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An imperfect life guide for women

Frat Boys Boardroom

By Karen Cleveland
I work in an office where it is quite the boys club…it’s practically like Mad Men. I get along with everyone well but can’t help feel uncomfortable, and almost angry, when I’m sitting at my desk and the VP comes around and starts talking about the Sunshine Girl. Within minutes, about a few feet away from my desk, a gaggle of guys will gather and start scrutinizing her body and then begin talking about sex in general. It makes me uncomfortable – so I just quietly keep my eye on the computer and try to block out their jeers. I don’t want to come off as a prude but find this really irritating. What’s your advice?

Yikes…sorry to hear this. I can imagine how toxic of an environment that must be. Good for you for having the gumption to address it. A lot of people would prefer to passively bitch about it. You’re clearly of the productive-bitching school, a trait I find endearing.

There are tons of insensitive people in the world, manifested in sexism, racism, homophobia, or just a general awful disposition. Regretfully, most of them are employed, and bring their insensitivities to work, every day.

Get your game face on. When the sneers and comments start flying, muster up your best poker face and pull the attention where it needs to be: work. Then, take on the chauvinists, one by one, starting at the bottom. Do not address this in a group format. You’re outnumbered, for one, and secondly, no one should be lectured in front of their colleagues. If you start a public pissing match, you‘ll lose and be dubbed a brat, a girly-girl, etc [insert more patronizing terms here].

If you can swallow your ego (and disgust) for long enough, offer to take them (individually) for a coffee. Explain how their frat boy behaviour makes for a sucky place to go to work, but you figured that you could talk to them, because you know they’d understand. Rather than attack them for being jerks (which they are), make a plea for an ally, and ask them to help you squash this (follow it up with a ‘hey, thanks for your time. Good talk.” note to show some love). Have a few of these conversations, so that by the time you make it up to the Vice President, you’ve made a case for yourself and showed you’re taking it on, with moxie. You will absolutely be scrutinized and picked a part for how you handle this, so show your boss that you’re a force to be reckoned with. It’s a make-it-or-break-it moment – good luck. If you don’t succeed, book a good chunk of time with your HR manager on the way out.

6 comments
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Anonymous
Anonymous

Don't address shit with a frat boy. Ever. You aren't even human to them. You're a woman. They see women as mothers and whores. And no one wants a nag around. Unless you don't want to advance at your job, keep your mouth shut. If you want to get them to stop, then figure out a way to get HR in there without the trail leading back to you. I guarantee you if you even so much as open your mouth directly to any of them, even in private, you will be 86'd faster than you can say stonewall. Boys roll in a pack and they will clothes line any woman who disrupts that. And don't focus on work. Men don't focus on work and they get promoted. Focus on how to get rid of them one by one. Cause trust me hunny, they would get rid of you for one of their own in a heartbeat. No more of this by women for women advice please. She doesn't need her hand held, she needs to get some competent women in their place asap and judging by their demeanor, it shouldn't be hard to outsmart them.