‘I always leave my door open when female students are in my office.”
That’s what a professor at a prestigious liberal-arts college told me a few years ago. And since then, I’ve heard similar sentiments from numerous male academics.
The atmosphere on campus is so volatile these days when it comes to relations between the sexes, and young ladies have been known to make unfounded accusations against fellow students as well as employees. So these professors have decided to play it safe.
They’re not the only ones.
According to a National Journal survey, a lot of politicians are worried about the consequences of being alone with female staffers. An article on the Web site last week revealed: “Several female aides . . . have been barred from staffing their male bosses at evening events, driving alone with their congressman or senator, or even sitting down one-on-one in his office for fear that others would get the wrong impression.”
Well, that’s one explanation.
In one case, a congressman told his staff that his wife didn’t want him alone with these women. (Now there’s a neon flashing sign to get a new job.)
But this idea that it doesn’t look right for a male boss to be alone with a female employee sounds like it comes straight out of Victorian England. And it’s probably just an excuse.
More likely the congressmen, like the professors I’ve spoken to, don’t want to leave themselves open to claims of sexual harassment and the lawsuits that might result.
Feminists have managed to create an employment atmosphere where men walk around on pins and needles wondering when something they say might be taken out of context or when a woman might decide to ruin a man’s career with a false accusation.
Surely there are plenty of male bosses guilty of boorish behavior. But there are also plenty of women who believe that a sexist joke or even a compliment on one’s outfit is enough to create a “hostile work environment.”
And so rather than engaging in a “he-said, she-said” deposition, many bosses would rather make sure they have witnesses to every interaction.
Of course, the notion that female staffers are being prevented from certain kinds of interactions with their bosses has provoked outrage from predictable quarters.
Not only do staffers report that these policies make their jobs “significantly harder to do,” but it also makes it harder for these women to climb the professional ladder.
One male aide told National Journal he’d worked in an office where women weren’t allowed to drive the boss places or be his minder at evening events. If the women valued their career, they’d “have to go somewhere else at some point.”
A spokesman for the Office of Compliance explained: “A practice like this means that women can never become trusted advisors or rise to high positions within an office based solely upon their gender.”
No kidding! He advised that “employers should concentrate on ensuring that their staffs are trained in workplace-rights laws and that the workplace is free from harassment and discrimination rather than trying to build unlawful fences around their female staff.”
There’s no doubt treating male and female employees differently is illegal, and a case could probably be made that these male bosses are discriminating.
But most politicians would rather be accused of avoiding one-on-one meetings with a female employee than of some kind of harassment.
Those “fences” have been built by the legal environment we live in. Once again, feminists have managed to turn women into helpless victims.
In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Northwestern professor Laura Kipnis laments the modern feminists who through their harassment codes have changed campus life:
“Students were being encouraged to regard themselves as such exquisitely sensitive creatures that an errant classroom remark could impede their education, as such hothouse flowers that an unfunny joke was likely to create lasting trauma.”
Indeed, these rules not only prevent women from having close relationships with their male professors. Women may be held back in their careers as a result of this nonsense. The chickens, as they say, have come home to roost.
?Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.