Vintage Business #16: Sexual Harassment: How To Do It

Taken from the National Lampoon article "Sexual Harassment: How To Do It" by John Hughes and Ted Mann (October 1980).  Hughes would later become famous for The Breakfast Club, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Home Alone, Sixteen Candles, National Lampoon's Vacation, and ton of other great flicks; but before that, he was a prolific humorist for National Lampoon.  Here is his witty look at sexual harassment in the workplace (which basically didn't exist a few short years prior to this article), and I've added plenty of accompanying pictures.  Enjoy!


You can, if you: 1. wear a tie to work. 2. get as much time as you want for lunch. 3.own company stock. 4. own the company. 5. have a phone with buttons on it ... in other words, if you are a powerful guy who can hire and fire, raise and promote. If you work in the mail room or on the loading dock, sexual harassment by you is just regular old rape, punishable by law.


Like any other sport, sexual harassment has its rules. If you cannot abide by them and behave with decorum and dignity, then you have no right taking sexual advantage of your employees. Behave like the boss you are.

1. Take your time. If you go in to work Monday and start herding women into your office, you're asking for a Channel 7 "Focus Report" investigation. Unless you're on your second bypass, don't rush it.

2. Don't be greedy. One at a time, please. Girls talk, and if they all talk at once, you won't get any work done for the jealous cackling. As the sign at the salad bar reads, "Take Only as Much as You Can Eat!"  Be reasonable. If a girl needs the day off to go to a funeral, don't hold her up for hijinks. She may do it, sure, but she'll hate you, and the next time someone dies she'll just cut out and have somebody cover for her.

3. Be subtle. Screwing your employees may not seem to be a situation calling for subtlety, but it is. Betting a secretary a raise that she can't do a cartwheel in a dress is bush. So is putting a silver dollar in your lap, announcing nude half days, and using double entendres in your steno sessions.

4. Keep it to yourself. If you find out someone else is playing your game, fire his butt. Discourage sex in the office. It'll make you look like a clean sheet and prevent the office from turning into a money-losing sex party. It also spares you the embarrassment and humiliation of working territory already covered by one of your own men.


If you hire a woman from another field or with a background that is not suited to the duties she is to assume, you've got the glans in the crevice, or, if you prefer, the foot in the door. If the position you offer her is significantly superior to the one she left, she will express great willingness to learn. Not only will her humility prepare her for your sexual advances, it will also help steel her for her inevitable dismissal. Her gratitude to you for hiring her into so much more important a position can be easily expressed sexually if the suggestion is planted in a memorandum to her.

When, after several days, you inform her that she is not working out at her new duties, she will harbor no resentment toward you, blaming her own inabilities for the unpleasant outcome. She will leave the firm pleased to have been offered the opportunity. Be sure you express your regret and write her a glowing letter of recommendation. This will dismiss from her mind any doubts she may have about your sincerity.



She's generally older, more experienced, married, and quite happy. Though she might be appealing from an older-woman standpoint, she won't be terribly attractive undressed, and she poses serious opposition to your advances.

APPROACH: "You know, my wife has been ill for some time and I've been awfully tense. Do you think we could go into my office and... talk?"

OFFER: Her own adjoining office with locking door, private phone lines, executive-benefits package, and unlimited lunch period.

THREAT: You will add additional buttons to her phone station and include among her duties typing, copying, and seeing that the conference room is neat.


She's very attractive and often quite young. You will enjoy looking down her blouse and up her skirt, but getting much further than that will be very hard. If she doesn't still live with her parents, she's recently married and very happy. Your power means less to her than your hairy eyebrows and dimpled belly. A lack of career goals takes away from your attack portfolio.

APPROACH: "I guess you're just about the prettiest girl in the whole office. And you're one heck of a worker. I wonder if you'd like to go with me to Hawaii for a conference. I could sure use a hard worker like you out there."

OFFER: An extra week of paid vacation, cosign her auto loan, buy her living-room furniture, and increase her salary 15 percent.

THREAT: Have her benched on the company softball team.


The very best in terms of body and overall sexuality. She can offer a taut, firm, meticulously maintained frame of the finest quality and sex play that is imaginative and challenging. However, she probably won't offer it to you. You're paying her a fat salary, and her handsome young husband is likely earning better than she is, and together they're rich, classy, and mobile. Any sort of hanky-panky will probably drive her over to your competitor, where she can do some real serious dollars-and-cents damage.

APPROACH: "You can think I'm a pig. I don't care. I can't control myself anymore. Can I please just look at your nipples? Could I just press against you for a little while?"

OFFER: No more than 49 percent of your outstanding stock.

THREAT: Kill yourself.


You hired her because she was attractive, so you know that side of the story. You probably also know that she's not terribly bright, and from the way her jeans define her vulva you know she's not one to balk at a neck peck. What you probably aren't aware of is that she's starving for a rich husband. Your chance to score is as good as her chance to snare you.

APPROACH: "You know and I know that you know...are you as horny as I am?"

OFFER: Trip to Vegas for New Year's, diamond ankle bracelet, relaxation of rules concerning personal use of the WATS line, and allowing her to watch "All My Children" on the conference-room TV at lunchtime.

THREAT: You'll go to personnel and find out how old she is and announce it in the company newsletter.


She's at the bottom of the career ladder. She has aspirations but not enough upstairs to get there without your help. She won't win prizes for her beauty, but what she lacks in cheekbones she makes up for in her willingness to advance her career.

APPROACH: "There's a pro-motion in my pants. You want to see if you can find it?"

OFFER: Promotion to "executive vice-president for keypunch cards."

THREAT: Promote a less senior co-worker before her.


If you want her, you can have her. It isn't really sexual harassment, though; it's more like commerce.

APPROACH: "Want to party?"

OFFER: $20.

THREAT: Narco squad.


Consider the modern enclosed-work-station concept of of- want; and if the girls have to stand on furniture

They're your shelves; you can raise them as high as you want; and if the girls have to stand on furniture to reach them, it's too bad.


Ugly, but it does happen. Sometimes even guys with cool sideburns and a smooth line of patter I get arrested for sexual harassment and are issued summonses. If this happens to you, you probably misunderstood this article, or are just plain stupid, or possibly both. Nevertheless, we shall try to save you. When approached by the police, say:

"Christ! I can't believe it! You look so much like my brother, I can't believe it! My father died when I was two, and my stepfather was [Italian, Negro, Chinese, etc.]. I was in the police academy when he died, but that's a long story. Now, what's the complaint here?" Or:

"Holy cow! You're kidding! I was just saying to the guys down at [O'Malley's, Scapella's, The Pink Pussy, etc.] just the other day that women are getting a raw deal! You gotta be kidding! That's what you get for calling a girl whose number's scratched in a phone booth! Huh!" Or:

"I gave the gal $50, and what I got wasn't worth ten! How the heck can you sexually harass a whore? And she was a whore! I mean, no decent woman would let me do what I did. Not even for $50. Not even in these inflationary times." Or:

"You know, my daughter got a speeding ticket and they took her in and a matron made her strip and squat and stick her fingers in her rear end. Did I run over to the station and accuse you fellas of sexual harassment? Hell, no! You were doing your job. Same here. Can I buy you a drink?"


It may happen that women you refer to other firms will generate inquiring phone calls. Other executives may ask you questions like "Does she squirm a lot?" "Is she clean?" "Does the back door open?" Inquiries such as these are outside the normal course of business, and a real gentleman doesn't answer them except over a lunch provided by the inquisitive executive or his corporation. After a friendship has been thus established it is permissible to answer "yes" or "no." Even today, however, modern standards preclude intimate descriptions, unless hunting trips are provided.


If you don't have one, get one. If you have one, fire her and put in a gal of your own. A big, fishy-looking lesbian is perfect. Pay her enough, give her enough power, and let her do whatever she thinks is necessary to provide for the good health of the company personnel. If this means keeping a Polaroid catalog of the employees' bosoms, so be it. If she wants to bring in a physician to administer free checkups and breast exams, you won't want to stop her. Also, if she wants, let her keep an eye on the girls' cycles, so you won't waste a promotion or a raise on something you can't use once you get it.


For those real hard cases with the crosses around their necks  and the nieces and nephews  in their Foto Cubes, there's the out-of- town business trip.   Put her in a miserable small city  with nothing to do, and wait her out.

YOU: Let's go over the marketing plan once more.
SHE: I think I know it already, sir.
YOU: There isn't much to do here in Kalamazoo; we may as well work.

YOU: We introduce the fabric softener to Lower Michigan markets, then
SHE: I'm sorry, sir, but if I hear about this marketing plan once more, I may die. When is this meeting supposed to be, anyway?
YOU: They said they'd call.
SHE: Dang! I'm bored to tears!

YOU: We came here on business, Kathy.
SHE: Screw the business; fuck me!
YOU: You always seemed so uninterested.
SHE: If you don't shove it in pretty quick, I'm going to use a toilet-paper core!


(original scans below)


  1. The guy in the lead photo looks like Robert Morse, who played Bert Cooper on Mad Men...ironically, one of the few male characters on the show who didn't sexually harass anybody.

    1. Good eye, Pam. That's actually him in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

  2. AnonymousJune 01, 2015

    The Executive Secretary.. Playboy Playmate Christa Speck, also Playmate of the year. Married Marty Krofft. He produced several TV programs, H. R. Pufnstuff, Land Of The Lost, Brady Bunch Variety Hour, even Oral Roberts. Some people say the Krofft brothers were influenced by weed and LSD. It was the 60's and the hip crowd experimented with drugs, it was the cool and enlightened thing to experience. I grew up watching their shows, and they were about as close to an acid trip that you can get, almost as wild as the Banana Splits. Christa passed in 2013, and has a daughter that acts and models. Nick

  3. What a great thing this is.