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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Getting to Yes: Sales, Sex and Parliament Hill

There's no small irony that we're hearing about the awkward backroom sexual interactions of Parliamentarians at the same time they're making decisions about sex work.
One other piece to add to the mix, though - ABC.  That is, Always Be Closing - the mantra of the salesperson.  This concept of always being on the hustle is the narrative spine of Laissez-Faire Capitalism, which is the system we have right now.  You have to push to get what you want.  No doesn't mean no, no is simply an invitation to probe further and get to yes.
Ever heard of Getting to Yes: How To Negotiate Agreement Without Giving In?  Ever hear of senior executive suggesting female employees need to be coming all the way to them and demanding promotions instead of expecting their work to be recognized on its own merits?
How about "kids these days, they're lazy, they aren't trying hard enough to get jobs, they want everything handed to them." ?
As the economy tightens and as the people at the top consciously or unconsciously start to reap the benefits of being kings and queen's of the hill, there's an increasing amount of pressure on everyone else to do the heavy lifting.  Which inevitably means sales.
Michael Hlinka is one of those that teaches young students to hustle, to set real-world expectations and fully admits that he abuses the perks of his position because he can.  The implication of what he says is "my position shouldn't exist as it does" but the lesson taught is "I get to there, my troubles are over." 
Don't take no for an answer.  Hustle.  Be aggressive in your sales.  It's all about completing the transaction - Always Be Closing.
Good for Pacetti, right?  He kept at it; intro at the bar, convinced her to go back to his place, drinks, clarified intent, closed the deal.  Transaction made.
Maybe the lead was weak, but he got it done.  High fives in the locker room, or the boardroom for stuff like that.
That's not exactly how we want to look at sex, though, is it?  If anything, Bill C-36 suggests we think sex should be an act between an engaged couple and that sex-as-exchange is morally wrong.
Of course, sex and sales are completely different things, right?  We fully expect rational-actor adults to realize there's a difference between "it's just business" when hard-selling people for cash or votes but something sociological when it comes to reproduction.

But where are the examples of these rational actors?  If anything, the evidence suggests that the aggressively successful people are more, not less likely to act the same way in their professional lives as they do in their personal lives.  Of even worse, having recognized a veneer of civility helps make it easier for people to give them what they want.
Ghomeshi shocked a nation (more because we enjoy the notion of being shocked than any actual surprise that a celebrity would act inappropriately).  #beenrapedneverreported started uncomfortable conversations about male sexual aggression towards women while touching on the dearth of EQ there is at all levels of society (but perhaps excessively so at the top of competitive fields like politics).
Now, there's this. 
Shelia Copps kneed her attacker in the groin; a pretty clear indication that advances weren't appreciated.  I would suggest that Ms. Copps has more balls than many of the men on Parliament Hill and it's not a reasonable expectation for every woman to be as aggressively self-defensive as that.
Pacetti pushed for what he wanted and created favourable conditions (his place, his booze) to get it.  Is that much different than looking for a majority government to push through omnibus bills with?  Is it any different from a youth seeking work setting their sights on a job they want and doing whatever they can to land it?
Which could very well be what Alexandara Constantinidis did.  Or Michael Sona did, and proudly so.  Or Sebastien Togneri did, because that was the example he had to emulate.
Frankly, anyone who's scored successive wins in politics has played this game.  Adjusting policies to win votes, attacking opponents to reduce their votes or a whole host of less polite tactics are all part of getting to yes at the ballot box.
We have tried to silo our actions for messaging purposes, because that's how messaging works.  We have ignored what troubles us and focused on low-hanging fruit, because that's how quick wins get amassed.  Yet as a consequence to all this, we have waded into a tangled, messy reality that we're trying to mask with a veneer of civility that is rapidly flaking off.
There are no individuals who bear the blame; there are no innocents.  We will never get out of this sticky mess of cultural dissonance without asking some hard questions of ourselves, our environments and our expectations of life, of work, and of society.
We have to grow past a functional fixedness on short-term wins and start discussing actual solutions.  This can't happen if we focus on transactions - we need to engage in relationships.  That means moving beyond the WE want THIS from THEM framing into something more #howmightwe move forward together?
If ever there was a time to commit sociology, it's now.  Right now.

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