Super hot girl-on-girl action
Jezebel links to a fascinating article on the frequent amount of female on female bullying and harassment in the workplace. Unlike male on female harassment, which is considered an abuse of power and occasionally involves physical contact, female on female harassment usually involves gossiping and snide remarks, and tends to be brushed off by superiors and Human Resources associates as merely a “personality clash” between victim and offender, something to either be worked out or ignored. Also, it seems that people are still on this “women are so kind and gentle, they wouldn’t hurt each other” trip.
Lynda Cuddy, who was a target of girl-on-girl workplace bullying said, “You tend to expect women to have more empathy and compassion, but she didn’t have it. And when she seemed to, it wasn’t genuine.” And the evil female boss used this perception to her advantage: “the ‘compassion’ was likely nothing more than her fishing for personal information to identify Ms. Cuddy’s vulnerabilities,” the Financial Post notes.
I have to be honest with you, Occasional Reader, I don’t expect women to have more empathy and compassion any more than I expect men to be incapable of putting a toilet seat down. It’s a stereotype that will never die, which is why articles like this shock people. Women are mean to each other? Poppycock, we’re too busy having tea parties and doing each other’s hair. There’s this amusing misconception that, while girls may be cruel to each other in middle school and high school, as soon as we turn eighteen we’re suddenly BFFs, always lending each other a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on in times of need. I really hate to burst that little pink, sweet-smelling bubble, but we women take out our anger and insecurities on each other long into adulthood, on our friends, our co-workers and complete strangers.
Every place I’ve worked, if I’ve had or witnessed a woman having a personality clash with another co-worker, that co-worker has always been another woman. I’ve seen a co-worker put up an anonymous note on a bulletin board stating that another co-worker smelled bad. I’ve seen cruel pranks being played, things removed from lockers, someone set up to look like a thief, jobs put at risk just for the fun of stirring shit up. I’ve heard rumors created, gossip spread, trusts betrayed, insults hurled and the perpetrator has always been a woman. In classic bullying fashion, the perpetrator somehow managed to collect a little group of toadies who either actively joined in or passively supported her behavior. To make it a little more like eighth grade, the bully was rarely held accountable for her actions, because everyone else in the office was too afraid of being her next victim and wouldn’t complain about it.
For the most part I’ve managed to avoid workplace “personality clashes,” as it’s so quaintly put, because I don’t and never have bought the notion that women are all but obligated to befriend each other. While I’ve occasionally been accused of being arrogant or standoffish, it’s also kept my personal shit from being spread across the office by someone who was bored and needed to entertain herself. That being said, I did have a co-worker a while back who would loudly and frequently complain about how much time I spent on personal e-mails at work, often right in the middle of office meetings. Though a wall divided our desks, she somehow knew when I was writing business e-mail and personal, I always wondered if perhaps she had a pair of those x-ray glasses you could get in the back of an Archie comic book. After one rant ended she looked at my boss and said “Now what are you going to do about it?” to which everybody turned and looked at me, apparently expecting to see me shrinking into my seat. What did my boss do? Nothing. I was getting my own work done, plus a workload equal to that of at least one other person. I wasn’t sending questionable material or company secrets, other than the most minor of wrist-slappings nothing came about my co-worker carrying on as though I was drinking on the job. Frustrated that her bullying and complaining only served as a minor annoyance to me and nothing more, she eventually moved on to openly making fun of another co-worker’s thick Spanish accent.
My point is getting a little muddled here with all this delightful reminiscing, but it’s this: there are women like my co-worker in every office, throwing their weight around, exercising whatever small amount of power they think they have over other people, mostly for the sheer sadistic pleasure of it. This is not an exclusively male trait, and the sooner people realize this, the sooner female-on-female harassment in the workplace will be treated more seriously, rather than laughing it off in some “Oh, you gals, just go get your nails done together and you’ll be fine!” manner. Not all women are soft, pliant creatures spreading joy and fairy dust around. We can be mean, and hurtful and petty. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some of the “snark” communities on LiveJournal and other blogging sites. Peruse a parenting bulletin board, and see how compassionate and supportive women are towards each other. I’m not being judgmental: hell, check out some of my posts on this blog. I find Encyclopedia Dramatica to be entertaining reading, if not occasionally appalling. I’m just as guilty as the rest, but more apt to admit it.
Equality should not be fluid, applied only when it suits us in a positive manner. If men are getting disciplined or losing their jobs over workplace harassment, women should as well. Demand that they deal with their various personality issues with a therapist, not by spreading rumors over who’s supposedly diddling the boss. Minimizing it to “just girls’ stuff, they don’t mean any harm” lets these 21st century answers to Nellie Oleson keep on making an office full of adults look like a high school classroom.