Yes, we’ve now learned that Jenny, the whiteboard-using HOPA (or is it HPOA) was indeed a hoax.
In my previous blog post, I explained my thoughts on how Jenny’s actions—even motivated by understandable frustration—were unfair and could have negative consequences on her career. The fact that it is a hoax does not diminish the point I was trying to make: Using the Web for revenge might make you think you got the last laugh, but it might come back to bite you in the butt.
Will Others Mimic Jenny’s Approach?
What worries me now are copycats. Comments on both TheChive.com and other sites featuring the story were nearly universally supportive with a GIRL POWER vibe. I can’t help but wonder if there are young women out there inspired by this hoax who might actually do something like this, feeling that it is somehow empowering or provides them with the capacity to strike back from what they thought was a helpless position.
But following this course of action can lead someone to be victimized all over again, this time with the weight of company policy—or even the law—behind it. Rather than being called a “hot piece of ass” by a jerk-of-a-boss, your company might label you “unprofessional,” “vindictive,” “untrustworthy” or any number of things that will affect your job there, and perhaps follow you across your career. And if this jerk-of-a-boss can build a case that these actions damaged his (or her) career and ability to make a living, there might be financial consequences.
I don’t want to belabor the point here, but there is nothing GIRL POWER! about this type of online revenge scheme. It just reinforces the notion that women are petty, vindictive and would rather stab you in the back than stand up to you—stereotypes women have been fighting against for a long time.
If you want to be empowered, talked to your HR representative. If they can’t (or won’t) help you, contact your jurisdiction’s workers’ rights organization.