What if a man called a bunch of women to the stage and encouraged them, to the sounds of the cheering crowd, to make overtly sexual moves designed to embarrass them and elicit more cheers from the crowd?
That, we'd all agree, would be highly inappropriate.
But, what if a woman went into the audience, dragged up 10 or so men, and encouraged them, to the sounds of the cheering crowd, to make overtly sexual moves designed to embarrass them and elicit more cheers from the crowd?
My Human Resources brain freaked out and it made me uncomfortable when the second scenario actually happened, but I really needed to suppress that part of my brain. Not everything is about sexual harassment. Here is what happened.
We're currently in Turkey, on vacation. Because we have relatives that live here, we've been multiple times, but only doing family stuff. This time I wanted to go full tourist. So, while we were in Cappadocia, we went to a "Turkish Night" show. This is one of those dinner shows where you're entertained with traditional Turkish music and dance and fed really awful food. (Seriously, we expected bad food, but this exceeded those expectations in a bad way.)
Included in the dancing was belly dancing, and these ladies were amazing. But, then one woman came out alone and she was spectacular. I was seriously impressed and made a note that perhaps I should learn to belly dance.
Then she went out into the audience and dragged (literally, they all protested, although weakly) numerous men up to the dance floor. One by one, she had each of them dance. The crowd cheered.
Now belly dancing involves a lot of hip shaking, but she added in hair tosses and breast boosting and other things designed to embarrass the men and elicit cheers and laughter from the crowd. Here's a video, although this is not from our night and the dancer is a different woman, the effect is the same.
And while everyone was having fun, I was checking off the bad parts of this in my #metoo HR brain.
- Everyone (well, not me, but almost everyone) had been drinking so their inhibitions were lowered.
- There was tremendous pressure to say yes to the dancer if she picked you.
- The audience was cheering and laughing at the expense of the chosen men.
- Once you were on the stage, it would have been embarrassing to say no and walk away.
Basically, this was a lesson of what an inappropriate company party would look like.
Then, I snapped back to reality. It wasn't a company party. Everyone there was on vacation. Everyone knew or could have learned with a quick YouTube search that this type of thing was going to happen. The whole point was fun.
And I realized I was being ridiculous. Just because some people are super sensitive doesn't mean the whole world is. The man in front of us who had been dragged up by the dancer came back laughing. Clearly, he had a good time.
Still, with my HR hat on, I wouldn't recommend this type of activity for your company team building activity, but as a fun evening with friends? You bet. Just eat before you go, because the food really was nasty.