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.
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.