Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Inter-Departmental Flyer

On the Employee Bulletin Board:

  • [Picture of a guy Laughing His Ass Off:]  "You want it WHEN?"
  • [Picture of a guy with hands over his eyes.] "OH, HELL. You screwed it all up!"
  • "Personals: Wanted: Woman with Boat. Send Picture of Boat."
  • "Reward For Lost Dog. Description: Brown Fur. Lost Right Hind Leg in Bear Fight. Left Ear Chewed by Pit Bull. Missing One Eye From Hunting Accident. Neutered. Answers to Name of 'Lucky'."

Actually, I collect copies of these flyers. Sometimes I use them for training packets: the "you want it when" works for talking about when to get requests in and how to ask for favors; the 'screwed up' works instead of a no with a crossed traffic circle over it. Stuff like that. It gets a laugh and captures interest:
  • Is Ann T. going to serve up the same old b.s., or is she going to tell us something new and different?
  • Ann T. is dishing the same--but she knows you're bored from hearing it over and over.
I also know there are many jobs where these flyers and jokes are part of human expression, the working person's way of relieving the frustration on a job where the bosses don't care enough to know your name.

In other places, it's self-satire. There's a blog I laugh at every time I see the "about me". "Looking for a woman who understands military history, political science, and three foreign languages. Blond, 5'10, stacked. On second thought, I'm asking too much from any one person--Looking for a blond, 5'10, stacked."

It's his site: he can write anything he wants. He can laugh at his own values, and I'm laughing too.

This week, the following list showed up on two Web sites that are about teamwork and tactical training:

  • "Top Ten Reasons Why Men Prefer Guns Over Women"

I know all the new folks get hazed while they are being evaluated: dissed about their physical challenges, their half-assed way of accomplishing one skill or the next.  I still think it's the context that makes this so offensive to me. I wonder, not about 'sexual harassment' per se, but about teamwork. What kind of teamwork is this about? Or, strategies. Is this a strategy for good life skills? Or good working relations? Do you foster teamwork by excluding motivated members of the group?

What it really signals: a lack of trust. It makes that lack of trust mutual. "Baby, you're a woman, and I think you'll weep into a hankie instead of catch my back. So I'm making damned sure that you don't trust me either."

So it has a certain honesty going for it. In an indirect, dishonest way. And I know outspoken, honest distrust isn't allowed anymore. So maybe it relieves some tension. Maybe it starts a conversation.

How many Officer Britt Sweeneys and Sergeant Kimberley Munleys is it going to take before women are seen as valuable enough to be on the team? How many Sergeant Mike Todds, who worked with Munley? Do they have to be heroes, first?

How do you answer the put-down?
a. I know, honey. Give me a minute to fade into less than who I am because you are you;
b. Shut up, asshat, I'm busy here;
c. "Top Ten Reasons Why Women Prefer a Gun to a Man" (already written, not included. My dignity won't stand it.)

I've already figured this out for scholarship: the answer is, it's going to take eons. You can't rewrite Xenophon, Herodotus, or Churchill, so in most instances women have to suck up their lack of reputation. We can only interject strategically--footnotes and prefaces make it worse. I suppose that is true about this too.

I'd never make a tactical team--it's not my skill set. But there's a lot more going for me than monthly biological processes and a need for closet space. About the author of these rules: I'm not so sure. Something tells me that biological processes have taken over his entire existence. I don't mean sex, either. I mean constipation.

2 comments:

thewarriorpoets said...

When I trained in Germany, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the police workforce was equally split between men and women. Pleasantly surprised because first, many were attractive and I am, after all, male, but mostly because I firmly believe that's what the police workforce demographics should look like in a healthy society.

Ann T. said...

Dear Warrior Poets,
Exactly! Nothing wrong with being who we are--including using your eyes--

and, to reflect the law and community values. Those include a very good place for women by law but not always by custom. Furthermore, I think you get a range of responses in a fully-integrated force that has to fit in better when making the community connection.

Thanks for writing in. It felt kind of risky to comment on something not my field, though many of my gender still wait to be valued--and challenged to meet that value.

Sincerely,
Ann T.