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#MeToo Killed the Office Romance

Sign at a “MeToo” protest march in Los Angeles, Calif., November 2017. (Reuters photo: Lucy Nicholson)

It must be a brave soul who dares to strike up a flirtatious conversation at the workplace microwave these days. Only ten percent of Americans report having met their mate at the office, a level that is half what it was in the 1990s. I wonder how Ally McBeal would look today. I picture a nervous HR weenie separately inviting Jim and Pam from The Office in for a quiet word.

Over at Spiked, Ella Whelan calls this a dismal trend:

The truth that no one seems willing to admit is that many heterosexual women, even today, expect men to make the first move in a relationship. Women will drape ourselves over the printer, wear our best dresses to the Christmas party and talk loudly about the imaginary man texting us, all to subtly signal to our target that he should make a move. But in the post-#MeToo office, unless you send a memo to the guy you fancy, signed with your consent at the bottom, it is understandable that he wouldn’t want to make the first move for fear of being hauled before human resources.

It seems safer to take to Tinder instead. Whelan thinks this is pretty depressing.

The #MeToo movement seeks to change men’s behaviour to ‘protect’ the fairer sex from harassment. But in practice, that has meant subjecting our sexual freedom to initiate romantic endeavours to the scrutiny of neo-Victorian regulations and codes of conduct.

While our working lives dictate when we wake up, what we wear and what we do for eight hours a day, we shouldn’t allow work to dictate who we fall in love with. And there is no prospect of love without the kind of flirtation, spontaneity and danger that is effectively outlawed in today’s workplace.

Time to launch a resistance? Whelan (author of What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism) thinks so.

It’s time to rebel against these attacks on workplace romance. So wear your lowest top to your next board meeting and linger too long by your colleague’s desk. We need to make the workplace a humane environment where sparks can once again fly.

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