Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Boys versus girls

Here's the thing about document review.  Lawyers are thorough beings, as I've said before, and therefore we tend not to let any stone remain unturned.  If you have to turn over your emails to a lawyer*, prepare to have them all read.  ALL OF THEM.

But in addition to being thorough, lawyers tend to get easily bored.  So in the course of reading your personal correspondence (Guess what - you probably shouldn't conduct personal correspondence in certain forums.  Free tip for the day.), lawyers will probably start feeling personally invested in your drama. (It is a small perk, and yes, I did enjoy it.)

A controversy came one time in Doc Review City about a particularly nasty divorce that was unrelated to our case (but fascinating, nonetheless).  I had spent my morning up in my office on another issue -- when I came downstairs to the Doc Review Room, one of the lawyers immediately said, "Oh good, you're here.  We need a girl's perspective."

As it turns out, neither Molly nor Kitty nor myself had been in the Doc Review Room all morning, which meant our fellow doc reviewers -- roughly 6-7 gentlemen on any given day -- had been debating the issues in this divorce among themselves for five or so hours already.

The "boys" relayed the facts of the divorce as they had discovered thus far and sought my input.  Having read just a few of these cray-cray emails myself, I was surprised at how differently we viewed the facts.

In general, I don't subscribe to the women/men/venus/mars theory of life.  I think that men are perfectly capable of empathizing with women and vice versa -- which is why it surprised me that (a) the boy lawyers weren't merely curious to see if I had a differing opinion, but were certain that I would; and (b) my opinion was, in fact, wildly different than most of theirs. 

Before there were as many women in the legal profession -- heck, before women were allowed to sit on juries -- there were certainly injustices inflicted on women merely because the men who held all of society's power didn't have the ability to see things from a woman's perspective.  (And, you know, the misogyny.)  It wasn't deliberate in many cases, but there was benign discrimination inflicted on women just because well-meaning but unfortunately ignorant men didn't think to consider factors A, B or C.

You would like to think that such "accidental discrimination" would have essentially vanished by now, but while most of my gentlemanly cohorts quickly saw my point on a few issues, one or two remained puzzled, and there was still that one holdout (the one who had so badly wanted a "girl's" perspective**) who smugly insisted I was taking Wife's side on a few disputes simply because we were both members of the Vagina Squad. 

(Which reminds me - ladies, I'm going to be late to our next secret clubhouse meeting.  I'll email you the plans for Take Over The World Plan Phase Three: Force Men to Start Lactating post haste.)

Which brings me to this thought -- are we only good at seeing across gender-lines when in mixed company?  Is it just the presence of a man or woman that reminds us we ought to try to think outside-the-box (pun not intended)?  Would a room full of women be just as likely to inadvertently overlook mitigating factors in a man's favor as these guys were?  And if so, why do you all think we're so short-sighted in our own groups, but almost instantly-enlightened when the missing girl or boy shows up?

(Sorry, this post isn't super fun.  I'll get my joke pants back on tomorrow.)

* I've realized some people don't understand this, so for those of you who are unfamiliar with litigation -- in a lawsuit or during an investigation, parties have the right to gather information to build their case or defense.  A lot of lawyer time is spent reading emails, contracts, flow charts, reports, files, etc. in an effort to figure out what (if anything) happened.  Sometimes this can be fascinating, other times it can be pretty awful, but it is generally necessary if you want to get a total picture.

** I know there are women who dislike being called "girls" past the age of 18, but I actually don't mind it at all, mostly because I don't love the word "woman" when applied to myself.  My beef with his statement was more the fact that he couldn't for one second consider the wife's perspective without someone with the double-X chromosome there to show him the way.


  1. Yay! Comment access once again (please see email for all comments Blogger refused to let me submit).

    This reminds me of the time I worked in an office for a certain Congressman where there were only three men employed in the office (myself included). I sat in the front office and one day I heard my shouted with great sense of urgency to come to bull pen (back office). I rushed back think that my keen political insight was needed a breaking matter of national importance.

    No, I was needed to back up my male co-worker on why Angelina was an upgrade over Jennifer for Brad Pitt.

  2. You know, I have noticed this, not so much in work life because I was one of the low people on the totem pole at my last office, but in my personal life. And I don't have any answers. I think I've had a greater than average number of conversations with my boyfriend about gender roles and this sort of thing that when I'm with female friends and they say something about guys or something that might be different from a man's perspective, I tend to notice it. I think that there are some different perspectives that often come from our gender, but some of it is socially ingrained in us...I'm going on an on, but yeah, I see where you're coming from, and I think having different sides to an issue sometimes falls on gender lines in ways that I wish it didn't have to.

  3. " are we only good at seeing across gender-lines when in mixed company? Is it just the presence of a man or woman that reminds us we ought to try to think outside-the-box "

    Great questions! I'd also like to know why both parties (m&f) think they DO understand and empathize w/the opposite sex when all they're really doing is rewording their own view points most of the time!