Published in 1993
by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Published in 1994
by Ballantine Books
Published in 2001
by Random House

Note From Michael
It's based on a true story: two former lovers, now highly-placed executives in the same company, had competed for the same job, which went to one of them. They had then met privately one evening, and the next day each accused the other of sexual harassment. The problem for the company was what to do - fire them both? Fire neither? Keep one and fire one? If so, which one?

This story was told to me by a lawyer in 1987 as a problem of corporate governance, but I thought the story was more interesting than that. Eventually I found another use for it.

I imagined that both men and women would benefit from a better understanding of what harassment felt like. So I reversed the usual roles, allowing both men and women to experience what the other side felt like. I think this procedure worked and it made a lot of people angry.

The book was harshly criticized by feminist commentators, who saw it as just another vilification of working women. But a careful reading of their complaints made it clear to me that many had not read the book. (It's much easier to criticize a book you haven't read.) They had, however, read each other's columns.

At the same time I was being criticized by leading spokeswomen, I found that working business women often went out of their way to tell me they liked the book (and later, Barry Levinson's excellent movie.) This reaction of actual working women was in sharp distinction to their supposed spokespeople.

Eventually I concluded that working women liked the story because it focused attention on a female character they found difficult to deal with-the unscrupulous corporate climber. They weren't able to publicly criticize these climbers, because back in those days, working women thought they should stick together and not criticize each other. So they were pleased that a book did it for them.

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