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?