Podcasts

Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Gwen Crider

Toxic Culture: How Shall the Punishment Fit the Crime?

01/10/2018

By Karetta Hubbard, Lynne Revo-Cohen, Gwen Crider, and Dr. Chris Kilmartin

In a previous article, we discussed that sexism is a form of prejudice, just as racism is.  In the last article, we discussed Prevention of Sexual Harassment at work: What’s OK, What’s Not OK? We listed workplace behavior that is acceptable, and behavior that crosses the line. However, the line is confusing, and several readers wrote to say the guidelines are unclear and therefore unfair to those who would like to do the right thing. Their comments follow.

 “OK! I get there are rules that can guide workplace behavior. But, it is mystifying to me about the gradation of severity of inappropriate actions and their consequences. So, how is it calculated among President Bush Sr.’s pat on the fanny, Senator Franken forcing non-wanted kisses on colleagues, and Weinstein exposing himself to non-consenting women? These actions simply don’t equate to me in terms of intensity, and therefore in equal punishment. Solutions?”

“I admit I am a fan of Senator Franken, and I still think he got a raw deal having to resign as compared to the really egregious behavior by many of the other men. Isn’t there a penance that people can do? Everyone should have the opportunity to learn and change.”

In response to these comments, it is often challenging to decide where the line is drawn on different types of behavior.

Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light

To address this issue, the U.S. Navy in 1993 defined sexual harassment using colors to group acceptable and non-acceptable conduct by using an analogy to a “Traffic Light.” The Navy uses a different framework now, but this analogy works for the lay person.  

“Red Light” behavior simply must not occur in the workplace at all; should never happen in the workplace. Such behavior that is always unacceptable includes sexually explicit visual displays, unwanted touching of a clearly sexual nature, or a supervisor basing job-related actions on an employee’s agreement to provide sexual favors.  

“Yellow Light” means cautionThis behavior is questionable in the workplace and should be monitored very carefully. This is behavior that involves race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or medical information, or sexual orientation. Examples include gender-related jokes, sexist comments or remarks, physical behavior, or visual displays that involve sexual innuendo.  

“Green Light” behavior is appropriate and/or acceptable in the workplace and is often necessary to the job. This behavior may build trust and teamwork in the workplace rather than undermining trust and teamwork.

Remember Dave, Miquel, and Fred In Men as Allies, and how they learned to discuss respect and inclusion issues, and then confront each other when differences occurred? Assume these men are now participating in a Sexual Harassment Prevention training session, and are assigned to the same group. A classroom is set up in a large conference room and the facilitator faces the class. Displayed on a screen facing the group are explanations of Red, Yellow, or Green Light Behavior. The session is in progress, and the facilitator recites the following example.

“In your group, decide among yourselves whether the following situations are Red, Yellow,  or Green light conduct.”

1. An employee uses the company email to send some jokes to other employees and to friends outside the office. The jokes are about sex.

Dave, “Oh man, this is too obvious.Of course, you can’t use the email to tell a joke.The Company pays for the Internet so it should be only for company business.”

“Wait a minute,” interjects Fred.“So, we could tell a sex joke person to person”?

“Well”, says Miquel, “any inappropriate joke, whether in person or through email, should be off limits. Time for a decision: Red, Yellow, or Green Light”

“Ok,” says Fred, “not a piece of cake. But, Red Light?”

“Red Light,” the other two agree.

What would you say? A. Green Light? B. Yellow Light? C. Red Light?

2. Bill puts up a picture on the bulletin board of Miss Universe in her bikini bathing suit with the head of Jane, an Employee in the office, very carefully and artfully superimposed on the body of Miss Universe. 

Miquel begins, “This is inappropriate, I think. Was Jane asked if she minds her head being superimposed on a Miss Universe body”?  

“Actually, my take is that since the bathing suit photo doesn’t have anything to do with our job, I agree this is inappropriate,” says Fred.

“Well, she looks really good in that photo,” says Dave. “I wonder what Jane thinks?  Isn’t this the point?  The person has to agree and it is ok”?

“Shall we vote?” asks Miquel. “Two yellow, one green,” says Fred. 

What would you say? A. Green Light? B. Yellow Light? C. Red Light?

3.  A male supervisor compliments a female member of his staff on her new hair style by saying, “Mary, I like what you’ve done with your hair style. It looks very nice!”  

“Softball…,” exclaims Dave. “We learned last week compliments are OK! Don’t need to vote. Green Light. Everybody agree?”  

“He,y be careful. Would you ever say that to a guy, and if not, isn’t that a sexual innuendo?” suggests Miquel.

“Oh, OK, when you put it this way I can see this is Yellow light. Everybody agree?” asks Dave.  Followed by high fives.

What would you say? A. Green Light? B. Yellow Light? C. Red Light?

4.  At an office party, a female supervisor suggests to a male subordinate that they leave and get a bottle of Champagne and go to a nearby hotel.

“Here we go again!” says Dave. “The blasted consent issue once more.”

“Sounds like this is Green Light to me,” Miguel insists. 

“All right, two consenting adults, even if one is a supervisor, going to a hotel with a bottle of Champagne, should be fine?” questions Fred.

“I think so, but guys, she’s his boss and even if he goes along with it, he might just be caving into the pressure,” adds Dave.  

Miquel raises his eyebrow. “Dave, you are usually odd man out on these scenarios. But you gotta’ agree with us on this one; look he’s a guy and a single guy at that, so why not, what’s wrong with you, man?”

“Ok Ok, I cave…. Green Light,” shouts Dave. Fred and Miquel knuckle bump.

What would you say? A. Green Light? B. Yellow Light? C. Red Light?

The facilitator wraps up. To emphasize, “Red Light” behavior will result in serious disciplinary action, up to and including separation from employment. If your behavior is “Yellow Light,” very often, like the traffic light situation, you can quickly cross into “Red Light” behavior. Thus, frequent or persistent jokes or comments that are “Yellow Light” can become “Red Light.” When you are engaged in “Yellow Light” behavior and someone asks that you refrain from such behavior in their presence, it is extremely important that you respond to that request positively. Green Light – Behavior that is appropriate in the workplace.

Answers: How many did you get correct?

1. Q.  Sending sex jokes through the Internet. The group decides Red Light.

A. C. Sharing sex jokes in the workplace, whether by email or verbally is Red Light as it is considered offensive and is inappropriate conduct. Although, if everyone wants to hear them and nobody can overhear them, it’s not sexual harassment which has to be unwelcome. It is, however, quite unprofessional and has no place at work for that reason.

2. Q. Employee face superimposed on Miss Universe. The group was divided, “Two yellow, one green.”

A. C.  Red Light, as this behavior is considered offensive and/or intimidating; even if Jane does not object; also note Dave’s comment was itself inappropriate.

3. Q. Male supervisor complimenting female subordinate on new hair style. The group agreed it was Green Light. 

A. B. Yellow light. Yes, the “hair style” comment might be fine, but context is important – was it accompanied by body language or behavior that suggest it wasn’t simply an innocent compliment?  If it’s debatable, it could be Green Light, or Yellow Light.

4. Q. Female supervisor suggests to male subordinate to get champagne and go to a hotel. The group decided Red Light.

A. C. This is Quid Pro Quo, definitely Red Light.

Comments?

We welcome your thoughts and comments.  Each one contributes to the conversation which is the key to understanding and culture change.  Please email WATExplorer@gmail.com and we may publish your comment. Thanks!

The following is based on Kilmartin, C. T. (2017).  Male allies to women.  In J. Schwarz (Ed.), Counseling women across the lifespan: Empowerment, advocacy, and intervention.  New York: Springer. 

Toxic Culture: Sexual Harassment – What’s OK, What’s Not?

01/03/2018

By Karetta Hubbard, Lynne Revo-Cohen, Gwen Crider, and Dr. Chris Martin.

Sexism is a form of prejudice, just as Racism is. In the conversation we presented in our previous story, men learned to confront each other, and as an important byproduct, to support each other. We received the following comment from a reader. 

“Interesting article, as they all have been. It seems to me that if the husband and wife (or any male-female pair) have a relationship grounded first by true friendship, then a lot of the male exploitation issues go away. I know that’s a great over-simplification, but I believe it does work for at least some people, myself included.

The questions remain about how to prevent sexual harassment at work. The following helps to understand in simple interactions What’s OK, What’s Not?  Note: even though women are most often targeted regarding the following behavior, we note men are, too. Use of the word “woman” could be easily replaced with “man.”

What’s Not OK (The following examples may be obvious to many, but still a handy guide for curbing the wrong instincts.)

  • Office meeting: telling a woman on the team that she should “take one for the team” to “be extra nice” to a prospective client or supervisor/manager.
  • Telling a sexist joke in front of colleagues.
  • Making demeaning sexist comment about a woman’s body (body shaming), who they are considering putting on a key assignment.
  • Inappropriate touching, the difference between a nonsexual pat on the arm and sexual rubbing, massage, grabbing, fondling, kissing, cornering, etc.
  • What’s ok and not ok on a business trip with a colleague or subordinate; where to meet up, drinking, etc. Drinking alcohol can be a slippery slope that might allow your Inner Devil to surface.
  • Comments about male/female suggesting, you know “why she/he got the assignment?”
  • Using social media to degrade female colleague using a photo of her.
  • Spreading rumors to friends about sexual liaisons at work.
  • Calling a strong woman names such as “bitch,” “feminazi,” for being tough and demanding at a meeting.
  • Comments on “getting lucky”: speaking about your personal issues in your marriage or love life
  • Leering in a sexual way, stalking either in person or online, lewd or suggestive comments, licking lips, touching or exposing oneself in view of another person
  • Displays of sexually suggestive or pornographic images at work or after work online
  • Comments on mood such as time of month, other personal issues
  • Victim Blaming: making negative comments about someone who has complained about harassment, such as the way they dress, look or act as if they invited harassing behavior.

What’s OK – First rule: The line isn’t always clear: just remember, you need to be sure your behavior is “welcome” and not “offensive” to the others. The following simple examples are a general guide, not meant to be all-inclusive.  Remember, you can always ASK the person first. And if the person says they would be displeased, then just don’t say or do the behavior.

  • complimenting a good job, thought, contribution to work product
  • shaking hands
  • pat on the back or arm in a nonsexual manner
  • telling a non-offensive joke
  • normal kidding around in a nonsexual manner
  • criticizing a colleague’s work or behavior that has no sexual innuendo
  • asking a colleague for lunch, dinner, or drinks with no  Quid pro Quo
  • spending free time with a colleague or subordinate on travel or outside of work with no expectation that they owe you sexual favors
  • asking a co-worker for a date (not a superior, or subordinate) and if he/she refuses, respect the answer
  • respect and understand the “reasonable person standard” 
  • if you say the wrong thing, or offend someone: apologize!

These are guidelines, and, as humans we all react to situations differently. Always, use your best judgment. 

Comments?

We welcome your thoughts and comments.  Each contributes to the conversation which is the key to understanding and culture change.  Please email WATExplorer@gmail.com and we may publish your comment. Thanks!

The preceding is based on Kilmartin, C. T. (2017).  Male allies to women.  In J. Schwarz (Ed.), Counseling women across the lifespan: Empowerment, advocacy, and intervention.  New York: Springer. 

Since 1984 the founders of NewPoint Strategies, Karetta Hubbard and Lynne Revo-Cohen, have built a strong reputation for delivering extremely effective prevention training in high-risk issues such as sexual harassment/assault.  Contributing Author and Lead Consultant, Chris Kilmartin, Ph.D, Emeritus Professor of Psychology from the University of Mary Washington, is an expert in Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention, specifically Male Violence Against Women. Gwen Crider is a Diversity Expert. For more information, go to the website for NewPoint Strategies.

Photos from Bigstock

Toxic Culture: Men Challenging Men

12/20/2017

By Karetta Hubbard, Lynne Revo-Cohen, Gwen Crider, and Dr. Chris Martin

Our previous article featured a conversation between the CEO, the HR director, and staff, with the CEO explaining that harassment incidents were not acceptable in his company. (Read the article.)

Comments from Readers on last week’s article:

“What struck me reading this article is that the bystander has tremendous power, whether calling out a bully or a sexual harasser. And there’s power in numbers. One bystander becomes two, then three, then a group, standing up for what’s right and shutting down those who use words and gestures to harm others”. 

“Men need to teach their sons to say something when they see something”.

Men as Allies: Challenging Other Men

A comfortable private room in an office building, a group of eight men seated in a circle come together to discuss thoughts about sexism. Just back from a break, some are holding bottled water, others sipping coffee, all nervously wait to be the first one to begin.  

“We just discussed that sexism is a form of prejudice.  Frankly, though, I don’t know why I am here,” says Dave, breaking the silence. “I have always thought of women as equal. Except my wife of course, Happy Wife, Happy Life! Got to keep the home fires burning.” 

“That’s the point, I think.  If we spend time focusing on the `other sex’ and what they want, then we are not treating women as equals,” thoughtfully inserts Tyrone.

“Well, when my wife is not happy, she can be a bitch,” says Dave.  “I believe it is a battle of the sexes and it is important to figure out how to win.”

“I’m going out on a limb here, but If you believe this Dave, then you are in the wrong. I think you’re making the case to pit men against women, and this position then sets women up to be the weaker sex,” says Tyrone. 

“Yes, which makes them targets, or potential victims,” adds Miquel. “The point must be to elevate them to equal status. We need to find balance between the sexes. Not conflict points.

“Wait a minute, guys. I am on your side,” says Dave. “Just trying to figure out the best way to keep the Mrs. happy. I need to come home to some lovin’ you know?”

“What kind of chauvinist are you?” Miquel asks. “Sounds to me like you objectify your wife. And, all you want is a piece of well, you know.” 

“Wait a minute!” Dave responds. “I love my wife. But, she has the upper hand because of sex. And that’s real power.”

Miquel continues, “Umm, really man? I’m trying to making sense of this battle, because it has to be the most curious battle in the history of humankind, in which 90 percent of the combatants are supposedly in love with, and having children with, the enemy.”  

“OK” says Tyrone. “If this is true, that women and men should be treated equally, and men and women don’t need this fight, to keep it going is outright, blatant sexism?” 

“If you take away my right to control what I do in my marriage, what do I have left?” asks Dave. “I get hammered at work all day just holding my own, and when I come home I just want dinner, peace and quiet, and you know, a little …” He glances at Fred, the facilitator, for approval.

“I have been listening to you for more than an hour, and you constantly put your wife down,” says Tyrone. “What is your problem bro?”

Fred chimes in. “Can anyone give us a snapshot of where we are in this discussion?”

Miguel adds, “Yes, looks like our common denominator language is about sex. I think Dave is unenlightened, has a lousy marriage, and thinks woman are for one thing, and one thing only.”

“My guess is that this discussion reflects how men are socialized to think of women as less, or even as property that men can use. Am I on the right track?” asks Tyrone. “If the battle of the sexes is a focus for men, then trying to be an ally won’t work.  Being an ally means as men we have to level the playing field. Accept what women can give as well as take, and value that as well as we value male actions.”

Fred says, “This is the goal fellows. I have a homework assignment for the group. When you go home tonight, notice if your thoughts are chauvinistic vs altruistic. In other words, it is important to think about gender, as well as other forms of identity that provide disadvantages for women. This is a small, but important first step to recognizing male privilege. Small steps lead to large culture change.”

Miquel adds, “To undercut the myths that males are unfeeling, simple creatures who only care about sports and sex?  Plus, I think many people feel quite comfortable reinforcing these sexist beliefs.”

And, to challenge each other so change can take place?” Dave says, adding, “as the jerk who has been confronted all morning.”  

“Time to lick your wounds,” asserts Miquel.  

Question: Does real change begin in the home? In how men and women treat each other in social situations? Is Dave’s attitude towards his wife reflective of the way he treats women co-workers? Unless he changes how he treats his wife, and perhaps other women in his family and social circle, will he ever regard women as equals in the workplace?

Please send us your observations and comments. Be part of this dialogue!

The preceding is based on Kilmartin, C. T. (2017).  Male allies to women.  In J. Schwarz (Ed.), Counseling women across the lifespan: Empowerment, advocacy, and intervention.  New York: Springer. 

Since 1984 the founders of NewPoint Strategies, Karetta Hubbard and Lynne Revo-Cohen, have built a strong reputation for delivering extremely effective prevention training in high-risk issues such as sexual harassment/assault.  Contributing Author and Lead Consultant, Chris Kilmartin, Ph.D, Emeritus Professor of Psychology from the University of Mary Washington, is an expert in Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention, specifically Male Violence Against Women. Gwen Crider is a Diversity Expert. For more information, go to the website for NewPoint Strategies.

Photos from Bigstock

Toxic Culture: Enlisting Men as Allies

12/13/2017

By Karetta Hubbard, Lynne Revo-Cohen, Gwen Crider, and Dr. Chris Martin

“Most men are fair-minded; they like women, are friends with women, and are offended by sexism (Kilmartin & Berkowitz, 2005). However, they overestimate other men’s sexism (Kilmartin et al., 2008). When progressive men and women let them know that they are not alone in their egalitarian desires and invite them to join in antisexism efforts, many men respond in a positive way.”

How Men are Socialized Determines Their Behavior 

Imagine you are Dave….Stepping off the elevator, briefcase in one hand and coffee in the other, I walk past Carmen and instead of the usual, “Lookin’ sharp today Dave,” I get, “The meeting has started, you better get yourself in the conference room.” “Ummm” I wonder, what’s bugging her; hope it’s not me.

Slowly entering the rear door, moving against the wall I inch my way to the back of the room.  Folks are four-deep between me, the conference table and the boss standing in front, facing us.    

“As most of you know by now, we have had three Sexual Harassment reports filed here in the last month. This is not acceptable. The reports do seem to be credible; however, they are still being investigated. Please know there is no rush to judgement. But, this is the last thing our company needs. I am putting all employees on notice that this behavior will not be tolerated.” 

Continuing, he says, “look, these incidents took place in front of other people, but no one came forward except the harassed to let Human Resources know the incidents occurred. Can any of you tell me why no one defended or spoke up while these insults were going on”? There is silence.

I raise my hand. “Boss, I was there. I didn’t know what to say. The guys are my friends, and well, some of what they said was just joking around and really, everybody seemed to think it was funny.” Nervous laughter ripples across the room. Steely stare penetrates from him to me. Uh oh, I am so toast. How can I take my foot out of my mouth, I wonder.

“Are the women your friends?” a new voice asks. My head whips around and my eyes meet a woman, and my head flops to one side, eyes down; I am wishing I were anywhere but here. 

“Folks, meet Inez, our new Director of Human Resources, here to teach us facts about gender disparities and how to engage in Bystander Intervention. Most importantly, though, to teach us all how to be Allies. 

Inez asks no one in particular, “So, why did Dave not speak up? Research tells us that men’s fears of other men’s disapproval are based in distorted social norm beliefs. Men who tell sexist jokes or refer to women by animal names or the names of their genitals, also offend most men and tend to overestimate other men’s acceptance of these attitudes. Men routinely are bothered by other men’s sexism, but believe that they are unusual in this reaction because they are comparing their inner experience with other men’s verbal replies.”

Dave chimes in, “So if I had said something to the men who were saying sexist comments, the other men in the group would have appreciated my thoughts?”  

“Exactly,” she says. “In fact, they probably would have supported and agreed with you.”

“Really?” asks Dave. “Really,” she retorts.

Inez proceeds, “We are discussing how most men who behave in sexist ways do so to win the approval of other men.  Interestingly, many men who hold more favorable views of women do not challenge other men’s sexism because they fear their disapproval.  At the interpersonal level, sexism will not stop until men lose social status with their male peers for engaging in it.” 

“I, for one,” says a woman in the front row, “am tired of the lewd comments and innuendo, and the thought that I am ‘less than’ in men’s eyes.  There may be more going on here psychologically and socially than I know, but if this is a societal issue that stems from taught sexism, it is time to eradicate it.” Applause erupts among the women, and then Dave, says, “here, here!” Supportive laughs and snorts from the group. 

Inez follows with, “There is a lot to unlearn of the socialized differences between us. One way is to identify Everyday Allies. As a company, we can begin a series of discussions, called Crucial Conversations to identify negative and positive behaviors, how to address them, and what to say to one another when witnessing inappropriate behavior. Dave, you would have a language to speak to your male colleagues.”

Dave nods approvingly. “Yea, maybe ‘knock it off, not funny’ for starters.”

Question:  have some of you men been in a situation you wish you could confront and change the direction of the message?  If so, please send your comments in and we will publish them.

The preceding is based on Kilmartin, C. T. (2017).  Male allies to women. In J. Schwarz (Ed.), Counseling women across the lifespan: Empowerment, advocacy, and intervention. New York: Springer.

Next Week: How to be an Ally

Since 1984 the founders of NewPoint Strategies, Karetta Hubbard and Lynne Revo-Cohen, have built a strong reputation for delivering extremely effective prevention training in high-risk issues such as sexual harassment/assault.  Contributing Author and Lead Consultant, Chris Kilmartin, Ph.D, Emeritus Professor of Psychology from the University of Mary Washington, is an expert in Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention, specifically Male Violence Against Women. Gwen Crider is a Diversity Expert. For more information, go to the website for NewPoint Strategies.

Photos from Bigstock

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