Politically Correct?

Politically Correct?


Singles advice guru Marnie Macauley has humorous and savvy solutions for how to discern true political correctness from just being a pain-in-the-neck.


Cross studio / 123RF Photo

My Dear Singularians,

Knowing the difference between being correct and being a pain in neck can be so confusing these days. We often end up not meaning what we say in an effort to sidestep being misunderstood, or worse, being seen as an insensitive goof. How can we be our authentic selves and communicate clearly without stepping into it? Let’s look:


Dear Marnie: For the last few years, I’ve had the chance to work closely with one of my teammates at work. At the beginning, she was married but now she’s divorced. Although I’ve always been attracted to her, over the last year, I’ve developed much stronger feelings for her. One more thing, she’s my boss. Should I pursue it? At our office we don’t have any policies about managers dating employees.  — Unsure in Beverly Hills

MARNIE SAYS: Ah, those Doris Day days. In her films, golden Doris landed in town (broke, but draped in major designer duds), got a job decorating the Hollywood Bowl, and after a few “Que Sera, Seras” landed the Mayor. But hey …  those were the 50s before PC and J-date. Back in the day, “meet and mate” was expected at work but times have changed thanks to the relatively few Beast People who abused it and the litigious PC buzzards who blew the deal. Pity. Love and work were like the horse and carriage — the greatest boon to romance since drive-in movies. But, hey, if you’re adventurous, here’s the politically and ethically correct way to proceed.

Getting It!  Your Personal Strategy:

* Today, a wink and a drink may wind up in litigation. Believe me, after the required Management Sensitivity Training Weekend, managers have a “Sexual Harassment” file the size of the IRS Code Book. So, make your pitch out of the office!

* Find out where she takes her brew and burgers and gently explore if she’s interested in sharing a meal. Make sure it’s light and contains a fallback “friendly” position, so you don’t wind up feeling like chopped liver if you get nothing back.

* She’s OK with it? You’re in business. But, on date one put business on the table next to the Merlot. Hash out:

  1. Caution. (Think Secret Service.) There’s to be no lusty water cooler dishing, faxing, texting or emailing your romantic desires.
  2. Fairness. No special favors should be requested, expected, withheld, or given based upon your after-hour jaunts.
  3. If it’s over: be aware and be prepared if you two implode and still have to float trend charts together. Have a break-up plan in place that maintains your dignity, your sanity, and your pension.

* If she backs off, knock it off or you’ll go from seeker to stalker. Then hang elsewhere, for example, your local gym and check out gals who have no fear of a little flirtation.


Dear Marnie: I recently had occasion to purchase a pre-owned vehicle and brought my best friend with me to check it out. My visit was an experience that neither of us will soon forget. The salesman was very unprofessional.  Among other things, he took it upon himself to make a sexual slur, stating: “I love dark meat, do I have any takers?”

When he saw our mouths drop, he quickly added, he was a happily married man. My friend and I feel that if we were of another racial background or gender the visit would not have gone as such. The next day we sought legal advice but were informed we hadn’t much of a case. For us, it’s not about money. It is about the women that come after us. We wrote a letter to his boss, but got no response. We don’t know what to do next. — Fed Up

MARNIE SAYS: Next to the swimsuit department in Macy’s, the other most fearsome buying experience is stepping onto a balloon-laden used-car dealership with their parade of managers, high-pressure tactics, and 30-inch stacks of paper, but sexual harassment?! We’re not letting the buggers get away with it.

Getting It!  Your Personal Strategy:

* The Verbal Kick: Remember how your mom taught you “the kick” for emergency situations? Auntie Marnie’s reviving it — verbally. For on-the-spot smut-stoppage, here’s the plan (assuming you’re safe, and in public). The fellow makes an off-color or suggestive remark:

  • ask for his card
  • is that is cell/home number? Yes? Good.
  • ask him how he’ll feel when you use the number – to tell his wife what an “innovative” salesman she’s married to.
  • while he’s sputtering, call the manager over and spill, ASAP.

* The Afterward: I’ve investigated your options. You’ll be writing letters, hard mail. Detail your sordid saga and round robin your complaint through copies. The first goes to your State Consumer Affairs Department, the second to your local Better Business Bureau. Then, CC: the Equal Rights Commission and the Ethics Commission. Each of these agencies (or their equivalents) has their own procedures. Some make note, others investigate, and others have sanctions.

* The Sting: Most local TV stations have a “Shame on You” consumer hound who may be waiting to catch a community rat. You get in touch and tell them what happened. Was this a rare aberration or does your Willard twirl his whiskers whenever lovelies like you enter?  See if a local newshound wants to smoke him out.

* The District Attorney: You imply this fellow was willing to “barter.”  When money and sex are mingled, you’ve got a solicitation. Will your D.A. be moved to serious action? Perhaps not. But, maybe an assistant D.A. will drop by the dealership to make sure money is their only currency.

My hunch is while he won’t do time, if you make enough noise, he’ll be at least silenced … while working on his resume. Darlings, when the legal system, and worse, simple decency — fails, I say, ladies, start typing! Good Luck!


Marnie: What do you think of this?! I am a 30-something account executive in an ad agency. The other morning a colleague (male, of course) told me a joke he’d heard the night before on TV that contained a sexual reference. It wasn’t really obscene and I’ve heard worse, but I took offense and made it obvious by ignoring him. This is the first time he’s done this and I doubt he was coming onto me. (He seems happily married.) But, don’t you think I am correct in being outraged, and finally, should I report it? – Not a Laughing Matter

MARNIE SAYS: Sit. My answer will no doubt put you in a fury-frenzy. While I loathe harassment, I also get a headache from those who leap to the PC-politic.

Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:

* Run, get a Skinny Thin Shake, toss the Louis Vuitton briefcase, and then shed some of that attitude. We need to lighten you up, honey. Those who blackmail or barter for favors, embarrass and humiliate are true harassers and need to be expunged. But the evidence thus far consists of a halfway decent guy with maybe a lousy sense of humor (along with very bad taste in “sharing”) … with no evil motive.

* Before you go ruining his career over it, first tell the bloke, will you? Keep the TNT out of your tone. You found it unfunny, coarse and uncomfortable — and not at all in keeping with your corporate mission or mentality.

* Well, did he apologize? Turn apoplectic for fear they’ll send him to sensitivity boot camp? Yes? Good.

* He won’t quit it? Write back and I promise a less antsy answer that may involve boss-involvement and management training seminars, etc.

But for now, I repeat. Lighten that load and leap with caution. For you and also for your sisters. There are Big Harassment Issues out there. Trivial complaints render the serious less powerful and less credible. There’s a huge difference between a lowlife and low humor.

Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2014 Singular Communications, LLC

Marnie MacauleyAdvice guru Marnie Winston-Macauley — therapist, author, speaker — has been a radio, TV, and syndicated advice columnist and counselor for over 20 years. Witty, wise and totally irreverent with a self-professed loathing for psychobabble, she’s written over 20 books and calendars, along with  hundreds of relationship columns and features for prominent publications.  She has her MS degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work.  In media, her work has garnered her Emmy and Writer’s Guild Best Writing nominations. She is widowed and now living single. For personal advice, you can also find Marnie Macauley on Liveperson.com or on Presto Experts. She invites you to join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 
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