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2.0 & The Lady: The Working Girl and the Nipple Effect

by Fey Ugokwe, Esq.

Set for a quick net news trip, I clicked on the online article--and then kept scrolling through and through and back, line coupling after jaw-snatching coupled line. 'Twas better that I had read it on my smartphone in a tiny--where it, with all of its parades-of-a-horrible, couldn't full-on hurt me, couldn't smite my strong-sense-of-justice sensibilities, that is--than to have seen it so largely big on the normal that is my middle-aged laptop screen. Prospective employers, the net news piece had reported, were beginning to infringe on the privacy of the ceaseless scores of the desperate, hand-wringing jobless--creations of the long-ago-launched worst recession lived in any lifetime (that may necessarily take quite a few lifetimes to completely fix)--by demanding immediate access to applicants' Facebook and other social media accounts. Applicants were specifically being ambushed by hiring personnel in the midst of their oft hat-in-hand job interviews, or being sent Friend requests online by all-too-ready-to-looky-loo HR personnel, post interview. So, fingers on throat and clamping, you knew they had you--you knew that you were lucky to be still alive in that yawning hiring hunt in a down economy..that potentially thousands of people--both qualified and over-qualified, particularly--had feverishly jockeyed for, yet not been granted what you so seemingly, twist-of-great-fate had--that doomsday covet, the ever-elusive job interview. And they knew, naturally, that they well and ugly had you--so chairs swiveling, fingers flexed and hovering, their hiring agents eagerly awaited to be told your primary social media account password and username from your 'oh-no-they-didn't!' gaping little interviewee mouth; or to receive your online acceptance of their big and friendless, e.g., Facebook, Friend request. Goliath and David, again at play--but with a different result so far, for the tiny, Supernatural-backed warrior. 

And all I kept thinking additionally was what impact this new-times intrusion could disproportionately have on the throngs of out-of-work, and new and returning-to-the-external-workplace, women. For, this new pattern and practice--quite patently, policy--of employers demanding your social media account log-in info, was already written to, by de facto, offend deeply into your safe-space..and thereby, has the keen potential to spawn additional abuse on any grounds--so one can only shake a heavy head and imagine how it could be further, deviously tweaked such as to serve up a hot and steaming, unsavory dish of nouveau sex discrimination of women, with its seemingly obligatory, stinking side of male-on-female sexual harassment. 

Already women, both pre- and post-Title VII--and the latter's resultant penumbra of, e.g., supportive caselaw, and state/county/city ordinances--have been all-the-history-and-nowstory-while continuing victims of both..and it is in the gut-twisting retellings and official testimonies of their wretched experiences of before- and on-the-job victimization--and perhaps, remembrance of your very own--that you realize, as regards the societal degradation and marginalization of women, i.e. person-on-person and systemic, individual-corp.-discrimination, decidedly so much still requires solution. Therefore, the dangerous deed that for some companies, is now requiring the job applicant to lay open the door, impliedly unfiltered, to the archived accounts of, e.g., their past and present sexual lives and partners; sexual orientation; closely-held political, religious, and social beliefs; private and public association memberships; record and mentions of non-profit organization volunteerism, giving, and other support; and eyes-only thoughts, feelings, and detailed struggles, would simply entitle the sex-based abuser to bushels-full of artillery--with which to once, or if hired, for-a-work-lifetime-and-possibly-beyond, slay his woman-applicant/employee prey. 

Thus, there you would be--virtually stark naked with your details..details you may have even shut away from even your mother, your lover, your best friend..details undressed in the slim-dim hopes of just qualifying to get that job..details that could potentially be used to harm you economically or sexually--to deny you that employment opportunity because you are That Thing, A Woman (and/or any other legally-protected class, mind you), or most effectively used to sexually harass you, if gasps-upon-gasps, you're actually hired in the lessening, but still hyper-competitive, job-hunt fray. 

I would say here, 'don't fall for it, Lady--see that handwriting on the wall well and plainly now, and when that Hiring One grins through you, and asks for your safe words whilst casually turning to screen, say 'no'--in any range of yet politely that you can--and get up, still fully-clothed in the dignity of your online-eyes-options, and go..and don't you dare walk back there, Woman--because that job, that corp., they're so-quite-clearly not for you. They want to pry into your soul and take a voyeur's bath in it, Lady--in you and all of your hidden worlds and Womanhood--over even the closest loved one whom you've privacy-settinged-out from it..and insult to injury, all without even the promise of either or both employment and protection from would-be sex/sexual abusers. So where, yet again, does that leave you, Woman? Aren't there/haven't there already been enough, dirty hands trying to grab at your gendered life's pie? They just might well have paused to smirking, ask you to physically strip down for the cause, at that critical juncture in the employee-procuring process!' But, there are mouths to yelping, hungry feed--aren't there--and obligations that long piled themselves up everywhere..and all of the other stuff, whatever it is, that you brought in with you to that interview--that stuff..that baggage that perhaps brought you there, right?--with which you're still dealing/struggling to, who could insist that anyone in that situation object conscientiously, in the face of the snarling snout that is recession? 

And naturally, no one with the power and policy to pry into your social media world like that has really said anything about how they plan to shield anyone against the clearly possible, gross and systemic abuses of such already intrusive marches into the online log of your life. And of very course, no one in those camps has additionally said anything about how they plan to particularly protect protected groups, such as women, from classification-based abuses of their already questionable, open-your-online-life application policies. So, the question is, when will they--before or after something dark, illicit, and illegal happens to the working woman applicant/applicant-turned-worker, at the idle hands of a purportedly innocuously-interviewing, in actuality, misogynistic and social-media abusing, on-the-company-clock rogue? I guess, as per usual, we're supposed to wait until the first few hundred female sex-discrimination casualties, before everyone required-to-under-duress, is permitted to put their online clothes back on again--that is, before we are permitted to witness the elimination, or extreme revision of, this troubling workplace 2.0 trend.

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