What's your problem? Uncomfortable office parties

My office party was sleazy and made me feel uncomfortable. Should I complain?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 04 Dec 2015

Q: I went to the corporate Christmas party (we're a law firm) and was left feeling rather uncomfortable with the entertainment. This involved women in hot pants dancing in cages. I'm a woman and felt this seemed unnecessarily sleazy, and both my male and female colleagues felt quite shocked too (and raised the matter separately). Should I complain?

A: Complain on your own and I'm afraid to say that you run the risk of being dismissed as yet another humourless feminist. However strong your case, you mustn't seem to be speaking from a well-worn agenda. Your voice needs to be one of many and include both men and women.

It's also essential that the tone you adopt should avoid the strident. No tirades about the degradation of women, please. Your choice of the word sleazy seems to be a good clue: dismissive rather than Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells. Don't mention the hot pants: as members of this respected law firm, you just need to register your shared disappointment that the nature of the entertainment totally failed to reflect the nature of the company you're pleased to be part of. Tacky might be another useful word.

So be measured and constructive. Make it more in sorrow than in anger; exhibit no outrage. Express your appreciation that the firm understands the value of a Christmas party; just mildly regret that you all thought it a bit of a wasted opportunity. The strong implication should be that the firm didn't so much offend its staff as let itself down. You won't need to follow up: the biggest risk you run is that next year's entertainment will be so excessively decorous as to be downright dreary. But it certainly won't involve hot pants in cages.

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