Friday, September 27, 2019

#MeToo Strikes Again

It’s the fallout of the #MeToo movement. Wives of senior male executives are telling their husbands not to mentor young women. The risk is too great. The reward too small.

In some cases the wives object to their husbands’ taking business trips with comely young female colleagues. These women take the cultural temperature and do not want to risk home and hearth. Can you blame them?

The key here is that #MeToo has compromised business opportunities for young women, partially because men do not want to take the risk, but in great part because their wives tell them not to do so.

So, a man who finds himself in this position has written to Carolyn Hax. Unfortunately, Hax misses the point entirely and launches a feminist rant about the injustice of it all.

First, the letter:

What is your take on the "Billy Graham rule"? I am in my early 60s and have been married for 30 years. I have a business conference each year that is sponsored in part by one of my clients and is the premier networking event in my field. I am expected by my partners to attend.

I work closely with a female employee, who is also married and is 20 years my junior. My associate works on all my client matters and is expected to attend with me.

This conference has become a major source of discord with my wife, who objects that I travel with a female employee. There is absolutely nothing inappropriate between this employee and me. We travel to and from the conference together, stay in separate rooms and have dinners together, sometimes with clients or colleagues, sometimes alone. My wife has falsely accused me of having a romantic relationship with this woman and/or looking to begin one.

I have always been faithful to my wife and have given her no reason to think otherwise. She rants that all men will stray given the opportunity, and I believe her frame of reference is skewed by the experience of her sister, whose husband cheated on her.

I am hurt and resentful of the untrue and outrageous accusations. Not appearing at the conference is really not an option for me, professionally, nor is telling my employee she is no longer able to attend. She has a professional need to be there, and after all, it is not her fault my spouse has unsubstantiated concerns.

How do I address this dilemma? By the way, my wife has attended such conferences, which I have no issue with. She dismisses that comparison because she does not attend with a male colleague, although there are obviously men attending.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Hax recommends that the man threaten his wife with divorce. As I said, she simply went off the rails. It might be a better idea to invite his wife to accompany him… and to allow her to spend her time exploring a new city.

We do not know how well the wife knows said female colleague, but it is not impossible that the younger woman has her eye on the husband… and that the husband, being a male, has completely missed the cues.

As a general rule, when a woman’s instincts are telling her something, non-women do well to grant them credence.

The more important point is that the endless discussions about sexual harassment in the workplace, often eminently justified, folded into hyperbolic rhetoric about destroying men… have produced a result that is not beneficial for women. 

Regrettably, Hax has taken leave of her rational faculties and considers the wife’s concerns a cause for divorce. Punish the woman for trying to protect her marriage. Isn’t sisterhood great?


whitney said...

You do not let other women around your man. Any woman that thinks differently has had her mind removed and replaced with propaganda

JPL17 said...

In many ways, there's more common sense in the simple blues tune of Arkansas-born Sippie Wallace, "Women Be Wise, Don't Advertise Your Man", than in Hax's Ivy League education.

Sam L. said...

Yep! He should always pony up the bucks for his wife's ticket to the meetings.

David Foster said...

"He should always pony up the bucks for his wife's ticket to the meetings." Many wives have time commitments of their own--jobs, children--and can't always be running off across the country or halfway around the world.

What about dinner meetings with customers who are female? It would be highly inappropriate, to say the least, to invite a spouse to such a meeting. Or what if an executive needs to work late--happens all the time--and needs his secretary/executive assistant?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

The letter is fake and a setup for Hax’s ridiculous advice. Any man who would write a letter on such a subject to an advice columnist is a weenie who has too much time on his hands. A talented, in-demand professional values his time. If the letter is true, maybe this high-power executive with lustful colleague in tow wants Hax’s permission to get divorced, making him a double-weenie.

I could use stronger language than weenie, but won’t.

And we all can identify with the caricature insecure wife. The sentence structure is too tight and efficient to be written by anyone but a journalist. This is Hax’s hoax. She’s obsessed wit MeToo.

UbuMaccabee said...

Agree with IAC. Hoax.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I think it's real... because I have heard the same tune before.

UbuMaccabee said...

Business trips and trade shows are where men and women go to destroy their marriages. I witness it firsthand. I'm on the corporate business travel circuit. I have no solution to the problem because it cannot be solved and it never will be solved because men and women are men and women. Think of #metoo as the equivalent of contracting syphilis in the 19th Century and it will give you an idea of how to approach the situation.

autothreads said...

As a general rule, when a woman’s instincts are telling her something, non-women do well to grant them credence.

Sorry, but in the #MeToo era, when so many feminists are saying to categorically "believe women", when asking for evidence of actual sexual misconduct is equated with misogyny, I'm not sure that I want to grant women in general any more credence than I would give men.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Note the construction of my sentence... I said woman, not feminist. There is a difference.