It’s John, your supervisor. Again. I passed by earlier under the pretense of needing office supplies so I could have the opportunity to give you a gender-neutral compliment that did not fall under the often ambiguous umbrella term sexual harassment. But I couldn’t think of one.
So I decided to write this letter instead.
Before I proceed with anything else, I would like to ask you a hypothetical question: If I acknowledged the fact that I find your physical appearance to be enticing, would that be considered a potentially inappropriate compliment or could it be somehow considered a harmless opinion? Not that I find or do not find your physical appearance enticing. I have merely brought up a hypothetical situation we could examine together as mutually respectful colleagues.
Honestly, anyone can tell that you have healthy genes and excellent hygiene habits. But if ever I were to compliment you, it wouldn’t be on your appearance because such advances might be considered objectifying. And objectifying a co-worker certainly falls under the ambiguous umbrella term sexual harassment.
If ever I were to communicate my appreciation for another person’s being, I might simply leave a flower on her desk, as long as such a gesture would not be misconstrued as a courting gesture. Such a gesture might imply that I, being male, am performing the role of the active-gendered pursuer, which might force you, being female, to play the role of the passive-gendered object of desire – thereby, once again, disrupting the gender-neutral politics of our work relations.
These issues of gender-neutrality and personal boundaries within our working environment are serious matters that, apparently, our company has already taken steps to eradicate by enforcing office policies pertaining specifically to this issue.
But still, many believe that their rights are being violated. Many employees still feel that this matter has not been properly resolved and should be further discussed. In fact, I have been briefed that you are one of the more stringent advocates for the improved implementation of office policies.
I would just like to assure you that if you wish to discuss such a matter with me, the door to my office is always open. To ensure the privacy of our discussion, I would even allow for the closing and locking of my office door upon your entrance. As your supervisor, this matter is of great importance to me too. I’m sure our discussion will be truly productive – stressful, but productive.
To ease the tension or stress such a discussion might arouse, we can have a few drinks afterward, at a nearby bar. I can assure you, as your supervisor, that whatever transgressions might be committed should our judgments be compromised by the consumption of alcohol beyond our tolerance – should we, somehow, end up intoxicated, unclothed, and horizontally parallel to each other – it will not be printed on your permanent employee record. There is nothing to worry about.
Not that I am suggesting that such an event would occur, nor am I implying that you are the type of person who would participate in deviant behaviors such as fornication. Not that I condemn deviant behavior. I neither condemn nor commend such practices as long as the people involved are consenting adults.
But if you were, indeed, the type of person who would participate in such an activity, and if you were to suggest that such an activity should occur between us, I would not protest – in fact I might even encourage such an invitation by revealing the fact that many people have told me that I have the reproductive equipment of an African-American basketball athlete.
My encouragement, of course, does not mean to imply that you would prefer the reproductive equipment of an African-American person, since that would be racist. I am simply pointing out the fact that my reproductive equipment is disproportionate with my body mass index.
The fact that my reproductive equipment is disproportionate with my body mass index is often received with a positive response except by some people who have biases against physical deformities. I hope you are not one of those people because we have company policies against prejudice.
I expect a favorable response and I’m confident that you would provide one, unless of course you are a lesbian. Not that there’s anything wrong with lesbianism.
I’m sure your strident efforts for better office policies on sexual matters are motivated by your personal office experiences. I assure you, Julia, I will find this person harassing you and he will be penalized accordingly. You can come to my office anytime to discuss this matter… even after office hours.
Jerald Marcelo Pineda