The Whore Syndrome

Or to put it another way — Women-are-just-so-alluring-that-men-can’t-control-themselves-so-the-women-have-to-be-denied-opportunites-so-men-don’t-lose-control.  Which is insulting as hell to men and puts women in a symbolic burqa.

Why am I writing this?  Because I just read an article about how Mike Pence will not dine alone with a woman.  Nor go to an event where there will be alcohol unless his wife is along.  Seems quaint, right?  It’s also deeply pernicious in terms of a woman’s ability to advance in her career.  Here’s why.  If your male boss takes that stance you as a woman can’t be mentored by him.  You can’t travel with him to meetings, conferences, etc.  If you are an executive it’s tough to make that big sale or merger if you can’t meet alone with a potential client because sometimes you need to have that one-0n-one conversation.

I have a young woman friend whose boss is a powerful Hollywood producer.  He made her his personal assistant and she was at his side for every meeting, at the Cannes and Toronto Film festivals, sat with him as he pondered which projects to green light.  In other words she learned the business from the ground up from a man at the top of his game.  She she holds a senior position in the industry.  In Mike Pence world she would never have had that opportunity.

The boys club is pernicious in other ways.  In Hollywood a lot of business is conducted on the golf course.  A friend suggested I take up golf, and how I could “play with the wives.”  I pointed out to him that playing with the wives does fuck all for me.  I need to be playing with the men, but of course I’d never be asked to join a round of golf with the boys.

Another venue for networking was a weekly poker game frequented by studio and network execs, writer/producers, writer/directors.  No women.  Once again the levers of power are out of reach.

When it comes to business we’ve got to stop seeing color and we’ve got to stop seeing gender.  We’ve got to start seeing humans.

4 Responses to The Whore Syndrome

  • Sharon Browning says:

    And yet women are pushed towards being alluring, by advertising, marketing, the media, and societal attitudes. It truly is infuriating. Hopefully, though, we’re at a turning point. Keep on calling out this sexist attitude, Melinda, and keep calling for equality and humanity. Great post.

  • Lynne in MI says:

    And it starts early. Think of all the unreasonable school dress code issues where girls are pulled from classes because ” they are too distracting and the boys can’t learn” . This makes it apparent that the girl’s education has less value to those in charge.

  • Paula Helm Murray says:

    Tell me about it. My first job outside of working for the state was at a veterinary vaccine manufacturer. My big boss was the QA/government relations boss, pretty much on par with the plant manager. My boss wanted to train me to do his job, and was working on teaching me the ins and outs of what we had to to do to keep the USDA happy, etc. Plus I supported the research vets by doing things like literature search, and and supported clerical functions for the plant.

    I was getting pretty good at it. Then my boss died. The plant manager was a tiny horse’s ass with the complete short-man-asshole syndrome. My first meeting was being told, ‘you are no longer going do anything like what you were, you are going to take orders from me directly and do nothing I don’t order AND you are going to start wearing better clothes. Spend your Christmas bonus on clothing and pumps.

    I found another job instead.

  • Steve Walker says:

    I too was disturbed to see that his statement was seen by many as a nod to old fashioned virtue instead of an example of the limiting, stunted vision he employs. Beyond the limits it places on women he works with is the limiting effect he suffers from as he isn’t able to fully appreciate their input and expertise. With the problems that we face on this planet, we can no longer allow the vital input of 51% of our population to be wasted and ignored.

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