The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Woman Lawyer Offers Helpful Career Advice, Gets Slammed by Feminist

Posted on | September 25, 2013 | 57 Comments

Vanessa James is a British lawyer who wrote a column for the Guardian newspaper with the headline, “Formal complaints over sexism should be last resort for women,” which included this:

The point is that everyone has boundaries and communicating these to colleagues through behaviour is key to avoiding unnecessary offence.
It is also important to ensure that when a women is subject to treatment that falls outside her boundaries she can identify that and decide how to address it and move on.
If you do not define your own boundaries then you cannot expect others to be able to either.

This seems like good advice, as does her conclusion: “The formal route should be seen by women seeking career progression as a last resort, as the outcome is not always a happy one for the complainant.”

In other words, if a woman’s goal is to advance her career, filing a complaint for harassment is likely to be harmful, resulting in her being labeled a complainer — “not a team player” — and harassment may be more easily avoided or discouraged if a woman makes clear what behaviors are unacceptable to her.

However helpful this may be as career advice, it offended the feminist sensibilities of Katie Halper, who sees this as victim-blaming, and winds up ranting about rape and gay rights and stuff:

Given that rape survivors often face humiliation, intimidation, disbelief, and hostility from law enforcement and the criminal justice system in general, is the solution not to report rape? Should women just focus on setting boundaries that prevent their rapes in the first place? Does that mean no dirty jokes, no flirting, no short skirts, no leaving the house? This seems like the logical conclusion. In all seriousness, the advice James doles out isn’t that surprising, given the nature of her work. The Guardian just says she’s a lawyer at SA Law. But if you look at her website, she boasts  that she has successfully defended corporations from being sued for discriminating  and bullying against workers based on their gender, sexual-orientation, disabilities, and race. So, I guess it makes sense that a woman who makes her living defending employers who are accused of pay discrimination, abuse, and prejudice, wouldn’t have the best advice for women.  Well, that’s not entirely fair. I’m sure she’s an equal opportunity offender, whose advice for LGBTI people, people of color, and people with disabilities is just as sound.

Vanessa James is a successful lawyer — and that’s a bad thing, says Katie Halper, who writes for a feminist blog.

This is the difference between pragmatism and ideology: Do you want to solve your problem, or do you want to construe every problem to fit political categories and intellectual abstractions?

If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, and if the only tool you have is feminism, every problem looks like heteronormative patriarchal oppression and “rape culture.”



  • bet0001970

    As a woman who has been an actual REAL victim of sexual harassment, (and I mean a REAL victim), this woman is an idiot. The lawyer is correct. I really have nothing more to say.

    Feminists these days…what a bunch of crotchy bitches.

  • robertstacymccain

    The relevant question is, what do we mean by “harassment”? It’s obvious that the quid pro quo — the male supervisor demanding sex from a female subordinate in exchange for favorable treatment — is harassment. The problem is that the “hostile workplace” concept (which is a creation of court decisions, rather than legislation) can interpret many different things as evidence of “harassment” or “discrimination.”

    Off-color jokes or casual remarks (to which no one objected at the time they were made) tend to get collected up as anecdotal evidence of a “hostile workplace” by the disgruntled female employee. When she gets an unfavorable performance review or is passed over for a promotion, suddenly all these random things — e.g., the pin-up calendar in a guy’s cubicle, something that happened when everybody was drunk at the office Christmas party — are added up and presented as evidence of systemic discrimination.

    And what happens? The lawyers say “settle,” the disgruntled employee gets a year’s salary as “go-away money,” and the company hires a “diversity consultant” to run a workshop.

    It’s a racket, is what it is.

  • Dana

    The lovely Miss Halper wrote:

    Given that rape survivors often face humiliation, intimidation, disbelief, and hostility from law enforcement and the criminal justice system in general, is the solution not to report rape?

    Either Miss Halper didn’t understand the advice being given, or she equates all undesired sexual behavior with rape. Flirt with Miss Halper when she didn’t want to be flirted with? Why, that’s rape!

    No one, no one at all — well, maybe we could exclude the Islamists here — supports rape, and no one thinks that rape is ever acceptable. But most unwanted sexual behavior isn’t rape, or anywhere close to it.

  • Quartermaster

    Halper is your standard corner drugstore feminist idiot. She didn’t care what was being said, or that her response was completely out of context. She has an ideology and that’s all that matters.

  • bet0001970

    I wasn’t going to go into this, but in my early twenties, when I was working in an office, I worked a split shift. During the day I wrote press releases for the magazine and at night handled database management for our advertising. (I had multiple skill sets, so they used me where they could)

    One evening, the manager for the sales department (who I worked for in the afternoon through evening) cornered me in his office and asked me if I ever took my clothes off and got naked while I was alone in the office at night. He then continued to ask questions along this line about my naked body and exactly how long I would be alone at the office at night.

    Naturally, I was frightened and I informed another coworker. She decided to stay at work with me that night and notified a security guard to check on us every hour. I did not inform my other boss. She did. And it went all the way up to the president. BTW, the sales manager even admitted to the incident. I was subsequently moved to the front offices for my own protection while he was place on probation.

    A week later he cornered me in snack room and began to make lewd remarks about the food I was purchasing from the snack machine and what he would like to do with that food and my body.

    Unfortunately for him, my other boss happened to be standing right behind him as he was saying all of this…so this time there was a witness. He was subsequently fired. It was later discovered that he had done this at his previous job.

    These “feminists” do not know what harassment is. THAT is real sexual harassment. I was fortunate that my employers and coworkers at the magazine protected me. Legally and physically. However, when it first got reported, the investigation was…unpleasant. But I understand why. People can make false allegations. And everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Once he admitted his guilt and apologized, he was place on probation. After he was caught doing it again…he was fired.

    Unfortunately today, guilt is assumed based on accusation. Speaking as someone who was a real victim, this is just plain wrong.

  • Mm

    Spot on.

  • bet0001970

    So…since this is technically your workplace McCain, and since I tend to say an inordinately sizable number of, well…off-color, offensive, profane, objectionable, pornographic, hostile, and otherwise “naughty” remarks…does that constitute sexual harassment?

  • archonix

    What I find interesting is that there has been a long, and growing trend to seek non-confrontational solutions to workplace conflict through various forms of mediation. It has benefits – it allows solutions to be brought about, it reduces the need to go the “formal route” and it can lead to a much more open and comfortable working environment.

    That a self-professed feminist would stand up against a more consensual and inclusive means of resolving conflict between individuals seems, not to put too fine a point on it, regressive. Mediation challenges established power structures – and in today’s age, those power structures are inhabited largely by the sort of “feminist” that Katie Halper represents. They have established their dominance, now they attack anything that challenges it.

    It’s rather similar in pattern to the behaviour expressed toward Diana West, when she challenges an academic’s ivory tower with an alternative idea.

    The idea that people should try and work in a non-aggressive manner to resolve their conflicts seems like it would be common sense. But as far as Halper is concerned, it’s only common sense as long as it can be used to keep certain groups down.

  • bet0001970

    I suppose I should explain the comment in parenthesis. The reason I mentioned that I started coming to work wearing very conservative clothing and no makeup was not to imply that I felt as though I had done something wrong.

    I did this to protect my employer in the event of lawsuit. In case the manager attempted to imply that I had dressed or looked provocatively.

  • bet0001970

    You know, it’s funny. Years ago at a Christmas party there was this guy who wouldn’t stop “flirting” with me. Although most the guys that night were. But this guy was persistent. I mean, he would not leave me alone or take no for an answer. He was sooper-annoying, but I never thought it was harassment or rape.

    Of course, we’re still together after 5 years…but that’s neither here nor there. I never thought it was harassment.

  • rmnixondeceased

    Helluva Christmas present Bets …

  • rmnixondeceased

    Halper wants a homonormative matriarchal oppression and castrating culture. How Marxist of her!
    Sheesh! To quote Bugs Bunny Esq.: “What a maroon!”

  • rmnixondeceased

    No, it just means you fit in well here …

  • rmnixondeceased

    Good on you Bets. You are a strong person. Strength of character isn’t tied to gender, it is part of a persons moral compass. Your compass is true …

  • richard mcenroe

    Vanessa doesn’t get it. To properly live in a mandarinate, one must say the right things, and only the right things, in the right way, whether or not they work or are even relevant to the situation.

  • bet0001970

    He was persistent.

  • richard mcenroe

    No, no, no! REAL harrassment is a coworker having a picture of his wife in a bikini on his desk! That creates a “hostile workplace environment”! The Supreme Court said so!

  • RS

    i suppose it sounds as if I’m donning my “old fart” hat, but so much of this stuff is due to people not having any notion of propriety in professional situations. An office is not a college kegger. This does not mean that collegiality is taboo, but rather that people should have the good sense to know what’s out of bounds. If people do not know or cannot learn the proper boundaries, they should be fired, whether the violations are of a sexual nature or simply being a foul jerk. And yes, I’ve done the firing on occasion.

    That said, the philosophical inconsistency of these “drugstore feminists” to use Quartermaster’s phrase is quite astounding. They wish to be part and parcel of the “real world” and compete in the rough and tumble of business as equals, but then immediately invoke the special pleading of their sex as a sword for special treatment. You cannot have it both ways. In my experience, the successful women in my profession are the ones who don’t want to treated differently. They are the ones who masterfully use their innate differences to their advantage without screaming “discrimination” if things don’t go their way.

    One final observation: I’ve noticed over the years, that in terms of asshole behavior toward female administrative staff, women in my profession tend to be the worst offenders. I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps its an ego thing, but I’ve witnessed women saying things to secretarial help which I wouldn’t dream of saying in a million years.

  • bet0001970

    Thank you.

  • RS

    I don’t disagree with you. Normal conflict resolution is a great idea, provided you are dealing with people who are merely ignorant of the effects of their words or actions and not evil or incredibly stupid. With the latter types, it quickly becomes obvious that counseling on professionalism doesn’t work and more drastic action is necessary.

    The big problem with mediation and other non-adversarial means of conflict resolution concerns risk management for employers. It’s easier to get rid of an employee who’s been accused than to conduct an investigation, the conduct of which along with the results, if adverse to the complainant, will be force fed to you at an EEOC hearing or in court. As you say, it’s not about resolving problems; it’s about vengeance.

  • Quartermaster

    Sex. Gender is a grammatical term.

  • Quartermaster

    I don’t know. I’m sure it’s a hostile environment for the idiots known as progressives.
    But, I would hastily add, that’s a feature, not a bug.

  • rmnixondeceased

    That’s the only way winners win!

  • rmnixondeceased

    I was being grammatical …

  • Dianna Deeley

    How come the ranting feminist doesn’t suggest, oh, I don’t know, taking up martial arts? Because having the training to take the rapist out is a fine way of setting boundaries!

    Think of it this way: “For just three hours per week, you can prevent rape!”

  • Dianna Deeley

    I’d have gone on dressing however I dressed, but aside from that, you are precisely correct.

  • Dianna Deeley

    Er…I’m sorry, “she was dressed provocatively” is not a defense by someone who makes obscene remarks to a female employee. Just…not.

  • Dianna Deeley

    “Around here, sexual harassment is not tolerated.

    It’s graded.”

  • Dianna Deeley

    Women bosses are frequently much worse than men. It’s partly because a lot of them think that they have to act like battle-axes to not be trampled on (and those are the ones I can actually work with, thought I can get blindingly angry with them), and partly that some are dreadful, barely competent, vindictive harridans who think that if you are allowed to show the slightest sign of having a clue, you will take their jobs away from them. These are supervisors you must flee from, because they will teach you all sorts of bad habits.

    On the other hand, there are bosses like me! I’m no picnic, but I actually do have consistent standards, the ability to acknowledge my own mistakes, and an encouraging attitude towards initiatives offered by subordinates. Also, when I change my mind, I say that I have, and here’s why. That one used to drive me mildly insane (not a long trip) when I was the admin.

  • bet0001970

    You have understand. This was 20 years ago. Back then…that sort of thing was still “noted”. And men often sued when they were accused of that stuff.

  • bet0001970

    Obviously. But it was around 20 years ago. And back then…you know how it was.

  • JeffWeimer

    That’s simple – they would rather have the problem than any solution..

  • concern00

    “Should women just focus on setting boundaries that prevent their rapes in the first place?”

    That wouldn’t be such a bad idea now would it, hey #slutwalk?

    It’s not about blaming the victim, it’s about taking sensible precautions to not be that victim. But then again, without victims, real or otherwise, the left would have no working agenda.

  • Bob Belvedere

    What RMN said.

  • Bob Belvedere

    I remember those times well and you are quite correct, Bet.

  • Bob Belvedere

    I rather enjoy being ‘harassed’ by gals like yourself.

  • Bob Belvedere

    My wife has vowed never to work under a woman ever again – and I don’t blame her. They often treat their own kind like dirt.

  • Finrod Felagund

    They would rather be a victim which lets them complain without ever having to do anything.