I find it hard to blame the company in this case, although I do worry somewhat about companies (among other institutions) increasingly policing outside expression of many different kinds (not always in a good way), some say more than before.
I don't understand the drunkenness defense very well myself... Of course, I hardly ever drink. Though it seems to me, drunkenness is not supposed to be a good defense if you run someone over on the highway -- so why should it be a valid defense here?
The sorts of argument that would concern me more are like, is this kind of approach really being applied to everyone equally? Or will it ever be? Why is it okay for people to get irate on the street and yell, "Hey fuck you!" at some car that cuts them off on the road, but it's not so okay to say something that includes "pussy"? Is it okay to call a guy a "dick" whenever he does something wrong but "cunt" directed at a woman is going to be considered automatic charges of harassment? Is part of the response to sexual discrimination writ large and in cultural institutions (unequal pay rates, job stereotyping and profiling, rape frequency) actually also a prescription that men must "just suck it up" when people use sexually vulgar language to pick on them -- they're supposed to "get the joke" or at least shrug it off more -- that is rather often assumed to be something men should do.
I think at least partly
as a consequence of that same basic gender norm, you get the offensive men claiming that women should understand even when it's directed at them, "It's all just horsing around." Cause well, many of those men are brought up being expected to trade in such language of lower body organs also among themselves
, more or less and whatever they actually feel
(whether they're really amused or hurt or indifferent), they're often demanded to say oh yeah, just a joke. Cause well that sort of locker room trash is said to be 'harmless' (ahem, cough) and ya know who wants to be ostracized or deemed "immature" or in some cases actually bullied more
... Whereas if the wording is about a woman's body, suddenly everyone is on thin ice? No?
In the case of women, it does make sense to say it's not really harmless because of the position of women in society and also how people often react in very different (read: generally oppressive) ways to revelations of sexual behavior by women, as opposed to when it's about men. That being said, what I'd like to know is: At what point is this seriously
going to be considered "inappropriate for anyone
in public to be receiving" ? Because I think what we have is more a fussy, rather traditionalist gender divide in many ways... Oh, it's okay to say this word but not that one and some groups will just have to take it, but if you toss in this one then suddenly it's too much risk and people get fired. But people who know the game will just keep their venom below the radar, or directed at less public targets or groups (take women in stigmatized jobs say, sex work for example -- and generally those without a news channel likely to cover them, and
those working class men who are thought to be in industries or groups where it's more accepted - perhaps construction work?? to yank on one stereotype a bit and see) .
None of that is to say anyone should have to put up with it on the job, in public places, and from strangers. And certainly not a pattern of it directed at a particular industry, as the female reporters as a group are reporting. But that's just the rub for me... Why is the fuss only about "pussy", rather than the whole notion of a society that shouts "fuck you" left and right?
Also, gender stereotypes pick this stuff up and run away with it
in another same-old direction. I sometimes hear arguments like: Oh men should learn to be more polite or more restrained because
that should make them feel "tougher, stronger, more sacrificing aka more MANLY." And it becomes a way that some gendered things are hidden away while others are somewhat more often aired and discussed. Much as all the public hair
must be covered or brushed out in approved Japanese porn -- some things are so protected that no one can really talk about them in public anymore. And at the same time you hear conservative politicians (in both Japanese and American politics among so many others) going on about how the lives of women
and especially mothers
need to be micromanaged to "protect" their fragile but oh-so-important to the state bodies, sexuality, and often especially fertility (US side: abortion/contraceptives anyone) and from there, often socially impressed family roles (what about that maternity leave and promotion chances, anyway).
On another angle: Things like Code of Conduct
can be strange animals. I have to say any particular institution's "code" is only as good as the reputation of the people applying it in a given time period. I'm not going to sit here and say anything and everything simply must be good and essentially "tough shit you signed it guy", because hey this thing people had to sign says the company fires people at will. Umm, well, usually they can do that anyway and the breadth of the code is as much about corporate excuse for whatever management feels like (they'll make it about your hairstyle as their employee too!) as cheery notions of a progressive, perhaps egalitarian society. I won't say "civil" because anyone can start to say most anything else they want must be "civil" when we're talking about a company "owning" your time. How much is about the company practically speaking, "owning
your image and likeliness and signature" in every moment in a society that seems to be swinging hard away
from anyone thinking about even trying to keep things fully private? That is a concern too. As is simply the notion that people will be fired on a whim -- but whims may not apply to everyone equally. And managers and monitors can
sometimes become invested in enforcing some traditions and codes that are really not so progressive as well.
So... On the one hand, such "general guideline" regulations serve a general good in protecting other employees from more suspicious, and even outright scary, treatment by others in the workplace. And just perhaps and more incidentally, in a way they may also protect them at other locations that coworkers may have established they can be found at. Well, that part's good and if I felt like that was mainly what they were going to be used for, I'd be happy with an outfit. On the other hand though: They're often intentionally broad so people will be looking over their shoulder worrying about the "appearance" of any impropriety whatsoever being used against them. And they can also
be handy tools for the company to make up excuses but it's not necessarily applied with precision or consistency in all applications. From the employer's point of view, particularly in a bigger company or a particularly image-sensitive company, they can also have a convenient flavor of anything goes. And nobody knows just what, but boy are people supposed to be keeping up to date --> cautious as all hell --> anxious and beholden to immediate management on umpteen tiny issues and political concerns, contractual and otherwise.
I think this particular call was fair enough. But yeah, "because it's the code of conduct" alone isn't really convincing for me. It's the US Constitution that we don't have search and seizure without cause, either... Except in practice? Many people would say in the actual society, we do (can probably thank the Patriot Act lately in significant part?) and the government said fuck the basic spirit of the constitution to do what it really feels like this minute. So because, because. Maybe better: In this particular case, it seems like a reasonably fair and useful, progressive application of the better side or spirit of harassment sections of that code. At least start to say what in the world is being accomplished: Do people feel more safe in the workplace if you do this? Okay that's something
we can evaluate what and why comes out, and discuss or argue. It's not a sound bite by any means. But I get leery when people boil things down to "Because them's the rules."
One can boil most anything
one likes at some point, if it's about sound bites.