These are strange and unsettling times. Since news first broke of Harvey Weinstein doing Harvey Weinsteinian things we have seen a daily parade of disgraced public figures who can’t seem to keep their privates private. Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose… The list, unfortunately goes on and on.
I’ve seen more #metoos than I can stomach. In this current climate Donald Trump would never have been elected president. The Billy Bush audio tape, and the way he bragged about treating women would have received a much different reception a year later, thanks to our new cultural enlightenment. We have experienced a national shift on sexual harassment and abuse. And it’s long overdue.
Yesterday brought new news about Matt Lauer. At first when we heard that he had been fired from his job as anchor of NBC’s Today, many thought this was a rush to judgement. An overreaction. But as the day progressed we learned more and more about the behavior that led to Lauer’s firing. It was not good. And it was not a simple lapse in judgment. What we saw by the end of the day was a clear picture of who Matt Lauer really is when the camera is not rolling.
But what really struck me was the headline that accompanied the news of Matt Lauer’s firing. It said he was fired for ‘Inappropriate Sexual Activities In The Work Place’. Which begs the question:
How much sexual activity is appropriate in the work place?
Are we really talking about a grey area here? Is this a judgement call? Is this a I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it thing?
The answer depends on what kind of work you do. If you work in the sex industry, sexual activity at work is not only appropriate, it is necessary. And if you like to mix your sexual activity with work, this is definitely the industry for you.
But if you work in ANY other industry there should be no sexual activity at work.
Does this sound way too extreme to you? Or does it sound like I am declaring the obvious? The fact that people fall into such different camps on this subject is part of the problem. Perhaps you think we should allow a little leeway, because there could be legitimate attraction in the workplace.
I know something about that too.
I met my wife at work.
My now-wife Dawn and I were both in our 20s and worked at a large advertising agency when we first met. This is the kind of setting that movies and tv shows use for steamy and/or tawdry workplace antics. And I can say with great confidence that I partook in none of that (did I really just use the word partook?).
I respected my workplace, and the woman I have now been married to for 15 years enough to not engage in any sexually laden language or sexual advances at work. Instead we spent time talking and getting to know each other. Like normal, well-balanced humans do. In fact, yesterday, when discussing this topic, my wife said:
Your activities were so appropriate I didn’t even know you liked me.
There had been no romantic or sexual activity. No innuendo. There was no groping or grabbing or exposing. Instead our G-rated work interactions included throwing a frisbee together at the company picnic. That really got the office buzzing.
Let’s eliminate sexual activity at work (except for sex industry workers). Everyone else keep your hands to yourself. Keep your clothes on, fully buttoned and zipped. Don’t rub, cup or squeeze anything. Don’t whip anything out. Don’t ask for permission to fiddle with yourself. Don’t host or attend work meetings in a hotel room.
Guys, treat your female coworkers with the respect you would give your mother, sister, wife or daughter. Women, demand the same of your male coworkers. If you can’t control your sexual urges at work, get yourself some professional help. That is not normal. And today it will no longer be tolerated. Just ask Matt Lauer.
*If you would like to see what I write about when people are behaving at work please scroll down to see other posts. If you like what you read, consider subscribing. If you don’t like what you read, let’s just be friends.
**To see what my 12-year old daughter Ava and I wrote about Matt Lauer in our Daddy-Daughter blog, Dad Says Daughter Says, click here.