Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sex in a Cold Climate

Back to Warsaw for a moment. 

(Writing this blog brings out the Scandinavian in me. One posting we're roasting in the sauna that is Zimbabwe, the next minute we're rolling in the the snow in Warsaw. Never mind.)

Here's a little something from the Warsaw Business Journal. Usually I only read the Lifestyle bits about art exhibitions and such, because I'm kind of a fluff-and-froth type of gal, but Mr D was kind enough to point out this article.

"Hey, read this and tell me what you think...."

Joanna Wóycicka, in her op-ed piece entitled Poland's Gender Problem, analyses current attitudes about sexual harassment in the Polish workplace. She highlights the recent referendum in Olsztyn that resulted in the removal of the town's mayor on sexual harassment and rape charges.

Fine. All very interesting. She concludes the first half of the article with this.

Poland is on the right track. The problem of sexual harassment in the workplace has at last been recognized and - more or less - condemned. Women know that they do not have to agree to such propositions and that an abusive employer can be permanently removed from a position of authority through due process.

Then she begins to careen slightly off track.

It would be good if more Polish women became aware of this. However, it would be bad if the role of gender in the workplace became overemphasized. I hope that Poland will not cross the line into the absurd, where a sincere "you look nice today" will result in the speaker being dragged off and hung from the scaffold of political correctness. It would be silly if every compliment linked to physiognomy led to a dismissal.

Okay, fair enough. We don't want too much political correctness, granted. That just makes everything so complicated. But now, here's her personal take on the matter. And we're really going off-road now, guys. Hang on to your hats!

I remember when, 10 or so years ago, my employer at the time entered our office. "You look fantastic," he said - I had just come back from holiday, felt relaxed and had a suntan. However, my colleague, an ardent feminist, immediately gave me a lecture on what had really occurred. I learned from her that this was a form of harassment, almost a sexual proposition, which I should have firmly and unambiguously rejected instead of acting like he had given me pleasure!

Aha! Of course! The ardent feminist helps re-educate the pretty young thing. Well done! 

And what is the ardent feminist's reward for her concern? Read on, dear Reader.... because Joanna has an insightful explanation that cracks open the whole mystery of what is or is not sexual harassment in the workplace.

I felt stupid, but after a while I decided that perhaps my colleague was objective because she was looking at the problem from the outside. She had the face and figure of a troll, and spent little on clothes or make-up. But not every little comment amounts to harassment.  [italics mine]

So much for The Sisterhood. 

With girlfriends like this, who needs enemies?  


Ali said...

Well, at least no one could accuse her of mincing words. She just gets down and says what she's thinking, doesn't she? Heh.

expateek said...

Gosh, I know. You just have to hope that "trolls" can't read newspapers, right? I was stunned by this.

Christine said...

Face and figure of a troll? Oh my goodness! She sure drove herself into the ditch with that one.

expateek said...

Christine -- Great extension of the theme there!! You nailed it!