Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Nudity At Work

Nudity seems to have become a running theme on here lately so let me cover another variation on that theme that is driving me up the wall at the moment: The Naked Office.

For those of you fortunate enough to have missed this televisual "gem" let me give you the brief synopsis: Seven Suphi, self-styled corporate business training guru, arrives at the offices of a company with falling profits and analyses the way they work in an effort to boost success. So far so good. The week of business coaching however is leading up to "naked Friday" when employees are encouraged to come to work in the nude. Apparently "if you can come to work naked, what can't you achieve?!".

Now I really do subscribe to some of this. I can really understand how pushing people out of their comfort zone and normal routine can be useful for struggling workplaces. However I am very very uncomfortable with the complete ignorance of two massive issues on the subject:

Firstly body image issues. One episode I saw the employees were challenged to try wrestling and one larger woman was unwilling to participate because she was uncomfortable in the tight lycra suit provided. Rather than allowing her to wear a tracksuit and join in - she was sent home and criticised for refusing to participate (can't wait for the episode set in the offices of a Muslim-run business where the women wear burqas). No mention was made of the fact that wandering about in front of TV cameras in a lycra bodysuit might draw a woman's (or a man's) attention to insecurities they have about their appearance. It is assumed at all points that fear is preventing participants stripping off rather than shame or bitter entrenched self-loathing. One woman even mentioned having been bullied about her appearance at school but apparently she just needed to get her clothes off to resolve that...

Secondly sexual harassment at work. Imagine, for a second going to work naked without TV cameras there. I know what would happen to me - I would be shouted at, touched inappropriately and finally asked to leave by upset senior staff. But somehow all the nudity in The Naked Office is entirely non-sexual. The fact is that women who go to work in trousers and loose-fitting shirts get sexually harassed frequently in the UK, I refuse to believe a woman who shows up fully nude will not find her male colleagues passing judgement. Presumably these bits are edited out. And at one point a woman says she feels intimidated at the thought of her male bosses being naked in the office. Some men (flashers/perverts) choose to show their genitals to women with the intention of frightening and upsetting them. Anyone with that behaviour pattern would be congratulated on their bravery in this show and their victim accused of failing to participate.

It would be nice to live in a world where stripping off was seen as simply a handy way to deal with hot weather. But we don't live in that world and it's just daft to pretend we do. There are real issues here - why won't Seven Suphi focus on them?



'There are real issues here - why won't Seven Suphi focus on them?'

Titilation is the answer - second answer is titilation ensures massive numbers of men and a good few women but overwhelmingly men tuning in to this appalling series masquerading as 'entertaiment.'

Does Seven Suphi remove all clothing in order to demonstrate to the hapless staff how a person shoud undertake work whilst totally naked? Does Seven Suphi don a tight lyra suit to show the employees how to wrestle?

Nudity itself will not solve issues such as male sexual harassment within the workplace, or the fact that ever increasing numbers of female employees are being subjected to the male monitor wherein female employees are judged on their sexual availability to male staff, their 'sexual hotness to male staff' and of course whether or not the female employee is sufficiently young and submissive to be employable.

Memo to Suphi - stick to your day job because pseudo pop pyschology will not solve problems such as falling profits. Perhaps the reason is what is being produced/sold by these companies is not what consumers want. Or perhaps there are some staff who are too busily engaged in office politics to even consider how the company can be improved. There are innumerable reasons but telling female and male employees to remove all their clothes once they enter the workplace is stupid.

So who benefits? Why Suphi does of course financially and not forgetting Virgin which I see has financed/produced this boring pseudo titilating series.

Cruella said...

Yes I had a Facebook message about this post from someone who had not seen the show saying it sounded like cheap tv porn. That's a fair enough point but crucially the person who sent the email had assumed that Seven Suphi was a man. In fact she's a woman (who does not strip off herself) but how creepy would the show be if the business "guru" was an unshaved middle-aged guy? Or even a clean shaven slightly too eager looking young camp guy? The complaints would roll in.

Of course one might argue as an Asian woman she's done well to be fronting a tv show rather than being the sidekick or stuck behind the camera doing paperwork. Still it really seems she's been picked here to put a veneer of respectability on what would otherwise be a real pervert-fest.

The other point my Facebook friend (actually it was my mum...) was that if you work in an office and these idiots show up: leave and SUE for harassment!

John said...

The thought of having to appear naked in front colleagues would fill me dread and personally would refuse to have anything to do with such a program.

Why? Not because I am shy of my body but do I really want to see what other members of the staff look like naked? What IS that supposed to achieve.

I agree with the comment that Suphi should keep out of the office environment for which she is totally unsuitable for and take her psycho babble back where it belongs. Things like this might work in the US where they are into such trash but this type of program is not for mainstream TV (albeit Virgin TV could hardly be classed as mainstream).

What next? Naked shopping at Tesco to prove you are suitable parents or taking the bus naked to prove something else.

What really makes me smile is that fact the Suphi herself keeps out of the nudity and shows nothing by example but seems to get some perverse kick out of embarrassing others.