Question: What should I do if someone harasses me at work? If I speak up, I’ll be labeled a whiner but if I don’t, I’ll get ulcers.
So there’s this thing where women getting harassed at places like Bear Stearns are told “You never had brothers, did you? You need to understand the psychology of 10-year-old boys and quit being such a crybaby.” And yet, no one is asking why grade-school behaviors are equated with sound business practice.
Sometimes, ribbing really is a good-natured sign of social acceptance (for a guy). Guys call each other names all the time and engage in rough horseplay and it’s all good. But when does it cross over into something more sinister?
A pizza with condoms on your desk your first day at work? Meh. If I were mentally unprepared it might be upsetting. My Evil Twin would take it to someone’s desk, brandish a scissors and and if anyone complained, respond with “You men are so sensitive.”
Recognizing a genuine threat is the subject of many serious books on violence, so it’s not as simple a problem as it sounds. I think the pizza-with-condoms is a form of boundary testing. You’ve got to somehow be a good sport without being a pushover. Just keeping calm will baffle everyone, which can be highly rewarding all by istelf.
Women are expected to run to authorities when they experience harassment or discrimination. But then, when they blow the whistle, they get labeled as “difficult”. But you know what? Your colleagues should be jumping in and saying “Hey not cool”. It’s not a personal thing. They are not taking sides or sticking up for you personally. They are enforcing professional decorum because it’s their workplace too.
Nobody ever accused the Godfather of “giving his power away” (not by the end of the book, anyways). Also note that successful heads of crime families are not lone cowboys or Clint Eastwood types who shoot all the bad guys singlehandedly in 30 seconds and then leave town. They become who they are over many years, winning support through bribery, favors, and blackmail. So, take the long-term view and remember that revenge is a dish best served cold.
So if your team doesn’t have your back, GTFO or create a climate of fear through a few mysterious events that can’t be traced back to you.