For reasons somewhat unclear to me, women in the workplace get a free pass to talk about their sex lives. For reasons even less clear to me, the women who take advantage of this double standard are never the ones you actually want to hear talk about their sex lives.
Exhibit A: My boss. I’ll spare you the details of her appearance because at least a few of the lawyers at our firm read this blog. But let’s just say she looks like Garry Shandling had a love child with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Take a second and let that image assimilate.
Basically, she’s ugly, and if the dictionary had pictures… Well, you get the idea.
Unfortunately, I spend a lot of late nights alone with this woman. (Working and not undressing her with my eyes—trust me.) She’s a senior litigation associate, and I’ve been a lawyer for two whole years. I’ve been working closely with her for the last eight months, preparing for a rather complex trial. So, especially lately, we’ve been spending a lot of hours together, usually working through dinner in one of the conference rooms.
Without fail, if we’re there past 9:00 p.m., which is a couple times a week, she lets down her hair and starts talking about her social life—more specifically her dating escapades. (Yep, apparently she actually has them. Although I’m not sure who would want to date her.)
On at least two or three occasions, I’ve gotten more details than a Penthouse Forum letter. It’s seriously appalling stuff. She talks about everything regarding men in her life: Their names, their jobs, their dating history, their kids…….their penis sizes, her preferences, her kinks, EVERYTHING. And after I googled the term “NuvaRing,” I quickly realized she had even divulged what kind of protection she uses. (Dry heave.)
Not that I asked for any of this, mind you.
When we first started working together, I was kind enough to humor her by biting on the heavily baited statements she would make during small talk that practically begged, “Ask me more about my new man Terrance!” (After all, she’s a senior associate, so why not let her blabber about whatever the hell she wants?) But after I inquired about where she met Terrance and she replied with “meetup.com,” I banished myself to small-talk solitude.
Since then, without ever trying to draw her out, she’s updated me on Gary, Phillip, John, Hamilton……………..and so on.
I do not encourage this. At this point, I nod politely, and I try and change the subject back to the case. But she just yaps away about her gross sexcapades, reads me the sext messages she receives and analyzes the desperate men who are lonely enough to bang her.
Several times she has asked for my male perspective. I just brush it off with something about how dating is a crazy process. One time I even told her that it made me uncomfortable, and she just laughed it off.
“Oh sure,” she said. “I know how you guys are.”
I’m no prude, but I really don’t want to know what a co-worker likes in the bedroom. As much as I hate the phrase, I still can’t help but say it—TMI!
Now, if I were a woman and she was a man (which she practically is anyway), this would have already resulted in a massive sexual harassment situation. But, acknowledging the double standard, there’s no sense in getting HR involved. I really don’t want to. Mainly because she’s actually a good lawyer, and when she’s not waxing on about her sex life, I’m really learning a lot from her. Plus, since she thinks we’re BFFs, she’s given me more responsibility than anyone else in my start year has even gotten. Granted, that responsibility comes with the price tag of feeling like I need to take scalding showers when I get home. Lather, rinse, repeat.
There was a time when her sex talk creeped into my head at exactly the wrong moment. I almost broke up with my girlfriend last week because some dirty talk she said one night reminded me too much of my putrid boss. I got grossed out and practically shoved her off me. I’m not sure the relationship is even salvageable. But this type of trial experience, I hope, is worth a sexual casualty.