Even by the loose standards of the hospitality business, where rowdy drinking sessions after shifts and playful sexual banter are part of the culture, employees described Mr. Friedman’s restaurants as unusually sexualized and coercive.
Ten women said that Mr. Friedman, 56, had subjected them to unwanted sexual advances: groping them in public, demanding sex or making text requests for nude pictures or group sex. Many others also said that working for him required tolerating daily kisses and touches, pulling all-night shifts at private parties that included public sex and nudity, and enduring catcalls and gropes from guests who are Mr. Friedman’s friends.
I have worked lots of places in my life. Most of them environments where people were under stress. Most of them “unconventional” workplaces. Most of them glorified foxholes where everybody was filthy and exhausted and boundaries got blurred and we all spent too much fucking time together convincing ourselves we were under siege.
Newsrooms. Kitchens. Tiny nonprofits where literal disease outbreaks were taking place and the ceiling was literally falling in. Larger nonprofits where the hours were beyond scary and there was a new crisis every three days.
At those places, under those circumstances, people said things that would not pass muster at a white-shoe law firm. People slept with each other, broke up and got their drama all over everything. People were mean sometimes and dumb sometimes and people got overly invested in things they didn’t have standing in which to invest.
And at no time, in any of those places, did anyone take out his dick.
Not for nothing but men pretending not to know when they are being creepy is the oldest dodge on earth. Women, you see, can actually tell the difference between an off-color joke and “show me your tits, I want to come all over them.” A few people will react to the former but absolutely nobody wants to be told the latter in a meeting about quarterly returns.
“Loose standards” doesn’t cover A RAPE ROOM in the back.
We are setting up a thing where the only two possible workplace environments are “terrible sterile Intertrode cubicle hell” versus “constant drunken orgy of dubious consent,” and since no one on the planet wants the former it’s assumed they’ll cheerfully accept the latter. It’s a lot harder to reject the premise entirely and say there is also “being a fucking grown-up and not bullying or touching anyone don’t wanna be touched” as an option.
I know that seems like crazytalk but there are “loose standards” and then there are “rape standards” and maybe we can just keep the loose part.