Last week Meghan Casserly of Forbes published an article – Every Man You Work With Thinks You Want to Sleep With Him. This article raised some eyebrows. Is this true? Do the men we work with look at us sexually even though we have platonic relationships? And is it true that it doesn’t matter if we are in a relationship – they still think we want to sleep with them??
Meghan has an attention getting headline and her article has some truth. But it doesn’t explain what men are really thinking and how we as women can control this situation. So, let me explain.
First, the article addressed men and women in their twenties. So, we expect more flirting at that age when many people are single. As for the rest of us, have the men we work with thought about each of us sexually? Do they discuss us sexually amongst themselves? Short answer – Yes.
But before the femininst in you gets worked up, understand what they are doing.
First, recognize that men have a pack or herd mentality. When you join the office, you become part of their pack. You are one of them.
Second, men don’t believe women should be sexually unattached. The idea of the lone female just doesn’t compute. The lone female must be pursued and matched to a man, just like every female in the wild must be mated to a male.
Putting these two thoughts together the male pack you work with believes you should be mating with another member of the pack. You are their woman.
When you start working at a new office the first thing the guys will want to know about you is your availability – which is not defined by you or your relationship status. Meghan’s article was right about that. What they do care about is whether or not another man has staked a sign out in front of you saying “Do Not Touch – She Is Mine.” If your male office mates make an advance on you, is a man going to step forward and challenge them?
That is the critical question! In order to keep the men you work with from thinking of you as sexually available you must place a man between you and them. It doesn’t matter if you are married or single.
So, if you are married or in a relationship, you need to introduce your man to your male co-workers as soon as possible. If your man can come to the office that is great. He is coming onto their turf and he should instinctively know what to do.
If you are single and don’t have a boyfriend you can adopt a big brother. If you are a woman working away from home, or if your man is not home, you should also have a big brother. Basically, this is a man who will stake out a sign that says “To Get To Her You Have to Go Through Me.” A big brother can be a friend or even a co-worker. He just needs to have one important characteristic – he should be a guy your office mates will like and want to join their pack.
Even after you introduce your man or big brother to your office mates, they need to bond. Make sure your man comes to the next office social event, group lunch or happy hour. Once your guy is part of the pack, all is good in the world. Men typically respect other pack members’ relationships.
If you are thinking you can handle this on your own, or that if you don’t talk about your personal or dating life, then the guys won’t either, you are mistaken. Even if all the men in your office are happily married and no one is personally interested in you, a man in another office will see you as an opportunity.
The good news is your male co-workers will form the first line of defense – the perks of being a member of the pack. The outsider will approach them first, asking about your availability. If your co-workers believe you are available and they like the outsider, they will encourage him. If you have produced a big brother, your office mates will generally approach you first and let you know someone is interested. If your office mates don’t like the outsider or you decide you don’t, they will step in and keep him away. After all you are part of their pack and as such get their protection.
Are you wondering if there is an age we will reach when we can expect this game to end? Will we ever be too old for this game or will we just trade the workplace for the retirement community?! Let me know!
It sounds like we haven’t progressed too far in the past 40 or so years – that as a woman we still can’t go to work and be seen only as a professional. It seems absurd that we need to use a man to keep our male co-workers under control. Frustrating as that is, we also need a big brother to help keep their wives under control. The only thing worse than being viewed as a sexually available woman by your male co-workers is being viewed as sexually available by a jealous wife! But I will address that in a future article that I have already titled Wives and Knives!
7-31-2012: I posted this article on another site and got more than a few comments. Some women thought that the situation I talk about in this article is over the top and don’t like the idea that we should enlist the help of a “big brother” – we should be able to handle it on our own. I posted my response to their comments below because I want to share it.
Since writing that comment, I’ve had time to think about the reasons I started this website. While I thought about doing it for several months, what made me take action was learning that a friend of mine who is an attractive single woman was sexually assaulted at work. She does not think this article is over the top. She wishes like Hell that she had a “big brother” who stepped in and challenged her co-worker before the attack. What hurts and angers her the most is that she didn’t!
Don’t be naive. The reality is that it is very difficult for a woman by herself to stop a man from harassing or assaulting her. We need help. Men can help us diffuse the situation. Their help doesn’t make us weak or mean we are fulfilling a female stereotype. The reality is that most men know they can physically over power us. So when we challenge them they know they can ultimately win. They are less confident that they can win against another man who is being protective.
I learned about using the big brother concept when I was in the Air Force. Men taught it to us and instructed us to use it. So, I don’t care if some women are offended by this concept. Those of us who work in situations where we are considerably outnumbered by men, know we have to constantly assess our situation and be vigilant.
In a group of 15 men, there may be only 1 who gets out of line. But he will recruit a partner. Together they can recruit another 4-5 men. Then the harassment begins. A woman has to be aware and keep the situation in balance. But not on her own!
I promote the idea of male and female balance on this website. This is one of those situations that requires a man to establish the balance with us. Don’t fall victim to idealism.
As you can tell I am passionate about this subject. But this friend is not the only woman I know who has been assaulted or raped at work. I have three friends who have been seriously victimized.
Some day I will write an article about what I went through to get to the top of construction. There is a lot I have never told anyone and I don’t want to turn women off from following in my footsteps. But I also don’t want them to have idealistic notions and be unprepared for some of the ugly realities.
I know there are a lot of women who want me to keep the ugly realities to myself but I will decide what to tell. This website is about the truth and reality and I will not sacrifice it for feminist idealism. The feedback I have gotten is that I speak the truth based upon actual experience and that is what you appreciate. So, that is what I will continue to do.
Empowered Women Have Big Brothers!
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