a woman etc. but will nip those things in the bud before they create a toxic environment or allow predators to feel safe going even farther to actual assault.

I like that most businesses do have windows looking into offices - so that even if doors are closed for privacy, people are still visible to others.  Also glass windows on places like conference rooms.

Big corporations and universities where I have worked have had security available to walk women to cars when it's dark.

Security cameras in places like elevators and parking garages for protection from all kinds of theft and assault.

Teaching boys and men not to look at women as sexual objects.  (Obviously there is a place for sex but not in interactions in the workplace etc.)  I think that treating women as equals actually makes them safer. 

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