My father is a therapist; he has three degrees in the study of people. It’s sort of like having a dad in the CIA or the mob: he doesn’t talk about his business, and he never introduces people who come up and speak to him. But his love of the innerworkings of humanity have been passed on to Pandito and me. We love to talk about people. My brother is fairly evolved and is able to talk about the actions and motivations of those around him with an enlightened viewpoint. My brother does not work in finance.
I think that men in finance get a bad rap for being dumb brutes. I have never had any of them be anything but civil and polite to me, both during and after office hours. But they do spend most of their time around lots of other dudes, reinforcing the bro mentality generated during college and business school. Today, I sit in the middle of a trading floor surrounded by men who, while nice to me, often forget I exist. This works for me. I didn’t become an assistant for the glory. If I’m very quiet and very still, I am treated to conversations that usually only happen when guys are alone.
Today, the big topic on the trading floor was the hotness of women they all mutually know. For this, I blame Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook IPO fever infecting finance. If I took a shot every time CNBC said the word Facebook or made a pun out of “liking” something today, my liver would shut down within the hour. This constant repetition has subliminally driven me to check my own Facebook obsessively all week, and given the conversation around me, I’m not alone.
No one is saying anything despicable, just talking about general hotness, and club promoters, and people who used to be blonde and have moles. I don’t object to this sort of conversation as I’ve had my own versions with female friends and coworkers, albeit at a much lower decibel in a smaller group. It’s not the subject matter, but the method that intrigues me. There’s a general grunting that occurs when men gossip, especially about “hot ladies”. Looks are the main topic of conversation and who people are dating. There’s a lot more high fiving than when women gossip.
I don’t have any deep conclusive thesis to derive from all of this; I’ve always known that men love to gossip. I like to watch bros bro-ing out. Coming from a world of musical theater, I rarely get to see it. I feel a little like Jane Goodall, trying desperately to blend in, so as not to disrupt the natural behavior of the troop. Plus man-giggles are much more interesting to listen to than CNBC.