A woman working in one of the erstwhile masculine strongholds, such as a newspaper office or a printing house, may find strong language an ever-present help in getting action. — Helen Valentine & Alice Thompson, Better than Beauty: A Guide to Charm, (1938)
I am a second-generation journalist. My dad ran The Daily Editor for a good chunk of my childhood, and I always thought he had the coolest job. I got a B in journalism in college, but still somehow managed to get an amazing job with a local paper, where I get to interview cool people (including The Amazing Kreskin, the women who inspired A League of Their Own) and, when I’m really lucky, listen to people bicker at meetings.
But my office is anything but masculine.
The only man in the office is Jim, the owner, editor, publisher and Greatest Boss Ever. Everyone else–the sales team, the graphic artist, the office manager, the associate publisher . . . all women. Ian is the photographer, there’s a columnist named Tom and the computer guy, Shawn, but none of them are in the office.
And needless to say, there is no “strong language.” Things occasionally get a little heated, and once I heard my boss say the word “Chippendale,” (we were talking about The Amazing Race; The Beekman Boys are from our area and we were all discussing how awesomely they were going to win, which they did.). But otherwise, we keep it pretty PG, even on press nights.
Sometimes Jim tells stories of his old newspaper days, when everyone kept a bottle bourbon in their desk and once someone died at their typewriter. Now I love swearing (and I’ll be giving it up for Lent!) and I can’t help but picture myself in that office, with a fashionable hat and red lipstick, calling out for more typing paper and a cup of coffee in a loud Lauren Bacall voice.
If anything, my plain office means that I don’t have to change my tone when I return home . . . if anything, my tone changes when I go into the office. I’m a little meeker and a little modest, trying my best to be charming and polite even when I’m exhausted from the long toil of the newspaper work. But you really do catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Point is, it pays to be charming. Man or woman. After all, George Clooney is far more charming than Kanye West. No one likes a loudmouth for long, even if it does help you “get action.”