The Week in Patriarchy is a weekly roundup of what’s happening in the world of feminism and sexism. If you’re not already receiving it by email, make sure to subscribe.
Has #MeToo murdered the office party?
No office holiday party this year? Blame #MeToo.
According to an annual survey by HR company Challenger, Gray and Christmas just 65% of America companies were planning to hold a seasonal party in 2018; the lowest number since the recession in 2009. The freeze on festivities, Challenger notes, may be due to worries about “potential liability following the #MeToo movement”.
While #MeToo has helped topple predators and usher in new laws, it has also increased workplace paranoia. Cancelled office parties are just one example of this; a recent Bloomberg investigation found male Wall Street executives are now going out of their way not to be alone with female colleagues, avoiding one-on-one meetings and dinners. (Bloomberg calls this the “Mike Pence” effect, as the vice-president never dines alone with a woman who isn’t his wife.)
It shouldn’t need to be said, but apparently it does: #MeToo doesn’t mean gender segregation. It doesn’t mean an end to socializing or fun. It definitely doesn’t mean everyone needs to start acting like Pence. On the contrary, educating people about consent and creating working environments in which there are clear boundaries around behavior, is empowering for everyone.
And if you still need persuading that firm boundaries makes for a fun night out, I suggest you take a look at the House of Yes. Voted by Time Out as the second best thing to do in the world, the Brooklyn venue has been described as “the wildest night club on the planet”. A night at House of Yes might involve anything from naked hot tubs to drag wrestling to cage dancers – but it also involves adhering to a strict consent policy. The moment you buy a ticket you are told about this and you are reminded of it throughout the venue. Not just through posters but through “consenticorns”; so-called “consent guardians” who wear light-up unicorn horns.
“They wander around the room all night and serve two roles,” explained Jacqui Rabkin, marketing director at House of Yes. “They step in if they see a situation where someone looks uncomfortable or too drunk, and if ask if they need help.” Then, she says, because “they have a light-up headpiece, they also act like a beacon”. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation you can quickly find a consent guardian; all of whom have been trained in de-escalation techniques.
With #MeToo setting off a Pence effect, House of Yes’s success is an important reminder that the stricter we are about consent, the more fun everyone can have. Rather than cancelling holiday parties, companies should be working hard to create a culture where everyone feels safe. They should fix the problem, not try and avoid it. That fix might not involve light-up unicorn horns, but it does involve talking about how we talk about consent.
Twitter is toxic for women
A study by Amnesty International has found female politicians and journalists were abused every 30 seconds on Twitter in 2017. It also found black women were 84% more likely than white women to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets.
Harvey Weinstein is going to trial
The criminal case against Weinstein will move forward, ruled a New York judge on Thursday. The judge rejected a motion to dismiss sexual assault charges against Weinstein and the disgraced producer will go to trial next March.
No pay out for Les Moonves
Former chief executive of CBS Les Moonves will not receive his $120m severance package, the corporation announced on Monday. The CBS board said that Moonves had misled the network about the sexual misconduct allegations against him, and there were grounds to terminate for cause.
Child sex abuse by priests in Illinois
The Illinois attorney general has accused the Catholic church of withholding the names of at least 500 priests and clergy members accused of sexually abusing minors in the state. On Wednesday the attorney general’s office published a damning report stating that “The preliminary stages of this investigation have already demonstrated that the Catholic church cannot police itself.”
Don’t expect equal pay until 2220
The global pay gap will take 202 years to close, according to the World Economic Forum. “Gender equality has stalled,” a WEF executive said. “The future of our labour market may not be as equal as the trajectory we thought we were on.”
Kavanaugh seems to be above the law
A federal court has tossed out improper conduct complaints against Brett Kavanaugh, saying they must be dismissed now he is a supreme court justice.
Sweden’s women-only festival sued
Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman has found that Statement, a music festival exclusively for “women, non-binary and transgender” people breached laws banning gender discrimination.
A coffee shop based at the Scottish parliament has changed the names of gingerbread men to gingerbread persons; a move prompted by research that shows over 30% of female ministers have experienced sexual harassment. I’m not sure how effective gender-neutral seasonal cookies are in combatting sexual harassment, but the name change is a good way to publicize the research results.
It’s also a good way to drive conservatives up the wall; rightwing commentators immediately seized upon the news as evidence of liberal thought-policing. On Fox News, Tammy Bruce, a network contributor, told host Tucker Carlson that it was “bullying” to call “gingerbread men a gingerbread person when they’re obviously men”. Honestly, Tammy, I have so many questions.
On that note, have a lovely Christmas, if you celebrate it. Try not to bully any gingerbread men. And check out this fun feminist advent calendar Week in Patriarchy reader Doina Proorocu made while teaching herself programming. (I particularly like door 19.)
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010