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November 20, 2007

Office politics: should men acknowledge women in stockings?

Filed under: — Tman @ 2:30 am

Office politics: should men acknowledge women in stockings?

(Edited from contributions to the Stockings HQ discussion forum)

– Yesterday I was in a meeting with some co-workers. We were all sitting in a large circle discussing some aspect of our latest project. There was no table. All of the women were either bare-legged or wearing pants save one. She was wearing nylons which I believed to be pantyhose. I was sitting across from her and I was looking at her legs from time to time as the meeting progressed. She would cross and uncross them in a quite natural way. I never got the idea that she was teasing or purposely giving us a show. She was just sitting in the meeting like everyone else.

About halfway into the meeting she crossed her legs and I glimpsed a bit of thigh above her stocking top. I still don’t know if she was wearing gartered stockings or not but the view was wonderful. I stopped paying attention to the meeting and paid more attention to her beautiful legs. Then, I looked up at her face and she was staring straight at me. I quickly diverted my attention but it was too late, She caught me. I didn’t look back for the rest of the meeting and I didn’t look at her afterwards. I am embarrassed but it got me to thinking about this situation which must happen millions of times a day all over the world. So, ladies, what should men do when they are caught admiring your legs? Should we act like nothing happened? Should we smile and acknowledge you? Should we apologise privately later? You tell me. Please.

– I would think the best thing to do would be to say something really nice like “you have on a lovely outfit”. I would think that would be an excellent compliment to any lady and not one that could be taken the wrong way. Also it gives her the opening to ask if you liked her stockings or hold ups. Another thing you could do is smile. Smiles are universally accepted as friendly in any language. However be careful not to prolong the stare or it could be thought of as rude. I know I’d love to see a smile from a man or receive a compliment about my outfit.

– That is an interesting question. An incident happened quite a few years ago when my boyfriend and I first got together. I caught him several times checking out other women’s legs. I even questioned him as to why he does that. His response was, “I’m a guy, it’s supposed to be normal for me to look at that”. I thought about it, and I realised he was right. I have noticed men looking at certain parts of my anatomy, and I don’t get upset with that because I feel that that is normal for a guy.

In your case, if this lady thinks the same way I do, she would understand and therefore, no apology is needed. If she doesn’t feel the same way, just forget the incident and remind yourself not to stare in the future. If a lady doesn’t smile back when you fellas are caught, it is mainly because a smile could be misinterpreted as an invitation. So, don’t take it personal and feel ashamed. Remember, look… just don’t stare.

– A couple of times I’ve seen the glance of one particular person in my office linger on my legs. I knew it, he knew I knew it, but I chose to pretend it didn’t happen. Not because I was upset (far be it from that!) but to spare him any undue embarrassment. these were days when I would be wearing FFs, and either leaning over a tall desk or standing at the laser jet printer. Anyhow, as to the question of what should men do – I guess that’s a rather fluid question. I think it depends more on where it is – the copy room as opposed to a meeting in the conference room – and whether the lady in question is one who will interpret the comment as it’s meant – as a compliment.

Many women these days, it seems to me, want to be sexy and provocative, but when an innocent comment is made, start yelling like stuck pigs! Every day the trash man goes by me as I walk to my office – every day I wave and he tells me I look beautiful (I’m always in a dress and heels) That’s nice and it makes my day.

– Thank you for providing advice on this delicate issue. Your comments and postings are endearing to me. Unfortunately, each of you possess values that are no longer expressed by many women.

Early in my career I worked for the light blue computer company from Maynard, Mass. At a quarterly meeting in the late 80s, an associate caught my glimpse (it was just a glimpse) of her gartered, stocking-clad legs. She dressed me down aggressively in front of our peers at the next break.

Our next meeting was in Las Vegas, and our group attended a show. We were seated in u-shaped booths. The same peer that dressed me down at the previous meeting seated herself next to me in the booth.

When the show started she slid her nylon clad legs against me, and moved every few minutes to get a reaction. I didn’t move a muscle for two hours. Late in the show, she took my hand and placed in on her garter clip at the top of her stocking.

I experienced a male reaction, but had the presence to move my hand to rub smoke from my eye. After the show I explained quietly that my wedding vows are sacred. But, thinking I was being polite, I told her she had aroused me.

She filed a sexual harassment complaint with HR because I told her she aroused me when she took my hand and put it on her leg.

Political correctness, and the threat of punitive action, makes it frightening to look at a woman’s legs today. A male comment about feminine appearance in a business environment is an invitation for a career change.

It’s just too risky to make a compliment that a lawyer can turn into an unwanted invitation. “Don’t look and don’t talk” is the only safe reaction for a man today.

– There’s only one word to describe that particular woman – wench! One day, she’ll get her comeuppance!

– It seems to me that making any kind of compliment to a female business associate is taboo. There’s just too much at risk. Especially in the dog eat dog business environment that exists here in the USA. Everyone seems to be looking for the edge that will put them ahead of their co-worker competition and branding someone as a perv is a hell of a lot easier than out-producing them.

I was recently in a meeting with a male client and a female executive from a major hotel chain. She was trying to sell us a franchise. She was very attractive and wore a just-above-the-knee business suit. It was tasteful and sexy at the same time. My client and I were having a difficult time concentrating on the matter at hand because she kept crossing and uncrossing her legs. I swear this was a business tactic! At the end of the meeting she rose, extended her hand and said. “I hope you’ll not forget my offer. ” We shook her hand and walked her to the main lobby of our office building. As she left my client asked if she was staying in town that evening. She said she could cancel her flight if it was important. My client said she needn’t do that he was just going to ask her to dinner if she was staying over. With that she called her office on her cell phone, re-arranged her flight and stayed overnight. My client took her out.

I saw him the next morning at his office. He had just driven her to the airport. They had spent the night together.

I am absolutely convinced that she used her charms to hopefully win his business. She had no qualms whatsoever about changing her plans. She obviously had no problem staying overnight with him.

My client told me that he gets the same signals from women within the company he owns but he dare not take them up on it. He said he felt safe with this woman because she was not an employee. I couldn’t help but think that if this same woman had used her tactics in her own office and if her boss or a co-worker had made the same offer my client had, I’m sure she’d now own a sizeable chunk of her company.

How are we to know if a woman is being intentional or unintentional? I guess the safest tactic is to do nothing at all.

– I see a common thread here. I too, had a similar experience. For a number of years I worked for a large insurance company in one of its IT divisions. I was severely outnumbered as the ratio of male-to-female workers was 3 to 11. All in all, however, it was a great group and I thoroughly enjoyed working with them all.

We became quite familiar and comfortable with each other and had a good mix of married, single, ages, interests, etc. and would also go out for cocktails after work and play on the company’s sports teams (volleyball, softball, bowling, etc).

As we were familiar and close, I would often compliment them, perhaps on their outfits, the fine job they did on their piece of our project, etc. There were no problems and they often returned the favours.

All that changed when a new woman was added to the group. She was new to the company and we did our best to make her welcome. Initially she seemed to be happy to be there, but then became very rude and stand-offish, to the point where it became difficult to talk to her about anything, including work.

Feeling like her adjustment was difficult, she walked past me one morning and I greeted her with a smile and cheery ‘good morning’ and she paused for a moment and replied with a ‘good morning’ also. I let what I thought was a cheery little compliment: “you look very sharp and chipper this morning. ” (She did.) At that moment, I dropped one of the folders I was holding and excused myself to pick it up (quickly). She was wearing a short-ish skirt, tan hose and taupe pumps with a three-inch heel.

She didn’t step back when I bent down (which frankly annoyed me) so I scooted back and reached for the folder not to invade her personal space. As I stood up, she shot me a look, turned and walked away. Nothing.

Two hours later my boss called me and asked me to attend a meeting in a conference room and as I walked in, he was there, along with this woman, an HR rep, and a company attorney. She had filed a sexual harassment charge, claiming I “accosted her in the aisle and looked up her skirt”. This, she said, was the “final straw”, and she went on to claim that every previous conversation I had had with her was further harassment. She recounted every time I spoke with any woman in our group and had dutifully recorded every single compliment or remark I had made to any of them. I was about 15 minutes from being fired.

Needless to say, it took nine months of “counselling and progressive disciplinary actions” for me to hang onto my career. Not only that, but I was embarrassed beyond all measure as, though I did nothing wrong. Not one other woman in the department substantiated any claim or registered any complaint, even though they were all interviewed separately by the company attorney both in my presence and without me there. Yet I was still made to feel like a class A sex offender.

Her? She requested and received a transfer to another division within our building. Eight months later, one of the senior VP’s divorced his wife of 18 years and married her. Rumour has it, they were having an affair after she moved to his division.

Men, … this is the line that exists in today’s business world. I have never given a compliment to any woman in the workplace since, not even on their work, no matter how good it is and I NEVER go into a room with a woman unless there are others in the room. I won’t even take an interview with a woman when job searching unless there is someone else in the room or there’s a glass window where others can see clearly what’s going on.

– Living in Portugal, “sexual harassment” is not very common. The stories mentioned here couldn’t happen in Portugal. People here are more fair when it come to this type of thing.

These days (and especially in US – forgive me my American friends) people tend to be more radical in their attitudes and in the name of a political correctness they distort their judgements. I’ve worked for two years in a tourist resort in the south of Portugal with many female co workers, with who became close friends. And the only problem I have had was envy from the other men in the company.

– We all acknowledge that until the 1970s women were routinely discriminated against with respect to everything from job advancement to getting a personal loan at a bank. I recall the hassle my mother had in getting a credit card established in her own name, separate from the one she had with my father. I thank those who were ahead of me who worked diligently to create a level playing field in those areas. But that said, it doesn’t excuse anyone from treating others with simple courtesy and human dignity. We all deserve that.

– More than anything, I think there is resentment of success. Few individuals accept their weak motivation, and seek victim status to justify their fear of reaching.

Much of the 70s-80s women’s movement was based on “victim” glorification, and building up the “boogeyman”. Much progress resulted from the efforts of pioneers, but often, the “baby” gets thrown out with the bath water.

I think this is part of resentment toward stockings. This forum has taught me that women who wear stockings are confident, and jealousy toward that confidence is one reason so many attack women that who them.

My wife shed 50 pounds in the past two years, and works out five-six times a week. She has been surprised by the negative comments about her appearance improvements among friends, while co-workers seem empowered by her confidence.

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