On Work Environments And Well-Intentioned Ish

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Men—professional men, college-aged men, men in schools, seminars, classes, and conferences—are (rightly) taught that women are just as capable, smart, resourceful, determined, and tough as men are. In a business/professional sense, you’re also taught to treat women the same way you’d treat other men. If you’re not able to do this, you face possible reprimand, you might be fired, and both you and your workplace could be sued.

But, men cannot treat women the exact same way men typically treat other men because, well, (generally speaking) if left to our own devices, we (men) are dicks to each other. So, you’re left with a dynamic where men are taught to “treat women the same way you’d treat men” but also taught to “make the environment more woman-friendly.” Basically, “gender-based differences don’t exist…but please make sure to remember that you can’t act the way you’d normally would with each other.”

There’s a scene in Django Unchained of all places that provides an example of how confusing this type of ambiguity with expected behavior can be. “Django” (Jamie Foxx) and “Schultz” (Christoph Waltz) are visiting “Big Daddy’s” (Don Johnson) plantation. When Schulz and Big Daddy plan to ahead into the house to discuss business, Big Daddy (I hate typing this so many times) instructs one of the slaves (“Betina”, played by Miriam Glover) to give Django a tour.

(Slightly paraphrasing)

Big Daddy: Django isn’t a slave. Django is a free man. You can’t treat him like you would a slave, because he’s a free man. He’s not like that. Do you understand?

Betina: So I should treat him like a White man?

Big Daddy: Heavens no. That’s not what I said.

Betina: Well, I don’t know what you want.

Big Daddy: Yea, I can see how that would be confusing.

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