The S&M of S&P

The Great Recession. Downsizing. Rightsizing. Inflation. The fluctuations in the stock market. Big financial mergers and acquisitions in a seemingly robust economy…

2014-06-11_blog-pic-01The psychological uncertainty produced by today’s brand of fluctuating capitalism causes anxiety, fear, stress, paranoia and helplessness—in essence, an S&M workplace of supervisor sadists and subordinate masochists! Corporate America resembles some kind of sadomasochistic wonderland: a de Sadeian fantasy come to life in offices everywhere. Obedience to bureaucracy and authority has become business as usual, with workingwomen as vulnerable targets.

Hugely successful women have fallen from grace recently:

  • Jill Abramson at the New York Times
  • Carol Bartz at Yahoo
  • Janet Robinson at NPR

Furthermore, a recent study done by Strategy&  (formerly known as Booz & Comapny) found that female CEOs are more likely to get fired than men. So, why are women so vulnerable?

Some still want to be good girls and team players. Others have the mistaken notion that kudos, promotions, raises and bonuses simply come from a job well done. Still, others misjudge the political climate, which can mimic Game of Thrones.

Riches come to women as CEOs, but few get there.

“Power is a very dangerous word.” Mattel ex CEO Jill Barad says, “When you apply the word ‘power’ to a man, it means strong and bold—very positive attributes. When you use it to describe a woman, it suggests bitchy, insensitive, hard.” Although women have made significant strides in the workplace, most are still conflicted about experiencing political and managerial growing pains to gain and retain corporate power. What are they to do?

Forget Bossy & Bitchy—Enter the Corporate Dominatrix!

2014-06-11_blog-pic-02What is the Corporate Dominatrix?

  • She accepts the workplace for what it really is—a sociopolitical sadomasochistic “theater of the absurd” that must be approached with a new mindset and a new methodology, working from the inside out, as well as the outside in.
  • She adopts the role playing performance artistry of the professional dominatrix, and accommodates the situation at hand strategically & energetically.

S&M is NOT a frightening concept only practiced in an underground dungeon…The concept has been a part of our daily lives for quite some time! Consumers— even savvy ones like you—have been bombarded, even seduced, by subliminal and overt S&M messages for decades.

2014-06-11_blog-pic-04Popular culture reflects our fascination with the S&M dynamic in business. Shows like “Shark Tank,” or “Undercover Boss,” present microcosms of human interaction in a commercial environment, and it can be pretty unforgiving. “The Celebrity Apprentice” may be the clearest example of this: We tune in not only because of our fascination with entrepreneurial culture, but also because we perversely want to see someone get fired. We want to see the contestants squirm in the boardroom, turn on each other, turn into sycophants, and then desperately try to defend themselves before Trump focuses his attention on one and utters, “You’re fired.”

Our fascination with sadomasochism has enjoyed a slow but steady and pervasive build in the arts as well. Look at fashion (Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier), body modification (piercings, tattooing), rock & pop music (Rihanna, Brittany Spears, Katy Perry, Madonna, Green Day, The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs).

Don’t forget the photography of Helmut Newton – and, the bestselling Fifty Shades of Grey series.

S&M in society has always been present under the surface; but it’s just starting to come out of the closet—and dungeon.


Take a close look at your workplace as an outsider or participant observer and take note of incidences of dysfunction, alienation, rejection, infantilism, objectification & bullying. Even if you’re not a target, you need to take note of the climate and landscape. Today’s winners can be tomorrow’s losers.

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