Marie Claire (South Africa) - - @WORK - By Zanele Ku­malo @mis­szan

THINK OF ANY case in­volv­ing in delity or in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­duct. Who be­comes the scape­goat in the end? It’s al­most al­ways the woman. Sure, Bill Clin­ton was im­peached af­ter his af­fair with Monica Lewin­sky was made pub­lic – but she be­came one of the world’s most slut-shamed and in­fa­mous so­cial pari­ahs. Forbes con­trib­u­tor Peggy Drexler wrote about the sub­ject in 2014 ‘And though both men and women who take part in of ce re­la­tion­ships are judged, women, it seems, bear that judge­ment far more.’ Ac­cord­ing to a 2009 study in the Western Jour­nal of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion about per­cep­tions of work­place ro­mance, it seems that be­cause women are seen to pursue re­la­tion­ships in the of ce to try to get ahead men do it for love, you see , col­leagues are likely to treat the woman as the trou­ble­maker.

Seen as ‘sleep­ing our way to the top’, women ‘are also more likely than men to be the tar­gets of of ce gos­sip,’ ac­cord­ing to a 2012 study pub­lished in the jour­nal Sex Roles.

And I’ve seen it hap­pen. A fe­male col­league in a more se­nior po­si­tion than I was, had a dal­liance with a ju­nior male. It didn’t last long, it wasn’t se­ri­ous nor did it end badly but she was the only per­son peo­ple whis­pered about. When it ended, she was also the only one who had lost the re­spect of her peers – and I don’t think it had to do with hi­er­ar­chy. She was over­looked for pro­mo­tions and her ideas were dis­missed dur­ing meet­ings, where pre­vi­ously she had been the golden child.

Un­fairly, it’s likely to be you or a fe­male co-worker who be­comes the topic of gos­sip if an of ce ir­ta­tion reaches your team’s ears. For the guy in­volved, it’s sure to be ‘busi­ness as usual’.

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