Prior to last night's NY Gubernatorial debate, Rebecca Katz, senior advisor to former "Sex in the City" actress turned Democratic candidate Cynthia Nixon requested via email that the auditorium thermostat be set to a balmy 76 degrees. Work environments, she wrote, are “notoriously sexist when it comes to temperature, so we just want to make sure we’re all on the same page here.”
So, is air conditioning sexist? Well, I guess in the feminist world where EVERYTHING that inconveniences women or makes them uncomfortable is labeled sexist, then yeah! But in the real world, it's just another issue that we all have to deal with.
I confess that I feel some sympathy for Nixon. Over the years, I've amassed quite the collection of cardigan sweaters in an attempt to keep from freezing to death in the office during Summer months. I am not alone in this. A couple of years ago, I got moved into a new suite of offices. After about a week, one of the owners came down and complained that you could hang meat in the lobby. I told him I had the A/C cranked, but that it was still hot in my office. I assumed this was because of all the windows. But he had the same office, so he did some investigating. He reached up and declared that there was no air coming out of the vents. So, he stood up on my desk and discovered that the woman (and YES, it WAS a woman!) who had the office before me had placed sheets of plywood over both of the air vents. He removed them and I immediately felt the beautiful WHOOOOOSH of cold air.
I have days that I wish he'd left them in there.
The worst office I ever worked in practiced a quaint protocol known as "hotellling," where you received a new desk assignment every day. You think working in a cubicle is bad? Try not even having your own cubicle. (As Scott Adams noted, this is corporate America's way of telling you to keep the pictures of your ugly family to yourself.) So, everyone sitting in the front by the windows roasted in the afternoon heat, and everyone sitting in the back had to break up left over office furniture and set fires to keep from freezing. Which one you suffered depended on the day of the week. Good luck planning your wardrobe.
As I've gotten older, the problem of being COLD in the office has become less of an issue for me. I once worked in an office where rumor had it the female office manager was "going through the change" and kept the A/C set for arctic blast. I once witnessed the owner of the company stand in front of the thermostat, look both ways down the hall, and desperately jab at the up arrow button.
But are office temperatures due to sexism? Or do businesses have to keep things colder because of the computers? It's true that in the bad old days, men wore suits and jackets and set the thermostat for THEIR comfort. But as men have switched to a standard office uniform of polo shirts and khakis, women's clothing designers have apparently decided that we don't need sleeves in the summer. It's become such a problem for women that this video went viral on social media:
So yes, women are more sensitive to cold than men are. That doesn't mean A/C is sexist. Cuomo doesn't want the debate hall cold to punish his opponent. He's just terrified of sweating in front of an audience. Nothing makes a politician look like a liar more than drops of sweat beading on his forehead.
I don't know what temperature they finally settled on for the debate last night, but apparently the exchange got pretty heated with Cuomo telling Nixon to "stop interrupting" and Nixon replying "Can you stop lying?" Here's hoping for the sake of the audience that they had the A/C cranking in there.