Interview with the Male Secretary

Letís face it: like it or not, this is a manís world. Men make more money; men get more respect; and everythingís pretty much set up to keep it that way. The Secretarial profession is one rare place where the powers that be allow women to dominate. It figures theyíd dump such a crappy profession on us! Male Secretaries are few and far between. And when you do find one, itís usually an unsettling experience. Why? Because even though we donít give a second though to seeing a woman slog through this rotten job, weíve been trained to be disturbed by the idea of a subservient male! Even though we dominate the field, hiring a disproportionately high amount of female Secretaries=sexual harassment, though theyíll never admit THAT in ďsensitivity training.Ē Why should we get stuck with all the shit-work? Fed-Up Secretary recently met up with a male Secretary to learn about life in this minority among us. Fed-Up Secretary: Do you like being a Secretary?

Male Secretary: Itís better than digging a ditch, but mostly I hate it.

F-U.S.: I feel exactly the same way. A lot of Secretaries are grateful that they donít have to serve fast food or do manual labor. They think that makes it worth it to put up with the shit we have to do on the job.

M.S.: I work with a lot of people like that.

F-U.S.: We all do. Tell me, how long have you been a Secretary?

M.S.: Five years.

F-U.S.: And how did you get started?

M.S.: When I got out of school, I started temping. I had taken typing in school and didnít have any trouble filing or talking on the phone, so I though Iíd give it a try. It was easier than managing record stores or the Gap, like all my friends were doing, and it paid better.

F-U.S.: What did you friends think?

M.S.: Mostly they were jealous because I was making more money than them. But there was some teasing and rude comments.

F-U.S.: Like what?

M.S.: That I was lazy; that I wasnít working hard; that guy Secretaries are all gay.

F-U.S.: Oh, stereotypes! Were you lazy?

M.S.: (laughs) Just a little.

F-U.S.: Were you working hard?

M.S.: Sort of.

F-U.S.: Are you gay?

M.S.: (laughs) Uh, well, yeah.

F-U.S.: I see. Now, the secretarial profession is unusual in that itís dominated by women rather than men. As a minority in the field, do you feel oppressed?

M.S.: No. If anything, it works to my advantage.

F-U.S.: Howís that?

M.S.: No one thinks a man is going to be as good a Secretary as a woman, so Iím usually the second choice to give a difficult job to. Iím the one they send out for coffee or lunch.

F-U.S.: How interesting. Aside from that, do you think the male secretarial experience is basically similar or different from the female secretarial experience?

M.S.: Mostly, itís the same. Bosses still treat you like shit, people still blame you for everything that goes wrong, you still never get credit for your ideas. I guess the only advantage is I donít really have to deal with sexual harassment.

F-U.S.: You also donít have to buy nylons.

M.S.: Iíd probably get in trouble if I did!

F-U.S.: But I think you raise an interesting point about the lack of sexual harassment toward men. I guess office life isnít like Disclosure.

M.S.: Didnít you hate that movie?

F-U.S.: Completely! As a female Secretary, I happen to know a thing or two about sexual harassment! For Hollywood to address it only as being perpetrated by a woman... and if I was going to sexually harass a man, it wouldnít be saggy-assed Michael Douglas, thatís for sure. But, back to the topic. How do you feel people react differently to a male Secretary?

M.S.: The bosses are weird about it sometimes. The men are used to sort of talking down to Secretaries, but with me they feel that they have to make buddy-buddy talk about sports, things like that. One of my bosses always gives this nod to me as he walks by, sort of like a military salute, which I take to mean ĎI still respect you as a man, son, even if you do have a girl job.í Female Secretaries are nice, but they seem to like to be able to have Ďgirl-talkí with other Secretaries, and they donít want to Ďgirl-talkí with me. The girl I work next to always talks about Roseanne to me, and not much else, really.

F-U.S.: What about female bosses?

M.S.: I donít know; I donít have any female bosses.

F-U.S.: No female boss, but an office full of female Secretaries?

M.S.: All except me!

F-U.S.: How typical. Tell me, have you ever met any other male Secretaries?

M.S.: Sometimes, on the phone.

F-U.S.: Whatís that like? Meeting a kindred spirit?

M.S.: No, itís like meeting someon else who has a stupid job, but I meet people with stupid jobs all the time.

F-U.S.: Why are there so few male Secretaries? Guys donít like typing or answering the phone?

M.S.: Well, I think itís obvious. Men have better opportunities in education and are more likely to be hired in better jobs than the rest. Secretary jobs are whatís left over.

F-U.S.: Yes, that does seem to be the case. But youíre a man--why arenít you running the company?

M.S.: Just being man isnít enough to get them to let you run the company. I donít have an MBA, I donít have connections, and I donít think I really have the personality type. I wouldnít work at all if it was my choice. But there are bills to pay.

F-U.S.: We can all relate to that! ďThere are bills to payĒ--that ought to be the Secretarial motto.

Sidebar: Male Secretaries Support Groups At the present time, there are no known support groups for male Secretaries. This is probably because being in this particular minority isnít really much of a problem, since most priviledges of being a man still apply to men who are Secretaries. Men who feel otherwise are advised to go off into the forest and beat on a drum.