Workplace Etiquette: The Undoings of Marie Claire

By Jennifer Garvey

I have never been one to laugh along like “one of the boys.” For one, I’m a woman, and two because the joke usually being made is not something I find humorous. It is a frequent occurrence among men to crack jokes with their buddies at work, however women are usually at the butt of these jokes. Recently at one of my jobs I was in a room with two men and one of them was talking about one of our female managers giving him a hard time for being late. Obviously, he was late and was in the wrong and she had every right to come down on him for being tardy. The conversation went as follows:

“Jeanie* was giving me a hard time for being late today.” “Oh yea? Well I would have said, “˜Hey Jeanie do you know how big my cock is?'”

I was utterly offended by the statement and informed the person who made the comment that is was inappropriate and reported the comment made to my manager, but of course nothing was done. The man was not reprimanded for making the comment (but don’t worry I haven’t stopped hounding the managers and I won’t until something is done.) But just the fact that men in all work environments can say things like this inferring that they are going to hurt women with their supposedly large genitals. Exactly what does his “large cock” have to do with his co-worker being late? I don’t see any connection, do you?

In a recent section of Marie Claire’s career advice column entitled, “Cubicle Coach” an anonymous reader wrote in to talk about male co-workers who were making fun of the female receptionist;

“Dear CC: I work in a male-heavy office where banter often leads to sexual jokes about the female receptionist. I don’t want to make a big deal of it, but I do think their talk is offensive. Should I just laugh along like one of the guys?”

Last time I checked the workplace wasn’t high school, and we shouldn’t be giving into social pressures to “fit in.” You can speak your mind ladies and gentlemen, don’t be afraid that Brad from accounting, the most popular guy at work won’t like you anymore because you have a mind of your own. What is worse is CC’s response; “You’re not one of the guys, but you don’t want to come off like the Church Lady, either. Try affecting the world-weary condescension women reserve for frat boys everywhere: “Yeah, guys, we all know that Nikki at the front desk is sporting a lovely pair, but c’mon. That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me, but if Ms. Tight Sphincter in accruals walks past and hears it, you’re toast. And you know I’d miss you all so much.” Um, what? Yea I’m sure your co-workers would respect you and stop their teasing once you said that, not.

Also, in another “Cubicle Coach” entry a woman writes in to ask whether or not she should report her boss for groping her at a company party. Where is the question there exactly?

“Dear CC: My boss groped meat a company party. It wasn’t overt and disgusting, but nor was it inappropriate. He’s an OK guy and a good manager. But do I owe it to my colleagues and myself to report him?”

Um, YES. But that isn’t what CC thinks: “CC once had a boss who, despite all the out-of-court settlements, liked to go around pawing at all the interns; during the height of Monica-gate, he paraded around the office bellowing, “What’s wrong with a good blow job in the afternoon?” A few ways for you to handle, none ideal. You could confront him quietly, explain your discomfort, and add that you see no reason to take your complaint higher. He should get the message (or, more likely move onto fresh meat.) You could take it to someone else in the company, asking to keep it off the record, and have her say something to him. Or you could go to HR. Most companies have formal sexual harassment policies in place, but they often can’t promise to protect your confidentiality. As for that burning question: Nothing wrong with a quick one in the afternoon, as long as the boss isn’t involved.”

WHAT!? Seriously? So now it’s ok for your boss to “move onto fresh meat” because you told him you don’t like it? Is anyone hearing this correctly? Report the sleezeball to HR. And by the way CC the burning question the woman is asking isn’t, can I have a “quick one” in the afternoon, it’s if she should report him. Whoever wrote into CC looking for advice, the answer is YES, you should report him because if he did it to you, he’ll do it to another girl and maybe he won’t stop at groping with her.

*Name changed