Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Cryingtown

As much as I love being around women (and we know that’s A LOT), proximity to them within the confines of a law firm is a completely different story. All of my least favorite experiences as a lawyer come from dealing with women. Trumping the misery of working under an insecure, passive-aggressive coozebag of a Law Review editor as a 3L, my worst moments spent with womankind have been playing witness to specific instances of female in-office meltdowns.

Besides all the obvious differences between men and women that have ignited the gender wars for years—we pee standing up, we don’t think, we don’t feel—the most important, by far, is that MEN DON’T CRY IN THE OFFICE. It’s the sole reason we deserve to earn more money.

When a woman cries in a professional setting, men see two things: weakness and sexual unattractiveness. It’s an involuntary reaction. A biological response to annoyance. (Note: Crying can occasionally be a big turn on, but never over proxy statements.) And though it isn’t P.C., the truth is that most BigLaw partners are men. So let’s do the math, ladies.

Notice to lawyers with XX chromosomes: Your tears are career killers!

It’s time to face facts about what happens when you let your emotions get the best of you. As I see it, there are two basic types of women who thrive at law firms:

1. The Unattractive Workhorse

We men like working on deals with this type because, let’s face it, we can actually get work done. We have no desire to bang her, she does stellar work, and she is brilliant and lives for her job. But, most importantly, she never shows signs of emotion or cries. Her androgynous eyeglasses know no tears. She is basically one of us, except she has no sense of humor.

2.  The (Relatively) Attractive Associate

Attractive chicks thrive everywhere. But in the context of a law firm, we men are willing to work with this type even though her legal work is subpar. We’re happy to have her on the team—as long as she’s around as eye candy during those long nights. She gets the blood flowing in our loins and reminds us that we’re men. This type is basically bulletproof… Unless she cries!

Then, there is one category of women that is completely damned from the get-go:

3. The Unattractive Crier

The fate of this woman is sealed in the office the second her voice trembles for the first time or the moment the inaugural tear streams down her unattractive cheek. These women immediately draw attention to themselves as pariahs and are treated as such for the remainder of their time at the firm. A woman who deals with stress by shedding tears in the office is immediately deemed a total liability and cannot be trusted. At that point, her only option is to embed herself into the firm’s women’s initiative and pray for a band of protection from fellow female criers.

Not to say that crying isn’t technically condoned.

The crazy thing is these sobbing sasquatches sometimes manage to succeed to some degree. By that, I mean, HR defends these sniffling hags. Recently, I was forced to sit through a supposedly legit presentation where males where given tools on how to deal with a sobbing woman in the workplace. Why the f**k should we have to deal with it???

The fact that HR has now seen fit to hold a course where they train males to deal with this outrageous behavior makes my blood boil.  If true gender equality existed, there would also be a seminar called “Hold in Your Tears, Honey” or “Go Tell It to Your Boyfriend.”

I’d go so far to say that however uncomfortable I may make women with my sometimes unwanted sexual advances, their emotional outbursts make me 100 times more uncomfortable.  In my opinion, it’s the female equivalent of sexual harassment. And just like with those policies, there should be “no tolerance” for female breakdowns.

My first year in BigLaw, I shared an office with a God-awful, Unattractive Crier named Valeria. Most of our exchanges began like this:

Me: What’s wrong? Boyfriend troubles?
Valeria: Why do you always ask that? I’m just pissed that I have to finish this credit agreement for Bob, and I tried to tell Paul I need more time on this subordination agreement, but the closing date got moved up.

Then the floodgates would burst open. And that would seriously be why tears were coming out of her eyeballs.  Unacceptable!

Ignoring her was impossible in such a confined space. I was trapped with her whimpering. I basically became a captive audience to her weepy-eyed soliloquies. Eventually, nature ran its course, and Valerie’s fate was sealed after I spread the word about her emotional frailty. Whatever confidentiality agreement we had as officemates was destroyed the second her tears invaded my workspace. Word spread (read: I told everyone) that she cried everyday (a bit of an exaggeration, but she deserved it), and she was pretty much cooked at our firm. Nobody wanted to work with her, and within six months, she left under vague circumstances and moved to San Francisco to work as a horticulturist.

I take absolutely NO responsibility for her fate. She should’ve known my motto: YOU CRY, YOU DIE!

Fast forward to the present when I recently had a new potential nuclear meltdown on my hands. This time it was Christine, a first year who works under me on a bunch of deals, and we’ve actually become friends.

Christine is your typical Type 2. She’s attractive, but not the brightest legal mind. And, to no surprise, I put her on deals because she’s attractive, fairly normal, and I feel there’s a strong chance that I’ll get some rebound sex when she breaks up with her boyfriend. But, mainly, SHE NEVER CRIES!

Christine will always be able to skate by around here AS LONG AS SHE DOESN’T CRY IN THE OFFICE. But, unfortunately, Christine has a legitimate reason to cry.  She has the unpleasant distinction of being the ONE PERSON at our firm who failed the July bar. Not only does she have to wear that scarlet “F” on their chest for the rest of their career, but she is also facing the distinct possibility of failing it again in a few weeks.

When she first found out in November that she failed, she impressed me by reacting akin to a male: She went AWOL, hoping that when she returned the next day, people would somehow forget to look at her with smirks of derision and condescension.  But she couldn’t follow through.  The next morning, I got a hyperventilating, tear-filled call telling me she couldn’t go to work and face people.

Uh oh!

We met up at Starbucks a few blocks from the office, and I talked her off the ledge.

Me: Nobody cares about it. You do great work, that’s all that matters. [Not true].
Christine (through muffled tears): Everyone thinks I’m an idiot. Nobody will respect me!

Did you think anyone respected you before?

Me: You’re gonna look back on this and laugh.

Nobody ever laughs about failing the bar.

Christine (still crying): Nobody is gonna wanna work with me?”
Me: That’s crazy, you still have great tits.

Fine, I didn’t say the last part, but I sure thought it. She has great cans.

Christine (STILL crying): Let’s go back to the office. I don’t want to be late.
Me: Absolutely not. Not unless you’re sure you won’t cry. Trust me, nobody cares about the bar (lie). The only thing that matters is that you NEVER, EVER CRY IN THE OFFICE.  If you cry in the office, you may as well quit.

After two hours of sobbing, she finally manned up and went back to work—without shedding a single tear INSIDE the office. I’m sure it was extremely difficult, but if she had, she would have been downgraded to Valeria status.

Even if its only one sob session, ladies, in the eyes of male colleagues, you are a “crier.” You forever have the potential to cry at any moment. You can never to be trusted, never be invited out with clients.  You’re a leper.

Christine called the next day to thank me for not letting her go back in when she was emotional.  Sure, it’s bad that she failed the bar in this tense climate, but she sidestepped being a two-time loser.  She never melted down at the office, and for that, my male colleagues and me will happily work with her (and her spectacular rack) any day.  And, just so you don’t think this isn’t all about me, her call confirmed that I’m a shoe in to get laid post-breakup.

If anyone works in HR and is reading this, I am available to give this seminar.

  • Guano Dubango

    3 cheers for Matthew!  Hurray!  Finally a man who thinks like me!  I also have to work and deal with women who also look and smell like moose.  I have trouble with that.  Why can’t there be women like the lawyers on “The Deep End”?  Then I would not mind consoling these women.  But the ones at my firm are clearly smelly and disgusting, even by my own standards.  I recommend that men steer entirely clear of females who have wider asses than we have irregardless of how nice their mammaries are.  We men are being railroaded by HR into having to accept sub par women, and therefore sub par sexual partners.  This must stop ASAP.  Bring on the pretty bimbos, please.

  • Craig

    Good stuff.  Definitely no crying at work no matter the gender.

  • KateLaw

    This is a hard one.  I am not a cryer.. not really in life or at work.  However, in those time where I have broken down (damn them), it has been 100% completely uncontrollable.  I seriously could not hold it back and stop those tear from flowing.  I think many women just have a lower threshold for the “crying point”… insert the countless gender/societal arguments here… and they just can’t help themselves.  I think it sucks that it’s viewed as weak, but then I can totally see why.  I suppose I have more compassion for it (being a woman has something to do with it perhaps), but I do see this guy’s point.  I think this story struck me because it hits home.  Just the other day my older sister called me (she’s the one who’s a 2nd year surgical resident) and admitted to me that she cried in the operating room after being yelled at and berated by her attending for four long hours.  I have to say, her life/job sucks waaaay worse than any of you BigLawers… 120 hour weeks, tiny little bunk beds to crash on, dog-eat-dog egotistical male surgeons who do not give a f what they say to you, all while you’re expected to save lives on little to no sleep.  The fact that she does what she does and still looks flawless (we have good genes) amazes me.  However, I was truly shocked when she told me that she cried (and not only at work, but until she fell asleep later that night).  She is less of a cryer than I am, which really does say a lot.  Now, I completely understand how this happened and am beyond compassionate about it (and proud that, thanks to those lovely surgical masks & goggles, she’s pretty sure no one noticed).

  • esqsss

    Exhaustion can account for a lot of the lower threshholds for crying these days.  A friend did a consulting job for a BIGLAW type firm locally and said there was not a day that went by that she didn’t see someone crying – male or female.  I simply cannot imagine how anyone practicing in that environment (especially if they are raising kids, too) who isn’t exhausted mosts of the time.

  • BL1Y

    Men who go off the handle screaming and shouting profanities should be lumped in with the women who cry.  Both groups are showing a complete inability to control themselves in the workplace.

  • What next….we have to pee sitting down?

    More proof that the workplace is being relentlessly feminized to accomodate women who leave to have kids anyway, leaving the office bereft of the male comforts we once enjoyed.  Pinups, chasing secretaries, quid pro quo sex from subordinates,-the things that made the US an industrial powerhouse–all lost due to women’s unceasing demands that everyone accomodate their weaknesses before they go on maternity leave.  Did Churchill or Thatcher blubber?  Would the Civil War or WWII have been won if Grant or FDR were blubbering?  Did Madame Curie (the token woman scientist who boiled rocks with her husband) or Queen elizabeth blubber?  Now there are seminars on how to accept blubbering people in the workplace? How about seminars to tell women to be understanding of our involuntary lacivious looks? If I was client or patient and someone on my legal or surgical team started that insufferable blubbering, I’d leave or get them off the team.  The only reason a woman should blubber in the open is to seek comfort from a male.

  • BL1Y

    Acceptable reasons to cry in the workplace: (1) Serious physical injury, (2) Death of a close relative or friend, (3) Physiological reaction to allergens or spicy food, (4) Laughing really hard at a hilarious joke, (5) Incredible after-hours orgasm.

  • It’s my party

    And I’ll do what I want.  Cry, not cry.  Get over it d-bags.  Women have taken over and we get to do what we want when we want AND you men have to sit through seminars about it!!! hahahahaaaaaaaaaaa.  Just cause you don’t cry out in the open to save face or look all ‘powerful’, we women KNOW you cry at home with us.  All men are the biggest babies ever.  Fess up!  You all know it’s true!!!!!!

  • Magic Circle Jerk

    Excellent column.  You hit the nail right on the head.

  • miserable associate

    Great article. This crying in the workplace epidemic needs to be put to a stop. It’s like Tom Hanks said “There’s no crying….there’s no crying at Law Firms”…. I like the idea of giving guys a free pass for sexual harrassment, that seems like the only equitable solution.

  • bearded ladyboy

    I watched a very tough women that doesn’t cry make a male associate cry.  That guy left the firm within a month of the incident. Sadly, there are no long term position for criers in the biglaw world.  Maybe if there were, people would not be so mean at the office.

  • Jerk

    As always, Matt is spot on.  And it doesn’t matter if it’s an attorney, paralegal, receptionist or file clerk – they should not cry.  This is a workplace and other people depend on you.  If you can’t keep it together, get a new job.  I had a secretary who had tons of drama in her life and she was highly unreliable as a result.  I lost tons of billable hours just trying to keep her at work so she could open my damn mail.  If you’re going to cry at work, at least have the courtesy to go into the bathroom or outside or somewhere else.  Just don’t do it in front of me.
    Also, BL1Y – I don’t know what happened to you, but you’ve sure turned into a whiny pussy lately.

  • BL1Y

    Jerk: Why? Because sometimes I laugh so hard I squeeze out a few tears, or because I think that the screamer partners are just as immature and emotionally unhinged as criers?

  • Piece of $hit

    Not only is Richardson spot on, this article was absolutely hilarious.  Great stuff.  Possibly his best article to date.

  • DB Cooper

    Reason # 41 why Finance > Law:  When I was interning at a trading desk in college, some operations woman started crying due to stress and she later got yelled at!

  • Schadenfreude

    I worked as a bouncer in college. Talk about another place where emotional breakdowns are not acceptable in the workplace; We fired a guy for crying. Steroid induced emotional imballance is still not an acceptable excuse.

  • E Muskie

    Q: One:  If a woman cries openly to a man does it mean she is open to him physically? Q Two: If a man is overcome at an attractive woman crying, is he wrong to try to kiss or embrace her? (assuming he knows her and likes her, meaning he’s not a total stranger).

  • Alma Federer

    There’s a reason we are more emotional.  Its because men are less emotional.  It is not such a sin to be sensitive, and most of you men wouldn’t know how to react, since you boors just want to get into our pants.  If you were smart, you would learn from the 1% of the guys who are sensitive.  They are the ones that get the Charlize Theron’s of this world (smart, attractive and well versed, like me).  Other men just don’t learn, acting like dopey Vinnie Barbarino’s from Welcome Back Kotter.  I think the real John Travolta is nice and he has a beautiful wife.  That is what I want, not you losers.

  • TaxxxGirl

    Can’t believe I’m saying this, but Matthew is totally right. It’s just not acceptable or professional to cry at the office. Go to the bathroom, take a long lunch, have some alone time in your car if you have to, but pull yourself together for God’s sake when you’re in public. It’s uncomfortable for women, too. When a lady-associate comes running in because she thinks since I’m a woman I must be sympathetic, I feel just as trapped as Matthew did, but there’s even more of an urgency to separate myself from the situation because I don’t want to get dragged in to that reputation down with her. No more tears, just like the shampoo.

  • a female lawyer and liking it

    Right on to you, Richardson. I’m female and maybe I don’t have nerves of steel, but I don’t cry in public. Period. Good point. If you talk the talk of equality in the workplace, you walk the walk. Ladies, get wid the program (plus our mascara run, which adds to the ugliness, as Richardson aptly points out.) You had me laughing till I almost cried, I mean, pee’d. So Thanks.

  • Bitter Overseas

    A great read as usual

  • LTwizzy

    Thanks Matthew! You made me so thankful for my non-law firm job this morning.
    The douchebaggy-ness of this article is really beyond belief. Glad I don’t work in an atmosphere that might slowly desensitize me to sexist bullshit like this.

  • Hannah Palindrome

    Cry in the bathroom or quit.

    There is no crying in the legal field.

  • Son of Guano

    Don’t start Alma.  We know you’d dismiss the sensitive man as a loser, go home with the Alpha, be upset that he wasn’t sensitive, cry to the sensitive one, then seek out another Alpha.  Then come to this site and whine.

  • Evil Lawyer

    But if a successful lawyer cries in private or is accidentally seen crying, its no big deal. Then we understand she isn’t “bleeding in public.” She’s allowing us to continue to deal with her as a fellow partner or employee, she’s not going to leave for a week and the work will go on

  • seniorpartner

    Fine.  Then let’s ban the utterly boring male sports discussions.  I’m male, but I don’t give a flying shit how the ‘Doggies are doing or whether Rastus Flyhair signed with the ‘Punks.  If males need this kind of juvenile bonding, they can just whip them out and have a circle jerk like they did in junior high school gym class.  It’s over quicker and I don’t have to hear about sports that are aimed at retards with room temperature IQs.
    Fair is fair.

  • More Senior PArtner

    I don’t like sports either. But I am happy to let others waste their time on consensual activity of that tpe. Crying in public is not the same.

  • mars

    big thumbs up to matthew for this one! could a man get away with crying at work? no way jose.

  • seniorpartner

    Since when is an office (or even what passes for an office, a cubicle) “public”?
    The mutual auto-homo-eroticism of the sports cults is loud and public.

  • Magic Circle Jerk

    Son of Guano-

    So true. So very very true.  And that’s why it’s great to be the ALPHA

  • law77girl

    Equality in the workplace does not mean that women must become more man-like. The major problem with this article is that it sets forth the BIGLAW firm as an all-male club women are graced to enter. Hate to break it to ya, boys, but women are vastly outpacing men when it comes to their numbers graduating from law school. There will come a time when the workplace is made up of more women than men, and finally, hopefully, the male-created, male-oriented office will come around to better reflect the realities and needs of both genders. Women tend to be more emotional than men. Crying jags happen. No one wants them to. Women should escape to a bathroom and get themselves together. But just because not many men cry at work does not make it a weakness. Recognizing and expressing stresses at work often makes people better able to address them. The author needs to get a grip and realize that we’re no longer living in the 1950s, where a man’s domain is the workplace, and a woman’s, the home.

  • Anonymous

    Look at the numbers, babe.  No matter the law school graduation gender breakdown, partners are still mostly men.  Always will be.  It’s biology that determines that women have babies—and raising families will always make women chose between law and home.

  • More Senior Partner

    Law77 girl, public crying does not instill confidence. It breeds unease in cleints and staff.  I agree with SeniorPartner’s annoyed observation on loud blathering by the male “sports is my life” types that mindlessly pratter on about the sports page after passing the front and business pages. Ship captains, pilots, doctors and lawyers avoid such behavior–their job is to instill trust and confidence. Professional women realize that: ask any woman partner or doctor with clients in the office and a payroll to meet if she finds public crying by associates or staff to be acceptable.

  • Pub Defender

    Doesn’t it depend on what exactly a person is crying about?  Im not in the BigLaw world, so I know nothing about overbearing partners and socially akward senior associates.  I work in an office where people are supportive of each other.  In criminal law our cases directly affect our clients lives, when we lose our clients often go to prison for long periods of time and occassionally forever.  I don’t care who you are, that SUCKS.  I’ve seen my share of female co-workers cry about cases.  I didn’t chastise them or ostracize them, I feel for them and understand their emotion.  I’m not a crier.  Is that because I’m a guy?, I don’t know, I have seen male co-workers cry on the rare occasion and again, I understood their pain.  Maybe I understood their pain and emotion because it was about something I believed in or could relate to.  Either way I don’t see it as a bad thing.

  • brighteyes

    I’ll I have to say is…WOW. This is an incredibly sexist and disgusting viewpoint. I’m not looking forward to being sized up by all of you dirty old men based on my *uckability once I graduate. Fortunately, the men of my generation aren’t as small minded.  Do you realize that the year 2001 was the first year that more women entered law school than men? The tables are turning gentlemen. I can’t wait to be the one bending you over the desk.

  • BL31Y

    Bright eyes: we wish you well. But the weekly, monthly, yearly grind wears out most women who leave for part-time work, non-profits, or to have kids. Men don’t usually have the option to “indulge themselves” by throttling back to part-time work. So as our wives age into juiceless older women that nag, cut their hair, and develop larger stomachs, asses and jowls, as our expenses mount and kids grow, we grind on, supporting our families and imagining how great it would be to have regular afternoons and business trips with some slimmer, younger, more compliant and fresher associate, who we foolishly think might have reciprocal thoughts. Its harmless.  In the end, the women advanced are the ones that are smart and profesisonal.

  • Jen

    Crying, yelling, slamming doors — all unprofessional. Hey, I may feel like crying at times, but I suck it up and continue with my work.

  • guest

    I’m a paralegal, and I see attorneys every damn day. I’ve seen a couple of lawyers, male and female, cry ( or be very, very close,with cartoon-like brimming eyes) and didn’t feel they were nearly as unprofessional as the asshole who screams, yells, throws things, and storms around like an overgrown toddler. Sometimes, shit happens. You lose what was sure to be a done deal, you get raked over the coals by a judge for some transgression you don’t understand, or the opposition’s client just tried to throttle you (true story) or there’s just so much happening that there is no other recourse then to cry, kill yourself, or turn into that door slamming asshole. Close your office door, sit on the bathroom counter, or hide in your car, cry,and then come back and carry on. That’s mature, that’s professional. But, harassing someone for crying is a douchebag move. Anyone who has “never cried” because they are “adults” or “professionals” is a liar.