The New York Times reported on Friday that the growing number of stories in the media about workplace harassment are finally causing men to be more careful about how they treat women at work—and office holiday parties to suck even more, or disappear altogether.
The piece opens in dramatic fashion with a San Francisco design firm director declaring, “cancel the holiday party.” He goes on to wonder whether he ever took his progressive flirtatiousness too far. “What flirting is O.K.? Was I ever taking advantage of any meager power I had? You start to wonder.”
Most of the men interviewed for the piece reiterate some version of this concern. They live in San Francisco, they believe in “equal rights,” and seem to respect themselves a lot, yet are simultaneously a little worried that they’ve harassed women. It’s the lifestyle feature equivalent of someone apologizing by saying “I’m sorry you had that reaction to what I did.” Some men also told the Times they want to talk about workplace harassment, they just don’t know where it’s appropriate to bring that up. I’m pretty sure they just stole that problem from women. But if I’m being super generous I’d suggest they learn about it on the Internet, or try talking to literally anyone in their life who cares about them.
Then we get this assertion straight out of the 1950s: “With women empowered to call out inappropriate behavior, some companies predict that boozy after-work events for the holidays could be combustible this year.”
How are some companies coping with freely-discoursing women? For one, “game zones” are reportedly supplanting open bars, and one New York-based event planner told the Times she’s noticing a lot of the parties being moved from their typical Thursday or Friday night time to Monday or Tuesday afternoons. I guess at least that way employees presumably get paid to attend their office parties. Other than that, seems like some managers are leaning heavily upon the innocent comforts of childhood.
I’m sure there have been other, similar pieces, but this is the first I’ve read that focuses specifically on the depletion of office holiday party “fun.” So far, my favorite article in this genre of “men being careful” has been the New York Daily News item about how Leonard DiCaprio didn’t move or talk to new people at a “sexy Halloween party,” because, according to a source “these guys have to be careful.” My least favorite has got to be this study about how men don’t give women life-saving CPR because they’re afraid to touch their chests?? Seems unlikely, but it was in The Guardian.
Anyway, tempting as these cautious-men articles are, I’m pretty sure most women would be just fine without Leo, or office holiday parties, or sexist studies, if it came to that.