This is more of a lament than anything else. I can't prove what I say, but I think my observations as a guy living in the United States may have some merit. Although I can't change the way things are going, and to some extent, I have to accept them, I still feel several things: frustrated, angry, offended, sad, wistful.
|Image credit: Pixabay / skeeze|
Because of the culture of fear and political correctness, employers have taken a "zero tolerance" for sexual harassment in the workplace. But — what is it? Employees are subjected to mandatory training upon hiring, and often have to undergo annual repetitions of the training. I don't reckon this is so much because they care about hurt feelings, but to cover themselves in case a harassment complaint is filed. But such complaints can be made by someone who is vindictive, seeking attention, or just plain nutty.
Don't get me wrong, I know full well that some sidewinder in authority will say, "Miss Jones, you're an attractive woman, and you can use your considerable, uh, assets to advance in this company". Or a co-workers can keep hitting on someone for some mattress dancing action, making the target uncomfortable, unproductive, and possibly leaving the company. I agree that no means no, you savvy?
One training module I completed said that you can get in trouble for saying wrong things. Fine. Also (if you still have your job), you can't retaliate, which can result in adverse employment action. Fine, again. But one of the ways of "retaliation" according to this training is not speaking to the person. Pardon? If someone's mouth gets him or her into trouble, not speaking seems like the sensible thing to do. Weird.
The culture of fear means that some people are afraid to say anything. Not just that a remark could be taken the wrong way, but the "offended" person could make a complaint. Although my supervisor of snake wrangling at Pernicious Whatzit Widgits is a smart lady, I'm afraid to tell her she has nice eyes. Nor will I say to a woman I work with, "You look nice in that dress", or something. Not that I'm necessarily afraid of offending them, but I'm afraid that someone, somewhere, may take action against me, even if my comments are unobtrusive to a reasonable person.
Then I may appear unfriendly or stand-offish. So be it, I don't want to lose my job or have my reputation tarnished by someone with a chip on his or her shoulder, or has been conditioned by society to be fearful and suspicious. I get kind of sad about that.