A Business Dinner Gone Bad

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Mervyn Kaufman

A consumer-magazine writer, Mervyn Kaufman is the author most recently of The Shamrock Way, the history of Arizona's biggest and most enduring food-service company, and coauthor of the Gary Stevens memoir, The Perfect Ride.

Comments

  1. This sounds like the exception to me. I frequently am involved in male-only dinners. We have no problem having a great time making intelligent and funny conversation. No ugly toilet humour. It’s a bit offensive to imply that’s not possible unless women are present.

  2. Have to agree with Ryan, this sounds like the exception rather than the norm. To be honest, I’m also quite taken aback that you believe women keep us more professional and honest, seriously?

  3. In my experience, if there is one woman in a group of bawdy men that she doesn’t know very well, the men continue to maintain the “upper hand” in the group. If they want to make dirty jokes, that’s what they’ll do, and the woman will just be uncomfortable. The situation is the same if one man is in a group of a dozen loud women he doesn’t know – he’s going to be very, very quiet. :-) I think only a much more evenly divided group will actually result in everyone behaving themselves.

  4. Merv Kaufman says:

    I don’t know that it’s not possible for a men-only business dinner to be professional and productive, but I do think that strangers at a meal table do interact better when women join the group. Women seem more adept at breaking down social barriers—so there are fewer awkward silences—and men seem uniformly better behaved. Granted, the incident I recalled in my essay was extreme (as well as unpleasant), I have been at more than one men-only business dinner that was so stiff that I ended the evening with a sore jaw from clenched teeth. Similarly, women-only business meals are often chaotic rather than communicative. In my experience, balance is best.

  5. Eagle35 says:

    OP: “The truth is: men succeed more ably in business when women are involved. They help keep us honest, professional—and clean.”

    Merv: “I don’t know that it’s not possible for a men-only business dinner to be professional and productive, but I do think that strangers at a meal table do interact better when women join the group. Women seem more adept at breaking down social barriers—so there are fewer awkward silences—and men seem uniformly better behaved”

    Pedestalizing women are we? Can I play?

    “If women ran the world, there’d be no war”

    “Mom’s are the better, stabler parent”

    Seriously, I thought we were supposed to treat women like human beings instead of the sole paragons of virtue.

    • Hell yeah, roll on out that Domestication Narrative! Remind us of how those cleeeearly superior women are just burdened with civilizing us brutish ruffians.

      There very clearly must be a gigantic conspiracy in place to keep men in power, it’s the only way such base creatures could manage to even compare to their moral and intellectual superiors.. perhaps we should call this grand conspiracy “The Patriarchy”.

  6. “The truth is: men succeed more ably in business when women are involved. They help keep us honest, professional—and clean.”

    The obvious message, then, is that men alone are not professional or honest or ‘clean’.

    This is taking the current trend in misandry a bit far, don’t you think?

    It is obviously an absurd statement. The problem now is that the idea that men are intrinsically inferior is taken to such extremes that it turns into self-parody – and does not help women, either.

    Do the men you work with know you perceive them this this way?

  7. In my experience, Mervyn Kaufman is right. Having a woman present makes some (many, most?) men behave better. This is not pedestalizing women, Easgle35, just observing that the presence of a minority helps make the majority a little more aware of what might be offensive. If men-only business meetings are rare these days, great, and I hope that Laura’s unhappy experiences as the sole woman in a group are not typical. Frat boy and road warrior types might not always behave better in the presence of women, but Kaufman is right. Among the other things I learned in basic training is that men in a world without women devolve into a coarseness that is hard to believe if you weren’t there. I do not know what corollary effect a single man might have in a group of women, or whether it would be good or bad, but I bet there often is one.

Speak Your Mind