Oh, That’s Okay Then

14:34 Sun 03 Aug 2008. Updated: 12:37 15 Mar 2009
[, , ]

The West is still quite awful about gender equality in many ways, but it seems that post-Soviet Russia is far, far worse. A 22-year-old St. Petersburg executive had her sexual harassment case thrown out because, according to the judge, “[i]f we had no sexual harassment we would have no children”.

Right. So apparently humankind would lose its ability to reproduce if those in positions of power couldn’t coerce sex from their underlings.

There are nutcase judges everywhere, of course, and lots of those seem to turn out to be misogynist bigots, so it’s not really fair to draw broader conclusions about Russia from this one case… but most of what I’ve heard and read suggests that the Telegraph article is correct in its summary, that women in the workplace there have it rough—and it cites a survey in which 100 percent (yes, that’s right all of the respondents) said they’d been sexually harassed by their bosses (i.e. 100 percent even without counting harassment from peers). 80 percent think it’s impossible to get promoted without having sex with their superiors.

I think that this offends me so much not only because of the prejudice involved (which is appalling) but also because it so blatantly disdains even the appearance of meritocracy, professionalism, and objectivity. All of which are, to certain extents, myths, but I’m still naive and idealistic enough to think that people in the workplace should strive to be professional.

One of the reasons for that is connected to my attitude towards games. I’ve always been highly competitive, but I’ve always been very insistent about the demarcation between the game and society—mingling game and non-game alliances, grudges, attitudes, and so on has always seemed obviously wrong to me. This desire for a strong boundary may also push my general disdain for games in which diplomacy and alliance-building is paramount, as it seems much more difficult to maintain the necessary gap in such games. In a specific sense, I also treat work as a game—that is, as an environment in which one is expected to ensure that the personal and the petty do not interfere with fulfilling one’s game role. This is directly opposed to another game-based view, in which work is seen as merely one level of life, which is itself a game entirely about accumulating status, power, and wealth, and in which pursuit of those things isn’t restricted to any given sphere. That view of life as a game has always disturbed me, as it seems so obviously destructive, and so obviously to (almost) everyone’s benefit if competitive drives are expressed in controlled arenas.

Leave a Reply