Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.
About a month ago, one of the (male) partners at my firm decided that it would be a good idea for the attorneys to get together and bond. We do this from time to time, in the form of dinners or trips to Las Vegas. Both of these I can do wholeheartedly! Food! Drinks! Gambling! Go team! However, this time he decided that it would be in the form of golf. On a Friday. Followed by dinner, for those who don't want to golf.
I used to golf regularly. When I was 23-26, my boyfriend at that time was an avid golfer. So, through him, I learned golf. And I liked golf. And to be fair, I got decent enough at it that I didn't embarrass myself on the course. I wasn't great or anything, nor am I gifted at the game, but I could sort of hold my own off the women's tees. As in -- I could hit the ball more than 20 feet and I didn't hold up the groups behind us. I found that not holding up the groups behind you is the key to knowing when you are getting decent at golf. In fact, my boyfriend (at the time) became rather proud of my golf skills. And I truly like golf. I'm one of the few who actually watches it on TV and gets enthralled and into it.
Well, that boyfriend and I broke up eventually, as happens. And I moved to Los Angeles, and then I moved back to Chicago, and all the shit in between, and I sort of forgot to practice my golfing. Most women don't golf, so I found it hard, in between boyfriends, to find someone to golf with. Driving ranges are good and all, but nothing beats actually hitting the golf course. And although I do many things on my own, like movies, shopping, and dinner, I prefer to golf with someone I know. In case I utterly embarrass myself, I don't want to be with a threesome who is going "why the hell did we let this woman tag along with us?" Because I've never been that confident in my golfing skills, and it's nice to be with someone who laughs when you whiff the ball, rather than gets pissed off about it. At any rate, golf is a sport that has to be practiced and played regularly to stay consistent. You can't just jump back into it when you haven't played in years. As is my case.
Based on various work obligations, I was unable to attend the golf portion of the outing. Nor, frankly, did I want to, even if I didn't have those obligations. The guys I work with are competitive as hell, and this wasn't advertised as a scramble. Who would want me in their foursome? Answer: no one. And I knew that since I haven't golfed or swung a club in at least three years that I would not in any sense play even remotely decently if I played. Although a couple of the guys tried to persuade me to go, I couldn't help but feel that it was an effort to try to get one of the female attorneys to join the outing, and speaking most modestly, I am one of the coolest female attorneys of the bunch. I mean, I drink beer and I have no kids to worry about, and I like to have fun.
So, they wanted at least one of us to attend. But the truth is, none of the female attorneys opted to go on the golf portion of this attorney bonding outing. Some (like me) had work reasons for opting out. Others simply felt that this was a boys outing. Did any of the guys really want one of us there? Or did they want one of us to show up simply to show that it truly was an attorneys outing, despite that all of the female attorneys opted out? At least part of the reason, as explained to me by one of our female associates was that she simply felt uncomfortable intruding on the boys golf outing. (Not that she was interested in going anyway. I, unfortunately did not have much advice from her, since I also had no interest in it, and wouldn't have gone even if I didn't have obligations keeping me at work on Friday rather than on the links.)
One of the other female attorneys today put it to me like this: If I (as a partner in this firm) sent around an e-mail and said that we are doing an attorney bonding outing at a spa where we could all get manicures and pedicures and massages and whatnot, how many of the guys would attend? I kind of liked her reasoning there, although, to be fair, I hate spas and all that bullshit. But it is a good example of the female versus the male and what might be interesting to them. Because frankly, none of the female attorneys at my firm were particularly interested in wasting in afternoon on golf. And this outing (which is coming out of my overhead, whether I go or not) was not decided on by the partnership as something that we should spend money on this year.
I only mention this because my firm did not have a Christmas party last year, nor have we held any firm sponsored events for our staff in the past year, nor are any planned for this summer. Due to the cost. It's still up in the air as far as a Christmas party this year, although I'm pretty sure we will have one, albeit not quite as extravagent as in the past. I think it is highly important to morale of the staff (sorry to use such a crappy term, but by staff I mean all of our secretaries, paralegals, receptionists, and law clerks), to hold events where we can all hang out and have dinner and drinks or a good time together outside of work. I think that is very important, because I understand getting burnt out and tired of it all, and having some of these little perks helps out. I actually hadn't even realized until I though about it how much we have cut down on these little perks, because we used to do a ton of stuff for the staff. Now, not so much. And it's not because people here are greedy, it's in part due to the economy and not bringing in as much as we used to back in the glory days. Yet the majority of the male attorneys in my office are taking the majority of the day off on Friday to go golfing, (oh, and I'll be in the office working) while their secretaries sit at their desks and hang out waiting for them to need them.
And still, there is pushback when we want to hold "menial "events (like lunches and drinks) for the staff, but a golfing event for the male attorneys is fine? Because it is for the male attorneys. All I can say is, I can't wait until I'm not low partner on totem pole, because I have something to say about that! But first...I have to finish my buy in. It's unbelievable how much the promotion to partner can cost you financially.