Scenario #23: To Wed or Not to Wed
Asking you to pretend to be the single, Queen of England is really an outlandish thing to ask you to do as a means of exploring how sexual tensions in the workplace might lead to sexual harassment.
But then again, perhaps it’s not.
I included this scenario in my book because I loved Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of the first, virgin queen of England in Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Most specifically, I loved the way she delivered her “hurricane” to the ambassador representing King Phillip II of Spain. Suggesting that her decisions were being influenced by members of her entourage “sailing up the Thames all the way to [her] royal bed” are words that, if inappropriately responded to, could start wars. The queen’s response (and also perhaps her reaction) to these words in the movie is priceless. Bravo!
In fact, historically, the war between England and Spain did come. When King Phillip II couldn’t win England through marriage to Queen Elizabeth I, the Protestant, he tried to take it by force.
Come to think of it, I wonder if there is an element of this “don’t get married, if you are in a powerful position” subtext in the relationship between Oprah and Stedman. Oprah being a modern-day example of a single women in a very powerful, influential position.
Actually, that’s really none of my business.
What is my business is asking YOU, what would YOU do if you were single, in a powerful position, and were being wooed? Would you give in to your suitor’s advances? Would your position be just as powerful if you did?
Not that I need to know. I just want to know that you know the answers to that question. Because it’s a powerful question to get ready for. No matter what job you have or role you play.
There is a school of thought that says that you are the CEO of your own life and THAT is the most important job you will ever have.
The Virgin Queen
Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned for 45 years (1558 to 1603), certainly believed that she would lose her power. Alex Axelrod, in his clever book, Elizabeth I, CEO: Strategic Lessons from the Leader Who Built an Empire, tells us that Queen Elizabeth turned down all her suitors. Indeed, to help her not have that be an issue, she took on the image and life of being the Virgin Queen, married and loyal to England, and no other.
In her own words, Axelrod shares that she was “bound unto a husband which is the Kingdom of England.”
So much did this political portraiture work for her that Sir Walter Raleigh was inspired to name the area now known as “Virginia” in her honor and glory, during his expeditions colonizing the New World.
But back to our topic – how would you handle your suitor(s), if you were in a powerful position? Would the relationship jeopardize your position? Your reputation?
Rules to Live By
I think it comes down to knowing, and living by, your principles. I imagine that your answer would depend entirely on the rules you choose to live by.
Do you have a set of rules to live by?
If not, I highly recommend all four of these examples as a place to find inspiration:
George Washington, first President of the United States, learned, scribed and followed the 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. These were taught to him in school and had been carried down through generations as traced back to 1595 and a French manuscript called Good Manners in Conversation among Men (Bien-séance de la Conversation entre les Hommes.
Benjamin Franklin, influential statesman, author, publisher, scientist, inventor and diplomat honed his list of 13 values.
Even Agent Gibbs of NCIS fame, has at least 51 known rules to live by.
Thanks to his study and analysis of the life and decisions of Queen Elizabeth I, Axelrod has penned 136 principles that he thinks guided the choices she made in life, love and ruling England in the newly global world.
Because, indeed, Queen Elizabeth I, as Chief Executive Officer of what would become the British Empire in her 45-year reign, had a remarkable track record. Here are just a few of the achievements that occurred just prior to and during her reign:
- She was the first Queen of England
- The Protestant Reformation was formalized in England
- Queen Elizabeth was named “Supreme Governor” of the Anglican Church by Parliament
- The Bishop of Canterbury was formalized as the head of the Anglican Church
- The Book of Common Prayer was formalized for the Anglican Church
- The English economy was revitalized, wrecked from the Black Plague and other issues
- The queen quelled or crushed all sorts of attempts to overthrow or murder her
- Seafaring explorations took command of the seas and world-wide trade for England
- Colonization of North America began
- National wars between England and Scotland ended
- The Spanish Armada was defeated
- Shakespeare’s plays and performances were held in the Globe Theater, London
Of course, for these four examples… as it is for any and all of us… once we have that set of rules to live by, the challenge comes in actually living by them, in each and every moment.
There are Resources in Athena’s Garden to Help You
If you have a resource to recommend, we’d like to hear about it! Put it in the comments below or contact us.
Good luck and let us know how it goes for you!
Getting Ready: A Journal to Help You Deal with and Heal from Sexual Harassment, by Sara Jones, was published in 2018 for victims, survivors, witnesses, harassers and HR/Supervisor types to reflect on ways that they can hurt or help themselves and others when faced with a sexual harassment scenario. The goal of the journal is to help us prepare for those horrid, awkward moments so that we can all successfully navigate through them and get back to doing the work we were hired to do. Read more about this topic and find other resources to end sexual harassment in the workplace at www.storiesfromathenasgarden.com.
To hire Sara to come speak to your students, your college, your workplace or your support group, connect with her on LinkedIn.
Photo by BBH Singapore on Unsplash