I’ll be honest: I haven’t run into too much prejudice in my lifetime. I’ve lived in a quaint little world where most everyone is accepted. In some place or another I’ve had friends of a different ethnic heritage, sexual preference, religion, etc. and each has been fairly at home also in this quaint little world.
Perhaps I attribute this to 21st century (global) thinking. Perhaps I attribute it to the areas in which I have lived. Whatever the cause, and wherever I’ve been, not only has most everyone around me been accepted and not received prejudice, but I have not been the recipient of such ill will (short of my conservative tenure at a very liberal liberal arts college and the personal censure by one professor-turned-soccer-coach who shall remain nameless [insert appropriate link to bio here?]).
Recently, though, I have found a misogynist in my life. I was not wholly aware of this situation until I took a step back and put the pieces together. While some people are blatant with their prejudices (ie: Klan members), others may not even know they are afflicted with such personal shortcomings.
Of course, a good handful of us remember the cross-bearing misogynist in Chicago at Christmas during our 1L year. He stood in the kitchen of a house party somewhere in Lincoln Park and proceeded to explain why women should not be lawyers. Props to Sidley Austin’s finest for disproving his soapbox oratory.
But mine is not so outspoken. In fact, I’m sure he doesn’t even know he is the way he is. Oh, yes… and I work with him. A few examples of his aversion of women:
1. One of his direct employees left the company after 7 years. She had her reasons, none of which the general public should be privy to. It is her decision. However, over the course of the next month (not a day less), Misogynist proceeded to tell anyone who dared mention her name that she left in order to spend time with her young children and he tended to put great emphasis on the fact that her 7 years with the company “apparently meant nothing” to her. He openly critiqued her decision to people both inside and outside of the company. [Compare: about a month ago, a mid-high-ranking guy has left the company after 17 years in order to work for a competitor. Not a single peep out of Misogynist].
2. I also happen to do some work for Misogynist. He tends to be a cowboy and has more than once told me what the state of the law is (mind you, I am the one with the JD here), with little more legal reasoning than “because you just can’t do that!” [For the non-legals out there, we law geeks would ask not only “why” but “what authority do you have that supports this statement?”]. So, after sending a very rough (and not particularly company-friendly) contract out to a very sophisticated client, Misogynist finally calls me when negotiations get tough. I spent several conference calls, e-mails, and redline drafting hours with the client and his mega-firm attorney over this contract. At the end of the day, Misogynist did not take me into the last day of negotiation, where he met with the client to sign the contract, and further proceeded to fail to acknowledge that (a) the contract was signed, and (b) I had any part to do with getting it to that point. In fact, I had to prompt him several days later about “what the state of the contract is” (in which he told me “Oh, it was signed the other day when [client] was here.”). [Compare: our outside counsel team is comprised of men. When any one of them does something for Misogynist (and this is pointing out that Misogynist has bypassed me and gone straight to the outside counsel), their name gets lauded for days, or that he will ask outside counsel the same question he has asked me (and invariably receives the same answer… for $250 more dollars)].
3. Not a specific example, but the collective complaints I’ve fielded lately from the handful of women in the office about how Misogynist has failed to listen to them on critical points in dealing with clients and how it has backfired lately.
I shake my head. This is the 21st century, Misogynist. Sure, you may have grown up in a patriarchal business environment, but the times they are a changing. PepsiCo’s chairman and CEO is a woman (Indra Nooyi), Archer Daniels Midland (a leading ethanol fuel company) is chaired by a woman (Patricia Woertz), as is Kraft Foods (Irene Rosenfeld), Alcatel-Lucent (Patricia Russo), Xerox (Anne Mulcahy), Rite Aid (Mary Sammons), and eBay (Margaret Whitman), and 10 of the Fortune 500 companies are headed by women, among others. This is not a freak event in nature. Yes, Misogynist, women are doing amazing things in this business world. Maybe it’s time to start listening and give credit where credit is due.
Normally I don’t get on a preachy woman’s soapbox. That’s not my style. But once in a while, I feel the need to point out really silly prejudices (aren’t they all?) that still abound. And this one apparently still exists.
Tsk, Tsk Misogynist. One would think that at age 40, you would be hip with the times. Apparently I am wrong.