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July 3, 2022

THE councillor told me he had a package of material I would be very interested in as a reporter so I naively agreed to meet him in a pub and would later find myself in my living room finding that the package was a porno film which he wanted to play to get me aroused.

I told the news-desk about his sexual grooming of me – as older men with some authority and power can do when they want to “experiment” outside marriage – but nobody was interested and I just made a mental note to never speak to him again. His behaviour had made me feel unsafe and vulnerable.

The mystery man was not in a council I covered on a regular basis so it was not difficult for me to avoid him. Exposing him by reporting the matter to the council personnel department would have ruined his career and his family life and I had accepted his drinks, flattery and racy banter so all it needed was a firm but clear “no, thanks” and there was never any need to involve PC Plod nor to suddenly turn myself into a victim.

Had he, alternatively, been my employer or linked to an employer who might have the power to advance my prospects, get me better pay and conditions or raise me socially, my response that night may have been rather different to his suggestion that we should “relax” and watch porn together in the privacy of my own home with his secret hope that one thing would lead to another.

These episodes were not regular and everyday as a young reporter in the grimly grasping 1980s in a horrendously traditionally and historically male-dominated red in tooth and claw print newspaper industry where bullying and abuse – almost always male news editors and senior editors who would humiliate, harass and harangue like powerful white slave owners holding the whip hand in the cotton fields – was normalised but there was never any sexual misbehaviour.

I tried to convince myself that that style of management – raw, impudent, militaristic and warlike entirely in the tradition of that suffered by my lower working class male ancestors who naturally lived in fear of their bosses “bollocking” them if they weren’t prosecuting them for theft of tiny bundles of stationery paper – was a hugely effective personal motivator, first setting me against competitors to elevate myself above them but then frequently pointing out my inadequacies and failings when I fell below them.

A pub near the Daily and Sunday Mirror newsroom in London was called “The Stab” not because that was its actual name but because it was where senior executives would take lower salaried editorial staff to break the bad news that their job had gone (Stab in the back).

These instances of humiliation and abuse in this rancid, macho devil’s kitchen atmosphere were legion and I came to accept them as perfectly normal and now I even find myself sometimes yearning sentimentally for a return to that simple “kill or be killed” shared understanding so that at least I have some idea of who is most likely to stab me in the front.

Workplaces were naturally dysfunctional fortresses of abuse, alcoholism, fierce and ferocious dispute and disagreement, sometimes bad tempered and menacing, seething resentment, noxious nepotism (journos, being odd and insular, were often forced to marry or couple with their own kind in narrow social circles), blind bias (each and every “news” organisation has an established collective political stance just like in social clubs and in order to get on you have to sing the company anthem at least sounding like you genuinely mean it), biting and often bitter sarcasm and denigration of others, rampant sexism with a “boys will be boys” mischievous and sometimes malicious marauding naturally predatory naughty lads on the prowl central, dominating feel to fuel and fire a rebellious, unreconstructed, rampantly disrespecting alternative creative zeal and drive.

The language (papers were “put to bed”, staff worked to “deadlines”, “hard” and “master” copies were produced, “blacks” were copies of stories stored on “spikes”, “number two” reported to “number one” “deputies” to “chiefs”, there was a “father of chapel” in the NUJ and a “chairman” of the board) was penis-obsessed paternalistic and militaristic.

The presses have stopped rolling and the language as well as the methods of production have radically altered so we now have a totally different landscape in journalism as, indeed, in nearly all industry, trade, commerce and services.

Offices and office politics has evolved and changed beyond comprehension. So much so, in fact, that damaged dinosaurs like me might struggle to recognise them as workplaces at all if I visited and spent a day in one now.

Kim Scott’s vision of the perfect workplace set out in her book Just Work, How to confront bias, prejudice and bullying to build a culture of inclusivity (Panmacmillan 2021 £10.99) starts, as I did in this post, by outlining instances of sexual grooming of her by older, more powerful males which she, too, did not report but for her were part of a macho management culture which she, too, felt abused and marginalised by.

Kim (not to be confused with rapper Eminem’s ex-wife) is a woman who was “hit on” far more regularly than I was (she faced the issue of sleeping with the boss for better pay and prospects which I most certainly did not, thankfully) and, clearly, has far more reasons to assert herself as a victim. So she has calculatedly used that victimhood to promote a radical feminist post #MeToo solution to pale, male and stale monster management moguls who must back off while sisters now wear the trousers rather than iron and crease them for the big bosses.

My workplace experiences were before major revolutions in sexual politics emphasised the legitimacy and assertion of female autonomy and agency and, crucially, before the institutional abuse and sexploitation of young female employees by older, richer male employers like Harvey Weinstein and Fox News’s Roger Ailes in a casting couch culture where attractive young people, overwhelmingly girls, could get on by getting things off was fully exposed and addressed.

Our own Welsh politician Labour’s Carl Sergeant, of course, was a tragic victim of this new much more stridently vengeful radical feminist workplace culture when mere allegations of sexual impropriety from apparently anonymous sources were enough to tip him over and take his own life although former SNP leader Alex Salmond admirably went to court to defend himself against anonymous allegations which were all thrown out by a jury.

So Silicon Valley family woman Kim Scott – who was a chief executive officer coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter and other tech companies and faculty member at Apple University, having led teams for AdSense, YouTube and DoubleClick at Google – naturally opens by shining a light on older males sexploiting younger females as one of THE major causes of workplace toxicity and to do this she goes back to her first job after college in 1991 when she was 23 and approached a man called Robert (not his real name) chief executive officer of a private equity firm because she thought she was being underpaid (didn’t we all, eh!).

“At the first opportunity I asked Robert for a meeting and soon found myself facing him in a conference room. He was seated comfortably in an armchair. Something about his appearance gave him a benevolent appearance, like Santa Claus,” she starts in this mischievously maliciously mendaciously manipulative manner which she never lets go of for one second.

Needless to say, their conversation ended abruptly “Robert was really angry, almost unhinged”. He was “gaslighting” her (of course he was). No mention is made of why she thought that she deserved more money so soon nor why Robert disagreed so vehemently with her.

Another boss Thomas told her he feared he might not live past 40 and did not want to die a virgin (virgin on the ridiculous?) so she very kindly but foolishly accommodated him in her bed, bless her, only for Thomas to later scold her angrily (as conmen who trick you into sex are inclined to do in my very limited experience).

Yet another boss, Fred, sympathetically then told her “he was really nasty back there” so she happily and, it transpires, again foolishly agreed to a hug in the lift with him but was horrified to find that Fred was grinding his erect penis into her (taking things to another level with basement behaviour). “Mercifully the elevator door opened; I ducked under his arm and darted out. I’ve rarely felt so alone or under siege”. Phew!

Now these episodes were never reported and she did not get a pay rise so, naturally, a jaundiced and affronted righteously indignant view of the dynamics of the workplace inspired in her a missionary almost evangelical bitter zeal and drive to fight aggressively against acceptance of working life for young women being naturally and normally as the lower paid sexual playthings of higher paid male executives. This one, single issue dominated and, by featuring these anecdotes at the outset, she firmly sets her entire argument in her expectations of male sexual misbehaviour to females with little understanding of male to male or female to male (too many women have groomed men in the workplace) and this introduces us to her crippling fear of toxic powerful, predatory males while explaining her obsession with righting historical wrongs based on her own bitterness and resentment.

“That first job was so deeply disorienting, in fact, that it took me 30 years to come up with a theory that united my intellectual questions about how to build just working environments with my personal experiences of being mistreated at work. This book is the result of that effort.”

I’ve never worked in a “just working environment” nor lived in a “just environment” nor ever wanted to. Justice is meted out by authority to people below them often as punishment (all “just” environments have to rely on justice meted out by a higher authority rather like prisons) and who wants to live like that?

Indeed, if a journalist lived and worked in a “just environment” with no conflict, confrontation, dispute and disagreement there would be precious little for him or her to write about.

And this, of course, is the final intention of all radical feminist far-left extremists like Kim Scott in their cosy west coast technological glass-fronted “safe space” cabals and covens – eradicate conflict, confrontation, dispute and disagreement, mainly, of course, the fault of penis-swinging males with their dreaded build-up of testosterone and eventually you get universal mandatory agreement entirely on their terms with a managerial Kim Scott-style figure under a new though equally authoritarian and frighteningly imposing dictatorial management regime but without the groping and grooming. Simples!

Kim Scott’s language is deliberately and calculatedly wielded rather than simply used – always grounded in a radical feminist universal style sheet compiled by high priestesses (the sainted Audre Lorde at the head stirring audacious toxic spells of their own at academic, intellectually stimulating frontier disruptive technology glass-fronted settings mainly in California where liberal loonies pontificate and proliferate perched in the lotus position on their chic saffron meditation Zabutons (trendy Japanese cushions).

Hence she was “disoriented” at work surrounded by men who demanded “himpathy” alongside sexual favours (though, significantly, there is no witness verification of any of her allegations and all the men have had their names changed so she refuses to identify them). Disorienting is losing one’s sense of direction and it was her sense of not being valued equally with men which made her lose motivation, trust and direction but why did she describe her rage and resentment as “disoriented”? What an odd, calculatedly manipulative way of expressing yourself.

And what an odd, calculatedly manipulative set of anonymous employees were set against Alex Salmond at Scottish government’s Hollyrood HQ to concoct stories a jury could not believe of him forcing them into alleged sex acts not dissimilar to those perpetrated by Thomas and Fred on poor Kim Scott.

Is this “just workplace” (where women like Kim Scott seem incapable of taking their own moral inventory before asserting their “rights” not to be touched, there is a considerable chunk on when it is appropriate to touch an opposite sex colleague which reads rather like a Nazi party handbook on handling non Arians) just an arena for wronged and vengeful radical feminist far-left extremists to exact perfect revenge on male, pale and stale monsters of yesteryear?

Well, Kim Scott has a “futureproof” plan to bring sanity and safety to the big, bad world of work and it appears to rely on her politically motivated appropriation of the words “bias”, “prejudice”, and “bullying”.

My working world was full of completely conscious bias, prejudice and bullying. You knew where it was coming from and so you knew how to respond to it.

The west coast sisterhood now dominating the internet, however, want to live in a world free of all these perfectly natural, perfectly sensible and appropriate factors which influence behaviour and interpersonal dynamics so they have embraced radical feminist Foucauldian neo-Marxist social psychological pseudo science and gender studies “breakthroughs” which are themselves blatantly biased, prejudiced and bullying and raised them to religious status and have been allowed so to do because our meaningless mainstream church has surrendered meekly to this new radical orthodoxy.

It starts with the splitting up of “bias” into conscious and unconscious motivation. Many of my colleagues were positive about their biases and displayed them often amusingly and sometimes disturbingly, but always as fuel for a creative furnace, while some were unaware, fully, of how being trapped in rancid settings had changed them.

Unconscious bias, according to Kim Scott, can be rescued though education if it is admitted and there is a will, on the part of the employee, to change (hence the sudden explosion of courses run by Zabutonians with the scattering of cushions in reception). Conscious bias, however, always leads to “prejudice” and “prejudice” will inevitably lead to “bullying” so to completely eradicate the former two we have to completely eradicate “bias”.

So (I hear you cry) what, exactly, constitutes “bias” in the modern workplace?

Disorientation (again, this obsession with your own personal direction being unimpeded by others around you) and “discomfort” as if work were some kind of organised group therapy or, perhaps, occupational therapy at one of Nurse Ratched’s wards in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in between “medication times” can, apparently, be caused by people making assumptions based on stereotypes.

Silly little assumptions like thinking that because a person is wearing a skirt and has enormous breasts they are certainly female. (How very dare them!).

Now that’s a classic gender stereotype, isn’t it? Deliberate stupidity like this will inevitably lead to:

1, Making incorrect role assumptions.

2, Making incorrect “task” assumptions.

3, Making incorrect assumptions about intelligence/skills.

4, Making incorrect assumptions about expertise.

5, Using names or gender pronouns incorrectly.

6, Ignoring one person’s idea then celebrating the exact same idea from someone else moments later (this happens to me a lot).

7, Confusing people of the same race, gender, or other “attribute” (neither of those are attributes so why name them incorrectly?).

8, Belittling/insulting word choices.

9, Unexamined expectations based on stereotypes.

And it doesn’t stop there. Oh no, Kim Scott is a Zabutonian who likes the sound of her own sanctity and enjoys nothing more than pointing out your faults purely, of course, for the common good and to promote group cohesion and combined collegiality. She even tells you how to apologise appropriately, for God’s sake.

She has found allies in the mushrooming big tech platform human resources departments, too, and is packed impressively with knowledge of legitimate and mighty “human rights” legal redress against anyone who threatens that cohesion and collegiality, so don’t even think of challenging her. Non-Disclosure Agreements binding employees to secrecy and “culture of consent” guidelines are explored in depth from her selfish perspective.

Some of the things she writes made me laugh but always at rather than with her.

Try this for size:

“What if you’re not sure it’s bias? It’s OK. You don’t have to be 100 per cent sure to speak up. Whether you’re right or wrong, your feedback is a gift. When you speak up, remain open to the possibility that you’re wrong about which attitude is behind the behaviour, yet also confident in your own perception – this is how it struck you. If you’re right and it was bias, you’ve given the person an opportunity to learn; if you’re wrong, you’ve given the person an opportunity to explain what was meant.”

And this:

“I was just about to give a Radical Candor talk to the founders and executives of some of Sillicon Valley’s hottest start-ups. A couple hundred men were at the conference. I was one of only a handful of women. Just as I was about to go onstage, one of the participants approached me, his lips pursed in frustration.

“‘I need a safety pin’ he hissed at me. He was clutching at his shirt-front – a button had dropped off. Evidently, he assumed I was on the event-staff team. To prevent this situation, the conference organisers had given the event staff bright yellow T-shirts. But all he could notice was his need and my gender.”

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