A guide to not giving women ‘the wrong idea’

First published at Daily Life, 28 August 2013

It’s so difficult these days to know whether or not you’re flirting with someone. You might think that it might be fairly obvious whether you’re sexfully interested in a person, but it transpires that we can’t always control those cues that we’re sending out.

A man in the workplace, yesterday.

A man in the workplace, yesterday.

And in these complicated times, when men and women are working together as equals – equals who aren’t paid the same or anything – we need to be extra conscious of not firing up the loins of our easily mis-cued colleagues.

Fortunately the ladies have had it all explained to them recently in the US by Jhana, an employee training and education service, via their excellent piece “What if a male colleague gets the wrong idea?” (which they sadly and inexplicably took down – but not before Jezebel took some helpful screenshots. The piece explained to the ladies that sometimes chaps get the wrong idea, which is their responsibility and definitely not just the dudes’ problem.

In a perfect world, women would feel free to dress however they want without being stigmatized for it. But know that revealing clothing and certain verbal tics, such as ending statements with an upward inflection in your voice or struggling to accept a compliment, can affect others’ ability to take you seriously.

But ladies, don’t think that you’ve been failing to take responsibility for the actions of your colleagues because you’re some sort of harlot – hey, maybe you’re just an idiot!

Don’t say or do anything you wouldn’t say or do in the presence of your grandmother. If you sense that you could start unconsciously flirting (you’re human, and sometimes it happens), imagine that your grandmother is in the room. If you’d feel embarrassed saying or doing whatever you’re about to say or do in front of Grandma, don’t go there.

And that’s the sort of helpful, not-at-all idiotic advice that helps everyone get along without conflict, let alone challenging any of those statuses or quos. But what about the poor, baffled men out there worried that they’re sending “the wrong signals” when they’re confronted with terrifying women? Don’t worry chaps, I’ve used Jhana’s insights to help construct some similarly helpful tips for the confused Y-chromes.

1. Watch what you wear, whore!

Oh sure, you should be able to wear whatever you like – if this was Shangri-la! Anyway: the point is that you might think that you look quite smart in your suit, but what message are you sending, really? We’ve all seen Mad Men, and thus we know that wearing a suit basically means that you’re totes DTF.

Casual clothes also send the message that you’re easy, and avoid anything that clings to your body and shows off things like arms or legs or necks or hands. Basically, cover your entire body in such a way that makes it appear that you’re not at all sexual, while also ensuring you look hot. But hey, have fun with it!

2. Watch what you say, moron!

We’ve all been in that awkward position where we’ve realised too late that we’ve said something flirtatious in the workplace, like, “Would anyone like a coffee?” or “Is someone trying to use the printer?”  Now use your “common sense” to determine whether you merely think the idea, or yell it out of your mouth like a crazy person. Imagine that your grandmother is watching, except that she’s very, very small, lives in your skull, is entirely under your control, is part of your brain, and isn’t your grandmother. If what you’re about to express is inappropriate, threatening or batshit insane, we say: don’t go there!

3. Nudity? No-dity!

This is connected with the first point about appropriate clothing, but this is more specific to your flirtatiousness and attitude, and whether you’re the sort of guy that is a bit touchy-feely and maybe likes to wander around the office with your junk dangling proudly like a fleshy windsock.

Strangely enough, many people find the sight of naked colleagues to be somewhere between “distracting” and “the very stuff of nightmares”, so it’s best to use your discretion to determine whether or not you genuinely believe that No Pants Thursdays is likely to get enough organisational support to become a regular thing. Rule of thumb: if you need to ask someone if they’re down with seeing your penis, they’re not down with seeing your penis.

Next week: other handy negotiating-the-workplace tips, including “when is it appropriate to start a fire?” and “running through the office screaming and slapping people: faux pas, or faux plus?”

You’re welcome.

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A 99 page manual on how to date this guy

Originally published at Daily Life, 11 August 2013

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The phrase “too much information” gets thrown around so much that it’s lost all meaning. Knowing your friend has had sex? TMI. Your partner had a nasty bathroom visit after a late night kebab? TMI. Thing your kid did that was actually pretty mundane but you’re terribly excited about because it’s your damn kid? Look, we’re not going to say it to your face, but rest assured: TMI.

And it’s a shame, because it means that it’s impossible to explain just much I of which this one anonymous Perth dater has given TM.

This was first brought to the world’s attention via US gossip site Gawker, who claim that it was forwarded to them from a potential datee of this chap. They had been communicating on a site for a bit and were planning their first meeting. The chap then forwarded her a document in preparation. As you do.

And dear god, it’s comprehensive.

The mere existence of this 99 page document makes it tempting to give an armchair diagnosis of obsessive/compulsive disorder and/or a placement somewhere on the autism spectrum. And there’s nothing obviously malicious in here: at no point in this voluminous screed does he outline what he expects his potential girlfriend – or, as he unfortunately dubs her, “My Woman” (yes, capitalised) – to look like, for example. However, it does make clear that he really doesn’t know how this “courting” thing works.

After the two page introduction (which is headed “Private and Confidential” – sorry, dude), which includes a glossary explaining his preferred terms (“cock”, “boobs”, “pussy”, “spunk”, “My Woman”) and a 10 page table of contents, we learn about his birth, family, education, first sexual experience, popularity (very high, apparently), future interests, diet, how he purchased his house, the renovations done to it, a breakdown of his outgoing costs, his friends, a detailed breakdown of how he splits his time over the 168 hours available to him per week (49 hours for sleep and sex, if you’re wondering), a comparison breakdown of how he would seek to free up some of that time if you were to become his partner, interests, projects (business and personal), position on public displays of affection (pro, within reason) and exercise regime.

With these preliminaries out of the way, we come to Page 27: his “Seeking Criteria”, including his “Imaginary Wakeup Test”:

I have an Imaginary Wakeup Test. Can I imagine waking up next to My Woman each and every morning of my life and smiling as well as nice words and perhaps Kissing or Cuddle. Then not only continue to Respect myself but to also Respect My Woman, and to Respect us as a Couple. It’s great to feel that all around Respect can be there for substantial Times.

From here until page 36 we learn that he values a relationship, and is concerned about STIs. Very concerned. There are those that might think that calculating the risk of contracting a blood-borne disease through skin abrasion is maybe a second-date subject, but he gives a breakdown on the topic along with a list of STIs for which he has never been tested positively, and the two that he has (thrush and Chlamydia, both treated). This is important, because it becomes clear down the track that he’s really not expecting to have to use condoms (except when you’re on your period – but let’s not jump ahead!).

But what of that magical first date itself? Unsurprisingly, he’s given that some thought too.

There’s five pages on the “pre-meeting stage” (pages 37-41), in which he stresses the value of spontaneity and unpredictability among his meticulously collated dot points before explaining among many, many other things the makeup of any sexy pix that might be sent (or, as he puts it, Very Naughty pix):

I also like getting (from you) the following types of Naughty pics, before we even meet up on the night:

a) All these other pics without your Face showing,

b) A Full frontal pics – naked – in front of perhaps a mirror,

c) Your Boobs (preferably in an aroused state),

d) Legs apart looking up,

e) Your vulvae with Vaginal opening – with your Legs open, Aroused.

f) Inside your Vagina,

g) Your Clitoris – right in. Aroused with Clit hood back as needed.

Feel uncomfortable about these details? Don’t worry! This list is followed by reasons a) though f) as to why you should send them to him anyway, which should allay any fears you may have. Oh, and does helpfully note that “The Vagina gets typically one third bigger during sex”, so don’t feel inadequate, ladies. Why this doesn’t come up on page 45 – “Relaxed Dialogue” – is baffling.

He also explains his moisturising and depilatory regime ahead of the date, suggests a dress code (skirt or dress for you, smart casual for him – don’t expect jeans as he only has a couple of pairs he wears when renovating), a list of the likely thoughts you should expect him to have going through his mind, and what you can expect when you turn up:

If I like what I see I will almost certainly greet with a firm Cuddle or two (or 6). I will sense your response but it is an early signal to you:

a) I like what I see,

b) It’s a relief to see you arrive,

c) Let’s Enjoy ourselves.

…and a proposed schedule of how the date will go with several options, including that “After a Coffee or a drink, a walk and a nice meal (if not earlier) we should express our interests in each other.” (emphasis his). Assuming you are amenable to seeing him, he’d like to seal the deal with some “Good quality Sex”. After all, as he points out a few pages later, “if we do not make Love with each other on the first date / night – then we are probably not matched.”

The bit on dating and how the rest of the night will go after that first declaration of intention takes us up to page 57, where we get into the nitty gritty of how exactly the sex is going to work. This is broken down into several sections under the heading “Early Next Stage Toward Love Making”. Here he explains his orgasms (recovery time, semen taste, consistency – watery for first and second, dry for third and subsequent), your orgasms (clitoral, vaginal and G-spot), cock size (“I am just over 11 inches at full throb; and Cock Width or Cock Girth is 2.3 inches”, his methodology for measuring said cock, advantages and disadvantages of his cock size, and why sex is important.

Then, at page 70, we get to foreplay, with particular emphasis on the “Clitorus”.

Like I said, comprehensive.

From 77 we get a breakdown of his exact moves (including the tantalising Concluding Cock Slip and Dip) and positions, which are sadly lacking in detail beyond “more to follow” under a selection of headings. Toys come in on page 83 – he has an impressive collection – and what he enjoys in a mastubatory setting. Page 88-89 explain more about the early stages of the relationship, and then there is the world’s most giggle-inducing index:

Cock, 2, 95

Cock: 

Size 10, 64, 66, 95

Measuring 10, 95

Hygiene 36, 44, 95

Length 40, 64, 66, 80, 95

Width, 64, 66, 95

Girth, 64, 66, 95

Cock Slap 11, 77, 80, 98, 99

Coffee 4, 24, 26, 42, 46, 48, 56, 95

Cote d’Azure 95

The entire thing can be read here, and you’re going to want a coffee (pages 4, 24, 26, 42, 46, 48, 56, 95).

Then again, it makes a change from “a/s/l”? at least?

Mayor blames city for his sexual misconduct

Originally published in Daily Life, 6 August 2013

You know what? It’s just so gosh-darn hard to be a powerful man in 2013.

There are all these rules about how one should and should not interact with people and it’s a maze that’s near impossible to negotiate. If they followed some sort of rhyme or reason, like common sense, basic respect or literally thousands of very public examples demonstrating the legal and personal consequences of unacceptable treatment of female staff by powerful men, that’d be one thing – but now we’re at a mysterious, opaque point where what appears at first to be perfectly respectable behaviour, like telling your female employees not to wear knickers or putting them in a headlock and dragging them around the office while whispering sexually-themed comments to them, is seen as somehow “inappropriate” conduct for someone in a position of authority.

San Diego mayer Bob Filner, human piece of shit.

San Diego mayer Bob Filner, human piece of shit.

That’s the sorry situation in which San Diego’s mayor Bob Filner has found himself in recent times, with nine women having come forward as being victims of sexual harassment at his hands.

Poor Bob is a 70 year old human adult who spent two decades in Congress before becoming San Diego’s mayor last December, and is undergoing an “intensive therapy” program in order to curb himself of these workplace impulses. He is is also laying blame for his behaviour firmly at the foot of the responsible party: the City of San Diego, who failed to provide him with a training program that educated him as to what was and wasn’t suitable Mayoral behaviour.

It’s an ambitious defence, since the city are countersuing on the grounds that they didattempt to provide him with exactly that sort of course in January, but Filner cancelled it and refused to reschedule. Furthermore, the City of San Diego has also declined to pay Filner’s legal expenses in suing the City of San Diego. Say what you like about Filner: at least he’s consistently brazen.

And heck, we understand that everyone is time-poor and can’t necessarily find the time to work out how to walk that blurred and ambiguous line between “professional respect” and “sexual assault”, and so if there are any other mayors out there looking for guidance, allow us to present some instructive tips and handy memory-jogging mnemonics to help bring clarity to these hard-to-interpret situations.

1. When one’s deputy campaign manager is complimented for having “worked her ass off” for the campaign, should one pat said deputy campaign manager’s behind and say “no, it’s still there?”

Correct answer: no. That’s where Bob went wrong with Lara Fink, who subsequently demanded an apology from Filner over email, cc’ing in his chief of staff (who was subsequently to resign in disgust at Filner’s behaviour). The bottoms of your staff are not considered company property and, much as you might ask before taking an employee’s calculator from their desk, you should always get explicit permission before getting you start playfully pressing bits of it. [http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/23/politics/california-san-diego-mayor/index.html]

Handy mnemonic: “Good rule of thumb / don’t stroke the bum!”

2. Should you demand your director of communications not wear panties to work?

Correct answer: no. It’s reasonable to expect a certain degree of professional dress within a work environment, but this is limited to the visible levels of one’s attire. Underwear preferences are, within office-based places of employment, very much up to the individual, and the use of the term “panties” adds a creepy infantilism to the situation if the addressee is a grown woman like Irene McCormack Jackson. “I had to work and do my job in an atmosphere where women were viewed by Mayor Filner as sexual objects or stupid idiots,” she said in an illustrative statement after becoming the first woman to publicly accuse the mayor of harassment.

Handy mnemonic: “Her dack choice is / Just not your biz.”

3. Is it OK to publicly hit on a woman at a church fundraiser for African refugees while holding her hands and preventing her from leaving?

Correct answer: no. First up, if you’re there as a representative of the people of San Diego it might be considered gauche to also be visibly on the pull, but asking someone who has come up to say a nice professionally-motivated hello “Do you have a husband? Are you married?” might make them a little confused and uncomfortable, especially if you’re holding both their hands at the time. This is what one Renee Estill-Sombright discovered in June at the breakfast event at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, according to her claim.

Handy mnemonic: “For refugees / Quit macking, please.”

4. Headlocks and sexual threats from your employer: playful fun, or terrifying invasion of personal space?

Correct answer: terrifying invasion of personal space. Again, Ms McCormack Jackson’s patience for being dragged around the office while Filner whispered sexual comments in her unwilling ear was not as boundless as her boss assumed it would be. As a rule, unless your office is collpasing in an earthquake or suddenly invaded by swarms of killer ants, it is not considered appropriate to grab your employees in any way without their freely-given consent. A firm handshake is almost always acceptable, although note that this does not include the go-ahead to explain to the recipient what you would like to do to them with your penis.

Handy mnemonic: “Are you a dope? / Headlocks? Nope.”

Keep those handy rhymes in your head and you might be able to not only govern a large municipal area but also create a pleasant and respectful work environment in which the female staff who rely on you for their rent to be paid each week will not be terrified of your presence and/or end up suing you for harassment. Mayor Filner, by taking on these guidelines we are confident that you could sleep easy in the knowledge that you won’t, say, attempt to feel up a Marilyn Monroe impersonator performing at a fundraiser for your campaign while she’s just trying to do her j…

What’s that? Pardon? Emily Gilbert?

Ah. As you were.