Did I just say I had some breathing room at work? I don’t have it Tuesday night. There was an election today, there was but one question on the ballot, but it was the one I’ve been writing about for a month, so I have to handle the follow-up. (Or, as we journalists like to put it in our internal memos: the “folo.”)
I’m writing this about an hour after the polls closed, and this question is going down like (insert fast-falling imagery here). Like a rock in a pond. Like a plane with one wing. Like a whore at a bachel– never mind. I haven’t seen a margin slimmer than 75-25 percent yet. Well, anyone could see it coming. I’ve never seen internet comments quite like the ones on this issue, seething rage from left to right, all of it directed at a legislature that simply couldn’t get anything done, even in a lame-duck session (important in Michigan, because of our term limits).
They got this thing done at 5 a.m. on the last day of the session. And this is what happened. Back to the old drawing board, boys and girls.
One quick note before I get on this conference call with the Democratic leadership: You “Mad Men” fans who’re watching the final episodes may have an opinion on the sexual-harassment plot line in the latest one. Hanna Rosin did:
…this episode depended on some pretty crudely-drawn enemies. The bros at McCann were like guys you usually encounter only on workplace training videos about sexual harassment.
You want to know how much things have changed since the c-1970 period depicted there? Look at that observation by Rosin, who almost certainly was an infant at the time. I had a friend whose boss literally chased her around the desk, and when she complained, she was transferred, but the boss, deemed too valuable to the company, was left in place, a new assistant dropped in to amuse him. So was it bad then? I was years away from entering the workforce, but it was bad when I did a decade later, so I have no problem believing what Joan Harris was fictionally enduring up on the screen.
Many of you readers went through this. Tell some stories. Me, I gotta hoover up some quotes.
ROGirl said on May 6, 2015 at 5:39 am
I don’t feel so bad about not voting now. It wouldn’t have made any difference.
In these final episodes of Mad Men I’ve been kind of obsessing over the idea that Don will kill himself. Matt Weiner may have other things in mind to close out the series, but Don has been steadily confronted with death and loss in these episodes.
David C. said on May 6, 2015 at 6:29 am
They’ve turned the tables on harassment videos. Now it’s equal opportunity harassment with man-woman, woman-man, and man-man. Still no woman-woman though. Anyway I look forward to the annual training video every year. It’s nice to see a little good vs. evil instead of the usual nose to the grindstone earnestness of most training videos.
Linda said on May 6, 2015 at 6:32 am
I don’t feel bad for Michiganian, even if they are seething. Snyder raided the gas tax revenues for the general fund, financing an income tax cut and less nothing for roads, and Michigan punished him with reelection. In most states, we are so reluctant to pay taxes that we don’t/refuse to see when politicians are robbimg Peter to pay Paul. Another dodge is to create a sort of scapegoat class to tax–drinkers, smokers, speeders, –rather than just payimg for what we want, like grown ass people should.
Linda said on May 6, 2015 at 6:33 am
I meant left less for roads.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 6, 2015 at 7:00 am
Heck, I don’t find the portrayal of the McCann crowd implausible for the 80s, so if Weiner wants to say they were acting that way in 1970, I don’t find it unlikely. The stuff managers said and did to and about and with women in their employ in food service, city government, and newspapers/radio — very McCann-ish. I was younger then, he said unnecessarily, and the one difference between my memories and the “Mad Men” depiction was that there seemed to be more willing participation by the women caught up in it, which I suspect I’d have realized was much less so if I’d had the maturity to pick up on the nuances of the rituals, but it all happened “above me” in the food chain, and my male and youthful assumption was that as a guy if you moved up in an organization there were two paths forward. One was the approach of married and decent men who didn’t play around with the ladies, but dealt with them simply as employees, and the either single or unhappily married men who let women play them for advantage or promotion . . . but there was so sense at the time that there was any particular advantage, as a male, to following one track or the other. It was simply a matter of taste.
alex said on May 6, 2015 at 7:05 am
I worked in a restaurant thirty-some years ago frequented by a businessman who treated the female waitstaff as if they were prostitutes. He thought nothing of offering them money for sex, touching them inappropriately or making inappropriate comments. He would invite them to take a vacation with him, all expenses paid. They would complain and be told by the owner that Mr. B——- was an excellent customer, putting up with this sort of treatment was part of the job, and if they didn’t like it they could go find employment somewhere else.
Then one day a clergyman wearing a collar came in and got totally sloshed and started putting the moves on yours truly. I got called into the back by the boss and got my ass chewed out. How dare I “seduce” his customers, let alone a man of God?
And that’s my story of sexism in the workplace.
Andrea said on May 6, 2015 at 7:43 am
In the 1980s I went to journalism school at a big time university (hint: it’s right next to a lake) and was asked repeatedly by my male advisor things like: what’s a pretty little thing (such a cliche!) like you doing in journalism? And when told by me that I was interested in studying photojournalism and that I was getting a minor in photography from the art department, he asked: have you ever thought about being a model? (I’m not hideous, but was fairly average pretty as a teen/college student, nothing striking or out of the ordinary.) interestingly, when I went to the dean to complain after a number of these events, I was asked: was it Professor X? Answer: no, it was Professor Y (a much younger man.) Then I was asked what I did about these comments besides report them to the dean… nothing ever happened and there was no additional follow up either.
But low level crap like this was not confined to school or to the 1980s. I remember interviewing for a job in 2007 with a prominent architect who founded a small nonprofit focused on sustainable, socially responsive architecture and design. During the interview I was asked whether I had any children. Stunned, I answered that I had 3. Next question: How can you do this job with 3 children? Answer: I was not planning to bring them to work with me. You may not be surprised to learn that I, with my master’s degree and 15 years of experience in the field, was not hired. A 26 year old unmarried woman fresh out of grad school was. Stupid bugger, I thought. He doesn’t realize that she still had all her child bearing in front of her…
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 6, 2015 at 7:58 am
By the way, my favorite guess on the end of “Mad Men” — Don Draper becomes Dan Cooper, better known in the media as D.B. Cooper. Who took a flight in 1971 and disappeared into mystery, with a parachute and a briefcase full of cash (and probably died, dangling broken in a treetop, even before his cash hit the ground and was scattered, some of it found a decade later).
From the Wikipedia entry’s description of the witnesses’ memory of the man: “He lit a cigarette and ordered a bourbon and soda. Eyewitnesses on board recalled a man in his mid-forties, between 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) and 6 feet 0 inches (1.83 m) tall. He wore a black lightweight raincoat, loafers, a dark suit, a neatly pressed white collared shirt, a black necktie, and a mother of pearl tie pin.”
beb said on May 6, 2015 at 8:12 am
It’s often said that the states are laboratories of democracy, because each state can pass its own laws and we can see the effect each law has on society. What good is it to have laboratories if no one is willing to pay attention to the outcomes? Cutting taxes was supposed to spark industry. Kansas did it, Louisiana did it, Michigan did it and all they have to show for their grand experiment is a massive hole in their budgets. You would think that by now Conservatives would have learned: tax cuts do not pay for themselves.
If Michigan wants to fix its roads (and it had better) it’s going to have to flat out raise its taxes.
Minnie said on May 6, 2015 at 8:41 am
Ah, yes. Women’s place in the workforce. Chased around desk by dean, but he was large, and I was young and slippery.
Suzanne said on May 6, 2015 at 9:02 am
Exactly, beb. All Indiana has to show for tax cuts & property tax caps is a crumbling toll road and an HIV epidemic that even made the New York Times yesterday. You are right. When do people start taking notice?
4dbirds said on May 6, 2015 at 9:30 am
Lordy, I was in the army. I was harrassed almost on a daily basis, until…… I went into military intelligence. A different breed of soldier.
Deborah said on May 6, 2015 at 9:31 am
As a college student working summer jobs back home, I remember bosses telling risqué jokes when I was around. I tried to ignore it but it made me very uncomfortable. After that in the work place I didn’t observe or experience sexual harassment but there surely was an obvious glass ceiling for women. Super obvious.
Bitter Scribe said on May 6, 2015 at 10:48 am
It’s my experience that a lot of companies talk a great game when it comes to sexual harassment, but there’s usually an unspoken addendum: “…unless the guy is a rainmaker, a top executive or related to one, or anyone else whom we value more highly than the woman.”
I once worked with this guy who was a great salesman in between bouts of drinking. Walking the trade-show floor with him was really tiresome because he would make comments about the bodies of every young woman who came within 20 yards of us. He also came on to a girl in the office (who had just gotten married and was young enough to be his daughter) with this line: “I’m the guy your mother warned you about.” Smooth.
Danny said on May 6, 2015 at 10:48 am
Crumbling toll roads could be considered and “HOV epidemic”
A. Riley said on May 6, 2015 at 10:49 am
I worked in classified advertising for a great metropolitan newspaper in the late ’70s, and the ad saleswomen (there weren’t many of them, either) were constantly harassed by the advertisers. One car dealer would have the saleswomen sit on his lap to get the copy.
They all liked and respected one particular Pontiac dealer, though — they’d say one was an idiot or another one was a pig, but this guy was a gentleman. Think about it — acting respectable was so exceptional that they all commented on it.
Peter said on May 6, 2015 at 11:53 am
One architect I worked for in the early ’80’s said this to me once about a female colleague, and loud enough that she could hear it: “As long as I have a face, she has a place to sit”.
Years later, at an AIA function, I was talking with a group and of course we brought up Weird and Lewd Bosses. This guy had bounced around to a few high level jobs at bigger firms, and I was told the same story by two other people.
BigHank53 said on May 6, 2015 at 12:03 pm
beb, the point of cutting taxes was to cut taxes…particularly on those at the upper end of the income distribution. “Creating jobs” was the excuse, nothing more.
adrianne said on May 6, 2015 at 12:23 pm
Andrea, they can’t ask you questions about children in job interviews. It’s illegal. You should have reported that clown to the EEOC, pronto.
I love how people said the sex harassment on Mad Men was exaggerated. Absolutely not. This crap continued well into my work life in the 1980s. And my mother, who worked as an executive secretary for Madison Avenue guys in the 1950s, had some horrible tales that just started to come out when Anita Hill was testifying against Clarence Thomas, waaaay back in 1991.
Sherri said on May 6, 2015 at 12:24 pm
Why go back to the 70s for ridiculous examples of sexism? Let’s look at yesterday. I mean, yesterday, literally.
Because yesterday, James Dolan, the owner of the NBA NY Knicks and the WNBA NY Liberty, decided that the best man to be president and part owner of the Liberty, his professional women’s basketball team, was Isiah Thomas. Bad enough that Isiah Thomas is incompetent; despite being a great NBA player, he has failed at every basketball executive and coaching job he’s had, including an earlier stint with the Knicks. Far, far worse is that during his earlier stint with the Knicks, he was sued for sexual harassment by an employee, and lost an $11.6 million judgment.
Connie said on May 6, 2015 at 12:37 pm
My husband’s 97 yr old Aunt Mary worked at Willow Run during WWII and she has some harassment stories to tell. She says military men were the worst.
Basset said on May 6, 2015 at 1:06 pm
Suzanne, didn’t the toll road get sold off to… I think it was a Polish group?
beb said on May 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm
The Indiana Toll Road was leased to a company in Spain, which has since gone bankrupt. It was then taken over by an Australian company. I don’t see the road as actually crumbling but then the leasing has only gone on for a few years. But tolls have doubled.
I know that the goal in Kansas and elsewhere was just to cut taxes on the wealthy but these guys — Brownback, Jindal, Walker, Snyder — have not suffered one bit for blowing a hole in their state’s budget. Because they all glibbly say they’re trying to attract jobs and not saying they want to benefit the state’s millionaires.
In gotham on Monday the character “Fish” Mooney had one solution to sexual harassment. when one of the city’s crime bosses offered to partner with her bit kept calling her “girlie” after she told him not to, she whipped out a gun and blew him away.
Sue said on May 6, 2015 at 2:11 pm
When I was working in an operating room in the mid-70’s to early 80’s, I knew a nurse who responded to constant groping by turning around and grabbing a surgeon’s nether regions. Guess which one got into trouble?
Changing the subject, this is too perfect and totally expected. I’m surprised it took so long:
Judybusy said on May 6, 2015 at 2:35 pm
Sue, that woman’s presentation shouts some type of mental illness to me. Seriously. I’ve seen writings by ill folks just like that, but they don’t usually file it. I thinks it’s rather sad Slate thought to take it seriously.
I’ve been lucky in my professional life to never have been sexually harassed. And that’s all it is, lucky.
There have, of course, been a lot of comparisons of MN and WI lately, what with our very different approaches to taxes and spending. I hope the Dems can hold the line as the legislature decides what to do with our massive surplus.
In other unrelated news, Shonda Rhimes is teaming up with FX to produce a documentary based on the Warmth of Other Suns! I’m very happy that this story will reach a wider audience.
Suzanne said on May 6, 2015 at 2:40 pm
I only know of the Toll Road by hearsay, but hearsay says it isn’t in good condition, but then, many of the roads aren’t. And yes, the tolls went up and many of the live tollbooths are now automated. I assume some toll booth operators lost their jobs.
brian stouder said on May 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm
Judybusy – I loved loved loved that book, The Warmth of Other Suns….and I’ll surely give the documentary a try
Kirk said on May 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm
Yes, Judybusy, that’s good news. A monumental book.
Deborah said on May 6, 2015 at 4:05 pm
Peter! You’re back! I was worried about you. Earlier, I think it was Andrea (?) mentioned a prominent architect who asked her how many children she had during a job interview and now you mention a rather slimy architect. Of course now I wonder who these guys are, and wouldn’t it be a stitch if they were the same guy.
Peter said on May 6, 2015 at 4:27 pm
Deborah, I can tell you his name if you e-mail me offline – email@example.com. I won’t tell you where I worked with him, but the other people had the same tale when he was at HOK and SCB
brian stouder said on May 6, 2015 at 4:29 pm
Well, lemme just say – a friend of mine was immediately turned off by HRC’s email-handling thing. I was not – as the rules have been changing, and I believe she was in compliance with the extant rules when she was SecState.
But in the last few weeks, this Clinton Cash Foundation/jet-set/large money stuff is (to me) much more damaging – regardless how it resolves. It looks like a “rules don’t apply to me” sort of thing.
By way of saying – despite that it’s way early – I begin to fear that our next president is going to come out of the Republigoon primary process…and I’m hoping for a semi-sane one. Kasich isn’t so bad….right?
The Primary race is always over by the time they get to Indiana – but if it’s not, that could induce me to go onto their side.
Cold pizza, indeed
BellaGP said on May 6, 2015 at 6:16 pm
I experienced lot’s of bad behavior in the 80’s. I sold pharmaceuticals in the early 80’s and my first boss was always making inappropriate comments. One time he found out that I was getting a new mattress and asked if I had worn out the old one by all the “action” on it. I left that job and worked for a medical supplier. We had our divisional sales meeting in Windsor so all the male reps, managers and product managers (who flew in from Atlanta) could go to the strip clubs. Finally I sold Acura’s when they first came out and I was the first female sales person hired. On Saturday afternoons as soon the owner left, porn movies were shown in the conference room.
Andrea said on May 6, 2015 at 6:33 pm
Adrianne, I know those questions were illegal but the thing was, in 2007 I was on a serious job hunt desperate to get away from a crazy boss. I kept a detailed spreadsheet of everywhere I applied and what the status was. As I recall, I got asked about whether I had children at 7 of 10 interviews, including the place where I ultimately worked. I guess if you are a woman nearing 40 with a wedding ring on, people just want to know if you are going to be leaving work “early” for soccer games and parent teacher meetings. I think if I had called the EEOC I would have been unemployable.
Deborah, his initials are ST. Well known in Chicago.
David C. said on May 6, 2015 at 7:02 pm
What good is it to have laboratories if no one is willing to pay attention to the outcomes? Cutting taxes was supposed to spark industry. Kansas did it, Louisiana did it, Michigan did it and all they have to show for their grand experiment is a massive hole in their budgets. You would think that by now Conservatives would have learned: tax cuts do not pay for themselves.
They never will Beb. As Atrios says, conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed. Industry was not sparked because they didn’t cut far and fast enough. No reality is ever going to intrude on that and as long as billionaire money flows, why should it?
Deborah said on May 6, 2015 at 7:13 pm
OMG, Andrea, ST is a neighbor he lives in the next building over from us, two floors up. I have unfortunately seen him naked. Our buildings are so close, we call it “voyeuristic proximity”, since the walls between the buildings are all glass. One morning, I looked up and there was ST, naked as a jaybird standing right at his window. Funny, I emailed Peter and said that I wondered if the person you were talking about was ST.
Sherri said on May 6, 2015 at 7:18 pm
Beb and David C, as I said here a few weeks ago, there is no evidence that will convince the modern conservative that taxes are necessary to pay for the government he wants.
LAMary said on May 6, 2015 at 7:29 pm
I had a boss in NYC who called me into his office and tried to force his tongue down my throat. I made it clear I wasn’t interested and left the office, but he told all the other sales people that he was sleeping with me. He thought he was quite a catch because he thought he looked like Wayne Newton.
Then I changed jobs and I had a client who wanted me to help do a quick inventory of the walk in fridge. He grabbed a boob and kissed me and I smacked him. By the time I got back to my office he had called and complained. Luckily I had a great boss at that time who told him where to go.
Colleen said on May 6, 2015 at 7:31 pm
I went to my 25th college reunion last fall, and in talking with a former professor learned that another professor of mine was no longer at the college. He was there one day and gone the next. Turns out he had been showing too much unwanted attention to one of his students, and she went up the food chain and reported him. Now, this guy was showing his female students unwanted attention when I was in his classes. It took 25 years and a female college president to get him to stop.
nancy said on May 6, 2015 at 8:39 pm
I’m just starting tomorrow’s blog, but wanted to echo Colleen’s reflection that sometimes it takes years to take these guys down. Remember Bob Greene? I was struck, reading the incredibly sympathetic profile that Bill Zehme wrote for Esquire, how he took a section to talk about how, when he (Zehme) was a young journalism student at Northwestern, he reached out to Greene for advice. Greene responded, and was so kind to Zehme, and he never forgot it, and that’s why this profile was so kind, etc. One of Greene’s unsuccessful conquest targets reads this blog, and wrote privately to say, “Does he not GET that he did that to every young person, and the women all got invited to the Marriott?” I guess not.
Sue said on May 6, 2015 at 10:21 pm
Judybusy, it could be mental illness and probably is, but I’ll bet she’ll have $100,000 in a week.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 6, 2015 at 11:03 pm
In my denomination, I’ve been on ministerial panels since my seminary days, the group that reviews complaints and concerns brought to the judicatory office (call it a diocese, a region, a conference, a synod, whatever) about serving clergy. From before the era of “mandatory reporting” to the present, we get cases that often have not and will never have charges filed, but we have the ability to remove “standing.” Your ordination may be forever, but standing is granted by the judicatory, and can be removed by it for cause.
All I can say is that from the mid-80s to today, it’s fascinating (and still sad) what we deal with now compared to what we used to. And do we actually get all the cases we should? Hard to know, but we’re not a large denomination, and you can run/evade, but you can’t hide. I think it’s safe to say that where we once dealt with multiple accusations, none going to charges, of inappropriate involvement with children, we now see more a swath of non-marital involvements with consenting, but ethically incorrect adults — under our code of ministerial ethics, like most mainline/oldline Protestant bodies, it’s inappropriate to have an intimate relationship with someone you have pastoral care over, i.e. a member of your congregation.
But the biographies of almost ALL the leaders in the generation running the show when I came up through campus ministry and seminary and just after tell glowing stories of how they (all men) met and married women, sometimes youth group members, of the first church they served. It was almost *expected* then. Now it’s cause for losing standing, which is essentially what colloquially called “defrocking.”
Jolene said on May 6, 2015 at 11:51 pm
Same for university professors, Jeff. In generations past, marrying students was just what people did. I wouldn’t say it never happens now, but relations with a student while the student is actually in your class or under your supervision are verboten.
Andrea said on May 7, 2015 at 12:53 am