Due to holiday scheduling at the yoga center where I work (if you want Vinyasa yoga in New York there’s no place finer), I actually caught the last half of “Desperate Housewives” last night. And there were some very juicy, and realistic, developments on the Lynette front. In brief, she wound up going behind her boss’s back to get her in a little hot water with upper management by suggesting a recently fired employee, who also happened to be her boss’s boy toy, demand his job back. But the plan slightly backfired. Instead of asking to be reinstated, Mr. Boy Toy decided to file a multi-million dollar harassment suit, a good chunk of the company was fired – including Lynette’s boss – and Lynette got promoted to a job she’s not so sure she really wants. Only then, finally, FINALLY, does Lynette go to her boss – who’s standing on the threshold of her ex-office downing a glass of wine — and say “Look, I was just trying to get you to be a little nicer.” And only now, when all the shit has hit the fan and been blown to kingdom come, does the boss, Nina, explain to Lynette that’s she’s such a tough cookie because the job is miserable (we’re talking the job Lynette just inherited) and their boss is a nightmare and who wouldn’t be a little cranky if she had to eat, sleep and breathe the company mess.
Now I know the show isn’t exactly know for its natural realism — the other story-lines involved Gabrielle’s husband being seduced by a nun from the South side of Chicago and Bree dealing with a suicide attempt by her bicycle-riding, homicidal stalker — but this thing with Lynette is exactly what I’m talking about. Why do women wait until the last possible second to openly ask, “What’s the problem here?” Are we so afraid that someone’s feelings are going to be hurt? Most of the time — like with Lynette and Nina — there’s a pretty good reason why things are coming down like they are. Hell, given the circumstances, those two women might have been allies rather than enemies, which would have both of their lives a whole lot pleasanter. It’s part of conflict resolution 101. You have to put the problem out there or its only going to get worse. Issues don’t magically disappear (trust me, I remain a stubborn, diehard fan of this solution and it never works). The longer you ignore an issue, the longer its sits there and festers, and the more twisted and explosive it is when it finally come out. We’re not being good women or nice women or supportive women by negotiating our conflicts with little passive-aggressive pokes in the arm. We’re being cowards. If we’re going to scale those professional heights, remake the workplace and the world, we’ve got do better than that.