Thursday, 16 March 2017

Today I learned nothing

Isn’t it funny when women complain to the HR department or other authorities? Sure, they might have been groped but all it sounds like is: “oh no the patriarchy is oppressing me. Quick, help me patriarchy!”

My friend told me a story. Apparently her girlfriend was invited to a corporate box to watch some silly sports game but all she saw was a drunk manager grope one of her colleagues. Fuming, she left the box early and the next day complained to the human resources department. For some reason, the girlfriend feels powerful and pleased with herself. But I don’t see the achievement.

First, it’d be silly to blame the environment of the corporate box. People often say the way men “do business” is different to the way women do business. But I don’t think that’s true at all. It’s really all about having agency and initiative.

I’m generalising a bit here, yet the goal for many women in business is the relationship, rather than to use relationships as a lead up to a transaction. Men build relationships in order to get the transaction. But the mistake is to think of this as two ways of doing business. It’s actually just the right way and the wrong way. Transactions are the whole point of business. If you want to build a relationship, go out for coffee.

The whole point of wooing clients at a corporate box is to pick their pocket, but if you’d rather those events weren’t about ulterior motives, you can’t then complain when revenue falls. It’s not about feminine vs masculine business processes. It’s about doing business. That’s it. Business is always and everywhere about convincing others to give you their money. Business doesn’t have morals, ethics or a sex. It is a process, like science. Anyone can do it. The only answer is to comport yourself to this reality, not to warp it to your ideal.

The real problem is there are people who want to get more money from the job and people who want the job to pay them more money. They are not the same person. And I’m going to risk the blowback to say the latter is generally female. But hold on there, buddy, this has nothing to do with sex or gender. Those are media-sanctified talking points. It’s about mindset.

Another girl I know quipped on International Women’s Day about the notoriously elusive “gender pay gap.” I mentioned how that’s not just illegal (women can’t be paid less than male counterparts for the same job) it’s also scientifically illiterate (she failed to correctly read the data). Her response was “well, I was only paid $35k when I started at [current job], whereas [colleague dude] was paid $40k.” To which I responded: “did you ask for more money?” And she said something about how her age and experience meant she couldn’t really be expected to do this.

Do you see? Where did she get this idea? Who told her that if she is X or Y, then her agency to take control of her life/salary is negated? Who cares where she heard this, why did she believe it? If her male colleague is being paid $5k extra, and she knew about it, why didn’t she demand the company pay her the equivalent? Was it “institutional sexism” or the “patriarchy”? Or is this all better explained by the entirety of her life being told time and again that “women don’t initiate dating,” “women should attract men,” etc? Don’t you think these messages are different to males told to “get” a girlfriend or “learn the game”? It’s not sexism, it’s a constant self-denial of your own freedom and agency to do something about the situation in which you find yourself.

I saw the same mindset with another girl I worked with. She thought our boss would just know how good she is with a camera, somehow, rather than going out of her way to temporarily work longer hours to take more photos, or spend her weekends taking photos or even create a 20-page document about how an in-house photographer would increase the bottom line.

When she asked what was going wrong, I said her mindset assumed passivity until someone else acted. She also wants to marry eventually but gets frustrated when she’s attracted to a guy but he doesn’t approach/initiate. GO AND TALK TO HIM!!! I wanted to yell. But I was talking to an empty chair.

Back to the corporate box. I’m not saying colleagues should grope each other. And if a woman feels uncomfortable, something should be done. But don’t negate even more of your agency by letting the “authorities” deal with it. She’d be better off taking control of her sexuality to ensure any male action is a reaction to something she consciously initiated.

In other words, she needs to realise that power requires understanding that not only do women control the sex, men are sexually weak. Unfortunately, she’s learned that women should be demure and refuse sexual advances or inappropriate groping. Where did she learn this? It wasn’t from men. Males want women more open sexually. This lesson can only have come from other women. But she should pause to ask whether those women (usually older, less attractive, afraid of losing their important/rich/strong male partners to younger females) really have her best interests at heart.

Here’s something to do next time you discuss sexual assault with a younger female: rather than concentrate on what that girl should do if she’s being groped, she should explain what to do when other girls are groped. This allows her to stop believing she is always acted upon and compels her to think about how she will act in a situation that really demands action. No more giggling awkwardly. No more staying quiet. No more suggesting that girls should “dress more conservatively.” She should bring the wrath of Minerva down on that man. She should phone every woman she knows and demand they come here right now with sticks and knives, or at least grab a deodorant can and a lighter and set the bastard on fire.

So what if men are in “their territory” at a corporate box and wanna get their grope hands out. What does territory mean here? It means we’re not talking about sexism, we’re talking about power. You can’t make power disappear, your only choice is to control how it flows and to whom it flows. Someone’s going to have it, don’t you think it should be you? If men have carved out a territory, then women should carve it back. And no, you can’t ask human resources to help. Grab the deodorant can, it’s time to realise how free you really are.

Sure, you might get punched and it’s pretty scary to stand up. But that's kind of the point. I grant you it's safer to giggle and let boys be boys. Do you want power or the trappings of power? I wasn't at this particular groping but I guess the corporate box is a “sexist” environment. My point is: so what? Why didn't the women stop it anyway? If it’s a “sexist” culture, wouldn’t that make the women want to stick together more? Why is the first decision to complain to the authorities about a gender pay-gap or groping? Where did she get this idea?!?

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