I got my annual performance review yesterday. My score was good and right in line with where I thought it should be, but there was one area where my boss felt that I could improve. Specifically, I should be better friends with my co-workers. This stems from something that happened over a year ago; an e-mail exchange between myself and someone else in which we ripped on a mutually disliked co-worker for being lazy, pretentious, and in general, a Shit Sandwich. It was this nickname (that I did not even give him, that was someone else’s doing entirely and it’s nobody’s fault that it happens to be true!) that my bosses took issue with, because apparently, using the word “shit” is tantamount to “aggression.” This is one of those associations that people in offices come up with when they have nothing better to do with their time. Actually, this is one of those associations that women in offices come up with when they have nothing better to do with their time. I’ll get to this in a second by the way, so if you’re already getting pissed at me for betraying my gender, please, stay your anger for a couple of paragraphs…
My current boss wasn’t aware of this incident when she asked me to submit a performance review of Shit Sandwich. I certainly wasn’t going to tell her, because:
a) it happened more than a year ago,
b) the way I do my job has nothing to do with my personal feelings for someone, and
c) it’s fucking awesome to be asked to review someone who does a shitty fucking job every fucking day.
The review I submitted was honest and tactful (no, seriously, it was) and clearly tied in with how the company’s principles were reflected in this person’s performance. That’s the point of a performance review, a fact of which I am well aware because that’s my job. I can do my job whether or not this person is around because I am a fucking professional, okay?
My boss mentioned being surprised to hear that I once had a problem with this person, because the review I’d submitted didn’t indicate this at all. However, she still thought that I could be more open and friendly at work, because nobody respects someone who doesn’t strive to be super great awesome fun pals with everyone else in the office. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but that was the general message. I nodded on the outside, but inside I was like “the fuck?”
Male bosses don’t do this. Of all the male bosses I’ve had, only one was enough of a bitch to request a discussion over what he thought was a questionable facial expression (in a meeting where everyone dressed like Star Wars characters, a theme that was not communicated to me until I got there and surprise!), and that guy’s a fucking moron who still wears denim shirts to work. In general, though, male bosses are concerned with you showing up to work, doing your job while you’re there, and not making yourself or them look like assholes in the process. That’s it. And isn’t that the idea? Isn’t that the whole point of going to work? I show up, I do stuff to get paid, and I don’t fuck up. It’s not hard, really, and I don’t think anything else needs to be required.
Female bosses are different. Based on my extensive personal experience, it is not enough for a female boss if you show up for work, do your job while you’re there, and not make anyone look like an asshole. Female bosses need drama. They need gossip. They need to talk about feelings and periods (yes, periods) and whether or not everyone is friends all the time. They take everything personally. They equate not liking someone with “aggression.” They concern themselves with an inordinate amount of not-really-about-work things, and this makes me fucking crazy.
Maybe I’m more of a dude than my amazing set of boobs seems to imply. But for me, it’s ridiculous that working would not be the actual point of work, and that all that extra social status bullshit should matter at all when my job involves sitting at a desk and being leashed to my computer all day long. I don’t work in sales. I don’t work in media. I don’t work at any of those flashy, savvy, fun jobs where it actually is important to at least pretend to be friends with everyone. And even if I was, I still wouldn’t do too badly. Out of the dozen-plus people in my immediate group, I dislike three of them. Three. I’m friends (or at least on friendly terms) with everyone else, and even the people I don’t like get equal treatment where work-related stuff is concerned because we’re at work. That’s the job. Again, I am a fucking professional and that’s how shit works. As a professional, I want to be treated fairly because of the work I do, not because of the friends I make while I’m there. Men understand this. Lots of women don’t.
Are you pissed at me for betraying my gender yet? If so, I understand. I’d be pissed at me if I took everything personally, too. While I assure you that your hurt feelings and need to blame someone for them is totally justified, I’d like you to think about this:
These bitches are ruining it for everyone.
For every nutso “let’s be friends even though we’ll secretly talk about everyone behind their backs!” woman out there, there is a smart, practical, professional woman who knows that work and life are sometimes two very different things, and even when they’re not, they still don’t have to be so totally, messily combined. It’s these women who should be the bosses, but so often, they’re held back by the other kind of women, the sniping, unfocused, way too personal ones who will not have their social empire fall down just because there’s work to do. And in the rare cases when one of those good women gets to be the boss, they’re quickly knocked down a few pegs by the rest of their peers who can’t stand to see someone hold this kind of merit. They’re forced into playing that stupid female game with the rest of the hens because there is no other choice.
I don’t want to work in a world where I can’t ever be the boss because I’m a woman, but I also don’t want to work in a world where the only bosses I can depend on to get me there are women, too.
Wow…you’re absolutely on target about the catty dynamics of women in the workplace. I actually had to quit a job once because the office was 98.5% female, the majority of who were minivan-driving mommies, and I just couldn’t stand the mean-girl mind games, the endless focus on “feelings and friendship,” and all the peripheral stuff that had nothing to do with the actual work. I’m not a girly girl, and as a general rule, I’d much rather be around men.
So you’re one of the new Washington DC readers! Man, I thought the government was sniffing around for awhile.
Oh, and how could I forget this detail: On my last day in this estrogen-saturated workplace, the only man in the place (the HR dude, who looked like a poor man’s George Stephanopolous and, I suspect, worked there just to pick up chicks) escorted me to the only empty office room in the building to conduct my exit interview: the Lactation Room. This was the discreet place where female mommy-colleagues would go during the day to use a breast pump to uh, er…fill bottles.
Did it smell like people…juices?…in there?
Also, I was once reprimanded for making an involuntary gagging noise when a co-worker loudly discussed her episiotomy. Apparently, it was “natural” and “happens to every woman.” In that case, I’d rather hear about your period.
Y’know, as I recall, there WAS sort of an icky sweet, powdery, vanilla, people-ish scent in the Lactation Room. God, what a hellish workplace that was. Most of the managers were mommies who had this unspoken code that it was OK to use the office as a makeshift daycare center whenever necessary (nanny’s day off, snow day at school, etc.). They’d bring their sick, whining brats into work and let them crawl around on their cubicle floors all day. The main conference room frequently became a TV/homework lounge for the bored older kids. Once, I was trying to work at my computer, when somebody’s turd/daughter snuck up behind me and clamped her grubby hands over my eyes.
So lately I have been encountering push back from some of my female colleagues because instead of pleading for them to do something specific to there job description “if they have the time”. I have been sending the customary respectful “please handle this email”
It is weird that when your female support staff doesn’t feel coddled and is expected to just do their fucking job, I am the one that is out of line. Despite me being the one doing my job and they are the ones that aren’t doing theirs. I have difficulty expressing how much I hate that my organization would rather create a organization of friends than a professional organization that expects you to sit down, shut up, and get your work done.
In my group, having female management has resulted in EVERYONE being treated with kid gloves. I should have to beg or plead with you to do your job correctly, or find the cutest combination of words possible to remind you that you fucked it up AGAIN. This is the mistake, fix it now, move on. We shouldn’t HAVE to worry about people taking it personally when it so clearly involves BUSINESS.
JAKE I CAN’T TAKE THIS SHIT NO MORE.
When is Kilmerdance? Let’s get planning.
*shouldn’t* have to beg or plead.