Ah, to have an all-female workplace, full of sugar and spice and everything nice and absent #MeToo turpitude and transgressions. Are you in, ladies? Well, before signing on that dotted line, you may want to consider the experiences of the sugar-and-spice girls at Sweden’s new Gender Equality Authority.
Yes, that sounds like what’s birthed when Orwell’s 1984 meets The Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (Bill Maher’s most memorable movie), but it wasn’t mainly men being consumed in this bureaucracy. As Sweden’s FriaTider reports (auto-translated and corrected for grammar):
The New Gender Equality Authority has a leadership consisting of 100 percent women. Ten months after its inception, an internal report now reveals a work environment so bad that 70 percent of its employees are distressed enough to be at risk of ill health, reports Ekot.
The internal survey, Ekot also noted, shows in addition that a majority of the employees of the Gender Equality Authority suffer from sleep problems and “risk fatigue”.
Among other things, the women-dominated workplace is characterized by bullying and harassment, according to the survey.
If this surprises you, perhaps you derived your conception of the sexes from a women’s-studies class (maybe the one known as modern American culture). Whether it was Aristotle’s observation that women are more likely “to scold and to strike,” Rudyard Kipling’s verse about how “the female of the species is more deadly than the male” or statistics on bullying, it has long been known that the sugar-and-spice bit reflects marketing and male flattery, not reality.
As Forbes wrote in 2012 on inter-employee harassment, “Women make much nastier office bullies than men, says psychologist Dr. Gary Namie, co-founder of the [Workplace Bullying] Institute.” This behavior is “particularly vicious among working women,” informs Forbes, and ranges “from playing favourites to badmouthing colleagues” to undermining other women’s careers (and men’s, too).
Unsurprisingly, Forbes attributed this to conditioning (read: it’s our Patriarchal™ society’s fault), writing that girls “are taught to be critical about each other from adolescence.” How this is taught or where it’s taught I have no idea, but that’s their story and they’re stickin’ to it. It’s just good the Female Criticism 101 classes don’t also instruct on how to criticize men, otherwise there could actually be nagging wives in the world. (Unless they’d just skip right to the physical, as some studies show that women are more likely to initiate both domestic and teen-dating violence.)
Those adolescent girls must be quick learners, though, because experts and studies (two troubling phenomena, no doubt, but, hey, even a blind squirrel and a broken clock, ya’ know?) inform that bullying among girls is notably worse than among boys. Just consider the left-wing Guardian, which outlines the problems and practices of these teen Gorgons and then closes with the question: Do these realities “make the ‘normal’ bullying of, generally, low-level violence as used by boys seem strangely comforting?”
Part of the explanation for this is that as poet William Congreve noted in 1697 (pre-“gender”-sensitivity training), Hell hath no “fury like a woman scorned.” His context was affairs of the heart, of course, but it extends further. While men have their characteristic sins (lust, for example), a female one is vindictiveness. I suspect this is partially, though not completely, because women are very emotion-oriented, are easily hurt and, most significantly, are emotion-retentive. Thus, a real or imagined slight cuts deeply and doesn’t just remain in a woman’s mind, but in her heart. It’s harder to forgive when negative feelings linger — demanding retribution.
The bottom line is that, as often portrayed art-imitating-life-style in film, two men can engage in fisticuffs and be buddies an hour later. Women? Not so much.
The psychological experts will tell us this is taught, too, but it’s even (and especially) apparent in children. When a little boy gets upset, he may have a tantrum and explode like a volcano yet 15 minutes later behave as if nothing happened. A girl is less likely to do this but more apt to simmer for long periods, not boiling over noticeably but not cooling to a calm, either. Consequently, rifts with friends are too often permanent.
Then there’s that, speaking generally, men are creatures of principle, women of preference. As I put it, treating this recently, “Years ago a female writer (whose name…escapes me) discussed the different ways boys and girls settle problems. She wrote that boys are natural-born deal makers; they’ll try to ensure fairness for everyone and then shake hands, saying ‘Deal? Deal.’ In contrast, girls will try to ensure an outcome everyone feels good about.”
“Witnessed here, even from young ages,” I continued, “is that boys instinctively reference principles, the objective; fairness is a principle. The girls, of course, are referencing feelings, the subjective.”
The point? “Fair fighting” or conflict resolution in the workplace or anywhere else requires adherence to principles; emotion won’t secure it (which is why catfights are, well, catfights). Philosopher C.S. Lewis touched on this in his book Mere Christianity when he asked: With whom would you rather deal if your dog bit the child next door, the man or woman of the house?
Lewis explained that when the man handles what could be called the family’s “foreign policy,” outsiders are more likely to get a fair shake; the woman’s extreme “family patriotism” often precludes this.
The latter is, of course, what can cause a woman to be wholly devoted to her children, even to the point of backing them when they do evil (serial killers’ mothers come to mind). For only principle instructs, “Your family is wrong, and you must say so”; emotion exclaims “My family right or wrong!”
Kipling touched on this as well, writing of man, “Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands [t]o some God of Abstract Justice—which no woman understands.”
The strong, unyielding feminine emotion can provide the no-holds-barred love and devotion a child needs. But when this intense passion is turned to competition in the workplace or elsewhere, it’s just no-holds-barred. So I don’t know about spice, but maybe, as so many today claim, sugar really is a killer.