My Co-Workers Are Voting for Trump

I sit across the cube wall from 4 hipster type web designers – all guys. (I’m a nerdy female data analyst). The guys are all conservative republicans, so I usually tune out the political talk or put on my headphones.

As you mentioned, a video went out with Donald Trump talking about how he just starts kissing women – and grabs them – and gets away with it. The video was awful, Trump is awful, whatever. But on Monday morning, my coworkers all agreed that it was total normal ‘guy talk’ and they don’t understand why someone would be upset about a ‘bad word’. I tried to explain that it was the whole non-consent thing that most find upsetting but they truly seemed not to get it.

Now for the first time I’m really alarmed about my coworkers. I guess the issue is, I feel safe with them: I don’t think any of them would make unwanted sexual advances to me, but what if some other creeper tells them they are planning to grab me and start kissing? Are they going to respond with, “Haha go for it”, or would they have the wits to say, “Actually Sarah is married and I don’t think she wants to kiss you”.

And the married dorky data analyst is one thing, but what about the cute young marketing intern that just started? Should I worry that if my coworkers hear about someone’s plan to just grab her and start groping her, they’re not aware that the correct response would be, “How about you ask her first. Rose smiles at everyone, that doesn’t mean she wants us all to touch her.”

Should I go to HR with my concerns, or should I assume that the guys are just being political and wouldn’t actually condone sexual assault talk in real life? Should I try one more time to explain to them why this is a concern? The video has been out for a week and a half now, and they still discuss daily how it’s not a big deal.

First a couple of things, just because I’ve developed a nervous twitch over this election: Trump is not a conservative. Sure, he’s running as a Republican, but he’s not a conservative.

Second, I’ve never met any conservative hipster types, but that is completely irrelevant, but it makes me wonder if hipsters are, in general, more liberal or more conservative.

Third, just to make things clear–I’m a free market capitalist and a strict Constitutionalist. Basically, I have no good options in this election, but no bother because I NEVER have any good options. I just throw that out because often when I write about politics I get nasty emails saying, “You only said that because you love/hate [insert candidate of your choice]!” I am not supporting Trump and I am not supporting Clinton.

Now that that is all out of the way, let’s address the issue.

The video is horrible. Trump is horrible. Your co-workers are complete jerks if they don’t realize how horrible the actual video was.

However, as to grabbing women and kissing them without consent? I’m not in favor of that, but most people are. What??? How dare I say that? Well, because I like to watch television and movies and we consider lots of movies where that happens romantic. See these clips:

If I had many hours of time, I could pull hundreds of movie clips where men kiss without asking and often with visible resistance from the woman–although she generally gives in and is completely  happy to do so. There are also plenty of examples of aggressive women. Kissing without asking first is the norm in showbiz.

Why do I say this? Because I just want you to take a second to consider where your co-workers are coming from. You’re married–to a good man, I suppose. Did he ask your permission before he kissed you the first time? (Or did you ask before you kissed him?) My guess is no. This whole concept of verbal consent for every romantic and sexual act is a new thing. In the good old days, you went off people’s signals and sometimes someone got slapped or told to stop. But sometimes they didn’t.

So, what I would do, if I were you is ask them your questions directly. “You guys, I have a question. If someone came up to you and said, ‘I’m going to grab Sarah and kiss her!’ how would you respond?”

If they treat that at all like a joke and say they would encourage that, then yes, go to HR and say, “They make me uncomfortable because…” and explain what is happening.

If they say, “Of course not!” then you move on,  “Is it because I’m married? What if it was about the unmarried intern? Is it okay to grab her and kiss her?”

They will probably (hopefully) say no. If not, then off to HR you go, and they’ll provide a sterner lecture.

I would also tell these yahoos to knock it off if they bring up the video again. Directly. But, I don’t think you need to feel panicked about your safety.

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19 thoughts on “My Co-Workers Are Voting for Trump

  1. So true, I mean the movies are full of people murdering each other so if you hear your coworkers saying they’d totally murder someone they just watch too much TV! Murder is so funny! Lol! Boys will be boys! These movie clips are proof of what women actually want in real life! Grownups can’t be expected to know the difference between movies and reality!

  2. I don’t think she has grounds to go to HR at this point in time, based on her hypothetical concerns about what her coworkers reactions would be to the threat of a third party’s kissing or groping someone without consent. It just doesn’t seem like a credible threat. HR sometimes blows off legitimate complaints, and would — more than likely — blow off her more theoretical one. The coworkers are not parroting Trump’s sentiments, but — merely — expressing their reactions to them. If someone actually did parrot the offensive remarks and/or crossed the line into acting along such reprehensible lines, it would be a different story.

  3. It’s my impression that Trump was talking about kissing women who were not in any kind of relationship with him, were not on a date with him, had not had any sustained flirtation with him.

    Non-consensual sexual acts are not about asking permission, as far as I am concerned – it’s about the context.

    I wouldn’t mind if my husband grabbed my ass. I would be livid if a co-worker grabbed my ass. Or a customer.

    I don’t mind if my husband sees me naked, but if I were in a beauty contest, I would be furious if the owner of the pageant walked into the dressing room. Just because he is the owner does not give him the right to see me naked.

    THAT is the kind of stuff Trump is talking about – about using his power to sexually assault women with whom he has no romantic relationship.

    1. +11111111

      Yes, Hollywood portrayals are a problem. Perhaps that’s why Trump thinks it’s fine to do whatever he wants to a woman and wait for her to say no. Then what – does she say no forcefully enough? Push his much larger self away forcefully enough?

      I think in this case there’s also some groupthink. All the guys going for “guy talk” and defending it. Gamers are also pretty notorious for this sort of thing. I think that the person who wrote in would benefit from speaking to the most decent seeming of the guys alone. Like “you keep talking about this thing that comes across as really uncomfortable to me, a woman. I don’t care what you say out of the office but leave me out of it.”

  4. I think it makes sense to probe these coworkers a little more with some hypotheticals to get them to see that talking like Trump did in the video is not mere “locker room talk” or “boy talk.”

    But I disagree that anything about this needs to go to HR. Are these coworkers naming specific coworkers, as in, “Yea that intern Rose is hot – I’d pull a Trump on her!” If no actual coworkers are being discussed inappropriately I don’t see how merely vocalizing support for a candidate necessitates going to HR.

  5. Not sure I entirely agree with your advise to the data analyst. She already made it clear that she was concerned with the talk about the video and what stance “the guys” would take if presented with the same situation. Why place her in the middle of what is already an uncomfortable conversation by having her also engage in that same topic? Your secondary advise to simply tell “the yahoos” to knock it off if they bring up the video again is the more sound advice, if they don’t then go to HR.

  6. Trump’s talking about assaulting women is not “locker room talk” or “guy talk”. _Men_ do not talk this way. _Immature boys_ may talk this way, but not men. (Trump was about 60 when this event happened.) As a manager, I hold ethics training every year. I make it plain that such talking is sexual harassment and is grounds for termination. This video came out after this year’s training, but I consider it a teachable moment. I will be using it in next years training to show that this is not how people are to act.

  7. I don’t think it’s a good idea to bring up the topic with them again. It’s likely that if they didn’t harrass anyone before they won’t start now. However, if they keep bringing up the topic, ask them to stop discussing it in front of you. Discussing non-consensual sex acts when you ask them not to could fit under your company’s description of sexual harrassment. Tell them if it continues you will have to report it. Don’t forget to document who said what and when, including what you said.

    As for the pretty young intern, like the rest of women I’m sure she is aware of the casual harrassment we all endure. If she is not aware there is a policy, teach her about it. Mentor her about being an independent woman in the workplace.

  8. Just because Hollywood presents something as romantic doesn’t make it okay. Often in those stories, the unspoken understanding is that the woman DOES want the man to kiss her. However, not everybody gets that, and the takeaway becomes “no means yes.” Like it or not, this does contribute to rape culture.

    I agree that at this point, OP probably doesn’t need to worry about her safety–but she absolutely can ask them to stop discussing this around her. We just had our harassment training at my job, and this does fit, and Jeanne’s comment above is spot on.

  9. I am not sure if this falls in the category of “harrassment”. As she mentioned, they have not disrespected her or behaved in appropriately. Besides, how does she know they weren’t being sarcastic about trump? I consult with – an online HR solutions provider and from time to time I would come across a situation where someone is trying to read too much. If it makes the OP uncomfortable then she should talk to them. If I were here, I’d just ignore it for now.

  10. Seems like the issue is the annoying discussion of politics and their acceptance of something as normal that she feels is reprehensible. Seriously, how likely is it that some as yet unknown co-worker is going to think to grope her or another female and then socialize that with the bros, only acting with their tacit approval. Come on. Call it what it is – stop talking politics, particularly in a year when it’s so charged. And, because I don’t happen to agree with you, it especially gets on my nerves.

    1. +1 Yeah, this is about a bunch of co workers talking politics at work and supporting the candidate she does not intend to vote for.

  11. What about the iconic photo in NYC after WWII where the sailor is laying one full on the lips of a woman he didn’t know? Sounds like folks are saying that he should have been thrown in jail for at least life if not more.

    As for the whole going to HR, it sounds like everything was fine with the letter writer had no issues with the coworkers until she found out they were supporting Trump. Going to HR because they don’t share her distaste for Trump sounds like it would result in viewpoint discrimination. They’ve had a talk, they don’t see her view on words, so that would be a warning to them she feels uncomfortable. If they talk to her like that, then she’s got standing to go to HR.

    What happened to “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me?”

    1. I’m female, but I’ve played on various sports teams, and the comments are very much in my experience of locker room talk. I have zero problem with the comments – ACTING on those comments is a serious issue, but that’s a different matter. Same as when a male teammate says about a male opponent “if that c*** comes near me one more time I’m gonna murder the f*****“ I don’t think he’s actually threatening murder. And sexual terms are used all the time to refer to scoring goals.

      Now, repeating those comments in a workplace is completely different from with a close knit group of teammates. That’s not acceptable.

      However, all the “not in my locker room” talk is dangerous to me, because the problem isn’t private talk – it’s actions. The problem is that he allegedly assaulted people. And I think when people say those aren’t normal locker room conversations, there’s an implication that having those conversations is as bad as committing the acts, and therefore that the acts are no worse than the conversations.

  12. Kissing? Perhaps. I don’t see too many Hollywood romances where our hero non-consensually grabs his beloved “by the pussy.”

  13. She is suffering from micro-agression, a phony situation fostered by thin skinned people. This young lady needs to grow up and join the real world.

  14. Trump vs. Hillary keeps coming up at my job. Whatever “story” comes out about Trump, my coworkers instantly believe or exaggerate it.

    However, when a story comes out about HRC, they immediately discount it and make a bunch of excuses for her.

    It is beyond annoying, especially since some of them are in the pool of analysts and they are supposed to analyze not only figures but also regulations, and the total lack of analytical willingness when it comes to democrats would be utterly inexcusable if it applied to our work. Their level of close mindedness is beyond annoying though.

    They don’t think the Clinton Foundation was pay-for-play. They don’t think HRC accepting money from Saudi Arabia contradicts her supposed strong support for gay or women rights. They don’t think the economy is really messed up and don’t think bringing jobs back to the US is that big of a priority. When I shared statistics about how more jobs are going to non Americans than Americans,which is why Republicans want to curb immigration, they say those #s are made up. They don’t see any connection between H1B visas and millenial Americans living at home after college because they can’t find jobs.

    When these recent harrassment accusers came out, I said take them with a grain of salt. Check the stories of continuity and accuracy. Not that it’s a “not believe the victim” thing, but with so much mud being slung at Trump, you basically have to run double the due dilligence on anything written about him. I pretty much see the trend after being a news junkie during this election. Anything written about HRC is usually worse than the news makes it sound, and a good 70% of the stuff about Trump is misquoted or completely blown out of proportion.

    I’m not sure about other places, but my local paper has gone so far as to make up stories about Trump. Including after debates. I get so angry because I know he didn’t say or imply what they wrote, but most people don’t watch the debates so aren’t going to catch it.

    Unfortunately for women that may have been victims, coming out with a story after the media has resorted to making up lies about him isn’t going to lend your accusations credibility. And the irony is that sites like Huffington Post or Slate – which claim to support the victims of sexual abuse – does this to the victims. You can’t write support for a victim in one article and then kill your credibility by making up lies or half truths constantly in other places (just because they don’t like a candidate).

    1. I forgot to add about the first part of my post, that the annoyance level works both ways. There was one day I did leave for an hour and go for a walk because I was so mad about the political opinion of my coworkers. To hear a group of mostly liberals so in denial about basic realities of America was just so infuriating that I had to get out of there. I thought of going to HR but they are also very liberal (which is something I shouldn’t know).

      I think that day we were talking about the economy. My coworker literally thinks the only reason Trump is for a wall is because racism Where I’m from there are no high school jobs or “starter jobs” or jobs for people without college anymore. Mexicans took them all over the past 20 years. Most don’t speak more than basic English. I know lots of people who avoid our fast food locations know because the orders get messed up so bad. So young people flounder and sponge off of their parents and then all of a sudden try to get $40K professional jobs out of college without first getting basic jobs or paying their way through school, because the pool of available jobs is so much smaller (as opposed to genx, which had the abundance of jobs to pick from from 15yo).

      My coworker’s response was “racism” and then “they should apply to other jobs.” I was about to blow a gasket because he grew up rich and never did low level jobs and because he thinks he’s so smart yet he doesn’t know how few jobs there are in some areas, and is so close minded to think that you can’t acknowledge that a particular nationality is taking over all of the jobs because that’s “racism.” I hope he grows up lower middle class in his next life and has to work himself out of a town like that when he can’t get a job.

  15. The real problem here is discussing politics at work. You don’t do it. Company policy should back that up. People have lost the art of separating work from personal life.

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