Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Women Consultants: Part 2 of Sex Among the Consulting Class

Sex is a tricky subject, especially in a competitive and personality-driven field like consulting. Far from a simple, universal, physical act, sex brings along issues of power and misogyny, as well as obvious legal and contractual troubles. This is part 2 of a 3-part post on the dynamics of consulting and sex.

Women Consultants

Photo by MA1216
It's no wonder that our clients want to bed us, but the psycho-sexual stud/slut nature of consulting runs smack into deeper cultural norms for men and women. Everyone thinks we consultants sleep our way around the world. How could we not? But while male consultants are celebrated for our virility, the women have a tougher row to hoe.

I have often had women at the client site try to hook up with me. They are usually sweet and charming, but some are more forthcoming. Regardless, I am in charge and able to decide whether to go with it or gently decline. Being a man, I never encountered a really sticky client-side sexual situation.

Women consultants have to deal with an entirely different world, however. They're sluts, right? Worldly, coin-operated, and experienced. Why wouldn't they sleep with a boring middle-manager who demanded it? Especially if the contract was on the line.

This sucks. Most of my female colleagues refuse to visit the hotel bar for fear of being harassed, and they're right: I've seen what happens when one ventures there after hours. Every woman consultant I've talked with tells me she has received inappropriate and unwanted advances. Most have been threatened to the brink of blackmail. And mostly the clients felt justified in this. They're sluts, remember?

Previously: What We Do
Next up: A Bigger Problem

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