Davos Man behaving badly
It’s a well-known fact that men behave badly at Davos. The alcohol, the chance to rub elbows with and even talk to other VIPs, the excess amounts of testosterone, and in some cases the joy of a limo ride from Zurich Airport all give rise to a competitive atmosphere in the hothouse known as the World Economic Forum.
Less widely discussed is the fact that the edgy atmosphere sometimes crosses over into overt unpleasantness and sexual aggression. Single women at Davos report that at times they are prey to unwelcome advances that range from annoyingly uncomfortable to downright threatening. It’s not that surprising, given the fact that Davos is a truly male-centered event.
In quiet corners of the Convention Center, I’ve heard a few ugly stories whispered to me by the women involved, and the men in question don’t come out at all well. There is the former U.S. government official who spent a couple of days trailing around after a decidedly-not-interested single friend of mine — to the merriment of onlookers, who could not avoid seeing the unwholesome spectacle. There was the evening at the gala dinner, when I saw a glamorous blonde being hotly pursued by a drunk Swiss man who spent hours with his arm draped over her shoulders trying to entice her into joining him at a nearby piano bar where they could be alone together.
A journalist friend described being followed late one night by a man claiming to be a Morgan Stanley banker. She was trying to get back to her hotel room after a dinner and, of course, the shuttle was nowhere to be seen. “You know how hard it is to get a taxi if you are not someone important,” she told me, as she described the scariness of walking down the Promenade while being pursued by the man who was hoping for a night of passion.
Perhaps the newfound respect for women at Davos (we wives even get to list our affiliation on our name tags this year) will give rise to a more female-friendly environment. I’m not holding my breath, however.
PHOTO: Visitors attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, January 25, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann