The Office is a sitcom television series that depicts the everyday lives of office employees in the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. The Office uses satire to play on issues that exist in actual corporate offices such as sexism, racism, and other stereotypes through humor.
One episode that touches on sexism in the office place is “Boys and Girls.” In this episode, Jan, the Vice President of Sales at Dunder Mifflin, takes the women to a seminar called “Women in the Workplace.” This meeting is to discuss issues that women face in the corporate setting, but Michael, the branch’s regional manager, gets upset because he feels excluded, therefore he forms a seminar for the men to talk about “men things.”
Michael centers his seminar on the idea that it is a “guy’s gripe session” where they can use the time to discuss their issues with women in the office and women in general. The whole idea of pitting women against men plays into gender differences because of how often men and women are pitted against one another in the corporate environment. Michael also mentions how the break room was once made into a “lactation room” which he finds disgusting and hopes that the women are not planning to do that again. The show uses humor to touch on the issue of breastfeeding in the workplace and how it is viewed often times viewed negatively by men. Michael was also demeaning Jan for her traditionally “masculine” qualities like her authority and assertive nature. This was illustrated when Michael called her a bitch shortly after her departure in order to relate and fit in with the other guys, which is reflective of how powerful/successful women are often labeled this way in the workplace and society in general. The episode ends with Michael saying that you need both men and women in the office because the purpose of women is to create sexual tension to keep things interesting. This line was particularly satirical because sexual harassment in the workplace is often fueled by this ideology.
The Office mirrors actual societal views and issues that are present in society and the corporate environment. This episode, “Boys and Girls” does a great job of satirizing actual gender differences that exist in the workplace. In The Office, the gender representations, while exaggerated for humor, carry an important message of how inequalities still exist in office environments across America.