Saturday, November 9, 2019

Her Manager Is a Male Feminist


I find this letter to be intriguing. A young woman wrote to the New York Times Ethicist columnist, Kwame Anthony Appiah to ask what she should do about her older male manager. It seems that he is creating a hostile work environment. I will not quote Appiah’s sensible and reasonable response. In it he discusses the need for “a new social covenant” about what happens in the workplace. I recommend it to your attention.

And yet, I have a slightly different take on the situation. By most indications the manager in question has not really crossed any lines. He has not harassed or assaulted anyone. I would note that his only crimes are thought crimes, made manifest through his speech. 

But still, speech is subject to some interpretation, and one might believe that he is simply trying to adapt to the new rules. He sounds more like a male feminist than like Bill Clinton or Harvey Weinstein. He is engaging issues that have saturated public debate. Surely, it is strange that this appears to make him a thought criminal.

I would also note that the young female worker seems to have notably thin skin.

Anyway, read her letter, broken up to add commentary. Tell me what you think is going on:

I just finished a big project working under a male manager with whom I don’t get along. (I’m a woman in my 20s, and he’s significantly older.) We work in teams and our members spend a lot of time together — working, traveling, socializing. People who haven’t worked with this manager see him as charismatic and friendly. When he gets stressed, however, he has temper tantrums, snaps at people and digs in to defend his positions, rejecting all opposing points of view. This behavior is unpleasant, especially when it’s directed at me.

We do not as a rule believe that tantrums are good management style. But, the manager seems to behave the same way when dealing with all staff, both women and non-women. The letter writer takes special offense that anyone would call her out on her own mistakes, or would refuse to engage with her ideas. This feels rather thin skinned to me.

She continues to remark on behavior that she believes crossed a line:

I’m equally troubled by a number of specific occasions when I felt his behavior clearly crossed a line. Once, over drinks, he mentioned that he thinks most of the women at our company are “weird.” Another time he said, seemingly jokingly, that he thinks women are the future and should run the world, but that men should “still be in charge of entertainment — seriously, men are funnier.” 

If a man says that women should run the world, does that constitute crossing a line? I thought that that was the feminist party line.

As for the notion that men are funnier, it’s an old idea, initially proposed by one Christopher Hitchens. 

I would mention that she might consider the possibility of learning how better to deal with her manager, perhaps by injecting some humor into the situation, but only as long as it is not directed at him.

And then there was this incident. The female staffer had the bad sense to put on a music video where a young female entertainer looked "amazing." She does not say what she means by amazing, but we must assume that it refers to sexually inviting. Why she would want to be associated with such an entertainer is beyond me. Why would she flash it in front of the eyes of a group containing men? Is it incitement? I will let you decide:

After he snapped at me in front of a client, a (male) member of the client team came up to me and said, “It must be hard to be a woman on your team.” On another evening, we were hanging out as a team and watching music videos. I put on a video in which a female pop singer looks amazing and does a lot of dancing. He proceeded to cross-examine me and the other woman in the room, trying to force us to agree that the pop singer’s behavior was a step backward for feminism. We defended ourselves and asked him to read about third-wave feminism. He got upset and said he just wanted his daughter to be “like you two” and “not like her.” It was really awkward; he apologized the next day.

Now, does this really make any sense. He was arguing, perhaps ham-handedly, that presenting women in sexually alluring poses during an adjunct work function, was a step backwards for feminism. Thus, he was defending what he understood to be the correct feminist position.

Apparently, he did not understand that third wave feminism allows women to be open and honest and shameless about their sexuality. It does not allow men to draw any conclusions. Third wave feminists want to be respected for their minds, but they present themselves as sexually liberated. If that is the case they have reached total intellectual incoherence. It's time to wave good-bye to feminism.

Apparently, what he said about the music video constitutes an anti-woman remark:

All of this has occurred within a frustrating work-life merge space (which tends to happen in my kind of work, or might just be our modern condition). Co-workers are friends, managers are mentors, our office has a beer tap in the kitchen and company leaders are casual (while also holding a lot of power). I’m upset that this guy thinks I’m a willing audience for his anti-women remarks when I’m really just trying to preserve my standing as a good worker, as well as my emotional well-being by not engaging with someone who rarely changes his mind (believe me, I’ve tried).

I think my company needs to know about my boss’s bad behavior, but I’m not sure what’s relevant. I know how I feel: His behavior is anti-women, and his professional development should be curtailed, or terminated, until he works to change himself. If I don’t say anything, nothing happens. If I do, I need to be precise about my accusations. What’s fair in this situation?

Name Withheld

And why would he not think that he is being tested by an enticing music video? Why would she think that he is a willing audience for such a video?

Of course, she is suffering from #MeToo paranoia. She sees harassment everywhere. She is overreacting and making herself a troublemaker. She is not long for the business world. 

When feminism made women into the vanguard of the revolution against patriarchal capitalism it ensured that women would be less trusted than men. #MeToo has doubled down on the error, making women into weak employees who seem to believe that their mission at work is to undermine their managers, even when their bosses are trying to navigate the rapids of today’s changing feminist ideology.

As I said, this woman is doing far more harm to women’s prospects in the workplace than is her hot tempered manager.

8 comments:

370H55V said...

"Third wave feminists want to be respected for their minds, but they present themselves as sexually liberated."

Or in other words, to remain at 39 the same cockteasers they were at 16.

UbuMaccabee said...

It sounds like all these people live in an emasculated nuthouse. They deserve one another. If I found myself stuck there, I’d look for other work immediately. Meanwhile, fashion an airtight mask and never allow any of these bugmen to know what you think about anything. Hell is other people in the marketing department.

UbuMaccabee said...

39: Cocktease Hits the Wall. Cocks hardest hit. Shifting my chair at the bar to better position her gaze to the back of my head.

autothreads said...

his professional development should be curtailed, or terminated,

Without even a word on whether or not his team meets the business' objectives.

This seems to be more about "me, me, me" than #MeToo.

n.n said...

Transchauvinist: sex and gender... male fem[inine] [chauv]inists.

Anonymous said...

Hitler went to art school when he was younger, he wanted to be a painter. He was a vegetarian and also a non-smoker. He hired gay and handicapped officers and also had Jewish and African ancestry. Hitler was a sensitive man.

Anonymous said...

This woman is very self-involved. The boss probably rarely gives her a thought, at least nowhere near to the degree she imagines. And I don't know what a work/life merge space is. Part of her problem might be these pseudo-intellectual ideas.

Anonymous said...

Trans athletes want to abuse women & steal their trophies.