Why do some women get so upset about pinups at work?
A pinup at work symbolizes to many women that the man cares more about a woman’s body than about a woman’s work. The woman who is serious about work feels she has to deal with a man who wants to combine the two – without regard for her desire. Combining the two doesn’t seem any more appropriate to her than it would seem appropriate to man to take a woman to her bedroom and see a bowl of hundred-dollar bills on her night table.
Many women respond to pinups of women by bringing in pinups of men. "This’ll show ’em." But it has the opposite effect. It signals to men that the woman is so interested in men’s bodies and sex that she can’t stop thinking of it while she’s working. Which is fine with him.
How can a woman get a man to understand how she might feel about pinups? I ask women to bring in pictures of men who are "success objects" – especially men who become successful in their field at a young age. If she’s into computers, she might frame a picture of Steven Jobs; or a picture of the owner of the company she works for; or of her manager’s boss; if she’s in college, of Bonjovi or Axl Rose… Or just frame a list of Forbes’ Wealthiest One Hundred. Why? This helps men feel the inadequacy many women feel looking at a pinup. Both types of pinups make our colleagues feel inadequate – like a second choice. This feeling of rejection in the very area for which one is usually the most valued contributes to a hostile environment.