Revenge of the Females

It looks as if we finally hit a tipping point. I’m going to call this Revenge of the Females and there will be many parts and sequels in every industry.

Some wonder what took so long?  Why did some women turn a blind eye and leave or take a compensation package?  Does that make them complicit?  Was it pure fear?

The majority of women I know have an unfortunate story about the workplace.  Most of us have stories of just being whistled at on the street.  Know men I know have a story.  How come?

There are so many questions that start with why.  Are men that dumb to not understand that behavior in the workplace is different than behavior at a party with friends?  Have so many lines been blurred because of the sheer amount of hours we all work?  Are those boundaries not understood?  Boundaries should even be understood when a guy hoots at a woman on the street being followed with lusting eyes.

It is all about female empowerment and as more women become more powerful in the workplace and our wallets are the same size or even bigger than our male peers, we are saying enough is enough.  It is a rising chorus vs a single voice and perhaps that is what makes it easier.

I am sure over the weeks and months we will see more powerful titans fall.  It couldn’t happen to a better group of misbehaved idiots.

Comments (Archived):

  1. CCjudy

    I like you and your upfront newyork ness

    1. Donna Brewington White

      “It couldn’t happen to a better group of misbehaved idiots.”Right?

  2. Sarah

    Many people (men particularly as the sexual aggressor ) have found “success” from their behaviour. They are neurochemically rewarded even by the women (through creating discomfort/fear/pain) who reject their sexual advances. I also find there is also an attitude that sex is transactional – as in you do this for me and I do this for you – which make sense to them in a way I utterly struggle to understand. It is an exchange that they can rationalize whereas they can not do so in an emotional relationship. The relationship is “too much work” for too little in return. However, they have a found a currency in the small professional favours they can dole out in exchange for sexual gratification.In terms of shifting the conversation I am liking the vocabulary and education around the word “consent” as it provides a guidelines for people who are truly struggling to connect but just do not know how – long before they discover the dubious “rewards” of being the aggressor. The lesson for me today is in how to be unambiguous in my uninterest without being insensitive/unkind/alienating. Unfortunately, it is a core professional skill in today’s environment. I have 4 current/potential clients right now and the only one who has not hit on me is my sister.

    1. lisa hickey

      Consent is an awesome framework. You can teach consent very early, detached from any sexuality. It rids interactions of that nasty feeling of “entitlement”.

      1. JLM

        .It is remarkable that the word “entitlement” works its way into a conversation about men and women. Nobody is entitled to anything other than fair, equal treatment, and courtesy.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Sarah

      In follow-up to a private email based on my previous comment… “Yes, I am aware of my role in these situations”. I do not accept that it is “my fault” (thank you friend for making that clarification) and I acknowledge to each of men involved that they are a product of a skewed system/culture that may have rewarded their behaviour but I am not comfortable with it – nor are most women. I have endeavoured to treat each as unique with the following approaches.Situation one – I told him that I considered “managing the relationship” was considered part of my work and I would be billing him for the extra labor involved in speaking with him about anything beyond our professional agreement – as in a separate line item. This established something that made sense to him – he actually thanked me. He no long expects business lunches and I may not get the contract after defining the scope. Still TBDSituation two – I asked him to have his wife speak with me about her definition of “their open marriage”. Have not heard from his wife and the tone shifted to a professional level. Newly established boundary & I believe I can manage the contract. Still TBDSituation three – I have continued in the professional relationship and we are “redefining” our personal one now that the first contract is wrapped & I have been paid. It will be a personal friendship that does not involve any sexual contact, talk or inference. Still TBD.Yes the – all TBD’s are because I am still learning as I go and unwilling to write them off entirely – however tempting at times. It takes a lot of emotional energy and at no time have I been in physical danger. I am trusting that my efforts will be useful in shaping future interactions with me and with others.

      1. LE

        we are “redefining” our personal one now that the first contract is wrapped & I have been paid. It will be a personal friendship that does not involve any sexual contact, talk or inferenceBased strictly on what you have written (and not knowing anymore that what you have said here) I think this is a big mistake that you are making. The way it reads you are giving him a ray of hope. I think he would feel in that case that he stands a chance (doesn’t matter if true; it’s what he thinks that matters) of somehow meeting the ‘challenge’ and changing your thought about him.

        1. Sarah

          You are quite right that is not my words that will matter so much as how he experiences/interprets what I am saying. Yes there is more context that I left out. I even hesitated to include that “personal friendship” part in my comment because I thought it would undermine my opinions/actions. My bigger theme here is how do we navigate our human relationships and retain (any?) value afterwards. Do we just cut them off? The sexual issue is simply one layer and I think about how I approach each one of these people/situations and how they were created – almost entirely aligned with the list in your comment. Somehow, I was able to maintain a relationship (a different professor I was not able to) with a professor after his unwelcome advances. Redefined the relationship for him – I later went to dinner parties at his home (with his girlfriend hosting) and he was a reference/supporter for me in applications. Uncomfortable at times but we looked back at a one-off poor decision at a weird time in his life and moved beyond. This is very distinct from the extreme power imbalance, predator-like scenario with many systemic colluders – i.e. Weinstein.I am a consultant and in doing “excellent work” find my clients very excited (neurotransmitters firing at high speed) that someone “gets them” – finally! The pattern (accumulated experience and similar to the professor situation) is that my clients struggle to distinguish between the novelty of having someone listen to them & care about their success from being interested in them sexually. They are small business owners who typically have significant overlap between their personal & business problems. I am doing this analysis on the fly and creating (so finding this thread very useful) a strong pre-contract script that clarifies my role better. Btw my lawyer is helping me with this as she often has to advise clients (she does family law as well) of her legal role vs counsellor role. She kindly frames it as saving them money and refers them to recommended therapist. My focus going forward is in how I can transition an asset (ability to personally connect) into a strength through rigorous well chosen words that will be experienced as I intended. TBD

          1. LE

            Very interesting. One thing though:I was able to maintain a relationship (a different professor I was not able to) with a professor after his unwelcome advancesYou may be trying to ‘right a previous wrong’. By that I mean that if you were abused in one situation (marriage, partner or in your case professor or client?) you may actually seek out similar situations to more or less prove that you didn’t make a mistake. To fix in other words what happened. Like getting on a horse again after falling off. As in ‘see it wasn’t me it was the horse’. Something like that.I can transition an assetThe way I see it use whatever advantage you have. Look I can tell you that as a man back in my first business long long time ago I remember very distinctly a good looking salesgirl showing up and asking to see me. We had cctv cameras so I could see what she looked like. Nice jewish girl type, my type. So I said ‘sure send her in’. Had zero sexual intentions at all. Really. But sure she was attractive so I figured it would be nice. She clearly flirted with me and tried to make me think she liked me. I knew that’s what she was doing so I didn’t flirt back. And didn’t give her the order. But she did get the meeting. I don’t see anything wrong with that.But in another case a person who worked for me went down to personally take care of a customer that he found attractive. They ended up getting married and have two kids now. All started with getting to know her because he liked the way she looked.

          2. Sarah

            I understand your first point and will continue to re-evaulate biases/motivations in my actions. Note, that you do not have to be good looking to be sexually harassed. Obviously, being attractive opens doors and can lead to successful welcomed sexual relationships or possibly unwelcome sexual advances. How we signal which direction is key and why I like the “consent” theme in sex education. As in, you not flirting back. Your signal was clear and that is how good communication works.The item “f) Opportunity (clearly some people have more chances of being in the wrong place)” in your own list is significant issue. I was an inquisitive fearless student who asked for clarification a lot and made use of the professors posted office hours – where I assumed was a neutral place for academic discussion. I absolutely enjoyed the initial attention and course direction from my professors. That was their job – and I was doing my job as as student. Later, friendships developed – which I maintain is a natural evolution of human relations. I was not prepared when the terms of our “friendship” shifted into sexual dynamic without my permission/encouragement by a person in a position of power over me.I am using a series of personal examples (without full context) although the initial point I wanted to make is why women experience sexual harassment in so many forms & so frequently. Your a to g listing is essentially the answer. The dilemma for me is if people can continue to work together after roles become murky and then recalibrated.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Good for you!What you are accomplishing will not only benefit you but some other woman (or women) as well.I don’t know all the details, but thanks for taking this on.

  3. lisa hickey

    Thanks for this post. It takes a huge amount of emotional labor to not just come forth once, but to stand up and speak out over and over and over. But there is no choice. I do hope you are right—that this is a cultural tipping point.

  4. LE

    I am sure over the weeks and months we will see more powerful titans fall. Imagine the anxiety that some of these men are feeling right now knowing that they could be next.Anyway I think a great deal of this bad behavior has to do with the following (obviously):a) Upbringing (parents and watching them interact). How does the fathertreat his wife?b) Friends (what your friends do).c) How much you admire either your friends and/or your mentors etc. The more you arein awe or admire the more likely to think what they do is ok for you to do.d) How gullible you are. Very important. In other words a kid or young adult that is gullible that is told somethingby a friend (or mentor) about women might automatically assume and mimic the same behavior.e) Immaturity, reward pleasure and importantly intermittent reinforcement.f) Opportunity (clearly some people have more chances of being in the wrong place).g) Media representations of women. (Probably many Tom Cruise or Michael Douglas moviesthat have put ideas in people’s heads). (Ditto for certain music).

    1. Sarah

      Excellent summary and useful for me in taking multiple approaches to what appears to be the same situation. People create their “successful behaviour patterns” via many different routes & the solutions/remedies should be similarly varied. Just last night I read something similar in “Stealing Fire” by Kottler & Wheal about Maslow’s Law of the Instrument framework – about using a hammer for every situation (familiar tools) leaves you only looking for the nails to pound.

    2. Gotham Gal

      I have always wondered about this one.a) Upbringing (parents and watching them interact). How does the father treat his wife?

      1. LE

        I could talk about this for hours. But I guess the quick summary is that there is, on both sides, a general idea that what the other spouse says is important (and needs to be followed or paid attention to and respected) and that the other spouse matters and is significant. There is, in other words, absolutely no minimizing and no marginalizing or saying literally anything negative or making fun of and so on. At least not in front of the children.My dad was no saint.However he always treated my mom with respect. And it wasn’t because she was educated, accomplished or a model etc.For a guy, also subtle things. I remember as a kid going with my dad to the NY Gift Show (at the Coliseum). I remember very distinctly all the men making cat calls at women and staring at them (was the 1970’s). These were sales types on the showroom floor for other exhibitors at the show. However I never ever saw my dad even look at another woman. Ever. Anywhere anytime. And he certainly never said anything about other women. At least in front of me. So you know you learn from that, right? Just observation not words.

  5. LE

    Why did some women turn a blind eyeIn the very early 90’s my ex wife sold advertising from a small publication that she owned. She was fairly regularly hit on by people she sold to. I remember one story where she told me the customer (two brothers) told her that ‘your tits look good in purple’. In another case the head of an Ivy League University bookstore (where she was allowed to hand out her books; distribution was critical for this product) at the cash register would openly hit on her and make sexual comments. Her competitor (a man) had to stand outside on the sidewalk. When she was pregnant the bookstore manager said to her ‘and I don’t want your husband in here subbing for you’. At the time it didn’t bother her at all. Zero zip. Didn’t bother me either honestly. I wasn’t jealous the man was ‘older’ and I knew nothing would happen. She didn’t care. Why should I? It was something we laughed about. We certainly didn’t think about the implications for other women or society in general. But even if she did care what was she supposed to do? If she wasn’t allowed to hand out the books she literally wouldn’t have a business. What should she have done? So this is an illustration of the problem in a nutshell (in all honesty). And why it will be extremely difficult to prevent many cases of clear and not so clear abuse.You have someone who stands to benefit and someone who is able to deliver a benefit. How do you get rid of that?

  6. Anne Libby

    What seems totally incredible is that some perpetrators are willing to put their harassment in writing — emails, texts.It’s really beyond simply being “entitled.”

    1. PhilipSugar

      I agree. I have a friend who one of the law partners in his firm was disciplined for doing this. Disciplined? Holy shit. Not told to put his shit including his mental issues in a box and leave right now?Look I can take you walk past a construction site in a revealing outfit and get whistled at. It’s not right, you are not going to work on one of my projects, and you need to be disciplined for, but in writing in a professional setting? Sending nude pictures of yourself? Seriously we all have our issues, but that is one my mind can’t wrap around.

      1. Anne Libby

        And an attorney?(Also after the Weinstein story broke, the board and one of his advisors — also a lawyer — communicated by email. Uh, really?)The other side of this is that written communications are misinterpreted all the time. There are so many times that my email to someone is, “this would be a better 10 minute conversation than email chain” about the most non-controversial things.Given this, why would one ever email information that could incriminate them. It is beyond my ability to understand.It’s nice to “see” you out here — I know you’ve already been thinking about the problem of harassment. I hope you’re well!

        1. PhilipSugar

          I think the issue is this. Does it happen? Yes. But it blows my mind that somebody would do it in a permanent form. Blows my mind. Somebody wrote it is like you are a baby and they are right. A child under 5 will do things and when you say why did you do that they honestly don’t know. In the circle of life a person over 90 will say things and you can say….you just can’t say that, but they will say it.But email? Texts? Photos? Are you kidding?I always tell this funny story. I accidentally texted a British colleague who was working in the U.S. this text instead of my wife:”Honey I was able to transfer my flight from tomorrow morning to late tonight at the Admirals Club, so I will be home. The truck did not fit in the garage, Love you”So I get to Kansas City and said sorry about the text. He said ok, what does “the truck not fit in the garage” mean? We have three vehicles and one is a lifted pickup truck. My Audi was in the shop, and I wanted to take my wife’s Denali. She said no. I said the truck would not fit in the PHL parking garage, she said it would. It did not.

          1. Anne Libby

            Agree 100%. Compounding the original transgression with some combination of arrogance and stupidity.And that text, hah!

          2. PhilipSugar

            It is why it blows my mind. You don’t put something in writing you don’t expect other people to read. Not that they should, but they could.That was a completely innocent text and I screwed up because we were texting about meeting in Kansas City and it still was a bit awkward.Although not too much because my British colleagues are dumbfounded about the size of our cars. One said you drive this? (Yukon Denali XL Black) I said no it’s my wife’s she let me borrow it because there are four of you. You make her drive this? No, you have it backwards she made me buy this. I let him drive it. He had another person literally take pictures of him with his phone to show people.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      My grandmother used to say “Stupid is as stupid does.”

      1. Anne Libby


  7. JLM

    .Let me break the code — there are a lot of men who are jerks and who have no idea of what it means to be a man or the concept of manliness. It is not complicated and it is so painfully obvious that it hurts.For many men, it is all about power. For a loser like Harvey Weinstein, can you imagine any woman being attracted to this guy on the basis of a twenty-five foot view of the specimen? That creates an incredible insecurity which such a bit of protoplasm has to overcome in any manner he can.If we want our daughters to be treated better, we have to work with them — take no crap from anybody, daughter dear — but also our sons. We need to teach our sons the definition of manliness. We men need to work on ourselves.This power trip nonsense is endemic to professions like politics, Hollywood, business, SV (a subset of business), airlines, the news, and anywhere where men feel insecure.It is not common amongst commercial tuna fishermen or pistachio nut farmers. Spray on insulation is another area.Men can really be slobs. Women underestimate how slobby they can be. I know from the Army, locker rooms, hunting trips, and golf. You have no idea.This is who we should really be: http://themusingsofthebigre…We have lost the definition of manliness. Women need to reward only behavior which suits their values. Men are trainable on a Pavlovian level, sort of like a good Labrador. Men should be made to understand how attractive a good Lab can be.On a serious note, it is time to take a look at what we see, hear, read, and talk about — it is reinforcing bad behavior in the name of entertainment and marketing. We are doing a lot of this to ourselves.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  8. awaldstein

    All I can say is Good! About time.