I was asked to take down a family photo, coworker is working a second job during her hours for us, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. I was asked to take down a family photo

I was called into a one on one with my manager today. Someone anonymous has complained about a photo of my son I have at my desk and has asked management to have me take it down. The photo is a very cute black and white photo of my son at one year old. He has no clothes on but there is no butt or genitalia showing. To me, it’s an adorable photo of my son as a baby. Some anonymous person sees it as pornography.

I agreed to take it down, but I increasingly feel angry and attacked. I am the only gay man in our department, and I feel that a woman having a photo of her naked baby with no genitalia showing would not be asked to take the photo down because it was offensive to someone. I feel like I want to defend myself and not just meekly censor my own family photos out of fear for my job. I want to make a statement to my co-workers of some kind to defend myself from accusations of inappropriate photos of my child. I am a very popular and productive newish hire (2+ years). Do I have any recourse?

Ugh, I’m sorry. I don’t think you do have any practical recourse, largely because it’s not outrageous for your company’s stance to be, essentially, “We don’t want to get into debates about what photos of unclothed subjects are and aren’t okay, so now that there’s been a complaint we’re just asking people not to display them at all.” (Which is what you’re likely to hear if you do push back.)

But I hope you will replace the photo with at least three more super cute photos.

2. My coworker is working a second job during her hours for us — should I send HR proof?

My coworker has been using company time by lying about her activities and going to a second job while being paid by our employer for 1 hour a day a couple times a week. I recently verified this as she left her desk calendar (paid for by our employer) on her desk in plain view. I did report this to HR. Is it unethical or a violation of privacy to take a picture of the calendar with her other work schedule to show that this is indeed happening? Thus sending only to HR as proof and no one else?

I don’t think it’s unethical per se — as long as it’s being left in plain view — but you will probably look overly invested. The exception to that is if her absences are affecting you (because you need to cover her work while she’s gone, for example). However, if HR wants to investigate this, they won’t need a photo of her calendar to do it; they could simply pay attention to when she’s actually at work and not at work.

how can managers spot people who are working two full-time jobs at once?

3. Can I intervene on a coworker’s horrible, hacking cough?

I work in a large org as an EA. Due to the way the building is structured, I share an office with around six other people but am not on their team. My boss has their own office next door to ours so I can greet their visitors, etc.

One of the office colleagues, Jim, is a cigarette smoker and has a very unhealthy, phlegmy-sounding cough that goes off multiple times a day, at length. This was the case before Covid lockdown and after we returned to the office. I find the noise incredibly intrusive and distracting, and my boss has picked up on it herself and also picked up on my discomfort with it.

I’m autistic so find noise intrusion very difficult; my boss is supportive and I can wear noise-cancelling headphones in the office when I’m getting on with work (although I can still hear the coughing!). But I recently appointed an assistant who sits behind me so I can’t hunker down under headphones anymore as I want to be present for them and open to being asked queries without them having to get my attention or feel like they’re being ignored.

With my headphones off again, I’m finding the coughing absolutely unbearable and have occasions when I have to exit the office because I can’t keep listening to it. I’m worried I’m not hiding my reaction to it well and that I’m going to snap at Jim in the end or cause an ongoing issue with him.

Do I have any scope to speak to his manager about how difficult it is being around the noise and whether Jim is looking after his health? I’m aware it’s absolutely not my place to intervene and I do acknowledge that Jim is the one really going through it, I’m just sitting by and having to listen, but it’s proving to be a real struggle at this point trying to ignore it, and both the cough and my patience are getting a lot worse.

You really don’t, I’m sorry. You could have standing to ask about being moved if that’s practical, and if that’s not an option you have standing to talk to your boss about the problems the noise is posing for you and whether there might be other solutions. But you don’t really have standing to complain to Jim’s manager about the cough (there’s likely nothing that can be done about it, at least not something that an employer could direct), and you definitely don’t have standing to ask whether Jim is looking after his health.

However, if the headphones were making it more bearable, can you return to using those? You could explain to your assistant that they help you focus and encourage her to IM you or use some other system for alerting you when she needs you. Headphones don’t have to be an inherent block to being interrupted if you stress that you want the interruptions and agree on a system for doing it.

4. Can I ask my boss for feedback on my speaking in meetings?

I recently joined a nonprofit organization in a comms role fresh out of college. My manager often wants me to be a part of some cross-department meetings and contribute my thoughts. The problem is that I’m not a confident speaker and I struggle with phrasing ideas especially since English is not my first language and I’m new to the corporate world. Would it be a bad idea to ask my manager for feedback on my performance in meetings?

Not a bad idea at all! It’s great when employees ask for feedback; managers should give it anyway, but you’ll usually get more of it if you make it clear you’re eager for it, and it’s especially helpful to flag it when there’s a specific area you want to grow in. Say to your manager exactly what you said here!

{ 676 comments… read them below }

  1. Jade*

    Sorry. I’m sure you’re a great parent but unclothed photos of minors don’t belong at work or on social media. There’s too many weirdos out there. I’m sure you have some other cute ones. Just let it go.

      1. Carl*

        OP says there is not butt or genitalia. I wouldn’t really consider that “naked” for a baby.

        I agree my suspicion is this has to be with him being a gay dad. I’d be upset too, frankly.

        1. Carl*

          I’m picturing an Anne Geddes style photo, and I’d bet anything this complaint was only made bc he’s a gay dad. I’m actually angry now myself.

          1. Dawn*

            It was absolutely because he’s gay, and I’m so sorry for him.

            If nothing else at least now he knows to keep an eye out for things that are actionable, or consider whether he wants to remain in this company/department at all.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              It may not be worth it to change jobs every time he encounters a jerk. When I was young, I used to feel like I should leave whenever a jerk giving me a hard time, until I realized every job would have at least one and I would have to learn to deal.
              I was not dealing with homophobia so I can’t speak to that but if he has a good supportive boss, stability, good benefits, etc., it may not be worth leaving or making an issue of this.
              It would be interesting to see what happens if he displays a full family photo. If the mysterious porn jerk complains about that, too, then he might have a case for action.

              1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

                Calling this an encounter with a jerk is minimizing it in the way that people who deny that bias exists would do. Dealing with one personality is not the same as dealing with a hostile workplace.

                1. RC or CofE*

                  Exactly. Also I find the differences in the way OP’s experience is being commented on down thread and the (rightful) indignation on behalf of Catfish Extortion Guy from the other day to be very disappointing. And likening this innocent display of a photo of a child to other nude/semi-clothed photos of adults that may be inappropriate in the workplace is a false comparison. Why, because a child is involved? Well Catfish Extortion Guy was supposed to have been teaching safe online practices to youths so at least the OP in that case had a work related reason to react as they did, as wrong as it was.

                  OP wouldn’t have been complained about if they were a straight cis woman, full stop. I rarely disagree with the commentariat, but damn y’all. Damn.

                2. DJ Abbott*

                  He doesn’t say it’s a hostile workplace. The only other thing we know is, he’s popular.
                  Of course if the environment is hostile or unsupportive, he should leave.
                  I’m just saying if other things are good, it may not be worth it to leave. Only OP can determine that.
                  I’ve never seen a workplace that didn’t have at least one jerk, so no matter where you go, you have to deal.

              2. Dawn*

                “It may not be worth it to change jobs every time he encounters a jerk.”

                Yes. This is why I suggested he might want to consider whether he wants to stay in this particular one rather than that he should immediately leave all jobs with jerks, always.

            2. Sandals*

              I appreciate the sentiment, but we really don’t know that, and it’s unhelpful to the OP to say it is.

              1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

                But the odds are very high that yes, someone objects to married gay men raising children, and it sensitized them to take offense where they could. I do not think it’s unhelpful to make this point at all. (Full disclosure: am gay woman old enough to be a grandmother. Things have changed a LOT in my lifetime, but this ish does still happen.)

                1. Dawn*

                  Right, like, if you’re not queer-identified (and probably also if you’re not at least a certain age) you maybe haven’t had the lived experience to understand just how often queer parents experience discrimination and harassment like this, to the point where it basically always is a factor.

                2. Rebecca*

                  We just don’t know that. I’ll admit that I don’t think naked photos belong at work. They just don’t. There’s absolutely no reason to have naked photos of anyone at work, no matter how tasteful they are. I wouldn’t complain, to be clear, but I’d definitely file it in my brain as “someone doesn’t understand social norms in an office”.

                  (I was raised by hippies. My dad took me to pride events way back in the 80s to support his sister. I’m not a prude. But naked photos just don’t belong at work.)

            3. Pink Candyfloss*

              This is my thinking; there is now one documented data point of targeted harassment which on its own means little, but as part of a larger pattern could prove quite useful in future.

          2. Gemstones*

            I pictured an Anne Gedes photo and assumed it was someone who, like Oscar on The Office, was just offended by how tacky and kitsch it was. (“It’s the opposite of art. It destroys art. It destroys souls.”)

            1. Happy meal with extra happy*

              When I first read your comment, I totally missed “The Office” and thought you meant Oscar the grouch, and I was like, “ok, that’s a bit dark for Sesame Street, but I see it.”

              1. Gemstones*

                LOL! If I had added the next part, it would have seemed very out of character for Sesame Street (“This is so much more offensive to me than hard-core pornography”).

          3. MCMonkeyBean*

            I have mixed feelings because they’re probably right about that being a significant contributing factor to the complaint which sucks–especially because it was anonymous and now OP is probably going to feel less comfortable around everyone since they don’t know who complained.

            But I have seen this topic debated in many spaces and it does seem like it’s reasonable for the office to decide it’s best everyone keep those photos at home.

            Also as a human who was once a baby I always hated when my parents showed people those photos! Even though there was nothing inappropriate it still embarrassed me as a kid to think about other people looking at them.

            So I do think it’s best that OP just replace the photo with other family pics rather than try to fight this, but I also think it’s awful that someone made an anonymous complaint about it.

            1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              I agree about seeing it from the kid’s point of view. Does your kid who granted is a baby now, really need to have people seeing them naked? Just because its a cute photo.

              And I would say this no matter who had the photo up.

              For the record I dislike Anne Geddes photos too.

              Photos of unclothed children do not belong in the office. Put up one with clothes.

              1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                I mean, taking it from the kid’s perspective, the pictures my parents had that embarrassed me are all fully clothed – that page-boy haircut Mom thought was so cute on me was absolutely awful and I hated every moment of it. The photo of me in the bath at 6 months, though, doesn’t bother me at all; it could be an entirely random baby for all anyone else could tell.

                1. Yikes Stripes*

                  My mom had a photo of my 4 year old brother and me in the bathtub with him grinning at the camera and me hitting him in the head with a wet washcloth framed and on the wall my entire childhood. I never minded it – it was an undeniably cute picture.

                  I suspect that many people would look at it now with horror about what pedophiles online would make of it, and that’s too depressing for words.

              2. Empress Ki*

                There is a bunch of cute pics of me as a naked baby that my parents showed around. I never had any issue with this. There are no parts of baby’s body that are indecent. At least, they shouldn’t be seen as indecent.

                1. Lydia*

                  Exactly this. Don’t put weird moralistic ideas onto anyone’s body, let alone a baby’s. And while I understand where people are coming from on consent, there’s something a little extreme about taking it to the point of parents not allowed to display perfectly innocent photos of their child to give them a little boost throughout their workday. Normally when we talk about consent in the context of children and their photos, we’re talking about social media where the photo can be shared widely and have long term repercussions.

                2. Cmdrshprd*

                  “There are no parts of baby’s body that are indecent. At least, they shouldn’t be seen as indecent.”

                  Not necessarily indecent but not sure they are work appropriate. I think it would be similar to someone having up a family beach pic in swim suits. With people topless in swim trunks, or in one/two piece swim suits.

                  Pictures like that are fine to post on social media, have at home etc… But I don’t know that they need to be shown at work. No matter the makeup of the family.

            2. Cheap Ass Rolls*

              Correct. Two things can be true at once – there can be someone at OP’s work who specifically had this complaint because he is a gay man, and at the same time it can be a good idea to not include that picture in your desk kitsch.

              For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t complain to my manager or HR about anyone who had a semi-naked baby photo on their desk, and I certainly wouldn’t compare it to P*** (which feels like the most inflammatory part of the letter), but if I saw it on their desk I might think, “Huh, that’s a personal choice I wouldn’t make.” Some people share more than others. For me, the fact that he’s a gay dad wouldn’t factor into it at all – I’d feel the same way about a heterosexual mom or dad.

              1. Rebecca*

                Exactly. I’m normally the most liberal person in the room, but apparently not on this issue. Naked photos of anyone don’t belong at work. Gender and orientation are totally irrelevant.

                And use the term “CSAM”. Child sexual abuse material. That’s the correct terminology, fyi.

          4. Miette*

            Bingo. OP, if I were your co-worker I’d be putting up similar pics just to see what happened. This is not okay, and you’re right to be upset about it.

          5. Feral Humanist*

            Yeah, this seems obvious to me as well. I’m finding many of these comments SO odd . I would think nothing of a coworker having such a photo on their desk. Sometimes this comment section really goes off the rails in a “chronically online” kind of way, and I think this is one of those times. I hope everyone gets to touch some grass this weekend.

            1. former academic*

              Yeah. If you google “newborn photo shoot ideas” there’s a dozen examples on the first page of babies with no clothes/just a hat. This is not a weird or inappropriate thing. I can absolutely recall coworkers having these kinds of photos on display on their desks (at a university, in roles where they interacted with students) and thinking nothing but “oh, what a sweet shot of their baby”. OP, I am sorry this happened to you.

            2. Alice in Spreadsheetland*

              Yes it’s very strange to me that photos of a naked baby are being seen in a sexualized way- because that’s what makes naked/shirtless/swimwear/underwear photos of adults inappropriate for the office; that there’s a sexual connotation to seeing an adult without their clothes, but why are people feeling that way about a baby photo?

              The ‘pedophiles/embarrassing’ explanation also only makes sense to me when it comes to posting photos online. No one’s whipping it out in front of LW’s desk at work, and parents are allowed to have ‘embarassing’ baby photos/stories of you! They probably shouldn’t show/tell the entire internet but a photo at the office or in the house? That’s normal family stuff. (Also, “someone in LW’s office might be a pedo so he can’t have photos of his baby” really rubs me the wrong way)

              1. eye roll*

                I assume “someone in LW’s office might be a pedo so he can’t have photos of his baby” really rubs you the wrong way for a similar reason to me. If someone argues for this restriction because someone might be a pedo, then children should also be banned from the office. And teenagers. And everyone should be followed by a guard in case someone is an r-word or murderer. It is a nonsensical argument, absent some proof. And unlike potential crimes against the people in the building, a potential pedo does not get any contact with the baby or the ability to strip down in front of OP’s photo during the workday. It’s just whataboutism because they lack another excuse.

                1. Orsoneko*

                  Right?? I prefer to operate under the assumption that no one in my office is going to be attracted to my toddler. And if I had any reason to suspect otherwise, I wouldn’t be giving that person access to any pictures of him, no matter how fully clothed.

            3. Rebecca*

              But surely you can see that if it makes this many people uncomfortable, it isn’t appropriate. This isn’t something about a person’s identity. It’s ultimately just a knick knack. I really thought about this, because I’d be the first person to defend a woman that was told not to show cleavage or a man being told his hair was too long. But this isn’t about OP’s identity, it’s about a knick knack. Common social norms mean that a lot of people are uncomfortable, right or wrong.

          6. Abundant Shrimp*

            Yep, that was my first thought – “the fact that OP is gay sets a gross undertone to the whole complaint and followup”.

        2. MK*

          If a human is unclothed in a photo, they are naked. It may not be explicit, and there is certainly nothing pornographic about a naked baby, but trying to make distinctions about what is “naked for a baby” is bizarre. Having a naked photo of your baby is equivalent to having photos of adults in swimwear or exercise clothes; nothing wrong with the photo itself, but an odd choice for the office. OP likely has plenty of photos of their son in cute outfits.

          Probably OP is being treated differently because he is gay; I wouldn’t ask a parent to take the photo down. But I would question the judgment of anyone, man or woman, who picked that photo for display.

          1. KateM*

            I would especially question the judgement of picking that photo for display if the son is not a baby anymore (OP writes “my son as a baby”, not “my baby son”).

            1. Elsa*

              OMG my school age kids would kill me if I displayed a naked baby pic of theirs in my office! It’s just a terrible idea!

              1. Myrin*

                I was thinking that – in our old house there were, among many other pictures, two of me at a few months old with my naked butt out. I’ve always, always hated these pictures, even as a primary schooler, and could never understand why my mum was so fond of them, and that was in our own home. Thank goodness we didn’t have any space to display them once we moved when I was seventeen.

                1. Elsa*

                  Yup. I wonder how the letter writer would feel if *his* mother or father had a naked picture of him as a baby in their offices!

                2. Happy meal with extra happy*

                  I couldn’t care less if my parents had this kinda photo up of me. It’s a picture of a baby – it’s not like it’d even recognizably be me. The only situation I would care would be if I worked at the same place as them.

                3. Myrin*

                  @Happy, okay? I’m not sure if you’re just giving a counter example (which is totally fine and I don’t think I even alluded to my attitude being universal) or if you’re somehow trying to invalidate my feelings on this just because you’re viewing the situation differently.

                4. Happy meal with extra happy*

                  Technically I was replying to Elsa but couldn’t directly because of threading.

                5. Carl*

                  My grandmother had a very small framed photograph of my cousin, who was clearly not wearing clothes, but nothing “indecent” is showing. It was from a time when it started raining and my then 3-year-old cousin ran outside to play in the rain, and then the sun came out. It was just a candid moment that got captured, and the photograph came out beautifully. It was in my grandmother‘s guest bathroom my entire childhood. There was a time when I was like six or seven, that I would tease my cousin that there was a naked picture of her. Because I was a child, so I thought that was such a big deal. And then I grew up and became an adult, and learned some context and learned some real world experience. Maybe my cousin was embarrassed about it when she was eight? But when my grandmother passed away, it was one of the things my cousin specifically requested as special to her, and she now has that photograph is displayed in her own guest bathroom.

                  I’m really struggling to understand the idea that somehow, my grandmother should have hidden that photograph in a drawer or something until my cousin was old enough to sign consent forms or something. That’s silly. I don’t see what that would’ve accomplished, other than teaching my cousin some bizarre Puritanical view of what was a normal innocent childhood moment.

              2. AnonToday*

                Right!? At my work we have a slide show of employee-submitted photos that is always running in a common area, and included is a picture of someone’s toddler using the toilet! You can’t see any genitalia, but it’s very obvious that the child isn’t wearing pants and is sitting on the toilet. I don’t know who’s child it is, but I doubt the kid will be thrilled to find out about it once they get a little older!

            1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

              This is so bizarre to me! For decades, my dad’s family picture on his desk was him, mom, and all of us kids horsing around at the beach in swim wear, because it was a rare shot of everyone together and having a good time. It seems pretty bog-standard, as far as office photos go. Yes, he could have swapped it for the photo from Grandpa’s funeral where we’re looking more respectable – but the point of an office photo is to remind you what you’re working for, and what Dad was working for was something like that carefree vacation.

              1. Grace Poole*

                Something like that was an example in our workplace’s sexual harassment module–someone complains that a coworker has a photo of a woman in a bathing suit on his shelf, but it’s a tame family photo of his wife and kids, not some cheesecake Sports Illustrated shot. The discussion was about intent or something.

          2. mb*

            I think questioning his judgement is going too far. It’s a baby photo, with no butt or genitalia showing – we see this kind of thing in advertising all the time everywhere. If a woman had this on her desk, I doubt the anonymous coworker would have complained. However, I do agree that norms are changing and that many people now view naked baby photos much differently, in particular because of the internet and the need for vigilance about child sexual abuse material. So he should replace it with a baby picture where his child is dressed.

            1. Happy meal with extra happy*

              The paranoia that a physical photo in someone’s office could be used as CSA material is just beyond.

              1. Yikes Stripes*

                Yep. And my first instinct is that the person who complained isn’t concerned because just anyone could find it to be CSA, it’s because they think that OP, as a gay man, finds it titillating. It’s unfortunately likely that the person complaining is one of the people who has believes that gay men are all pedophiles and is part of the uptick in homophobic bullshit that says that all of us queer people are child abusers and groomers.

                1. Parakeet*

                  Yes, and frankly, the current moral panic about pedophilia is heavily driven by the far right with queerphobic intent, and people who play into it are also playing into the hands of the far right and their queerphobic intent, whether they’re aware of that or not.

                2. Some Words*

                  I’ve specifically recall print ads which used a shot of a shirtless dad laying with his naked, sleeping baby on his chest. It was a very loving, intimate pose. I recall similar ads with women and babies as well. I shudder to think of the co-worker’s reaction to a shot like that.

                  People that find these types of shots skeevy might be well served to examine their own thought processes around this topic, rather than looking at as someone else doing something wrong. Because it looks like a whole lot of projection from here.

              2. Nonanon*

                This exactly. I would be far more concerned with the coworker calling it pornography as opposed to a picture of a baby who happens to be naked.

            2. Double A*

              I actually think some positive consideration that is happening is treating the child as their own person who will someday have opinions about the photos of them that are displayed.

              As we see in this thread, there are some people who WERE mortified as kids by the naked baby shots and some who couldn’t care less then or now.

              While I think the OP was probably targeted because he was gay and should absolutely be upset about that and whoever reported him is a mean weirdo at best, I don’t think a bad outcome of this is to be very, very thoughtful about what pictures you display of your kids publically whether online or in a public physical space. For your KIDS’ sake.

          3. Miette*

            So if someone had a photo up of themselves and friends wearing swimwear while on a vacation, that would be inappropriate and something to be questioned at work? Really? I’m sorry, this is just not tracking for me.

            OP is being targeted because he is a gay person and in a current political climate where people equate queerness and transness with perversion and use it as justification for discrimination (with all the THINK OF THE CHILDREN pearl-clutching), I’m just not on board with it, or with Alison’s response, actually. Are other non-queer parents being asked to remove similar photos?

            Perhaps OP should speak with a lawyer–they are being targeted and should start looking for other indications of it in this workplace.

            1. Velociraptor Attack*

              In my field, I would question someone’s judgement about having a photo of themselves in swimwear displayed in their office, absolutely. It reads to me as being out of touch with workplace norms HERE. Maybe that’s not the case everywhere but it’s not outlandish to find it inappropriate for work.

          4. liz*

            It’s probably an artsy newborn shoot where it’s like the side of the baby laying on a blanket or something. It might even be the first picture given the couple may not have had immediate access like parents who gave birth.

            1. MusicWithRocksIn*

              He said it was of his one year old, so not a newborn photo. That’s around learning how to walk age, and usually older than the Ann Getty photos get, seeing as one year olds have opinions about where you sit them, and what they are doing.

            2. aqua*

              Did OP say his son was adopted? I don’t see that anywhere in the letter. It’s weird to assume the child is adopted just because he has a gay parent.

              1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

                Well, the odds are better for adoption, given a marriage with no resident uterus. (Or maybe OP or his husband worked with a surrogate.)

          5. skadhu*

            While I do very firmly believe that homophobia plays a part in OP’s case, whipping out that tired old BS about all teh gays being predators, I am also boggled by how conservative and reactionary the world has gotten. I’m almost 70, and I can’t imagine reactions in the 60s-70s-80s that a photo of a naked baby was inappropriate. The world has sexualized everything way beyond sense and then combined that with “there are predators everywhere!!” to an amazing extent.

            1. Anonym*

              Yeah, this is where I’m landing on this, and I’m a generation younger. So perplexed by this. Naked babies are normal and not at all inappropriate, especially with no diaper area visible. The coworker who complained is a far more concerning issue. I’m alarmed by the person who thinks this IS sexual. Ugh, can barely type it out.

              Not sure if OP will be willing to wade through the weirdness of this comment section, but if so:
              I’d share my upset feelings with colleagues I trust and hope they spread the word a bit. OP is so upset and disturbed, some weirdo on our team thinks an innocent baby picture is pornographic! Someone looked at his kid like that! (Cripes, that DOES make me want to hide the photo…)

              The complainer should know they’re an outlier with unwelcome views.

              1. iglwif*

                Yeah, it is seriously icky to imagine the thought process that leads from “pic of naked baby with no diaper area showing” to anything sexual.

            2. Enai*

              Yes, my parents took a photo of 3 months old me “air bathing” (meaning, lay about buckass nekkid in front of a door open to the outside in warm weather. It’s supposed to be healthy). They didn’t develop it themselves, and the photo service certainly didn’t turn them in to the police.

        3. wordswords*

          Agreed. The photo sounds completely fine and normal, and I’d be upset too — and I strongly suspect that, whether the complainer is conscious of it or not, the fact that OP1 is a gay dad is part of what led to this.

        4. SansSerif*

          Here’s the thing – Alison said the company can just ask people not to display naked baby pictures at all. But are they making it a general rule? Or is it just something they’re asking him because of a complaint? I wonder if anyone else had a similar picture, if anyone would care? That’s what would bother me.

          Because this is likely because he’s gay. And if I were him, I’d definitely replace the photo with other, clothed pictures of my son. He shouldn’t feel like he can’t have pics of his family at work.

          1. SometimesCharlotte*

            I’m the kind of petty that would case the office for similar pics and report them…

        5. mb*

          Yeah, I agree – this is someone’s blatant homophobia. Not much the OP can do – they can try to discreetly observe other people’s family photos and see if anyone has something similar to his original photo. In which case, this would be obviously treating him differently due to his sexual orientation and something that would need to be addressed by the company to cover their butts.
          Otherwise, just put up 3 new baby photos with clothes on and see what happens. I think that will annoy the anonymous homophobic coworker even more.

        6. Quantum Possum*

          I don’t see why people are so quick to assume this has anything to do with OP’s sexual orientation.

          I’ve literally had the same conversation with employees (the complainers and the complained-about), and in all of those cases the employees were heterosexual.

          1. Nomic*

            There’s a right-wing movement to call gay men ‘groomers’ as a casual insult. It’s insulting to gay men, and it treats the actual horrific act of grooming a child as a petty insult. While that is perhaps mostly an on-line thing…that’s where we are now, and more and more people bring this on-line idiocy into the Real World.

          2. sulky-anne*

            The letter writer thinks so, and I trust his perception. Those of us who are accustomed to bigotry are good at spotting it. Also, I really hope that when you had that conversation, you didn’t pass along accusations that the photos are pornographic. That is the part that feels clearly homophobic to me.

          3. Annie*

            Yes, that seems like a big conclusion to jump to.

            It’s bizarre that anyone has a problem with this, especially since apparently nothing is really being shown (not that any reasonable person would consider a naked baby as sexual, that’s just sick).

            1. Dahlia*

              OP is a gay man. He knows his experience as a gay man, and he knows what his company is like. He is not jumping to conclusions if he suspects it’s homophobic.

    1. R*

      While I wouldn’t personally have such a photo on my desk, the moral panic inside America that they’re are pedos everywhere is counterproductive at best.

      1. Kella*

        I agree. Also the idea that a naked baby would provoke all the pedos but the exact same baby wearing clothes would not, is deeply silly.

        1. Katie A*

          I also agree, and your second sentence is a good point that many people either ignore or hugely overreact about. I’ve seen people say it’s bad and unsafe to have pictures of your kids anywhere that isn’t completely private, not out of a commendable respect for the privacy of children, but out of fear/paranoia.

        2. Lydia*

          I had a similar conversation with a relative almost 20 years ago when it became much easier to find out where the registered sex offenders lived and she started obsessively looking up the maps. Her daughter ended up on the cover of the local newspaper doing something very normal while playing at a pool, and my relative was so worried about the all the potential predators looking at the photo and getting ideas because she was in a swimsuit. My response was it’s not easy, but it doesn’t matter if she was in the swimsuit or not. Someone who is preys on children will do so no matter how the child is dressed.

      2. Melissa*

        Yes and if one of these secret pesos sees a photo of your son— who is no longer a baby— they’re going to do what, exactly? Get a secret thrill? Track down your son on LinkedIn and ask him out? I’m never clear on what the paranoid people think is going to happen.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          I mean, is it likely? No.

          Has it probably happened at least once at some point in time? Sadly, probably.

      3. Little lights*

        Yes, and that there needs to be a sense of shame around a child being naked. As if nakedness is inherently sexual. Which, uh, it isn’t.

        1. English Teacher*

          I think that it’s valid to not want to see naked photos at work, baby or otherwise, for reasons that have less to do with pedos or shame and more with discomfort. my co-workers have shown me pictures of their completely naked infants and toddlers, and while I appreciate the thought, it really can be difficult to know exactly what to say or how to react, especially for non-parents. it’s just a mild discomfort, and I would never ask them to take such a photo down, but they also have the good sense not to post it publicly and just to show it on their phone to people who might be interested.

          1. boof*

            That’s just it; I have the same mild discomfort at photos of totally naked babies (as below – I think because I see them as pee timebombs and no diaper = risk of mess) but I also think we just have to tolerate certain amounts of “mild discomfort” in the name of coexisting with a bunch of various humans. I’d never ask to take one down and it starts getting petty/adversarial to try to “address” such mild preferences IMHO.

            1. myfanwy*

              I have kids and think babies are fascinating and gorgeous, but I have the same thought about naked baby photoshoots in particular – mine would have immediately exploded all over the tasteful beige linens and rustic baskets. I’d never dream of objecting to someone else’s photos, though. It’s just not a big deal in any way. The photo is not harming me!

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I’m dying laughing at this implied disaster. And now I’m wondering how many times it happened to Anne Geddes, lol.

                1. Butterfly Counter*

                  I’m sure all the time. I remember when Celine Dion had a collab with Ann Geddes and posed in the shots with the infants. She was being interviewed (my memory says Oprah was doing the interview) and said that the the tiny, sleeping baby she was holding in her hands in the shot absolutely did pee on her.

                2. Adds*

                  I have an Anne Geddes coffee table book from years ago and the photos are interspersed with snippets of behind-the-scenes narration about the photo shoot it is from and more than once she references how “Oh this baby peed all over [the adult model] about 2 seconds after this photo was taken (or before) and [the adult model] was such a good sport about it.” Mostly it was about how long it took to prep for photo shoots and “we waited 45 mins for this baby to fall asleep, thank goodness we got these shots when we did because he woke up 5 minutes later.”

              2. Lenora Rose*

                I did this kind of baby shoot with my first kiddo at 2 months or so; old enough to be less squishy looking than a newborn but not actually sitting up etc. 90% of the photos actually had the diaper on. The couple that didn’t (which I did not put on my desk at work, for the record), the process was “diaper off, baby down, mom darts out of the way, snap, flip baby back onto the diaper and cover the bits.”

                Similarly, there was a tiny bit of propping behind the baby so that we could take a pose where I have baby “sit up”, leaning on the prop so I can snatch my hands away, snap photo, and catch baby already starting to lean about a second later. You can’t tell from the pictures, they look like the baby is just sitting there idling forever. But honestly, 20 photos was about 20 minutes and a lot of that was set up.

                (These weren’t as complicated – or cheesy – as Anne Geddes set-ups and my absolute favourite was actually with the baby under a blanket and only their head and upper arms showing. No nudity at all!)

            2. Elle*

              You put this really well. There is an acceptable level of discomfort when it comes to existing in society. This baby picture does not surpass it.

        2. NaoNao*

          I think one rather pertinent argument against even taking naked pics of infants or toddlers is that they can’t meaningfully consent, and while as an infant you’re totally dependent on your caregiver, I don’t think an infant should lose bodily autonomy that way. I suspect it’s a conversation that we haven’t really had to have before as social media is new and in the recent past unfortunately we have had quite a few very unpleasant revelations about celebrities, public figures and even institutions that are predatory. So those two things combined to me means that with a fresh look at what consent means and an updated awareness of the types and groups that could be predatory or even just exploitive, the standards can and should change or at least be examined.

          1. Lydia*

            Baby photos like that existed before social media and in this particular situation, it was an actual printed photo and not shared on social media. I would also point out there are a lot of things parents do without consent from babies and children because that’s part of the parents’ duties. To act on their children’s behalf.

      4. BatManDan*

        Okay, but while we’re speculating wildly as to motives (behind the complaint, and the enforcement), why don’t we cut the complainer some slack, and ponder whether the photo evokes some emotional response in them due to past events, trauma, or abuse that they suffered or were adjacent to? You can argue, cogently, for or against the complainer simply ignoring it / getting over it, but you don’t have to assume their motive for speaking up could only have been busy-body-ness or discrimination. Could have been a significant trigger for them, to the point that they thought they HAD to say something.

        1. Pippa K*

          Seriously? We have to imagine with no evidence that ordinary items in an ordinary setting (baby photo on desk) could be PTSD triggers justifying nasty accusations like the one here? I don’t think so. And as anything could be a trigger, consider where this approach would lead.

        2. Dweali*

          the complainer used a VERY loaded term by calling the photo “child porn” with OP being a gay man. it doesn’t scream possible trauma response

          1. Quantum Possum*

            We don’t actually know, from the letter, whether the complainer called it pornography, or whether that was the OP’s impression of the complaint.

        3. liz*

          It’s the calling it porn that shows their motive. They didn’t say it was not work appropriate, or that it made them uncomfortable. They called it porn, which is blatantly ridiculous and what bigoted nut jobs say about books about same sex penguins raising a chick.

        4. Irish Teacher.*

          Honestly, in that case, it sounds like either they or the person who spoke to the LW explained things very badly. There’s a big difference between, “for personal reasons, I’m uncomfortable with a picture LW has on his desk. Would it be OK to ask him to remove it?” and “we’ve had a complaint that your photo is pornographic.”

      5. Pippa K*

        I suspect this is the core issue here. But this ugly phenomenon is only “counterproductive” if you assume the purpose is to fight pedophilia – I think the real purpose is as a tool for attacking and silencing political opponents while cloaking oneself in a moral claim. Thus all the attacks on librarians, parents at kids’ sport events, etc as “groomers” when of course they are not. And the “pedophilia is everywhere” claim always seems to go hand in hand with the “gays are pedophiles” claim, so unfortunately it’s not that surprising that someone would (pretend to?) object to a baby photo on the desk of a gay parent. It’s a horrible cultural moment we’re in, doing real damage, and I’m very sorry for the OP and everyone else targeted by it.

        1. Some Words*

          I have seen multiple accusations that the entire Democratic party is made up of pedophiles and groomers. It’s not really a stretch to assume this hysteria around anything that could be (mis)construed as something sexual is infecting workplaces. That the OP is gay adds fuel to that fire.

          I’m in full agreement with Pippa K. We’re in a horrible, damaging cultural moment.

        2. Elle*

          I am used to being disappointed by the commenters when LGBTQ issues come up, because there tends to be a significant number of commenters engaging in pearl clutching and other homophobia/transphobia adjacent behaviors, but I’m so gratified to see comments like this. This IS an example of workplace-approved homophobia. I see a lot of commenters suggesting that we should cut the complainer some slack, but I don’t think those people have ever taken a moment to think about what it’s like to live constantly worried that someone will take something innocuous you’ve done (that a straight person can do without controversy) and paint you as a pervert. I hope straight people who are not understanding what the big deal is about this letter think a little bit about that.

          1. aqua*

            yeah, I was walking somewhere with a straight friend once and we walked past some kids and the friend asked the kids for directions and chatted to them briefly and I (visibly queer) was stood a few steps back like “holy shit I can’t believe you feel comfortable walking up to strange kids and talking to them, am I about to get accused of harassing these kids”

            1. Annie*

              I think single men of any orientation would mostly be uncomfortable talking to kids that they didn’t know, because of the social stigma relative to males and SA.

              1. Carl*

                I agree. As a woman, I can talk to kids and no one bats an eye. It’s seen as part of my natural role. And I say this as a not all that feminine woman who is married to a woman. But if I was a man, even a straight man, I would feel uncomfortable.

                I’ve seen this bizarrely play out a number of times. Once I picked my son up from daycare, and he happened to be in the restroom at the daycare. Three-year-olds, so we’re talking a room with a half wall and three toilets in it. Just completely open other than that half wall. While I was there, another parent, who I know really well, who is a straight man, picked up his kid. And his son needed to use the restroom. I could tell how uncomfortable, that man felt coming anywhere near the restroom. As though I was going to accuse him of wanting to see my son’s bits. But he was perfectly comfortable with me, assisting his child in the restroom. It was bizarre, and I remember thinking how tough it must be to be a dad. I can only imagine being a dad with a young daughter being in that situation. Or being a dad with a young daughter who needs to go to the restroom when there’s no family restroom.

              2. boof*

                Pretty sad – I am remembering when we went to hawaii (I was going to a conference, family came with) and my spouse (cis man) was in the pool with our kids… and got swarmed by other kids with the parents being apparently like “woo hoo, a dad is watching my kids, time to go do my own thing over here” :P

        3. sulky-anne*

          My highly cynical take is that the real purpose of these accusations is to brand queer and trans people as perverts while also covering up the abuse that happens within normative hetero families. It’s convenient to place the blame for society’s most horrible problems with people who are already stigmatized but it just helps perpetuate them.

        4. Parakeet*

          Yes. Like I said upthread, anyone playing into the current moral panic is playing into the hands of the far right, whether knowingly or unknowingly. That’s a very blanket statement, and that’s how I intend it, because I’ve had neo-Nazis and Proud Boys and thin blue line types scream “pedophile” and “groomer” at me. It is wild to me that so many people who aren’t that type of person just go along with the moral panic created by that type of person.

      6. No Longer a Bookkeeper*

        I 100% agree, and I’m honestly baffled at all the pearl clutching in the comments over a photo from a typical newborn photoshoot. My mom used to get them in the mail as birth announcements! They’re not sexual at all and all the comments about being “so uncomfortable” with naked babies or comparing the LW’s photo to nude photos of adults are (unintentionally) carrying the homophobic coworker’s water for them.

        1. NotAManager*

          Yeah. I’m also pretty disappointed (and frankly concerned) by all the pearl-clutching in this comments section. The vibe of a few comments boils down to: It’s ultimately okay for this person’s coworker to make a bananapants complaint about having this particular photo of his son in cubicle even *if* the motive for the complaint is *purely* homophobic because the LW’s son *might* be embarrassed by the photo at some amorphous future date? Like. Really?

    2. Yup*

      Personally I think anyone looking at a pic of a baby and taking offence at its nudity is the bigger issue here. Sexualizing a baby—especially the baby of a gay parent—should be what’s raising red flags here.

      1. merp*

        THIS. This paranoia is just so bizarre to me. I moved abroad from the U.S. a year and a half ago, and I just realized how much my internal norms toward this stuff are being relaxed. Naked babies running around on the beach! Pantsless toddlers waving at us from their balconies! I live in an area of occasional intense conflict, so maybe people here have much bigger things to worry about than inventing monsters and bogeymen waiting in the shadows to prey upon their children.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          You would find the same in e.g. Germany or Switzerland (which, famously, has no armed conflicts). People changing their Babies on public benches, Toddlers running around naked in wading pools and water features at the public park.

          1. TeaCoziesRUs*

            The naked toddlers in the wading pool only sqick me out because of poo. I remember how bad my kids were at leaving fun to go potty… those have to be a pain to close, clean, refill, and then reopen.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              I haven’t seen any actual poo, but the water does get quite dingy by the end of the day (mostly with grass/sand/mud, but still). They are generally drained, sprayed down and refilled daily early in the morning in the summer.
              Small children are disgusting sticky little disease vectors anyway (and by that I mean my own as well, it’s not a criticism, just the nature of childhood), clothed or not, so, yeah.

        2. Testing*

          I’m from a country famous for its relaxed attitude to nudity (although sensible parents cover up their kids on the beach — not because of anything to do with sex, but because the sun is really harmful to kids’ sensitive skins), and I have changed my kids’ diapers absolutely everywhere. That still doesn’t mean I think pics of naked babies are suitable in offices.

          1. Caramel & Cheddar*

            This. You don’t have to be paranoid or a prude to understand when something might be absolutely fine in one context and inappropriate in another.

          2. skadhu*

            But… why not? Are you saying it’s impossible not to sexualize them? Because that would be the argument against photos of naked adults. Or, I suppose, that bodies/certain parts of them are inherently ugly or horrifying.

            1. Testing*

              No, not ugly or horrifying, just not something you display in an office. Like it or not, some things just are deemed to be suitable in a professional setting than, for example, at home.

              We generally wear different clothes, conduct ourselves differently, talk about different things, etc. at work than in our free time. I have a very different picture of myself on LinkedIn than I do on my non-professional social media.

              So why all these comparisons between beaches and an office setting? It makes no sense.

            2. Ellie Chumsfanleigh*

              I would put pictures of naked babies in the same category as pictures of someone picking their nose. It’s fine at home, but not appropriate in the office. And both are inappropriate at the office for reasons far from sexualization.

        3. Empress Ki*

          Are naked babies running on the beach not a thing in the US ? I have always lived in Europe. I don’t see a problem with naked babies, especially on the beach.

          1. Left Turn at Albuquerque*

            I’m American, and have in my possession a photo of me running naked on a beach when I was a toddler. Granted, it was taken in 1970, but there’s at least one data point in favor of the concept existing here.

        4. Moonstone*

          I absolutely agree with you @merp. The puritanical way the US views anything sex-related vs. the way Europe does has always driven me batty. But now, when you add in the hate coming from the right, where they paint everyone who is LGBTQIA+ or on the left as “groomers,” etc? It is so utterly, endlessly frustrating, demoralizing, and scary. I hate what is happening in this country right now and desperately wish to move abroad.

          1. Carl*

            It’s even more frustrating that the wingnuts are a minority, but somehow we are all supposed to bow to their sensitivities, and so we have a handful of completely unbalanced nutbirds who demand the right to censor library collections and dictate curriculums for everyone.

        5. Lobstermn*

          It’s because child abuse by parents, relatives, and church leaders is so common. The evil has to be projected onto a scary “other,” or else some changes would need to be made.

      2. Rose*

        Thank you!! I’m just imaging what I would have said if I were the HR person in this circumstance. “So… you want the naked baby photo removed… because you find it to be sexual?” I would have follow up questions and OP is not the one I’d be disciplining.

    3. boof*

      I’m trying to figure out if “unclothed” still means “in a diaper” – it doesn’t seem like a huge difference, and i’d never call a naked baby photo pornography, but I do get mildly uncomfortable at totally naked baby photos – I think partly because I know babies may PEE SUDDENLY AND WITHOUT WARNING (personal experience changing and cuddling my babies) – but if the complaint literally listed the photo as pornographic I do think HR has some standing to investigate the language behind the complaint as contributing to a hostile environment, no? Even if a standing policy of “no naked photos of anyone, even your children as infants, at work” still stays.

      1. Seashell*

        A hostile work environment doesn’t mean anything you don’t like. It has to do with being harassed or otherwise mistreated because you’re in a protected class. Actual pornography being displayed might be part of that. This is not that.

        To me, it sounds like the kid is naked from the waist up. You could see that at a beach whenever and no one would blink an eye.

        1. boof*

          I meant LW could report THE COMPLAINT has created a hostile work environment if they were actually told their kid’s photo is pornography / someone thinks their kids photo is pornography (IMHO, if someone said that the manager and/or HR ought to address how inappropriate that is to say with the complainer, even if they do decide it’s best to do a no naked photos of anyone at work – it should not have gotten to LW that their photo needs to come down “because pornography” at all). I think that qualifies as gay bias and a very hostile comment.

        1. boof*

          And i’d never ask someone to take such a photo down either. Just saying I find such photos mildly awkward, for totally nonsexual reasons. Pertinent to the LW though – I don’t think it’s worth workplaces trying to enforce folks mild preferences on each other; but this doesn’t seem like a hill to die on; but it is sus that someone complained especially if they actually cited it being pornographic

    4. urguncle*

      Unclothed with no genitalia showing.
      Do you all have the same pearl-clutching panic for a picture of a child in a swimsuit on a vacation on someone’s desk? Or is it ok if they’re straight?
      I also want to point out that the complaint was not that it was inappropriate for the workplace, but that it was *pornographic.* This is so entirely wrapped up in professionally-acceptable homophobia it makes my chest hurt.

      1. mb*

        I know. I agree that having somewhat naked photos of your kid when they’re a baby in public may be embarrassing to your child and maybe for their sake, take it down. But you’re right – someone suggested that they question the judgement of someone having this type of picture at work. I mean, really? What if the OP comes from a culture where this is very normal? It’s crazy that people are so up in arms about this. I think OP should put up several clothed baby photos and see what happens.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I was born in and have lived in the US, and I come from a culture where this is really normal. For small babies, not older children, but absolutely small babies. Whoever – whether it’s HR or the original complainer – went to ‘pornography’ is way out of line. But pushing back on it is not likely to end well.

          In OP’s shoes, I would absolutely put up clothed baby pictures, pictures of the whole family beaming happily together, etc. Of course, that’s easy for me to say – for OP it may be harder because this does reek of someone being anti-gay, which means their family could be a flashpoint. Which is *wrong*, but OP will have to decide whether it is worth the cost of putting up such photos. But complying with the official policy of not even naked or half-naked babies is going to force them to step onto some very shaky legal ground if they want to continue this garbage.

      2. Velociraptor Attack*

        We don’t actually know if anyone called it pornographic. OP interpreted it that way but they didn’t say either that HR told them it was pornographic or that it was reported as being pornographic.

    5. Lilo*

      I have a photo of my son as a toddler in the bath with bubbles all over his hair. His lower half is obscured by the tub. The idea that it’s a “naked photo” and akin to pornograpny is frankly offensive.

      I also highly suspect LW is right and the motivations are based on some prejudice.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. I’m thinking the complainer saw a black and white photo showing skin and got nosy thinking it was a Herb Ritz or Maplethorpe. Then they doubled down seeing it was a baby. Maybe this particular photo wasn’t the best choice for the office, but the complainer is looking to call out the OP for being gay. (Makes me wish the OP’s winter gear is a spiked leather jacket a la Rob Halford…)

        1. lunchtime caller*

          this comment actually made me realize that there is a non-zero changc the person complaining did not realize the picture was of a baby (because they barely looked, looked only from a distance, etc), and just assumed a gay man with any black and white skin-showing photos was decorating with tasteful pornography of adults

          1. Lenora Rose*

            Do you know what babies look like? I have an extremely hard time believing it’s possible to see a photo well enough to make an accusation of porn and not know it’s a baby.

            1. liz*

              Well there are people out there calling picture books like Everywhere Babies and Tango Makes Three explicit and pornography so I over giving the benefit of the doubt.

              1. Lenora Rose*

                This was specifically about lunchtime caller’s theory that the complainant somehow saw a photo well enough to see it contained skin, and yet couldn’t see it well enough to see it contained baby.

                This is a different assertion from the people who assume a picture book about gay penguins adopting is porn.

            2. RVA Cat*

              That’s why I’m thinking they realized but doubled down.
              At a distance, bare skin in black and white has a certain “Calvin Klein ad” look. (Of course most of Jeremy Allen White’s recent shoot is full color. In no way is it porn, but it’s probably the closest male example to a stereotypical mechanic’s bikini girl calendar.)

      1. Zweisatz*

        LW, I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. It’s infuriating and unfair.

        I concur with the commenters
        who suggested photographs of your happy (clothed) family. I am interested how anyone will lodge a complaint about those without showing their (homophobic) hand.

        I hope your experience at this workplace is otherwise unobjectionable (hard to imagine) or that you find a place of work that will respect you whether you’re in the room or not.

    6. Fishsticks*

      Considering this sounds essentially the same as Anne Geddes photography, and god knows those naked babies were all over everything in the 90s and early 2000s, I’m curious as to what the complaint-lodging coworker would say about those.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        Oh man, those are disturbing. And they’re not allowed at my place of work. I know my coworkers and employees, most of them would be crawling out of their skin with discomfort, lol.

        1. Fishsticks*

          My mom’s workplace definitely had plenty of those hanging up around the office way back when, although my mom was more into that woman who had a very particular art style who did like affirmations alongside drawings of women (I can’t remember her name).

          I think people definitely freak out about this stuff a whole lot more than they did when I was a kid.

          I’ve been so inundated with Anne Geddes crap since my childhood that I don’t even think I notice them anymore. Just block them out entirely, haha

      2. Meep*

        It is amazing how we grow as a society and learn how harmful these can be to children 20-30 years later, isn’t it?

        1. Helen of What*

          What on earth are you talking about? Harmful to nap next to faux flowers or veggies while your parents look on? Or is all photography bad for children??
          There’s no logic here.

    7. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. Just put up some different photos. I’m also a parent and I would have kept any kind of nekkid baby photos at home. If LW thinks it’s about him being a gay dad, then display some dad and baby photos. The reporter will have very little they can say about that if everyone has family photos on their desks.

    8. sulky-anne*

      I don’t think there is a problem to have a blanket ban on nude photos in the office, but I do find it outrageous that the manager passed on a comment about it being child pornography. That is blatantly homophobic and the manager either doesn’t see that or is fine with it. I would be angry too if I had to be subjected to that kind of comment at work about my own child. I wouldn’t make the photo itself my hill to die on, but I would be aware that if my coworkers feel like making other bigoted accusations against me, management won’t have my back.

      1. Elle*

        This is a great point. As a gay manager to gay reports (um, and straight ones. I didn’t like, only stack my team with Family) I am appalled by the manager’s handling. LW now knows their manager does not fully have their back and cannot be fully trusted. Granted, those are good operating assumptions for all employees, but as a manager I try to aim a little higher.

      2. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

        This should be a top-level comment because it’s probably the best take on the situation. LW1’s co-worker and manager suck but “no nude photos at all” is a reasonable stance for a company to have, for simplicity if nothing else.

    9. thelettermegan*

      It could very well be a generational thing – My mother would think a naked baby sitting in a flower pot would just be the cutest lil’ guy, but I could see how young digital natives might immediately think of all the creeps on the internet and how they’ve had it drilled into their heads to never allow pictures in compromising situations and now even a topless baby looks like danger.

      Like Allison said, putting up three clothed baby pictures is an appropriate reaction. If there’s feedback on that, then you know you have a problem coworker.

    10. SpaceySteph*

      Naked but not revealing pics of babies is like a whole cottage industry. Where you sit them in a tub of milk or with a big flower blocking the view or in a pumpkin or something. I think the right answer here is to replace with clothed photo, but I do trust OP’s judgement that its not pornographic.

    11. Artemesia*

      I know that it sucks to have to be extra careful as a gay person, or a black person or a woman in a very male dominated setting etc etc. But being strategic and prudent is something many people have to do. A gay. man showing a nude picture of his child is going to cause predictable problems.

    12. Clare*

      I always felt really uncomfortable about my Mother’s photos of me as a half-naked baby, although not to the point that I’d ask anyone to take down a photo of their own baby – and especially not by proxy, eugh! There is the possibility that the person might have said the same thing about a similar photo no matter who owned it. The recent fuss over the Nirvana album cover may have been a trigger for someone to feel justified in making the complaint.

  2. nnn*

    I had a team member make a similar request to me, #4, for similar reasons and I was happy to work with her to get her the kind of feedback she wanted. As AAM says, I hope I would have done it anyway, but it’s definitely easier to give feedback when a person has invited it and asked me to focus my attention there.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yes, OP4, to me this is just another skill — and itsthat your manager’s role to help you with those skills.

      If you are incomparable asking your manager, consider looking about the Toastmaster’s organization. It’s all about practicing public speaking, including short 1-minute answers.

      There are chapters all over, including online-only groups. Some companies even host them for employees during the business day.

      During the year we tried to get one going at my company I got a LOT out of it. Especially helpful for me was their practice of timing us, which gave me a better time sense.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Yes. Alerting your boss that this is something you want to work, gives your boss a chance to help you. Training, feedback, all sorts of things. You can use this as a goal to work on your public speaking if you want.

        Although I will say this, chances are, its not nearly as bad as you make it out in your head. We tend to dwell but most people are probably, I got what you are saying and then think nothing about it.

  3. Hmmmm*

    To LW 1 – I’m sad that you feel attacked and I recognise the homophobic background of why it would feel gross for a gay man to be inappropriately called out about a naked photo of a kid, but at the same time I think it is a-OK to not want to have photos of naked kids at work?

    Like, I would not really want to see someone else’s kid’s naked baby photos in a work context and would find it off-putting and of questionable judgment, including if a woman had displayed her baby’s photos in this way.

    Hell yes to all the cute clothed photos, hell no to naked ones.

    (Fellow LGBTIQ+ community member here, for whatever it’s worth.)

    1. D*

      As another queer person, I agree. I’m sure it’s super cute and not pornographic. I still don’t want to see anyone’s naked baby at work.

      1. R*

        Personally I think you should investigate why a completely innocent photo of an unclothed infant causes such distress to you. Children, especially infants, are often unclothed and this is completely fine and normal.

        1. D*

          It’s not “such distress” and it’s completely fine and normal. But it’s a little uncomfortable for me the same way wearing the wrong size shoes is uncomfortable for me or having the thermostat set at 60 is uncomfortable for me–and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

          1. Carl*

            So, if a woman had an Anne Geddes calendar…you’d go to HR? What about a cat calendar (if the cats aren’t wearing clothes)?

            1. D*

              At no point did I say I was going to HR about anything, or that I agreed with our anonymous complaint. I saw I also really don’t want to see things like this at work. Because it’s not my job to see nudity at work, and I would likely have a negative impression of people who introduced it to my office.

              But I can be uncomfortable about lots of things without needing complaining to an authority to make me uncomfortable. I was voicing support for /someone else/ who thought it wasn’t exactly office-appropriate.

              Your comparison to cats is a ridiculous strawman apples to oranges and you know it.

              1. Carl*

                I think someone offended by an Anne Geddes style photo of a baby as “nudity” or “pornography” is no less silly than being offended by unclothed kittens or when John Ashcroft insisted on putting clothes on a statue. None of this is “pornography” for crying out loud!

                1. D*

                  You seem insistent people are “offended” because they’d rather not see something in a specific sphere, and are making a rather lot of assumptions yourself.

                2. GrumpyPenguin*

                  Nothing of these things are pornography. But human kids are different from cats and statues. Personally, I simply prefer to not see unclothed humans at work. I’m not offended, it just makes me uncomfortable, but I would have simply talked to OP.

                3. Pennyworth*

                  I’ve always disliked Anne Geddes, using babies as props like that strikes me as icky. My kids happily ran around at home without clothes, but I never shared photos of them undressed, no matter how innocent/decent. Kids have their own need for – and right to – privacy. Mine used to avoid coming into rooms unclothed if there were any visitors there – even ones they knew well. It was their choice, we never suggested it or minded one way or another.

                4. Ladida*

                  I agree about the ick factor, I googled Anne Geddes because I didn’t know her and while I am not offended, I do find her photos with kids posing as cabbages or mermaids quite disturbing – and not because of the nudity.

                5. Kara*

                  I realize your intentions are good, but could i ask you to not escalate quite so quickly? Going straight to calling people offended is a behavior that in the workplace may result in people going directly to your boss or to HR instead of coming to you first over minor issues because they’re afraid that they’ll be harangued if they try to talk to you directly. People are a diverse lot; there’s any number of good or bad reasons for someone to be uncomfortable about something, and going straight to ‘oh you’re just offended’ is both something (ironically in this case) used to silence minorities bringing up problems in the workplace, and also acts to eliminate any chance of working it out before things escalate. (‘How about I angle the picture a little so that someone poking their head through my cubical door won’t see it but it’s still front and center for me?’, for example.)

                6. Carl*

                  “Going straight to calling people offended is a behavior that in the workplace may result in people going directly to your boss or to HR instead of coming to you.”

                  Did you read the post? It’s about someone who went straight to HR. About a baby picture?

                  It’s not “escalating” to say that a person who complained to HR was “offended” rather than “uncomfortable.” Don’t be silly.

                7. Glen*

                  no one in this reply section is the person who complained, Carl. Many of them have even explicitly disagreed with that person. You are responding to them as though they are the anonymous complained when there is absolutely no reason to do so. Maybe you are the person who needs to take a look in the mirror and work out why you’re so eager to put words in people’s mouths?

            2. GrumpyPenguin*

              The term “nudity” doesn’t just apply to genitalia, it’s generally people being naked or rarely dressed. The are places were that’s ok and expectable but the office isn’t one of them. I don’t think you need to go straight to HR about it, the person who complained about the photo could have talked to LW first. And LW should look at other parent’s kids photos, talk with them how much they show of their kids to see what is ok at his work space and what not.
              And cats are not humans, otherwise this site would contain a lot of pornography.

              1. Carl*

                “cats are not humans, otherwise this site would contain a lot of pornography” ha!
                (For the record, my comment about kittens without clothes was meant as a joke.)

                1. GrumpyPenguin*

                  Your comments came off a bit aggressive to me, so sorry for not getting it. Glad you weren’t actually comparing cats to humans.

                2. Carl*

                  Admittedly, the idea of a gay parent being singled out hit a nerve for me.
                  I probably need to spend more time online looking at cat photos and less time reading about politics.

                3. Alpaca Bag*

                  Maybe we all need to spend more time online looking at cat photos and less time reading about politics!

                4. Lenora Rose*

                  Alpaca Bag: While it’s a nice thought, this leads people to being blindsided by monstrous blatant rights grabs. We all need the right balance of enough politics to be able to help support and be informed — and enough cat photos or personal equivalent to lower the blood pressure again.

            3. Quantum Possum*

              Actually, in my office, yes, someone would go to HR over a woman with an Anne Geddes calendar. Which would be a perfectly logical complaint because it goes against our organization’s professional norms. Organizations differ in what they allow, but it’s ridiculous to assume that it has anything to do with bigotry.

              1. Lenora Rose*

                I think it’s highly likely that complaint in the original letter had a bigoted angle. I don’t think anyone is mistaking *all* similar-if-you-squint complaints as bigoted.

                1. Lenora Rose*

                  Because that’s literally in the letter. Nitpicking the exact phrasing the LW used as you have been doing is counterproductive.

                2. Yikes Stripes*

                  Quantum Possum – Because we live in a moment in time in the United States (and I assume this OP is from the US because we have a vastly different cultural perception of childhood nudity than the rest of the world) where queer people are being accused of being groomers and pedophiles for simply existing as humans and because the homophobic bullshit that all gay men are actually pedophiles has been around since at least the 1980s.

                  This is one of those issues where it becomes loaded because of *who* is being asked to take down that photo. It’s similar to how it’s potentially racist to describe a person of color as lazy when the racism angle wouldn’t be in play at all if the person being complained about was white.

                3. SpaceySteph*

                  @Possum, because we take LWs at their word here and LW is in the office, observing the climate and in the best place to assess whether there’s an anti-gay-dad bias in his particular place of work.

                4. Carl*

                  It is curious to me that so many are discounting and questioning the OP’s fear that this was homophobic, while stretching to give the benefit of the doubt to an anonymous HR tattletale who complained about a baby picture.
                  It doesn’t fit what I usually see on this site, where the general rule is that we give the benefit of doubt to OP.

                  FWIW, if you read this OP, I think your instincts are right, I’m sorry you had to deal with this.

            4. Roland*

              > So, if a woman had an Anne Geddes calendar…you’d go to HR?”

              “I don’t like dogs” “So, if you see a dog you’re gonna call the cops?” <- That's the energy you're bringing. Pretending you don't see the difference between two totally different things.

        2. D*

          Once again, we must bring up the fact that unless it’s directly relevant to your job, no one really wants to think about nudity at work.

          I didn’t like it when my male coworker changed his shirt in a public break room, either, and that wasn’t pornographic or “wrong” it’s just off-putting and not entirely professional.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            THIS. A complaint to HR was a bit much. But we don’t want nudity at work. Yes we know people have bodies. We don’t want to think about it at work.

            I just don’t think this picture is appropriate for the office. Display it in your home and its different. Just like pillow forts are okay at home but not at work.

          2. liz*

            Rightly, but they didn’t say it made them uncomfortable, or that it was not work appropriate. They called it porn which is obviously loaded and biased.

        3. Awkwardness*

          Your answer seems to be a little aggressive.
          “Not wanting to see see something” does not equal “distress” or “being offended”.

          I also not want to see a coworkers naked child. Not because I think nudity is offensive, or because I think it is pornographic, but because a small naked child is a vulnerable and intimate scene. In my opinion, this belongs to the inner circle of family and friends (or at least to persons who have seen the child in real life).

          But unfortunately, the way LW1 describes the situation, it seems to be about him being gay and I really like her suggestion that is a type of malicious compliance.

          1. Myrin*

            An excellent comment which I agree with whole-heartedly. You articulated especially well the sense of vulnerability and intimacy, that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking but haven’t really been able to put into words.

            It’s really unfortunate the way two issues are coming together in the letter, because as one can see from the discussion here in the comments, the appropriate-ness of pictures like that in the workplace is an interesting topic of discussion in general. It’s just that in this particular case, the reason for why it was brought up in the first place is probably homophobia and its very icky (and not at all logical; it’s always driven me mad how “attracted to people of the same sex” = “attracted to literal children” apparently makes sense to some people?) flavour of gay people being viewed as predators, so it’s really hard to discuss the topic level-headedly because it potentionally involves agreeing with a homophobe even if it isn’t for homophobic reasons (although, of course, it’s not a given that homophobia was the reason for this, but I’d say it’s pretty likely).

          2. Elizabeth West*

            The vulnerability thing is well put.

            It may just be that it bothers the coworker for this reason, but given that OP is a gay parent, of course it raises the question. I also very much like the idea of putting up three cute (clothed) pics. If Coworker objects after that, then we know.

          3. Billy Preston*

            Yes, this is such a good point about vulnerability & intimacy. There’s a category of totally innocent and beautiful family photos that don’t really need to be on display in your office space. It feels strange as a viewer to be a party to them when you don’t know the subject well.

          4. Turquoisecow*

            Agreed. Nothing wrong with nudity of adults or children but it should be limited to a certain circle.

            I don’t share pictures of my kid on social media at all, but I do use a limited service which sends emails to a select circle of friends and relatives who voluntarily joined. Even there, I don’t share anything remotely close to naked photos. Do I have a few photos of her in the bath? Yes. I’ve only really shown them to my mom, not even to the wider circle of extended family and friends. I wouldn’t show them to my coworkers and I definitely wouldn’t have prints of them on my desk in an office. Not because they’re pornographic or sexual or I’m afraid of pedophiles or triggered by some trauma in my past, just because I don’t think it’s appropriate to be shared with the general public.

            Obviously OP feels differently, and maybe some of his coworkers feel the same. Maybe in another office, he’d find coworkers posting similar photos all over. But in this office it’s making people uncomfortable so I think he needs to accept that and find another photo of his kid where the kid is clothed.

            Is it related to his sexuality? Maybe. From the letter I wouldn’t conclude that but it’s possible OP has had other interactions with coworkers/HR/management that make him feel unwelcome or discriminated against, so this act feels like it to him.

          5. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            Yes! Thank you for articulating the point about vulnerability and intimacy. I realise I too feel a bit like I’m seeing something I’m not supposed to see – like hearing a coworker take a call from a partner and speak in a really tender & loving tone. Nothing wrong with it, one complaints to HR, nothing sexual, just a sudden shift into an emotional register that doesn’t belong at work

        4. Rex Libris*

          For me, it’s too much of one’s personal life brought into the workspace. I’d feel the same way if a coworker had a picture of themselves in their Spider-Man pajamas, or whatever. I just don’t need to know what your baby looks like naked, what you lounge around the house in, etc. etc. I find it kind of tasteless or eye-rolly, which is a long way from offended or distressed.

      2. Phryne*

        Um yes it is not pornograpic. It is a baby pic. The whole idea that it could possibly ever be sexual is pretty gross, and I wonder why so many people here think it could possibly ever be.

        1. Cj*

          I don’t understand why you’re saying so many people are saying it’s pornographic? I’ve seen distressed and disturbed, but not pornographic.

          also, because while there aren’t pedophiles everywhere, there are pedophiles that would be view this sexually. pedophiles don’t just view photographs of children that are in sexual situations, but ones of children that are naked, like this one.

          1. Baunilha*

            I think they’re saying the complainer said it was pornographic (per OP’s words), not that the commentariat are saying that.

            And I agree with Phryne, baby pics are not sexual, especially since the one OP mentioned shows no genitalia. If there are other pictures of somewhat unclothed babies in the office, I would escalate it.

            1. Cj*

              to *us* naked baby pictures are not sexual. unfortunately, there are some sick people in the world that do view them sexually.

              I agree that the first coworker in the letter didn’t need to call it pornographic. inappropriate would have been a better way to word it.

          2. Yikes Stripes*

            This trend of “omg pedophiles might see photos of children not wearing clothing we must therefore be aware of that at all times” is wild to me as a person who grew up vacationing in other countries where infants and small children are just casually naked or somewhat naked in public a lot of the time (beaches and pools, but also public baths for slightly older kids) and who was a teenager and 20 something in the era of Anne Geddes.

            If anyone really thinks that a pedophile is going to go into OP’s cubicle or office and take a photo of their photo of their child they’re being ridiculous to a high degree.

            1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

              I have never lived in the US and this comment thread is literally the first time I have heard that there are no naked babies/toddlers out in the world there. My eyes are like saucers.

              1. Rose*

                These comments are kind of odd and misleading IMO. I’m from the US. You see naked babies at the beach all the time, or at the park if it’s really hot. I would think it was weird in say, the grocery store.

          1. Margo*

            This is it, and fear-mongering. Pedophiles ogling your artistic baby photo is just not something you should be afraid of in life.

    2. Also-ADHD*

      I’m childfree, so that may be why. But I’m a middle aged woman, and I’d find a naked baby photo very odd no matter who had it (I’ve never seen this in a work setting, including on a woman’s desk).

      Certainly could be homophobia, and I’m not one to report stuff that to HR either way, but I feel like I’m not alone in being someone who would side-eye that on anyone’s desk. I think everyone has a right to family photos, but unclothed baby pictures seems extremely weird. The few times I have seen them in someone’s home I found them bizarre as well—my mother never had any pictures of me naked or even in the bath either, and I feel like she’d never do that to me. (I’d be upset if there were naked baby pictures OF me somewhere too.)

      I’m not even that squeamish about nudity—in a private home, I’d think way less of an artful naked portrait of an adult, if they were the type to want to pose for that. But I feel like any embarrassing or overly vulnerable images of kids (which to me includes any baby nudity) is essentially an inappropriate parental humiliation. I was thinking that before I got to the sentence where LW was a gay man, so no better if they were a Mom! I’m not even worried about sexual implications, it just seems mean to the kid (to me, I understand that’s not the intent, but a lot of people would find that embarrassing later as they age) and uncomfortable for people.

      1. Helen of What*

        I think it’s a cultural thing, either you grew up with it or you didn’t. I get that it seems weird if you didn’t grow up with those types of baby photos, but like, babies often dont wear clothes! Parents take photos of moments, when your kid is laughing and you want to capture the moment, youre not gonna stop and think to cover them up.
        In terms of seeing them outside of my family: Diaper commercial levels of coverage dont bother me.

    3. boof*

      I was thinking about this
      1) if the complaint specifically called the photo pornographic, which it sounds like might have been what the LW was told (I can’t tell if it’s a direct quote from the manager or an assumption about the complaint on LW’s part) … that’s concerning to me. That is above and beyond and I agree it smacks of homophobia if LW is an openly gay man.
      2) while I too would mildly prefer babies in photos (or IRL!) to have a diaper of some kind on, I’m sure many people have mild preferences about a lot of things, trying to enforce mild preferences on others seems over the top. But I also agree with allison that if the complaint is made and it only specified “no naked photos please, I know it’s just a baby but it makes me uncomfortable” not “omg LW is so gross with that baby photo” management is not entirely out of bounds to just say “no naked photos of any humans at work!”.
      So, it’s annoying but the exact wording/tone of the complaint matters a lot to me in whether it’s hostile to the LW or more about some other personal hangup.

    4. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      It’s calling it pornography that flips it from “I don’t want naked baby pictures at work” to “making awful allegations against a gay dad”. The latter has implied threats of “reporting” it elsewhere. If the complaint had just said “hey naked pictures of any sort are not ok for work” I doubt LW would have written this.

      1. ecnaseener*

        It’s not clear to me from the letter whether the complainant did use the word pornography, or whether that’s just LW’s assumption bc they don’t see why else you would make a formal complaint. It definitely makes a big difference.

        1. Roland*

          That’s a great point! I had to scroll up to reread because so many people are railing against “pornography”, but you’re totally right, it’s not clear that anyone said this to OP at all.

    5. Elle*

      Discomfort is not the same as license to accuse someone of PORNOGRAPHY. It’s honestly terribly sad to me that a queer person doesn’t see how this is a blatant microaggression, but I shouldn’t be surprised, seeing as this is the same comment section where I once saw a bi, male partnered woman bemoaning the fact that her company had chosen a picture of a same sex couple for a newsletter instead of a couple like the one she was in. The point is whizzing by y’all.

      The point here is, you’re allowed to not love looking at naked babies at work. Discomfort is a big part of existing in society. But making a complaint about it against a gay father and calling it PORNOGRAPHY is so obviously an act of homophobic aggression. If you can’t see that, maybe you don’t feel the fear that comes from constant awareness that some clueless straight person could accuse you of being a pervert or a predator. Kindly, you need to check your privilege.

    6. sulky-anne*

      I think the photo is not the objectionable part of this situation, and it’s become a bit of a derail in the comments. If the manager had just decided that no nude photos were allowed, that would be reasonable.

      The awful part is that the manager took in a coworker’s bigoted opinion about the LW’s PHOTO OF HIS CHILD being pornographic and felt it was appropriate to relay. That is such a disgusting thing to say, I am somewhat in shock that Alison’s response wasn’t stronger. The coworker basically accused the LW of creating pornography of his own child and displaying it at work.

  4. Joann*

    Hacking Cough LW. The cough may be from a medical condition that they can’t control. I have a coworker who developed a cough after a serious lung illness. I know it’s difficult but try to understand that it may actually be harder for them (emotionally as well as physically) than it is for you because they have to live with it every day and night (my coworker doesn’t get restful sleep due to the cough). I found that once I understood their situation I was able to tune it out much better. Good luck.

    1. A (Former) Library Person*

      From the letter, it sounds like the OP is sympathetic but cannot help their reaction to the sounds. It reads like a “both things are true” situation to me: sympathy for the coworker, but also a fundamental incompatibility with the environment that the cough causes (excess noise). One can feel synpathy and understand the reasons for something but still encounter difficulty under the conditions it creates.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, but at some point she also has to try and deal with as best she can. Having sympathy for both people is fine, but only the OP is asking for advice and thus ‘it would be inappropriate to ask him to stop and you just need to try and deal with ir’ is the best way through.

        I’m neurodivergent so I know what it’s like to have that ‘Princess and the Pea’ feeling (I’ve pushed harder to get gnarly workarounds resolved because I’ve found I prefer things to be as streamlined as possible because of my neurology) but everyone has some kind of situation like this and not everyone can solve it directly to their satisfaction. It’s part of learning to deal with being neurodivergent and balancing your needs with someone else’s. Practically speaking, sympathy doesn’t get us any further along the road of helping the LW actually resolve the problem or understand that she might just have to learn to live with it, just as no doubt others have learned to live with her imperfections.

        1. GrumpyPenguin*

          Same here. Sometimes there is simply no other way than learning to live with it. Ideally I’d never have to leave my house and deal with anything stressful again, but I know thats impossible. I try to take regular short breaks (about 5 minutes) every hour (if possible) to get up and focus on something else.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Speaking with her manager is a start. It’s entirely possible she’s not the only one irritated. If that’s the case, moving the cougher into a room with a door might reduce everyone’s stress levels.

        2. The dark months*

          LW should for sure talk to her boss and with her new colleague to explain how this is impacting her work. They may collectively be able to come up with a solution. If changing offices is not an option maybe rearranging the seating plan is, so LW’s coworker is not behind her and can more easily get her attention while she has headphones on.

      2. Venus*

        I think the most obvious way forward is to put the headphones back on because they work, and because LW needs to be close to their boss. I think the interactions with the new employee can be improved by explaining the need for headphones, and asking them to message whenever they have a question, because even if they weren’t wearing headphones the new employee might not want to interrupt them. I rarely use messages myself yet I find them so useful that way, for example I’ll text my boss with “(video) call me when you have a minute” when I have a time-sensitive problem and then I’ll continue working until I get his call.

        1. Observer*

          I think the most obvious way forward is to put the headphones back on because they work, and because LW needs to be close to their boss. I think the interactions with the new employee can be improved by explaining the need for headphones,

          Yes. That makes a lot more sense.

          It’s also something that the OP can do without involving anyone else and *immediately*. Because even if it turned out that there is a medical solution that the CW was not using and that his manager could force him to try, it would still take time to resolve it.

      3. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Yeah, I’d agree that OP seems to be aware and sensitive to the coworkers situation and from personal experience I can definitely relate to OP.

        Years ago, coworker I shared a desk with got a cold that turned into a cough that just wouldn’t go away! I knew it wasn’t her fault but, by golly, did that cough get annoying! But it was a very short-term situation that resolved itself in a couple of months.

        In this case, it sounds like co-worker has been dealing with this for years. It might be worth bringing it up just to see if it would be possible for OP to be moved to another desk away from coworker. Coworker can’t help it, but OP can’t help the nails on chalkboard reaction either. Just ignoring it doesn’t sound like a great thing where someone is going to say something they wish they hadn’t.

      4. Observer*

        From the letter, it sounds like the OP is sympathetic but cannot help their reaction to the sounds.

        No, it sounds like the OP cannot help their reaction. But also that they absolutely do blame the coworker. Because there is otherwise no reason to bring up his smoking, much asking his manager what he is doing about his health!

      5. Momma Bear*

        This is what I’m thinking. I have a relative with COPD and sometimes the coughing can be annoying but the person is doing what they can to deal with it. LW unfortunately doesn’t know the full extent of the coworker’s health. I also once had an HR director that would come to work hacking and sniffling and coughing all day…. This was pre-pandemic and it was really aggravating.

        That said, I sympathize. I’d use headphones, close the door, ask for a farther office, play music…

        1. Some Words*

          As a cougher, sneezer and sniffler, I thank you.

          We who make these noises are very aware they’re not pleasant to hear. We probably mind at least as much as the listeners do. We’ve probably spoken with multiple doctors trying to resolve the issues. Not everything can be resolved, so we’re all stuck doing the best we can to co-exist. Thank goodness for earplugs & headphones.

          My cube neighbors who have a daily open-mouthed belching concert, on the other hand…

          1. Icy anonymity*

            Yup. I have asthma, and things that don’t bother other people make me cough. These things can include but are not limited to: coworkers’ scented products, coworkers’ food smells, cold air, hot air, humid air, dry air, something I ate last night that triggered a histamine reaction, pollen, poor air quality…

            My asthma is considered very well-controlled, I haven’t had a full blown attack in a while, and I barely use my rescue inhaler (1-2x a year on average), but it does make me cough sometimes.

      6. Abundant Shrimp*

        Right. I had a coworker like that, and for a couple of years, I sat next to her for a couple of years and she coughed nonstop, every day, 8 hours a day, for the entire two years. I timed her coughs once and stopped counting after I counted 40-50 coughs in a minute. I was extremely sympathetic, but it triggered my migraines. I tried headphones, but the sound cut through the headphones too. I totally understood it that she couldn’t help it, but having my migraine triggered every day she and I were together in the office was no joke! Eventually there was a reorg or office move and she moved to the other end of the office and I was (mostly) migraine-free again. I promise I wasn’t having migraines *at* her. Just like she wasn’t coughing on purpose to make my life miserable.

    2. Lilo*

      It’s actually been reported that tons of people have been dealing with a long cough from the cocktail of respiratory illnesses that have gone around this fall.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah but the cough in the letter predates covid. So the current spate of long coughs has nothing to do with the letter.

      2. EssDot*

        I’m a Cougher. My “hacking cough” started when I was in elementary school. I’ve spent my life managing horrible flare-ups during every head cold and flu, every wildfire season. It’s asthma, and even huffing steroids every day doesn’t cure me.
        I’m now a cannabis user so does that contribute? Sure. But this has been my life since I was EIGHT so forgive me but “guy at the office doesn’t like the sound” is not information that changes my medical health trajectory, thanks

        1. Turquoisecow*

          I was the person who annoyed everyone in the office by constantly sneezing. Trust me, it annoyed me as well. But complaining to me or my boss wouldn’t have accomplished anything. I couldn’t stay home when I was sneezing because I’d never be at work. It was allergies, not illness, so no matter how many days I took off it would still be there. Some days worse than others.

          So yeah even if OP were to complain, I’m not sure what that would do for them. Jim’s boss can’t order him to stop coughing, and it may be that Jim needs to sit where he sits for similar reasons to the OP needing to be where they are. I agree that all that can be done is for OP to ask their own boss if maybe moving is possible, but be prepared for the answer to ultimately be that no, it wouldn’t work out.

    3. Juicebox Hero*

      LW says that the coughing man is a smoker and he’s had this cough since before covid so it’s nothing new.

      I think her only option is to ask to move her desk, or else resume using the noise-cancelling headphones and work out some way for her assistant to notify her when she needs something.

      In the assistant’s shoes I’d get it; I’m neurotypical and the list of sounds that drive me totally bonkers is very long. Misphonia is a bummer.

    4. Lenora Rose*

      Yeah, my father in law had a horrible ongoing cough for the entire time I knew him (which would be the last 15 years of his life). Granted, that wasn’t from smoking, but even so, no amount of “looking after his health” (as 70-80 year olds with a hacking cough go, he was quite healthy for most of that time, doing a fair bit of physical labour) would get rid of it, and the bit about asking if the coughing coworker was doing so was the one part of the letter that rubbed me very wrong.

      And yet that cough was really hard to listen to.

      I hope the headset can be put back into use, or OP can move.

    5. Ally McBeal*

      The cough is most likely from his heavy smoking habit, which he CAN control if he wants to. Either way it is indeed a medical condition, but it’s a shame Jim can’t be given an office with a door that closes. That would solve the problem for everyone in the office – I doubt LW is the only person bothered by it, especially now in the wake of the (still ongoing) pandemic.

  5. nodramalama*

    yeah W1 i understand why you’re upset and I probably wouldn’t blink an eye at seeing it, because i am aware that many baby photos are done with them naked. But its probably too hard for the company to be brought into a fight over what nakedness is appropriate in photos at what age.

  6. GrumpyPenguin*

    LW1 – It’s completely understandable that you want to show your son’s baby photos, but as others said: Creeps do exist. I know, nobody likes to think of that, but try to see it as a chance to protect your son’s private sphere, both in real life and on social media.

    1. Thistle*

      it doesn’t really matter I’d be less worried about creeps and more worried how annoyed the kid will be in 18 years when he iapplues for an internship but is still known around the office as “Joe’s naked son”.

      1. Jackalope*

        I seriously doubt that the office would refer to him as “Joe’s naked son”. I suppose it’s mildly possible that he might get a little bit of ribbing for it, but even that I would consider unlikely. Naked baby pictures are unremarkable in a way that, say, naked teen pictures are not. Plus many people look much different as they grow up from what they looked like as babies, so his face wouldn’t necessarily even remind anyone of said photo.

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Even if OP is still there 18 years later which is not all that likely, the chances of him updating his photos regularly to the point that nobody remembers the first ones are far more likely.

    2. Phryne*

      Don’t see how the theoretical existence of creeps at the OP’s workplace is any of the co-workers business though. If naked babies offend you, just don’t look at the pic? If the dad is ok with the pic in a public place, none of your business? And a physical pic on a desk in a private office is so wildly different from social media that I do not understand why you would bring it up here.

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          “Uncomfortable” enough to justify a report to HR? “Uncomfortable” enough to justify a homophobic microaggression? At this point the question of what we call the emotion is just splitting hairs.

        2. Leenie*

          So, if naked babies make you uncomfortable, just don’t look at the pic. Your distinction between offended and uncomfortable doesn’t actually change the conclusion of the comment.

    3. Seashell*

      By that theory, every baby would have to be covered from head to toe while in public. No going to the beach or swimming in a public pool with a baby because there might be creeps!

      I would rather not live my life that way.

      1. Allonge*

        Oh, but it’s not like creeps are stopped by clothing, so taking this even further: no children in public, ever! /s

        Seriously: is anyone thinking that even if there is a creep in this office, they would need to seek out OP’s desk for this particular image? There are probably several billion baby pictures online. It’s vanishingly unlikely that this will be an issue.

        Which does not mean that a company cannot decide that all pictures displayed in the office need to have clothed humans, regardless of age. But that’s a very different discussion.

        1. Testing*

          …and that’s the discussion most of the commentariat are having. Not the “watch out for the creep in the office” discussion that you seem to be seeing here.

      2. Nonanon*

        Not just babies, but no photos that could be fetishized. Nice school photos of your elementary schooler in uniform? Whoops, can’t have them because of schoolgirl fetishes. Teenager just made cheer captain, or is a soloist in their dance routine*? OH MY GOD DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY CREEPS THERE ARE? Adult partner completed an Iron Man and their finish line photo shows them in tasteful athletic attire that happens to be thight fitting because it’s athletic attire? Thank you for providing me with this material, I’ll be in my bunk. Let’s not even discuss that Georgia O’Keeffe postcard you bought while visiting the art museum, take it down.
        The problem isn’t with the imagery, it’s with whomever is fetishizing it.
        *this is assuming poses/costuming are otherwise work appropriate; a picture of a nice ballet arabesque and a “Jingle Bell Rock thigh slap” are unfortunately not created equal but is an entirely different discussion for another day

    4. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      LW also needs to protect *himself* from this coworker. Someone willing to make that allegation, with all its history and baggage, is not safe to be around.

    5. Head sheep counter*

      I think the creeps are the ones who this this is pornography… as such I’d be glad to know I worked with such a creep and with HR that supported such a creep… so that I could take proper measures in the future. Because… the CREEPS just outed themselves.

    6. Abundant Shrimp*

      Creeps are gonna creep no matter what – one of the ones I worked with took my teammate’s daughter’s framed high school photo off my teammate’s desk when she was away on a work assignment, found the teammate, and said something to her about wanting to keep her daughter’s photo on his desk to look at it every day or something? I promise the teenager in question was fully clothed in her HS yearbook photo. (Other teammates who witnessed the exchange, told me they were amazed that Creep had made it out of there alive and in one piece.) If we were to rearrange our lives in the way that couldn’t set a creep off somehow, not only would we have to remove all family photos from our workspaces, we’d have to become invisible ourselves.

  7. Indolent Libertine*

    LW1, for what it’s worth I think you’re 100% right that what’s behind the report is the ugly and homophobic tendency for narrow minded people to conflate gayness with pedophilia. And sadly, the more you push back against the request, the more they are going to dig in on that.

    This should absolutely be a “them” problem on the part of whoever did the reporting, that you don’t have to cater to, but your management clearly doesn’t have your back. I’m sorry.

    1. GrumpyPenguin*

      We can’t know if it’s actually due to homophobia. If the LW was the only person in the office who was asked to take down a picture with his naked kid while straight people were not, I’d agree, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

      1. Carl*

        Where is everyone getting “naked kid.” It’s a baby picture, and OP said no butt or genitalia visible. Do you need the baby in a hijab? This is silly.

          1. Carl*

            you’re making it sound like he has a photo of a naked 12 year old.

            It’s a baby photo. It doesn’t show “private parts.” I don’t understand the drama.

            1. KateM*

              Would a tasteful nude photo of a grown-up person which doesn’t show any “private parts” be OK in your workplace? If not, why would a baby be OK?

              1. Carl*

                The same reason my 11 month old can walk around the park in a diaper, but I can’t walk around the park in my panties.

                1. KateM*

                  Your 11 month old can do so because everyone will be thinking that it is not the choice of a normal adult but a little baby, and that you would keep pants on your baby if it would be possible. I don’t think any of my kids ran in park in diapers only at any age, but I get that your child may be of different mind and I have had similar problems with hats of mittens, so I wouldn’t judge you in that case because I would assume this decision was not yours to make.

                2. Ladida*

                  Yeah, or the reason most people will share photos of their newborns in diapers with relatives but presumably not photos of themselves in underwear. To me talking referring to a baby without clothes on and with no genitalia showing as “nudity” feels very bizarre.

              2. amoeba*

                Because even tasteful pictures of naked adults tend to be sexual in nature and a picture of a naked child… isn’t? (Talking about it as though nudity in children were somehow a sexual thing is honestly part of the problem, in my opinion!)

                1. Sharpie*

                  I think part of it is the language used. ‘Naked’ and ‘nudity’ have adult connotations, and aren’t commonly used of children , especially very young young children, who aren’t dressed. For what it’s worth, I’m thinking this is a chest-up shot of a young child who’s probably wearing a nappy (diaper) that isn’t in the picture, there’s no genitalia or bare butts in sight, as per OP.

                  That is a perfectly normal sort of baby pic for any parent to display, i am inclined to think that it does sound as if discrimination was in play when OP was asked to take it down and I am with Alison: I hope OP replaces it with at least three equally cute pics of their kid fully clothed.

                2. Testing*

                  “even tasteful pictures of naked adults tend to be sexual in nature”.

                  This is not at all my experience. There’s art and there’s titillation, and those are very different.

                3. Eulerian*

                  @ Testing –

                  But even artistic non-sexual nude / partially nude photos of adults have a flavour of something else – intimacy, vulnerability, or simply innocent attractiveness, that baby photos don’t have so much. It’s still not the same thing.

                4. amoeba*

                  @Testing what Eulerian says – I’m fully aware that not all nude pictures of art are pornographic in nature, but they still tend to picture people as sexual beings, even when they’re art.

                  This pic sounds more like somebody objecting to a family photo at the beach where everyone’s in swimwear, which I’d also find… very weird from my European standpoint. (The objecting, not the photo! Because the photo would be perfectly innocent and normal!)

                5. Baunilha*


                  A picture of a baby at the beach was exactly what I pictured (no pun intended) when I read OP’s description. But even if it were, say, a professional photoshoot done in a studio, I still think it would pretty innocent and not at all out of the ordinary in my culture.

          2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

            But “no clothes” could still be “in a diaper”, which isn’t naked (for a baby).

            This is sort of like calling the classic senior portrait headshot “naked”. Yes, there’s no visible clothing, just head/neck/decolletage. Yes, the photographer’s drape isn’t really clothing. No, there’s nothing wrong with displaying your daughter’s senior portrait at the office.

        1. GrumpyPenguin*

          LW said it in his letter. While I agree that it’s just a cute photo for him, I just feel uncomfortable seeing people without clothes, no matter the age. Other people don’t have a problem with it, so just putting up a photo of the kid in a cute onesie seems like a compromise.

        2. MK*

          What’s silly is to pretend naked baby photos are the norm. Babies aren’t spending most of their time naked, and the majority of baby photos are them in adorable (and hideously expensive) outfits. Sure, parents will take some photos of their kids without clothes, but it’s not like OP is being asked to dress their kid specifically for the photo to make it office appropriate. He just needs to pick another of the likely hundreds of photos he already has with the kid wearing clothes.

          1. GrumpyPenguin*

            In previous jobs, the very few coworkes who displayed no-clothes photos of their kids were also asked to take them down so I thought this is the norm.

          2. Rivikah*

            Depending on your local weather and the temperament of your baby, a one year old may indeed be spending most of their time naked.

            1. MK*

              I live in a very warm climate; that means babies mostly wear thin cotton onesies that don’t cover the arms and legs or similar clothing, not that they are usually naked.

            2. Baunilha*

              I live in Brazil and not only is summer here, but we’re also dealing with a heatwave. I can assure you a lot of babies and toddlers are walking around in diapers and nothing else right now.

                1. All Isms Are Wrong*

                  It’s not necessarily sexualizing, it’s just a degree of personal familiarity that for quite a few folks is not appropriate in the workplace. Maybe in the “we’re family here” type places a higher level of familiarity would be acceptable.

                  I once had a coworker who had their mother’s obituary permanently posted in their cubicle. It was a tad weird and I’m sure some were uncomfortable and thought it was overly personal, not me though. That’s life in an office. People have different comfort levels with how much personal stuff they reveal. Some would say the baby picture in question isn’t really personal, but some would say it is.

                  OP, I think your employer overreacted and instead of managing their discomfort, an anonymous coworker decided to make it a workplace issue. I’m sorry that happened to you, follow Alison’s advice and add more baby and family pictures. A wall of them.

          3. Lenora Rose*

            IME, babies and toddlers in their own home in warm weather putter about in nothing but the diaper a LOT, and in the park on a hot summer day alternate between being fully covered due to easily-burned skin, and nothing but a swim diaper due to splash pad cooldown time. (And briefly fully nude during diaper change but generally they’re not running around then. Unless something has gone quite wrong…)

            And when it comes to the level of nudity we’re talking about in babies, no clothes often does include the corollary (except a diaper) because diapers aren’t clothes.

          4. Yikes Stripes*

            The idea that babies aren’t spending most or at least a lot of their time running around in a state of undress is kind of hilarious to me. My (much) younger cousin has a one year old who spent the first four months of her life mostly in a diaper because a) it was summer and her house doesn’t have central AC, and b) she was changing her so often that it was honestly just a lot more practical to not keep putting her in and out of a onesie.

            There are so, so, so many photos of me as a baby/toddler/small child in various states of undress ranging from in a tub to the time I took off everything but my wonder woman panties and painted myself in mud. All of these things are totally normal.

        3. Myrin*

          You seem to be having an unusual understanding of the word “naked” – it means that someone isn’t wearing clothes (which OP says is indeed the case with the picture of his son) and has nothing to do with what all you can or can’t see of the no-clothes-wearing person.

            1. GrumpyPenguin*

              It doesn’t imply that to us, but probably for others. Or maybe the person who cpmplained was worried someone would see the photo like that?

              1. boof*

                Honestly, if the complaint actually cited “pornographic” rather than that being something the LW is assuming (I’m not sure from the text), that says a lot about the complainer (either themselves or about what they are projecting onto LW). Most people won’t see a photo of a baby, even unclothed, as pornographic (I am assuming there is nothing AMAZINGLY INAPPROPRIATE in said photo because we’re getting into extreme hypotheticals not in evidence there)

              1. GrumpyPenguin*

                Ok. I read that wrong. But I guess it’s better to just put up a different photo, that doesn’t sound like a hill to die on.

              2. KateM*

                We don’t know if that is what the anonymous person actually said, or is it how OP understands the complaint.

          1. Carl*

            Yes, the definition of “naked” is without clothes.
            But when someone says “naked pictures,” to me (and I think to most people) that implies “private areas visible.”

            1. Myrin*

              I don’t think it implies that, actually, and especially not regarding babies.
              Maybe it’s just because I was pretty involved with art and nude pictures in my late teenager years/early twenties but my first thought when I hear “naked pictures” are actually photos where the “private parts” are specifically NOT visible. They could be but my mind doesn’t automatically jump to it.

            2. GythaOgden*

              You can only ever speak for yourself. Personally I’m with the others — I’m completely WFH but the equivalent is digital pictures and I’m fairly sure that everything I’ve seen of people’s kids has been of them in some sort of clothing. The spurious argument about cats and dogs is just that — spurious. Humans have a different set of needs and it’s reasonable to treat them as different to other animals.

              I’d suggest you look at the commenting rules as well — there’s a point in there about not posting so many times just to refute or sealion other people’s opinions. People are allowed to disagree with you for one thing, and for two, it’s pretty much antithetical to your attempt to convince us of your position that you end up basically harassing those who disagree and not actually providing some sort of cogent argument in favour of your point.

              This site is built on a meeting of minds and a respect for different perspectives and voices. It’s not a campaign site or an internet warrior social justice safe space (because I’d imagine actual SJ safe spaces also have rules about sniping at others and generating more heat than light). At many points trying to hammer home an ultra-woke perspective just looks like the opposite kind of aggression and does no-one, even the person you’re trying to champion, any favours (ask me how I know as neurologically challenged; like, my neurology is not a hobby horse for your indiscriminate crusade against whoever frustrates you most right now, thank you very much).

              There could be a productive discussion here but honestly, one side is just making it very difficult to engage properly on the issue and debate the various stakeholders in the situation at hand. I’m sure they would have been ok if OP had posted a cool photo of his kid clothed; if they still objected to that, then that’s when I’d start thinking homophobia was in play. But it’s much more equivocal here and thus not a hill for OP1 to die on, however tempting it may seem.

            3. Irish Teacher.*

              I definitely wouldn’t think it implied that, especially not in this context. When somebody says “a photo of a naked baby,” even without other context, I would assume Anne Geddes typed photos because those are the most common type of photos of naked babies.

              If somebody said, “my boyfriend sent me a photo of him naked,” I would probably think it implied something more explicit, but not when it’s a photo a parent has of their toddler. And I really don’t think anybody mentioning the fact that it is a photo of a naked baby in this discussion is implying any more than a simple statement of fact.

            4. bamcheeks*

              I kind of agree actually. I would never look at a picture of a baby from the waist up and think, “omg naked baby!” I think the word naked both has a technical definition of “unclothed”, and a connotative one of “vulnerable, exposed, not usually visible”. I find the whole conversation about what counts as “naked” for a baby a bit weird and prurient.

              1. sb51*

                I was assuming it was a bath photo, where the side of the tub covers the lower half but obviously since it’s a bath, you know the rest of the baby is naked.

                1. Jackalope*

                  Yeah, this is what I was assuming too. Or alternatively something like a picture of said baby crawling around etc. in such a way that you could see that he wasn’t wearing a shirt but the back half of the baby was out of the photo.

            5. fhqwhgads*

              Sure in general, but the letter explicitly says those areas are not visible, so in the context of discussing the letter, this distinction doesn’t matter?

            6. Lenora Rose*

              The VAST majority of nude photography, even of adults, even with titillating intent, coyly covers the private bits.

            7. DisgruntledPelican*

              Yep, totally agree. Or at least private areas are highlighted even if technically covered.

        4. MCMonkeyBean*

          A kid isn’t always a baby, but a baby is a kid. I don’t know why you’re picking apart that phrasing.

      2. Pennyworth*

        I’d be far more worried about someone who loved the photo and kept dropping in to admire it. The objector might have been homophobic, or one of those people who see any unclad human as pornographic, or both. LW1, do you want these sort of people looking at your son?

        1. bamcheeks*

          This is an incredibly paranoid way to view your children, IMO. Other people’s eyes seeing them are not hurting them.

        2. DisgruntledPelican*

          If you think someone in your office is a pedophile, you should work on removing that person from your office, not making someone else take down a photo.

      3. sulky-anne*

        Yes, clearly the comment accusing a gay man of displaying pornography of his own child cannot possibly be considered homophobic unless accompanied by a written affidavit that the accuser finds gay people icky. This is so breathtakingly homophobic that I can’t comprehend how anyone can see it otherwise.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          I think a lot of commenters must be too young (or too lacking in contact with queer people) to remember when gay men were routinely accused of being pedophiles and had that used as reason to routinely deny them custody of their kids, or get them fired from any jobs even vaguely child-adjacent, and are viewing this in isolation as “one person objecting to one photo in the workplace” rather than “yet another case of a gay man being accused of being inappropriate toward his own child”. (And, conversely, those of us who ARE coming in with that context are primed to look for it.)

      4. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        The thing is that short of someone actually saying “Being gay is wrong and bad” to your face, you can never tell for sure which of the million billion trillion tiny things that MIGHT be homophobi actually ARE motivated by homophobia, and honestly this is the bit that grinds you (me, I’m talking about me) down. Because you not only get a million billion trillion (possible) microaggressions coming your way, you also get stuck with the constant mental work of having to work out which of them are homophobic and to what degree. And then onlookers requiring this very high standard of proof for every single one, because almost all expressions of homophobia – taken on their own – are ambiguous or plausibly deniable. (Until they’re not, but most of us want to be able to get out of a situation BEFORE the outright insults/bashings start, so we need to be attuned to the more subtle stuff).

        It’s like… okay this is a bad analogy, because this has to be a kind of rain that only gay people feel, but… when I think I feel a single drop of rain, we can argue about whether I REALLY felt a raindrop or whether it was something else. And no single raindrop is making me wet or ruining my day. But when it starts pouring down? It’s rain, it’s really rain.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I’m not convinced it’s to do with sex, gender or being gay at all. I can see that type of photo making someone uncomfortable regardless of ‘who’ the parent is. It would probably make me uncomfortable as well, though for me this is in the bucket of “things I can decide to let go”.

      1. KateM*

        Yeah. I would definitely question judgment of the person who displayes their naked baby, no matter how cute. And OP says “my son as a baby” which may mean that the son is not a baby anymore and could himself be highly embarrassed if he knew this photo to be on display somewhere.

        1. GrumpyPenguin*

          If I ever get my hands on a time machine, I’ll go back in time and destroy all the “cute” baby photos of me that were shown and passed around to random people – and that was before the internet. -.-

          1. Thistle*

            when my dad retired his co workers were really surprised when a tall 12 year old walked into the office as they were all expecting the chubby cheeked 4 year old with a bad haircut, just because he never updated the photo on his desk. I HATED that photo because of the hairstyle, but after reading thuis I realise it could have been so much worse…

      2. Quantum Possum*

        These types of photos make me uncomfortable, too. Gender, sexuality, etc., have zero to do with it. They’re just so intimate. I feel like I’m crouched in the bushes, peering into the dining room window at a happy, unsuspecting family.

    3. Tired and Confused*

      In some parts of the world, including the one I live in, the sight of toddlers (!) in nothing but their underwear running around the park or playground in summer is a usual one. I think my kiddo spent half their pre-K time in nothing but diapers.
      Clearly different people have different levels of comfort around the issue. But yes, making in anonymous complaint to your manager is overkill and probably related to the fact that your gay. If you have one of the kid draped in the rainbow flag, you know your next move!

      1. GythaOgden*

        In many parts of the developed world it would be an issue of safeguarding. Trust me, I’ve been in public situations where the restrictions on photography and what you could do with it were pretty tight and that was with clothed children.

        Pulling the ‘but in Europe…!’ card is nonsensical because we have pretty cast-iron safeguarding rules on photographing kids in a lot of places generally because it’s much easier to take and disseminate pictures than it was when I was growing up in the 80s. I’ve worked in healthcare and my mother and sister are teachers and you bet they take this incredibly seriously.

    4. Retail Dalliance*

      I couldn’t agree more with this response. I think the response to the LW in the post sort of skips over the inherent homophobia of it all. The political right in America has really, really pushed a narrative of LGBTQ+ people being ‘sexual deviants’ and ‘pedophiles’ among many more abhorrent names and associations. The letter writer provides no evidence that anyone else has been treated in this way, and he himself indicates that he feels there is homophobia underlying this request.

      A lot of people in this thread seem to inherently sexualize baby nakedness in a way that I have honestly never even thought of (and I’m not a parent myself, so I feel like that’s really saying something!) As a society I sort of thought we all agreed baby genitalia in photography is NOT acceptable for public consumption but, like, shirtless baby = fine and in fact extremely normal???

      Imagine being the coworker who made this complaint. Ugh. I’m sorry, LW.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        A lot of people in this thread seem to inherently sexualize baby nakedness in a way that I have honestly never even thought of

        I think most people are concerned more with the vulnerability of baby nakedness, not actual sexualization. But it’s difficult to verbalize that.

        Vulnerability certainly opens up humans to exploitation, both sexual and nonsexual. We feel comfortable with adults choosing when to be vulnerable themselves, but I think there’s an innate disinclination to choose vulnerability for a non-adult.

        I see naked baby photos as too intimate, not sexual. I feel like I’m being made part of something I don’t have a place in.

    5. Quantum Possum*

      I do not think it is at all helpful to make such assumptions.

      I personally have had this situation arise with employees (complaining about naked baby photos), more than once, and all employees involved were heterosexual.

      Writing something off as “homophobic, not my problem” is not the best way to deal with an issue at work. If OP does think there is homophobia in his office environment, he should 100% examine that more, and then deal with that issue.

  8. Dawn*

    LW3: if this helps at all, I quit smoking 5 years ago, I quit vaping last year, and sometimes I still start coughing for no particular reason.

    Even if he quit completely tomorrow, the only thing that would cure his chronic cough is more time than you’re probably going to be in that role.

    My recommendation is that even though they’re sitting right behind you, have your assistant IM you so that you can go back to wearing your headphones – and invest in top-of-the-line noise cancelling headphones (Bose QuietComfort Ultra or Sony 1000XM5, basically.)

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      I haven’t tried them myself, but one of my friends swears by loop earplugs for blocking out ambient noise at work. They seem to come in a range of decibel cancelling options, so maybe there’s a product out there that will help OP block unwanted background noise but still hear their assistant?

    2. Observer*

      Even if he quit completely tomorrow, the only thing that would cure his chronic cough is more time than you’re probably going to be in that role

      And even that is not a given.

    3. Festively Dressed Earl*

      You read my mind. Since LW3 could hear the coughing even through their current headphones, it’s time they treat themselves to an upgrade. And yes to the IMs. LW will still be open and accessible, just in a way that works for them.

    4. CowWhisperer*

      Yeah, lungs heal slowly.

      I’ve never smoked but I have asthma and caught a non-Covid, non-flu, non-RSV chest cold that made me a deep, hacking nightmare.

      I’ve gotten a clean respiratory and cardiac bill of health along with testing for the 3 respiratory beasties – but I’ve still got an occasional dry cough that is slowly fading after 6 weeks.

  9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (cough) – I would just explain to the assistant that I need to wear headphones to focus, because of the coughing that she has surely noticed (and that it is ok to ‘disturb’ OP, as per the answer).

    Sounds like the assistant sits nearby OP so also, presumably, nearby the cougher. I wonder if she is getting distracted by it as well, but feels like she can’t wear headphones because her boss (OP) doesn’t so perhaps it isn’t the done thing…

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      sorry, assistant is “they”. I didn’t notice a pronoun had been given for them so used she as people often do here.

    2. Alda*

      Yeah, I was also thinking that the assistant might actually super appreciate a move to headphones plus messages.

      1. Artistic Impulses*

        Another benefit to both the letter writer and the assistant both going to headphones and IM is that the communications between OP and the assistant will be less abrupt or intrusive. IM should be easier for OP, interruptions-wise.

    3. Observer*

      I wonder if she is getting distracted by it as well, but feels like she can’t wear headphones because her boss (OP) doesn’t so perhaps it isn’t the done thing…

      That’s a really good point. OP, when you talk to your assistant, be explicit that *if they want* it is perfectly ok to wear headphones too. Not in an “of course you are going to want to do that” way, but genuinely offering them the choice.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      I do think it is an option for the LW to ask if either she/LW or Jim can be moved. Since she sits outside her boss’s office maybe Jim can move.

      Or the headphones while encouraging the trainee to interrupt despite headphones.

  10. Jaybeetee*

    LW1: I’m feeling a bit punchy tonight, so I’ll just come out and say that you need better hobbies.

    (Caveat: If, as Alison suggest, this colleague’s absences create more work for you or you’re having to cover for her, that’s different. But if not, why on earth do you care this much?)

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      This. An hour a day? Is that another paying job for sure? Could be a volunteer thing. Would that make it ok? If so, just pretend that’s what it is.

      If not, unless it affects your work, just pretend it’s not happening. If you can’t do that, try compassion – oh, my colleague feels they have to work 2 jobs, that’s too bad, hope they’re ok.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree that unless there is a specific problem for OP, 2 hours a week does not seem worth this trouble

    3. mb*

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Why do you care so much? You don’t know her situation. Maybe a family member is ill and she needs to work a second job to pay medical bills – or she’s a single parent and you live in a high cost of living situation – or or or. If you get her in trouble or get her fired, you could be setting her on a path for disaster. While it’s not totally ethical, it’s one hour a day, and as long as others aren’t affected by it, why do you care? This sounds petty and personal.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        And she may also be making the time up later in the day, but from home so OP isn’t even aware of it. That’s what I did if I had an appointment during the day. I had to get home to pick my kids up, but I’d finish up my work once they were in bed.

    4. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Wow, I was very confused about your seemingly very unkind remark about OP1 and his baby’s photo on his desk, then I realized you meant to say LW2. But I still don’t think your comment is very nice so I’m going to flag it for removal, sorry.

      1. K8T*

        I think they’re spot on. If someone else’s schedule that doesn’t affect you at all causes that much distress – then you certainly need an outlet for all of their emotions aka a hobby

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I was referring to the somewhat snarky “you need a new hobby” comment. I do agree with the sentiment of the comment, though. It really isn’t the LW’s business what their colleague is doing unless it affects them, or if it were substantial fraud.

    5. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Well its #2 first of all. Second, while working there, you do owe a certain duty to the company. If you know someone is taking advantage you do have a duty to report it. This isn’t tracking someone every day and complaining they are 5 minutes late back from lunch. This is someone getting paid by company A while working for Company B.

      That’s unethical and needs to be reported just as if the person were taking cartons of copy paper home every week.

      1. Miette*

        Agreed, but OP has already reported it to HR, so it’s in their hands now. Wanting to gather additional evidence is a bit odd, unless OP is in management.

      2. Katie A*

        You don’t owe that to the company, though. You don’t really have an ethical duty to report small scale theft to the company.

        Like, if you have a coworker who takes some extra breaks that add up to a couple of hours a week, you really don’t have any sort of duty to report it if you don’t want to, unless it’s a specific kind of situation, like it’s actually causing harm. Like a doctor or someone who helps vulnerable people. But all else equal, no ethical duty.

        It might be a good idea to do it even if you don’t care, if you’re worried the company might punish you if they find out, but if you choose not to, you’re not a bad person.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          Yeah, it’s 2 hours a week. I’d only consider myself to have a duty to report minor misbehavior like that if something about auditing employee timecards was in my job description.

      3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        It sounds like OP does not manage this employee so it’s none of her business. She doesn’t know whether the employee has negotiated something like doing an extra hour of work from home to make up for the time she took off during the day. I did that when I needed to run an errand or go to a doctor’s appointment during business hours.

      4. Jaybeetee*

        Bear in mind the LW said they already reported it. They’re asking about taking pictures of her calendars to report it *more*. Which, to use Alison’s more polite language, does strike me as overinvested. This person seemingly cares about this more than the company does.

      5. The Rules are Made Up*

        Unless you own the company you don’t have a duty to do any of this. A lot of people have an oddly unnatural allegiance to a job that will not think twice about laying you off if you need to. It’s really not necessary to do this much tracking of an employee that you don’t manage unless it’s affecting your ability to do your job. That hour isn’t coming out of OP2’s paycheck. So I agree, why do you care so much. Assuming the coworker isn’t working 2 jobs because she just loves working and sneaking around that much. People typically do this because they have to.

        1. Cute As Cymraeg*

          Entirely cosigned.

          If it’s affecting the writer’s own work, then I’d be more understanding. As it is, their duty to their employer lies in completing their own work, not in tattling on colleagues.

      6. Gemstones*

        I think I’d probably just look the other way myself. Like if I’m shopping in a store and I see someone shoplifting…do I really need to get involved? Maybe there’s a good reason for it. Not saying I condone it, but I just don’t feel I need to be the one to step in.

      7. Leenie*

        It’s a couple of hours a week. There are really limited circumstances in which I would consider that to be someone’s duty to report. Unless this is impacting the LW and they just didn’t include that, which is possible, I agree that they seem awfully over invested in their coworker’s schedule. A lot of people probably spend at least a couple of hours a week commenting here. I also have a volunteer position that I sometimes work on during work hours. I allow meetings to be scheduled when my work calendar is clear (I’m salary and exempt). I don’t hide it at all, but I’d be pretty surprised if someone thought that was somehow their business, or found it unethical. And a couple of hours a week of income wouldn’t make my think that my coworker’s schedule was suddenly my concern. It’s like them spending their break time posting their designer handbags for sale. It’s just so not my business.

      8. FionasHuman*

        I completely disagree. We don’t owe companies anything except the work they’re asking for. If the person possibly doing the 2nd job isn’t affecting anyone else’s work negatively, it’s none of the LW’s business.

        If we lived in a country with actual wage and other protections for workers and a decent social safety net I’d be inclined to agree with you. But in this climate, where companies can pretty much do whatever they want to workers and pay as little as possible while people are out of luck if they can’t secure paying employment, pretty much anything goes.

    6. justanobody*

      If my coworker can take a long lunch a few times a week and still get their job done without it having any affect on me, then it is 100% not my business.

      1. The Rules are Made Up*

        I had a coworker that would repeatedly report me for coming back from lunch a couple of minutes late (whether she was covering for me or not) but she would routinely take extra long lunches AND smoke breaks and I realized she just didn’t like me.

    7. Jaybeetee*

      Pardon – this comment got delayed in posting and I went to bed in the meantime, but I did mean LW2!

    8. lilsheba*

      Yeah I have to agree, like do you LIKE being a narc? What difference is it to you if they do another job for a couple hours a week?

    9. The Rules are Made Up*

      I don’t even think I’d notice if my coworker was gone for an hour every now and then. Maybe they had some bad yogurt that morning or needed to make a phone call who knows. An hour wouldn’t strike me as odd enough to go looking at their calendar to see where they are.

    10. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who was rubbed the wrong way by this. Two hours a week? Many people…run errands, take a long lunch, close their office door and read AAM because they need a break from their coworker’s endless intrusions (*cough*) for two hours a week. If there’s a work impact, absolutely I get that. But even then running with photos to HR seems like…a lot.

    11. Southern Gentleman*

      You’re kinder than I would be to LW1. This naked baby photo is the best thing to happen to that person, because the comments got pushed way down. What an efficient way to make enemies at work. That person needs to mind their own business.

  11. Sparkling*

    LW1, I’m afraid that unless you have specific examples of other coworkers being treated differently you’ll have to let this go – and if you do have specific examples it’s likely that the company is going to ask other people to take these photos down as well. If I was in HR I would not want to open myself up to a discussion of at what age it becomes inappropriate to have naked photos of your children on your desk (not to mention the risk of some very unpleasant rumours being started about you).

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing. It could be homophobia or it could be that it’s really hard to say at which age it would be okay to have photos of your naked baby at work. But either way, as long as everyone is held to the same policy, then there’s really no point in protesting it. And everyone should be held to the same standards.

    2. ThatMarketingChick*

      I was really hoping someone would bring up this point. Rather than debate at what age naked photos are no longer appropriate, it makes sense to have a policy that applies to everyone, equally. I recognize there is a massive difference between a baby photo and one of an adult, but based on some of the letters we’ve seen come in, I could absolutely envision some snarky (and misguided) employee saying “well, if LW1 can have photos of his son naked, why can’t I have racy photos from Sports Illustrated?” Again, I’m not saying the two are the same by any means, but there are those out there who would relish this kind of conflict. HR made the right call. We always see people advocating for equal policies, and this one is just a very unique and clearly controversial example.

      LW1 – this is not the hill to die on. I’m sure you have hundreds of other wonderful photos of your son that your colleagues would love to see.

      1. Sparkling*

        I posted this comment before the discussion blew up and honestly…The commentariat is proving my point. I can completely see HR not wanting to have this discussion.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes HR tend to like broad rules and it’s a lot easier to simply prohibit photos of people without clothing completely than to have lengthy discussion of acceptable photos.

    3. Swaddled*

      I generally agree with you, but I would like to push back a bit on “unless you have specific examples of other coworkers being treated differently you’ll have to let this go.” Marginalized groups have needed to come up with proof of indiscretions that often fall outside of the way they constantly treated. Being the only one told to take a picture down, but also given poor projects, not getting opportunities, given side-eye, countless microaggressions etc etc etc all happen that don’t rise to the level of proof.

      But OTOH, I absolutely agree that HR does not want to get into the weeds of this.

      1. Sparkling*

        I probably should have been more specific in this phrasing (ironically) but I meant “specific examples” in the context of the baby photos. The LW feels as if a woman with the same kind of photo would be treated differently and may very well be correct in that (he knows the environment best so I’ll defer to his judgement on this), but bringing this up to HR without specific examples of other people having such photos up without complaint is unfortunately not likely to have the desired effect.

  12. MamaSarah*

    LW -1 Think of this more as opportunity to recalibrate and less of a personal attack. I like Alison’s idea of replacing the photo with three (or more!) super cute photos.

  13. Ellis Bell*

    OP1, I’m really sorry that you were told that your picture of your son was pornography. That’s incredibly ugly phrasing and if there’s a complaint to be made, I think it’s with that word. If there’s a rule about naked kid pictures at work, fine, but don’t call parents (especially gay men!) pornographers, while enforcing it. If it makes you feel any better there are lots of mums who have been slammed and criticised for sharing totally innocent pictures of kids, who aren’t even nude online. Some of these pictures were being shared and saved a ridiculous number of times so people got tetchy about whether they should be out there at all. I guess this has become a rule which even applies to physical photographs. It’s a really sad time to live in.

      1. John Smith*

        I’d say either way, it is inherent, and sadly it’s how a lot of gay men – including myself – are treated. I’ve experienced parents who, after finding out I’m gay, seem to hide their kids or act in a more cautious manner when they didn’t beforehand. Part of my previous job involved occasionally working with older children (for which I’ve had strict security vetting) and since coming out, this type of work stopped coming my way even though there were absolutely no issues previously (I still work with children occasionally in my current role). I’ve been asked whether it was appropriate that I care for my then teenage brother. I’ve been asked whether I am attracted to him sexually (I have to try to hold off vomiting on this one). Please, don’t be saying that we don’t know whether homophobia plays any part. I’d bet my last pound that it does, but you are right, it is not stated.

        1. mb*

          Not to mention, the complete lack of understanding of pedophiles. The vast majority of pedophiles identify as heterosexual.

          1. bestbet*

            No kidding. Personally finding out a man was gay would make more comfortable with him interacting with my kids if it had any effect at all. I have a few friends who unfortunately experienced SA as children and all of them were victimized by heterosexual adult men.

            To be clear, I’m not downplaying John Smith’s experiences, I absolutely know this happens it’s just mind bogglingly nonsensical to me. But bigotry never does make sense so

        2. Quantum Possum*

          I’d say either way, it is inherent

          But it’s really not. To understand the full context, it does make a difference if the complainer didn’t call it pornography.

          Not that *we’re* owed the full context, as readers/commenters — but for the people directly involved, it could matter quite a bit.

          1. Inconvenient Indian*

            Stop dismissing LGBTQ+ people and their experience with homophobia! You have no bloody idea what it’s like (clearly) and have no business diminishing their experience. If a woman says something feels sexist, I believe her. If an LGBTQ+ person says something is homophobic, I believe them. Sit down and stop nitpicking.

            1. boof*

              While I agree LW knows the vibe best, if the pornography part was explicitly stated I think LW has a lot more standing to try to take the complaint to HR citing hostile environment
              … if HR is any good anyway

        3. I am Emily's failing memory*

          How awful. It totally boggles my mind that this baseless stereotype persists in 2024. Maybe in the 1950s when gay people were overwhelmingly closeted in public and erased or vilified in media, or if the comment came from like, the 8 year old child of horrible bigots who hadn’t yet figured out that their parents were pushing hateful views, I could forgive someone being too ignorant to recognize the stereotype for the dreck that it is, but I can’t find any charitable explanation for why any person capable of critical reasoning would believe such obvious slander against homosexuality, when they surely have seen countless examples, both firsthand and in public life and popular media, going back a good 20-30 years in the US, to the contrary.

          I sometimes miss being a naive teenager who still thought that people would only fall back on stereotypes when they didn’t have better information available, and that the budding Internet was soon going to give everyone enough information to make stereotyping an obsolete practice.

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

            Re: 2024: it’s been getting worse lately, not better. Neither information nor the passage of time defeats homophobia, political action does that.

        4. Some Words*

          Agreed. How do we know? Well we don’t, absolutely but we have about a zillion past examples and experiences to tell us it’s a safe assumption.

      2. urguncle*

        So we’re to take letter writers at their word, unless it’s a gay man being told his picture of a child is pornographic, in which case, it’s fine to call it into question?

        1. I should really pick a name*

          Someone anonymous has complained about a photo of my son i have at my desk and has asked management to have me take it down

          To me, it’s an adorable photo of my son as a baby. Some anonymous person sees it as pornography.

          There’s some ambiguity as to what was actually said in the complaint.

        2. Quantum Possum*

          We are taking him at his word.

          He didn’t say that the complainer actually called the photo pornographic.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        Thank you for the catch, you’re right, it says: “Some anonymous person sees it as pornography” – for some reason it was so definitively stated that I read it as the anonymous person SAYS it is pornography. I completely agree that a gay man is going to be wondering if something like this is homophobia, but I think OP is going to make themselves unhappy if they this conclude absolutely that the photograph is considered pornographic at all. There are sometimes objections to nudity which is childlike and non sexual, not because it’s pornographic, but simply because its nudity.

    1. Parakeet*

      I’m guessing (based on the use of “mums”) that you’re in a Commonwealth country, and that (given the general demographics of AAM LWs and it being a US-focused site) LW1 is in the US. I do think that changes the context a little, because of the current political situation in the US. Of course there’s also foul older bigotries regarding gay men and children. But the idea that queerness (especially though not exclusively effeminacy from people assigned male at birth) + interacting with kids means that someone is sexually targeting kids, is having a real and desperately ugly moment in US culture wars. I think this makes it a little different than the moms who shared kid photos online (I agree with you that slamming them for that is also bad).

  14. Elsa*

    LW1, naked baby pics aren’t pornography, and you are right to be insulted by that allegation. But they are also not very appropriate for work, and it’s totally legitimate for a workplace to ask employees not to display them.

    1. Thistle*

      A different way of looking at it: Would you feel comfortable if your colleague had a naked picture of their partner up in the office (again tastefully done with no privates on show)? Even if it was very tastefully done it wouldn’t be appropriate in a work setting. The same applies to your kid(s). doesn’t matter if its a kid or not, it’s not work appropriate – just think how embarrassed the kid will be in 10 years at the work kids Christmas party wen everyone comments on how much they’ve grown since that naked picture on the wall.

      Ignore the pornography reference (some people rightly or wrongly think all naked pictures are pornography) and just think, “do you want to see a naked picture of the spouse of Jamie from Legal?”

      1. Retail Dalliance*

        I’m going to respectfully disagree with the comparison. A naked adult with private parts ‘tastefully covered up’ is inherently different than a naked baby who is 1 year old with private parts covered up. One is intended to be a sexual image and the other is not. I think purpose matters here, quite a bit actually.

        1. Carl*

          Exactly. Im really struggling with this idea that we have to throw common sense out the window and we have no ability to view things in context – so 1 year old boy in bath = topless adult woman, and must be treated exactly the same.

      2. Czhorat*

        Different things are different, and false equivalencies are false.

        Let’s leave the office; it’s perfectly normal for a family photo album to show a baby taking a bath, either in the tub or in the sink. It’s normal to share such a photo album with family or even close friends. It would be somewhat unusual to show pictures of adults in the bath, or being washed in the sink.

        I feel that all of these “what if it was a naked ADULT” posts are bad-faith arguments that even the posters themselves don’t believe.

        And yes, if the OP was lot an out gay man we’d probably see this differently; the fact is that that this aligns with a very frequent line of attack against LGBTQ+ people; playing games with “what ifs” and counterexamples distracts from that and prevents an honest discussion.

      3. Dewey*

        Should I also anticipate an offer to hold Jamie’s spouse if they come to the office? A spouse and a baby — an adult and a baby — arbor the same.

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      I firmly believe nudity doesn’t belong in the office, no matter the age of the subject. To me, it represents a degree of intimacy that I just don’t want top share with anyone at work. I feel the same way about a baby picture as I would a nude objet d’art, even a tasteful one where nipples and genitals aren’t showing.

      My boss has a nude picture of one of her daughters on her office wall – again, nothing private showing, and tastefully done – but it’s the kind of thing that belongs on the wall at home.

            1. Czhorat*

              Yeah, it’s weird having baby-pictures of a teenager on display.

              In the LW’s case, it’s baby pictures of a literal baby. Again, we’re comparing apples and rutabagas to avoid the topic.

              1. Northener*

                “My son as a baby” — we actually have no idea about the current age of the kid, except it sounds like he’s not a baby anymore.

    3. Prismatic Garnet*

      The complaint was homophobic, but I agree that nude baby pictures are always weird to me for parents to share- not in a remotely sexualized way, just it feels both like an overshare and like something no one wants to see. I’m perfectly aware of Anne Geddes and found those pictures offputting and cringe too.

      No one is panicking, prudish, or oh-my-starsing about this, and people responding to the comments as though the “don’t share nude baby pictures” side is doing so here are pretty transparently acting in bad faith. It’s just something a fair amount of people don’t want to see. Put a diaper on them if it’s a photo you’re going to share.

      Someone posting that kind of picture doesn’t make me swoon with shock, it makes me go “ew” or “dude , why would you do that”. It’s somewhere between tacky and just mildly embarrassing.

      That said, actually complaining to HR is unquestionably homophobia-flavored. Coworker should have quietly disliked the photo and minded her own business.

      1. Just Another Zebra*

        This is where I land on this. The complaint was very likely based in homophobia; the photo had no business being on OP’s desk. Both can be true. To me, both are true.

        I’m a mom. I have numerous pictures of my daughter in various states of undress. They aren’t meant for the office – they’re private memories. But I had an issue just this past summer with my former MIL, where she posted a picture of my daughter on Facebook. I knew my kid wasn’t naked. But the angle of the photo, she looked it, and it made me uncomfortable to have my kid exposed on a public platform. I heard many of the same arguments from her – she’s not “actually” naked, she’s just a kid so it’s fine…

        OP, bring in a dozen pictures of your kid with clothes on and decorate your desk like and art studio. The complaint to HR was out of line, but I don’t think the objection was.

  15. learnedthehardway*

    OP #2 – if HR is that interested, they can obtain the employee’s historic calendar (if they used their work calendar) from IT.

    I would leave it – you’ve done your bit to report the alleged time theft (that’s what it is called), and now it is HR’s responsibility to investigate.

    Also, consider that getting more involved could potentially have unexpected outcomes for you. eg. perhaps you misinterpreted what you saw. Or perhaps the employee has an agreement with their manager to be absent from the office and makes up the time. Or perhaps the person was interviewing with another company, and what you thought was another job was her interview schedule with that company. Or maybe it’s a doctor’s or other health professional’s office that she goes to 1 x per week. Or maybe it’s a lunch date with someone at X company.

    Going overboard with your own attempts to prove / investigate the issue is not going to do anything but make you look overly invested or nosy. If there’s something to this, HR and management will handle it.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I think the calendar LW saw was a paper calendar (it was on a desk and purchased by the company) so IT wouldn’t be any help. But I agree with your larger point, going back to HR with more evidence is just going to look like you have an axe to grind against your coworker, potentially making your initial report seem *less* credible. If her absence is causing problems for you, talk to her or your manager about those problems — I guess don’t talk to her if it’s going to tip her off that you’re behind the report to HR — but HR is not the right venue for those types of issues, and the actual HR stuff isn’t your business to stay involved with.

      1. Random Dice*

        A paper calendar that she JUST HAPPENED to see, and read in depth on multiple occasions, like one does…

        I get it, lying and cheating bug me, but this is a bit obsessive.

    2. No clever name yet*

      Right? Was the LW on break when they were going all Sherlock Holmes on their co-worker’s desk? If not, they need to worry a little bit more about their own time theft. haha I would be so irate if I caught a co-worker snooping around my desk and taking photos of things with the intent to get me in trouble, rather than just asking me about their concerns.

  16. münchner kindl*

    LW 1, baby photo: I see this as opportunity, because they framed it about the nakedness of the baby.

    So if you put up a photo of yourself and your husband holding your baby, all fully clothed, and there are no complaints, then you can be assured it was not homophobia.

    If another complaint comes in despite being clothed, you know it’s homophobia, but have proof you can take to HR.

    1. bamcheeks*

      This is the kind of answer that seems ok in theory, but in practice using a photo of your family — something that should be joyful and make you smile!— as a How Homophobic Are My Colleagues Test is going to make you brace and feel miserable every time you look at it, and you’re never actually going to get a positive answer that makes you feel reassured, so I would strongly advise NOT doing this. It’s just going to end up poisoning your whole relationship with your workplace and making you feel rubbish about the photo.

    2. Czhorat*

      “”So if you put up a photo of yourself and your husband holding your baby, all fully clothed, and there are no complaints, then you can be assured it was not homophobia.””

      You can be assured of no such thing. It’s entirely possible that it was homophobia but a fully clothed picture either allows the complainer no pretext OR that HR tosses the complaint because it didn’t give them a reason to follow up on it.

      1. Carl*

        Exactly. My gut says the complainer was emboldened by the same far right hysteria that empowered a handful of wingnuts to censor library materials and dictate public school curriculum for entire communities, supposedly to protect kids from “pornographic” material – which the wingnuts define as anything that acknowledges the existence of gay people

    3. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      The homophobia at play here could be far more nuanced than that.

      Jumping straight into “ick this is inappropriate/potentially paedophilia” is a common way that homophobia crops up.

      A better test would be if straight parents have similar photos with no issue.

      But ultimately the LW works there, and we don’t. Sometimes we read these things wrongly but often we just *know* from having lived with homophobia all our lives. We pick it up in all sorts of ways.

  17. Ladida*

    I am probably in the minority here but I find what LW2 did completely unethical. Both the part where she looked at her coworker’s calendar (what does plain view mean? she probably just had her calendar open on her desk , this does not mean you should go look at it) and the part where she reported her for taking up external work for 2 hours (!) per week. LW2 I think you should mind your own business.

    1. Atlantica*

      I agree, and this is a clear mind your own business scenario for me. 2 hours a week is lunch break territory, unless there is a conflict of interest or corporate espionage risk etc.

      1. Ladida*

        Exactly, it looks like the LW also spends a considerable amount of work time for their side project of keeping track of the coworker’s movements and gathering proof for their suspicions.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I wouldn’t go as far as “completely unethical” but I would say the LW should mind her own business (unless her colleague’s absences are causing a work problem.)

      1. Ladida*

        To me going over a coworker’s desk and looking at their calendar to confirm some suspicion of yours is completely unethical. Even if the LW were the coworker’s manager and the second job was interfering with her work, the way to go would be to have a discussion with her and ask about her suspicions, not take a photo of her calendar to prove her point.

    3. AnonFriday*

      This times 10000. I used to work with a few busy bees who complained about everything I did and I was constantly on the defense. If the coworker is violating policies she’ll be discovered sooner or later. The OP doesn’t need to get involved unless it’s directly impacting her work/well-being.

    4. JustAClarifier*

      Yes, I completely agree. I found this gross and such intense busybody-ish activity. It is not this person’s business.

    5. No clever name yet*

      I agree with you completely. Also, maybe that person is coming in early or staying late to make up those missing hours. Maybe they have an agreement with their manager that they can flex a couple of times a week for these appointments. And even if they don’t, I have co-workers that definitely spend more than two hours a week taking long lunches or a gazillion smoke breaks and I just….mind my own business.

    6. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      I completely agree. If it was having an impact on LW’s work I feel like they would have included that in the letter, although it’s possible they didn’t.

      It doesn’t sound like LW has all the facts and it doesn’t to impact them so I think they should leave it alone.

      HR could be looking into it and finding out all sorts of nuances and explanations!

    7. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yeah. I would actually minimise the calendar for her, and let her know when she got back “you left your calencar in full view, I was worried the boss might see you weren’t actually working”.
      That way, they know I know, and they also know I’m understanding, and they know to be more careful in the future. As far as I’m concerned, if they are doing their job to a decent standard, and if I’m not being held up in my work because of them not finishing something that I need to work on later, it’s literally none of my business.

      1. K8T*

        That would be an insane thing to say to a coworker. So A) you’re letting them know you’re snooping through their desk/computer and B) being incredibly presumptuous. With how …particular LW seems to be I’m sure they wouldn’t have hesitated to let Allison know if their work was also being impacted.
        No need for weird passive aggressiveness, a simple MYOB situation.

    8. Dek*

      I’m kind of inclined to agree. Not saying that what the coworker was doing was ethical, but also if it didn’t affect LW, then…why snitch?

    9. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t know if I personally would go so far as to say unethical, but I think it reflects negatively on OP more than the coworker.

    10. Kara*

      100% agree with this. To LW2, I would say “mind ya business”.

      I used to have a side business as a photographer. I often would step away from my desk to take a client call or to send an email to a client. But I also worked additional hours during the week AND I was by far and away the most productive person in my department. My boss was well aware of the situation and never had any problem with it.

      If it were impacting your ability to do your job, that would be one thing. But it doesn’t appear that it is, and mostly you appear petty and a little like a “tattle tale” for wanting to pursue this even further than you already have.

  18. The stranger*

    Why do parents keep taking photos of their kids naked ? Something “not being pornography” isn’t a good criteria to judge if it is okay. I have no issue with children running around naked at the beach or during the summer, but I always think about the future adult who will have to live with these pictures. Just stop.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      I’m assuming you mean a photo similar to the one OP describes (so nothing actually showing), and, like, I, personally wouldn’t care? I’m not saying everyone wouldn’t, but I find it weird to assume that the default is everyone would.

    2. bamcheeks*

      For the same reason anyone takes a photo ever: they want to capture a moment to look back on, and they’re thinking more about the fact that their baby is walking for the first time or has paint on their nose or is singing incredibly cutely as they wash their hands than whether 32-year-old Eleanora will be embarrassed that they once had nipples.

        1. bamcheeks*

          That’s kind of my point!

          I mean, if my child grows up to hate baby pictures of themselves, cool, we can destroy or hide them as a matter of respect. I’m fine with that. But the idea that parents should miss out on sweet and funny moments with my child (and mine *love* seeing videos and photos of themselves) on the assumption that it’s normal for an adult to be horrified and embarrassed by baby photos of their nipples is just extremely weird IMO.

          1. Testing*

            I have lots of weird pics of my kids. None of the are displayed at work.

            Someone above started their reasoning with “Let’s leave the office”. Huh? This is literally about what is appropriate and expected behaviour in the office, not about what photos people have in their albums or how their kids are dressed on the beach.

            1. bamcheeks*

              This thread is under someone saying parents should never take any photos of their children undressed, full stop.

            2. DisgruntledPelican*

              Did you read the rest of their comment? Because the “let’s leave the office” made total sense in context.

              1. Testing*

                …but it was irrelevant for the situation the LW and his office are in.

                I’m not claiming there is no chance homophobia is at play here. I’m simply stating that not allowing naked pictures in the office is not an unreasonable policy in an office.

                1. DisgruntledPelican*

                  No it wasn’t.

                  It was a comment replying to someone saying you can tell A is inappropriate in an office because B is inappropriate in an office. But as A and B are not comparable in inappropriateness anywhere outside the office, it doesn’t make sense to compare them inside the office.

          1. The stranger*

            Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell definitely never said anything about respecting the right of people to not be entirely nude in photos of themselves shared with strangers.

      1. Kyrielle*

        This! That said, I stopped sharing the semi-naked baby photos with even close friends and family when the kid was no longer a baby. I still have a few for my memories, but they’re no longer relevant or topical. My kids were adorable babies. They are now wonderful teens and pre-teens, and if they want copies of those photographs they may have them, but no one else needs to unless they choose it. (Then again, I’m a weirdo; my kids also get asked when the school calls for a baby photo for the yearbook for a milestone year, whether they’re willing and which photo. Though we pick from the clothed ones if they want to do it at all!)

    3. vegan velociraptor*

      You think that parents…shouldn’t take photos of their new babies if they aren’t fully covered up?

      1. The stranger*

        No, just fully naked ones. I don’t know, I don’t particularly like the photos my parents have of me when I was four of me playing with my buttcheeks showing off, or in the bath. I’m not saying it’s a major problem, I’m not saying it’s creepy, I’m saying that maybe parents can do without them.

        1. Batman*

          Maybe this is a conversation to have with your parents based on your personal feelings, rather than a broadly applicable standard for parents everywhere.

        2. Dinwar*

          So you expect me to base my parenting on your opinions. There are two problems with this.

          First, parenting involves about ten trillion decisions a day, most of which are hotly debated. The second-best parenting advice I ever got was “You’re going to ruin your kids’ lives a dozen times a day; don’t worry about what other people say, just raise your kids.” (The best, FYI, is “You know how you’re raising your children by what other people say about them.”) Do you expect me to call you up and ask your opinion every time?

          Second, why is YOUR opinion the one I should go with? There’s logical reasons to default to my own–I know my opinions, I know the level of thought I’ve put into them, and (most significantly) I’m deeply familiar with the circumstances surrounding the decision, in ways only my spouse can match. I’m boots-on-the-ground, and in the best place (FAR superior to your position) to make a judgment call. But even if we ignore all that, why follow you in particular? Why not follow any of the billions of other people, all of whom appear to have conflicting ideas on how to raise a child? I know at least one parent who encourages nude photos to DEsexualize the concept. There’s a huge difference between natural nudity (such as in a nudist camp), being skyclad (which is a religious thing, the equivalent of the robes of a priest), and being provocative. Why should I pick your views on parenting and not this other person’s?

    4. Atlantica*

      this future adult is fine with it, nothing embarrassing about baby me. Baby photos are cute, with or without clothes. If they are happy memories for the parents taking the picture go for it imo. Teenage me thought it was embarrassing, but teenage me thought EVERYTHING was embarrassing :)

      1. The stranger*

        Good for you. I don’t like mine, the same way I don’t like photos of me completely drunk and doing stupid things, because it feels like my image and the way I want people to think about me is not in my control.
        It’s not a trauma, I definitely don’t think about it everyday, but when I see parents sharing entirely nude photos of their kids, I groan inwardly and pity the child in question.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          I think it’s odd that you’re extending your (valid!) personal preferences onto others. There’s no need to pity other people if you see baby photos.

          1. The stranger*

            But the problem is that by definition, a baby cannot consent to their body being shown to the world naked. It’s just a question of being mindful. So why not err on the side of caution for the future adult that will have to live with these (often badly taken) photos and just… take a photo without their pee pee showing in the bath ?
            It’s not an outrage, really. It’s just… a habit that could be challenged.

            1. kjinsea*

              Are you a parent? If not, I suspect you don’t understand that many photos aren’t planned- our kid does something cute, we take a photo. For us to have. Because we want to remember the moment. It is normal- I can’t plan when my kid first does something cute/meaningful to make sure they are clothed enough to make random internet strangers ok with my taking the photo, and the request that I don’t take these photos because they offend you, internet stranger, is both intrusive and rude. You are free to not take photos of your own kids, should you have them.

              Now, I don’t share these photos online. But I have them because I want to remember moments and my kid likes to see photos of themself as a baby too.

            2. biobotb*

              Ok, but taking the pictures and showing them to the world are two different things, and you started this thread by saying no unclothed pictures at all, not to avoid spreading them around.

              Also, as many have pointed out, pictures can be destroyed, so your anxiety about “living with them” seems way overblown.

    5. YetAnotherAnalyst*

      My photos of my son are, as a general rule, photos I took because I wanted to remember that moment.
      And for what it’s worth, if the criteria for taking photos was wether all the subjects would like them as adults, there’d be like 5 photos of me in existence.

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      I’m in my 50s and have never heard an adult get upset about baby photos of themselves. Mild embarassment and a few chuckles? Sure… But I don’t think the trauma you’re imagining really exists

      1. The stranger*

        Who said anything about trauma ? Something can be midly problematic and I can wish that people would stop doing it without it being necessarily a hugh thing.

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            Right. They aren’t universal. Not every person who was photographed naked as a baby is going to be okay that the picture was shared. Why not err on the side of caution?

            *My parents currently have a triptych of us three kids at similar ages in the bath on display in their kitchen. I’m fine with it now that I’m in my 40s. I’d have died with embarrassment had they displayed this in my tweens and teens. I think it’s fair not to display them until the person in question has the opportunity to give consent to that display.

            1. biobotb*

              Thestranger isn’t just arguing against sharing those photos, but against taking them at all, ever.

      2. The stranger*

        Oh, and by the way, now you have heard about an adult getting upset about naked baby photos of themselves. Me. Not upset in the way that I will say anything about it (except on the Internet to a bunch of strangers, apparently), but I definitely wish my parents had not thought that a daily bath with shit lighting and 90s carpeting was a good idea to memorialise.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          Yes but you finding something mildly problematic and then ignoring (extremely common), is much different than going to HR or management and complaining about pornography

          1. The stranger*

            Sure. I would not go to HR over this, definitely. This isn’t a major issue : this is bad taste (for the kitschy Anne Geddes-style “artistic” photos which transform kids into pumkins) or lack of consideration for the majority of these photos, and unfortunately to survive in the world of work, you have to be immune to both.

            This is the issue with this letter. I don’t think parents should take photos of their kids naked, because they can’t consent to it. I also think that this is definitely not a major issue AND that the complaint in the letter might be motivated by awful homophobic sentiments.

            At best, the OP has a annoying busybody as a colleague. At worst… well, the worst option really sucks.

        2. biobotb*

          So you don’t like them because they weren’t artistic enough? Possibly your parents took the pictures because they enjoyed those moments with you, not because they were trying to show off their interior decorating skills.

    7. Turquoisecow*

      I took photos of my kid in the bath to send to my parents because thanks to Covid restrictions they missed out on her first few months and I wanted to include them in her life as much as I possibly could despite that. So my parents and my husband’s mom got photos of her taking baths or a bunch of other mundane things. I’m sure when she’s older she’ll look back at the huge collection we have and wonder why it was necessary, but I don’t regret it at all.

      I didn’t post them on social media (we generally don’t share her on fb except for maybe one or two where she’s walking away from the camera) and I definitely wouldn’t share them with coworkers or put them on my desk but I don’t think parents are inherently stupid or unethical in taking photos of their kids without clothes, especially because many toddlers go through a phase of removing their clothes themselves. Kids grow up so fast, we want to remember those moments.

    8. Dinwar*

      “Why do parents keep taking photos of their kids naked ?”

      Because some kids love running around naked. It’s A Thing in childhood development. Plus, some of us live in environments where the less cloths the better–if adults could get away with wearing nothing but undies they would (and often do). Kids take advantage of the fact that they’re able to do so. If I want to take photos of my kids between April and November, I’m probably going to catch at least one of them wearing what would be considered a sub-minimal amount of clothing. Heat rash sucks.

      Also, some of us (I would say most mentally healthy adults) simply do not consider children in a sexual way. Taking a photo of a naked baby is no different than taking a photo of a naked dog or naked cat. Part of this is because we’re dealing with the private parts so often (diaper changes, baths, and the like) that you stop thinking of them as anything significant. Once your kid has had an infection on his anus that required you to apply antibiotic cream, your perspective tends to shift. And frankly part of it is cultural. These sorts of photos are considered normal in our culture–maybe a bit on the weird side, but weird in a way that’s absolutely within the realm of what we consider typical behavior. Attacking people for doing this is going to be like attacking people for riding a bike or reading a newspaper–it feels like it came out of the blue, and the initial response is that the other person is imposing weird standards that we did not agree to comply with.

      As for the kids as future adults, I wish with my entire being that their lives are calm and good enough that “Mom and Dad took a normal but slightly embarrassing photo of me” is on their radar as a problem. I’ve never met anyone who’s life was so good that this was considered a problem significant enough to take action to rectify. Most people I know have been embarrassed by such photos, but most of them got over it about the time they were looking to get married. I associate the “Ew, naked babies are gross!” reaction more with someone in their late teens–old enough to date, but still significantly lacking in emotional maturity and empathy–rather than someone capable of handling a professional role.

      1. The stranger*

        Someone who will complain to HR about it a busybody at best, I agree.

        But it is absolutely possible to not see baby photos in a sexual way, understand that they are not a major deal, just a somewhat embarrassing thing and still think that if possible, parents should be mindful of the fact that they are caring for an individual who cannot consent to their image being taken and shared.

        There are a lot of things that are “just something that is done” to children, like the fact that we expect hugs and kisses from them. It is rarely traumatic. It is still good to challenge these instincts and allow them some boundaries.

        Why not try to avoid future embarrassment ?

        1. Dinwar*

          How do you know the kid didn’t consent? Two of mine went through a phase where they hated cloths. (My daughter has always reveled in cloths; I think her record is 18 costume changes in a day.)

          If you’re going to argue that they’re too young to consent, I’ll agree with you–but it only makes your argument worse. They’re MINORS, by definition they’re not old enough to make certain decisions. That’s what parents are for. Parents have the right (legally and morally) to consent on behalf of their children for a variety of things. I think “Mildly embarrassing but perfectly normal photos” falls under that heading.

          As for what they’ll believe in the future, neither you nor I have any way to know that. It’s impossible. There’s no more reason to presume that they’ll be offended for you taking these photos than there is for you to presume they’ll be offended for you NOT taking them. And the same person can hold both views, both at different times of their lives and at the same time. I know someone who’s childhood photos were lost in a house fire, and they both were embarrassed by the photos and regretted their loss quite deeply. At the end of the day I don’t know the 20 year old version of my kids, or the 40 year old version, or the 60 year old version. I only know my kids as they are now. For my part, I consider attempting to act on speculations of what their views and opinions will be in the future to be an exercise in futility.

          “Why not try to avoid future embarrassment ?”

          The feeling of embarrassment a child feels when their parents show photos like this is a sign that the child is developing independence, which is a necessary step in development. It’s not the photos that are causing the embarrassment, it’s the view of the kid as a child, instead of as an independent actor that’s causing it–the same level of embarrassment is expressed by children who’s parents remind them to bundle up, or pack lunches, or the like. The baby pictures aren’t relevant to the equation here; it’s the disconnect between how the parent and the child view their roles (or, perhaps more accurately, the child wanting to move past previous roles and the parent wanting to remember them) that causes the embarrassment. Since it’s going to be inevitable, there’s no sense in trying to avoid it.

          Second, you don’t know–neither do I, neither does ANYONE–what will be considered embarrassing in 30 years. Culture is changing fast, after all. I cannot act on unknowns, especially since any direction I go is equally likely to cause the undesired outcome. I can absolutely see my children saying “Sorry my father has such hangups over nudity, he’s from a different generation.” I grew up Roman Catholic, with all the guilt complex and sexual hangups that entails; they’re growing up Pagan, and skyclad worship is a thing in some Pagan groups, (usually about as sexual as a business casual dress–it’s garb you wear for a particular purpose).

          Third, to be blunt I don’t see such photos as a problem. YOU do. No one has ever given me a valid reason to prefer their parenting style to my own. You are in fact–intentionally or not–making demands of others, and attempting to paint us as unreasonable for not complying with your demands. And that’s not how it works. There’s a Chesterton Fence here: In order for me to change my parenting style you need to provide a sufficient justification to convince me. Logically it’s not necessary for me to provide any justification, as long as I’m not abusing my children (and taking silly photos that may embarrass them one day in no way constitutes abuse). Parents get this crap all the freaking time, about every choice they make; having a metric to evaluate which demands are worth considering and which aren’t is an absolute necessity for parents to remain sane.

          1. Kyrielle*

            All of this. And actually the single baby photo I hated of myself the most as a teen, I was fully clothed. I was also sitting in a high chair and had just put the bowl of creamed corn on as a hat, with corn in my hair and dripping down me.

            Typical baby moment? Absolutely. Naked? Nope. Mortifying to a teen? Yup. (My mom either hid or threw out the photo because it bugged me so much, and while I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t share it, I’m actually sorry I don’t have a copy now! It was funny!)

        2. biobotb*

          I agree that parents should be mindful about which photos they share. But regarding consent–some kids demand that their pictures get taken. Little kids often LOVE looking at pictures of themselves. No, it’s not adult consent, but it seems weird to avoid doing something your kid enjoys because they might be mildly embarrassed about it 20 years in the future. Plus that standard would mean there would be almost nothing you could let your kid do.

  19. Luna*

    #1, I would ask if you would take the photo down, too. Not because I think a naked baby is pornography, but because I don’t want to see any nudity when going to a coworker’s desk for a work-related topic, no matter the subject of nudity.

    1. londonedit*

      I find this bizarre. It’s a baby. You can’t even see their bottom or their genitals or anything. It’s just a baby who happens to not be wearing clothes in the photo. How this can be ‘nudity’ that you don’t want to ‘see when going to a co-worker’s desk for a work-related topic’ is utterly bizarre to me.

        1. londonedit*

          But how can it possibly be so offensive that you wouldn’t want to even catch sight of it next to a co-worker’s desk? It’s not full-frontal, it’s not even semi-frontal, there are no ‘private’ parts of the body visible.

          1. LGP*

            I’m not who you were replying to, but to me, it’s not that I find the baby’s nudity “offensive.” There’s nothing inherently shameful or sexual about nudity. However, I’m uncomfortable with nudity being shown to strangers without the consent of the nude person. It shouldn’t matter that the nude person in this case is a baby. They’re still a person who deserves respect and autonomy over their own bodies. Obviously there are times when the baby will have to be naked around others, but it’s not necessary to display a naked photo of them to outsiders. They have the right to choose how much of their body they want to share, and until they’re old enough to do that, I think it’s more respectful to err on the side of avoiding publicly sharing nude photos with outsiders.

            1. bamcheeks*

              This kind of stuff only works if you have a fully shared idea of what the boundaries on “nudity” are. What if my adult child chooses to dress modestly and it turns out she doesn’t like any pictures of herself with her knees or collarbones visible? Or doesn’t like any pictures of her from when people thought she was a boy? The boundaries of “nudity” are cultural, not absolute, and I think that whilst this sounds consent-positive it’s actually requiring that everyone share your idea of what “nudity” is, and whilst a workplace can absolutely set rules like that over the space it controls, I don’t think that’s a reasonable position for broader society.

              1. Scarlet2*

                I think the point would be to respect the boundaries of the person who’s being shown on the pictures. What’s not reasonable about that?

                1. bamcheeks*

                  That, as a parent, you don’t know what your pre-verbal child’s boundaries are, and even once your child is talking, you don’t know how their boundaries are going to change in the future. You have to pick something and go with it and apologise later if it’s wrong. I think it’s totally your right as a parent get to decide that it’s OK to show your child’s face without their consent but that what you consider “nakedness” is subject to your consent, but I don’t think you can expect every parent or every future adult child to put that boundary in the same place!

                2. Scarlet2*

                  In your own examples above, you use boundaries that are clearly stated:

                  “What if my adult child chooses to dress modestly and it turns out she doesn’t like any pictures of herself with her knees or collarbones visible? Or doesn’t like any pictures of her from when people thought she was a boy?”

                  In that case, wouldn’t it be obvious that those boundaries should be respected?
                  As for nakedness, is it such a huge imposition to keep more intimate pictures in the private sphere until the child is old enough to consent?
                  I don’t think it’s a bad idea to exercise a certain amount of discretion concerning photos that are posted on social media, for instance, seeing as anything posted on the Internet will stay there forever.

                3. bamcheeks*

                  Yes, I will respect them as and when my child expresses them! But my point is that at the moment I’m *guessing* what my child’s boundaries will be in the future, as well as teaching her that she has the right to boundaries and that those boundaries can change and that she doesn’t have to accept the boundaries that I or society or anyone else imposed on her. Teaching her that I can put her face wherever I want but that her chest is private is the opposite of that IMO.

                4. Scarlet2*

                  Sure, but pretending that a face and a naked body have the same degree of intimacy and privacy is pretty disingenuous.

                5. bamcheeks*

                  I think claiming a baby’s nipples are inherently “private” and constitute unacceptable nudity in the workplace is super dangerous, FWIW.

            2. Scarlet2*

              “I’m uncomfortable with nudity being shown to strangers without the consent of the nude person. It shouldn’t matter that the nude person in this case is a baby. They’re still a person who deserves respect and autonomy over their own bodies.”

              That’s very much where I stand on this too. I feel like the child’s consent and right to privacy are often noticeably absent from those conversations. Whether adults find it cute or not is less relevant than the child’s right to not have private and/or embarrassing moments shared with the rest of the world, including total strangers.

              1. bamcheeks*

                I think there’s a very valid argument about young people’s consent and privacy, but that’s an argument against any baby or family photos at work. IMO children’s faces are far more identifying and likely to put them at risk now or in the future than random body parts.

                1. Scarlet2*

                  I think saying “no pictures of people with no clothes on at work” is actually an easy line to draw. Certainly a lot easier than “does it count if the naked person is a baby and what is the cutoff age for naked pictures?”

                2. bamcheeks*

                  Yes, I agree that that’s an acceptable line to draw *at work*. I just think making it about privacy and consent rather than “this is easier for management” is an after-the-fact justification,

                3. Scarlet2*

                  No, the issue of privacy and consent refers to the sharing of intimate or embarrassing pictures *in general*.
                  Displaying a picture of a naked child is both inappropriate at work AND should be subject to the consent of the child who’s on the picture. Both things can be an issue at the same time.

                4. LGP*

                  I couldn’t reply under your earlier comment, but I wanted to address this:
                  “That, as a parent, you don’t know what your pre-verbal child’s boundaries are, and even once your child is talking, you don’t know how their boundaries are going to change in the future. You have to pick something and go with it and apologise later if it’s wrong.”

                  Yes, I agree in principle: you can’t know what your child’s boundaries will be or how they will change over time. However, I think it’s disingenuous to act like there’s no way you could have known your child would one day be uncomfortable with their nude pictures being displayed. Sure, not everyone will end up being uncomfortable with others seeing them naked, but it’s a common enough reaction (and whether it’s fueled by privacy concerns or shame or something else is beside the point here) that it’s better to avoid nudity until your child can consent to it. Especially because it is not at all necessary! You mention banning all kid photos because faces are more identifying, but that would not be practical (and also seems like a disingenuous argument). It’s virtually unavoidable that people will see your child’s face, whether in person on in photos, but it is completely avoidable that their naked bodies will be seen, and especially photographed. Faces and naked bodies are not at all equivalent.

                5. bamcheeks*

                  I have had my partner’s colleagues come up to me in the street when I was pushing my toddler in a pushchair and say, “you must be bamcheeks— I recognised [your child]!” Now, that was a perfectly fine interaction, but it’s WAY easier for me to imagine someone coming up to my child at the age of 12 or 13 when they’re out playing with friends and saying, “oh, you much be bamchild— I’m a friend of your mum’s, I work at bam workplace!” and harming my child than it is that they would be harmed by a picture of them as a baby that shows their nipples. I also think that with facial recognition and other software, people’s faces and images are going to be an increasingly important site of consent and privacy discussions. So I really think this idea that you don’t need a child’s consent to show a picture of their face at work but it’s ~common sense~ that a baby’s nipples are somehow inappropriate for work and that LW1 did something wrong or non-consensual by having a picture of his child or having it on his desk is super dangerous!

            3. londonedit*

              I guess I just can’t get my head around the idea that a photo of a baby where ostensibly they aren’t wearing any clothing but where you can’t see anything ‘private’ is something that people ‘don’t want to see on a co-worker’s desk’ (as per the original comment). Maybe I’m picturing the wrong thing, but I’m picturing one of those newborn photos where the baby is to all intents and purposes naked but they’re lying on a blanket and their bottom is covered by the blanket. Or, like, my sister’s friend bought her a baby photoshoot when my nephew was small and so she has a load of photos of him aged about six months where he’s sitting in a basket – and no, he doesn’t have any clothes on, but the basket comes up to mid-chest. I get, like, don’t go plastering naked photos of your children everywhere, but one photo on your own desk, which colleagues would only see if they come to your desk? Where you can’t even see any ‘private’ body parts? That’s a problem?

              1. Ladida*

                I agree, I can’t imagine how anyone would see a photo of a baby like what you describe and think “wow this picture is inappropriate for work, I will report this to HR”

              2. metadata minion*

                I feel a bit uncomfortable seeing a photo of a child in a situation where it would be inappropriate for me to be seeing the child in person.

                1. ThatGirl*

                  But it isn’t inappropriate for people to see naked babies, generally speaking. Many many infants and toddlers go around in little else but a diaper, it’s pretty normal, especially in warm weather. They’re babies!

                  (I find this whole discourse bizarre and also amusing.)

                2. Oh Plz*

                  Would it be inappropriate for you to walk by a campsite where a child was getting a bath in a large bucket? No.

                3. Testing*

                  ThatGirl and Oh Plz, an office is not a campsite, and no, there are no kids in diapers running around most offices. This is not about “approriate in general”, this is (it’s a work blog after all) about “appropriate in an office”.

                4. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  Testing, the standard for pictures at the office can’t possibly be that everyone in the picture is dressed appropriately for the office! That would mean no wedding photos, no sports photos, no photos from school plays, no vacation pictures, etc, etc. etc. My son is pushing 20 now and I promise you I have no pictures of him in business casual!

                5. Testing*

                  YetAnotherAnalyst, seriously, you don’t see the difference between a wedding dress and naked, or school play and naked?

                6. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  Testing – as a general concept, yeah, I see a difference, but in the case as described in this thread? No, I don’t see the difference. A “no visible genitals” policy seems pretty reasonable for photos. “No visible nipples” is a little weirder (your son’s swim meet isn’t office appropriate?), but still defensible. But if the line you’re drawing is “appropriate for the office”, then you have to throw the backless, strapless wedding dress out with shirtless baby.
                  It’s the same problem with a lot of the other arguments people are putting forward. I’ll buy the consent argument, but that means no photos at all of children under 12 (the age to consent to medical treatment in my state, which is the youngest I could find). I can sort of buy the “injecting private life into office” argument, but that suggests no personal photos at all should be allowed.
                  I’ll grant that there seems to be a general sense of “ick” in the comments, but I legitimately don’t see why. And so far nobody has put forward a coherent reason why this sort of picture should not have been allowed, barring some pre-existing policy about personal photos (which would feel intrusive to me, but would probably be more fair).

              3. HonorBox*

                I’ve seen family photos at people’s work where it was taken on a beach or a boat. Son shirtless with swimming trunks. Is this “nudity” and is that “inappropriate?” That’s the SAME as this photo, though swimming trunks are visible. And yes, certainly the son knew that the photo was being taken. But may or may not have “consented” to the photo being framed and put on mom or dad’s desk.

                I mentioned this in a comment below and will say again here… I’d be very curious about this workplace’s policing of photos like this. Are we being equal in our policing? Because I’d argue neither is pornography, but may make someone uncomfortable. If the standard is set that people in family photos should be fully clothed, then I’m OK with it. But if someone can get away with family photo taken on the beach in swimwear, I think there is a double standard that needs to be looked at.

                1. LGP*

                  “Son shirtless with swimming trunks. Is this “nudity” and is that “inappropriate?” That’s the SAME as this photo, though swimming trunks are visible.”

                  It’s not the same. If he’s wearing swimming trunks, then he’s not nude.
                  I don’t understand this splitting of hairs over what constitutes nudity. We can debate whether nudity should be viewed as inappropriate or not, but we don’t get to simply change the definition of nudity.

                2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

                  I think the difficulty here is, if it’s a picture of a baby not wearing clothes but with neither butt nor genitals exposed… that seems to be a diaper pic. Which is certainly not clothed, but also isn’t an exceptional degree of nudity for a baby. We see it literally every day in diaper commercials. And, coincidentally, it’s the exact same degree of nudity as a baby in a swim diaper, a boy in swim trunks, etc.
                  Maybe context clues imply greater nudity in the original picture (ie, it’s in a bath), but that’s really the level of exposure we’re talking about here.

          2. Luna*

            Like my comment says, I do not want to see nudity at work. Be it a baby, an adult, or anything, I’d prefer to not see that. I didn’t even really like my previous job having decorative photos up of a naked marble statue in the hallways.

            Unless you work in a place where nudity is expected (swimming stuff like managing the locker rooms at a pool, photography, adult stores, etc) there’s really no reason why nudity should be there, even in photographic form.

    2. LGP*

      @ThatGirl (I can’t reply directly to your comment):
      “ But it isn’t inappropriate for people to see naked babies, generally speaking. Many many infants and toddlers go around in little else but a diaper, it’s pretty normal, especially in warm weather. They’re babies!
      (I find this whole discourse bizarre and also amusing.)”

      There’s a difference between someone going about their daily life and happening to be in the presence of a naked baby, versus a photograph that permanently captures a baby naked AND is continually on display to people who are not close to the baby. In the former instance, the nudity is more or less unavoidable (baby is being changed, it’s too hot for clothes, etc.), but the latter is purposefully, intentionally showing the nudity. And I just don’t think that’s fair to someone who hasn’t consented to be seen nude by strangers.

      1. Jackalope*

        On the other hand, both situations involve a baby wearing clothing that is appropriate for them to wear in public; see the above discussion for a more in-depth discussion on that. A baby running around in a diaper, or even without the diaper, is not going to care about people seeing them like an adult would (or, say, a teenager).

        I mean, if I had a picture of a child of mine (or a nibling, etc.) that said child objected to later then I would take it down out of respect for their opinion. But otherwise a baby being at various states of undress that doesn’t show genitalia or butt, including in a photo, isn’t intimate. It’s just not. Especially in a case like this where said baby is not showing any private body parts, it’s just a picture.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      This is my issue with the AAM cat photos which is why I would never view them on my work computer

  20. BaffledBystander*

    I’m really surprised at everyone’s strong reactions to the naked baby photo in #1. I totally understand why LW 1 is upset—gay men get conflated with pedophiles all the time. It sucks and I agree with Alison. Please put up a photo of your baby in three different style costumes and maybe keep the original photo in your wallet.

    That being said as a former baby whose mom has pictures of me naked as a kid/toddler, it’s very weird that you guys care even a little bit to me. If your reaction is anything besides “cute kids” or “yep that’s my coworkers kids all right” I think you need to do some unpacking of your Puritan views/Victorian era views.

    1. Jim The Wonder Dog*

      For transparency sake, I don’t have kids and I also don’t find a lot of babies cute (clothed or not). That being said, from what the LW describes, his child was covered from the waist down (do babies’ have waists?) and that was too much for someone, who may or may not have equated it with child pornography. That is absolutely wild to me and a huge overstep.

      Granted, I grew up in the 70s with activist parents who spent a lot of time on communes with varying degrees of nudity…but I swear I’ve seen plenty of pictures of shirtless babies over the years and never batted an eye, including in work spaces. In fact many baby pictures are de facto of them in diapers and semi swaddled because that’s just how babies exist, right?

      The idea that someone (let alone so many commenters) apply the same standards of “nudity” and “naked” to a child under the age of 1 as they would older kids or adults feels like a them problem, and potentially a problem with gay parents and projecting awful assumptions onto them. If this happened to me I’d be inventorying every single person’s family pictures in the office and making a stink.

  21. Kate, short for Bob*

    LW3 I have fibromyalgia and it can be flared by the wrong sort of noise, or just too much of it. I’ve started using Loop Engage ear things when I’m out and about and can’t have headphones in – they’re shaped to reduce background noise without interfering with speech. As a side note, my older ears find they really help with unbalanced TV soundtracks too.

    It might be worth trying something like that? there’s another maker – Flare – who do a similar earbud, though I don’t know if they’re in the US as well.

    Finally, it might be worth getting a formal diagnosis of misophonia, so that if something like this happens in another job you’ll be able to get a formal accommodation and not have to rely on having a decent manager?

    Good luck

    1. Heather*

      As a mental health professional who writes accommodation letters with some regularity— there is no such thing as an “official diagnosis of misophonia.” It isn’t in the DSM and there’s no ICD code for it. I could certainly write a letter that said either “this employee has a sensitivity to sound” or “this employee has misophonia”. Many bosses wouldn’t understand the latter and, again, it’s not an official anything, so if a patient asked me to write a letter in support of their headphones, i would use the former phrasing.

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      This is timely. There’s construction going on in my building and it sounds like they’re carving Mt. Rushmore right behind my office. My Loops have been a lifesaver and I want to thank everyone here who has suggested them.

      My one coworker keeps laughing at me, but I’m the only one who can hear myself think, so…

  22. Morning Reading*

    LW1: I agree that this complaint was fueled by homophobia, but also agree naked baby photos are for friends and family and don’t belong at work or on social media.
    I hope you replace the photo with at least three: one of your whole family, one of your partner, and one of your child. (Current school photo works if you have one.)

  23. Helvetica*

    Oh, I could’ve written no 3 as I have a similar issue (and I also suspect that the person was moved to the office next to mine because it was bothering the people he was sitting close to before).
    Unfortunately, you will just have to tolerate it, and wearing headphones is my only and best solution. I can tune out noises pretty well generally, and I know he probably can’t help it, and I can’t change my seat, so…my sympathies.

  24. BronzeFire*

    LW 1, I’m sure the pic is cute and I HAVE seen moms called out on social media for sharing the whole range of naked pics. I have kids, too, and I don’t like seeing coworkers’ naked babies. But that’s because these people might be in my life for several years and I don’t like seeing acquaintances naked. Very stuffy and American of me, I’m sure. However, I would NOT go to HR over a pic like you describe. I’d just shrug it off and ignore it. I hope you bring in 5 more cute pics.

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Social media, where the pictures can spread who knows where, is a very different situation from “your desk at work”. And the call outs were presumably “awful people could get ahold of these”, not “you are an awful person” as it is here. Context, and the history of gay men routinely being called pedophiles, matters.

      1. Dinwar*

        “And the call outs were presumably “awful people could get ahold of these”, not “you are an awful person” as it is here.”

        Was it, though? That may have been the words, but I’d wonder about the intent. Tone, body language, and specific wording could easily push this into “I’m not saying this, but I’m totally saying this” territory.

  25. Yup*

    The LW #2 situation is just not sitting right with me. Of course employees should not be double working. I would not want to be paying an employee while they are working for someone else.

    But sneaking a peek at your coworker’s personal calendar and tattling to the employer? I keep picturing someone whose rent, food bills, expenses, etc. have skyrocketed and they are desperate to pay their bills on a minimum salary—as is happening more and more. Salaries are not keeping up with inflation and people are desperate and working 2 even 3 jobs to make ends meet. Maybe that 1 hour overlap is the difference between making rent and being out in the street. Why shill for the boss?

    1. Atlantica*

      yep +1 to all this, especially in the current climate . folks rarely work an extra job for the lolz and 2 hours a week is such clear mind your own business territory for me.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Its not tattling. Its not tattling. Its not tattling.

      It is unethical to be paid by Company A while working for Company B. Even in this economic climate. Working 2 jobs fine — separately. Not simultaneously.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yes, but unless you’re the manager of the person sneaking off to an extra job it is NOT your role.

        I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have enough effort keeping up my OWN job without volunteering to police my peers.

        It’s also possible that the desk calendar could have had something truly personal that the LW shouldn’t have seen. Yes, the coworker was careless in leaving it on their desk. Most of us want to work in an environment in which we don’t have to lock our desks up like a bank vault everytime we get up for a coffee break; BOTH employees in this situation eroded trust.

      2. Dinwar*

        Here’s my question: How do you know the worker is being paid by the company for that hour? What’s being shown is that they had an hour at another job on their calendar. Depending on the nature of the job, that may not be sufficient. I’m paid for hte hours I work, but I’m allowed to shift them around as long as I get a minimum number of two weeks–no one cares if I work 3 am to 11 am as long as the work gets done. Some coworkers of mine take advantage of this to engage in other hobbies (teaching classes, going to classes, running small side businesses unrelated to our line of business, etc). And until they said something to me I didn’t know they were doing it.

        I’ve also seen people negotiate time to work on another job with their managers (again, if it wasn’t related to the line of work). Like, your brother starts a business and asks you for help, so you negotiate an hour off in the afternoons or something. The key point is that the manager is aware of it, but coworkers may not be. And this doesn’t necessarily mean they leave the office–I’ve seen people bring personal laptops in so they could do financials for various organizations without using company property, but while at the office. (My company encourages community involvement, so they don’t care about the electricity use too much. The good press pays for the $0.50 in power they use.)

        My point is: The evidence we’re seeing is not sufficient for the conclusions being drawn. Certainly not sufficient to warrant a coworker snooping around someone’s cubicle and taking it to HR.

        1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

          Same, I’ve freelanced my whole career with the permission of various bosses. As long as I get my job done to their satisfaction, don’t use company resources in an unapproved way, don’t work for a direct competitor, and drop what I’m doing in case of emergency at my primary job, my bosses are just happy that I’m getting the extra experience! It’s all above-board, and everybody benefits.

          1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

            Actually, I just remembered, a few months ago, a senior exec reached out to me to convey that a colleague who used to work with us, but who is now at a different company, was working on a problem very similar to the one I was working on (and that I’m an expert in). I told the senior exec to let the former coworker know that I do consulting if he needs help, and the senior exec said he’d pass it on. In my experience, it’s not that hard to get approval for a second job if you handle it right!

          2. ABC*

            don’t use company resources in an unapproved way

            I did laugh at the LW trying this angle with “the company paid for the calendar!”

            1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

              Lol, yes. I mean, I got permission at one job to use the conference room as long as it was off hours (the companies were in very different time zones, so at 6 am, I could do what I wanted), and make reasonable use of my work computer for, like, exchanging emails and quick chats to coordinate. At one point, we even ended up coordinating business travel my day job sent me on so that I could spend an adjacent day in the other company’s office (by using PTO for that day and having the other company pay for travel between sites). But coordinating the long-distance trip saved time and money all around.

              So a calendar sounds potentially quite reasonable!

        2. Sparkles McFadden*

          Legitimate things to bring to your boss: “My coworker is late giving me her part of this project which is affecting my ability to finish on time” or “Coworker took eleven laptops out of storage and took them out of the building. I just thought I should let you know.”

          Ridiculous thing to bring to your boss/HR: “I keep tracking what my coworker is doing and I’ve taken photos of her calendar and I think she has a second job so I will continue to take blocks of time out of my day to play amateur detective to get something on her instead of doing my job.”

          You’ve already gone to HR about this, LW. That means YOU are on HR’s radar as well, and it sounds to me as if you are spending a lot of time on this instead of doing your own job. I’ve seen this sort of thing before and the “spying on your coworker” behavior raises more alarms in HR than whatever the coworker is doing. Also, I’ve been the person being spied on, and I was doing work assigned to me by my boss.

      3. K8T*

        It’s tattling. They went out of their way to keep tabs on their coworker when it’s not their station and doesn’t affect them at all. This is a grey area where the best decision would be to MYOB. If it ever did affect LW then they’d have ground to say something but otherwise I’m very happy that I don’t share an office with someone like LW.

      4. WorkerDron*

        If the person can complete the work required by both jobs, and their work performance isn’t suffering, then it’s not unethical.

        LW 2 didn’t say a thing about how this was affecting the work performance, and considering how nosy they are, I am gonna bet that if there were work-related issues due to this, they would have said so. They were very careful to note that the company paid for the calendar they snooped in, after all, and they’re so very careful to track a few hours a week of their colleague’s time, I have to assume they’d be equally as careful to track any impact that those few hours had on them.

        I say this hypothetically, since we don’t actually know the situation of the person working two jobs, but in general: if “ethics” means making it harder for a person to pay their bills and survive on behalf of the benefit of a company or corporation, it’s not ethics – it’s just plain old toxic capitalism.

      5. Hiring Mgr*

        I don’t know what’s considered tattling, and what’s considered just reporting something, but either way imo they’re coming off like a busybody who should stay out of other people’s desks

        Now they want to escalate it even further? Maybe they think they’re doing a great service to the company, but really it’s MYOB time

        1. Dinwar*

          Here’s my test: Would you want someone doing this to you? I encourage my staff and my contractors to let me know if I’m screwing up on policies, and I routinely ask if my projects will be audited–I want to know so I can fix any problems that arise! On the other hand, if I found out someone was rummaging through my desk looking for evidence of wrongdoing–especially without my boss’s direct orders to do so–I would probably never trust them again. I certainly wouldn’t trust them with anything even REMOTELY sensitive; they’ve already established that they’re unreasonable.

          As Sam Vimes said, you can’t say you’re the good guy and do bad guy things. And searching someone’s desk without their knowledge is a pretty bad guy thing.

      6. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        How do you know this worker hasn’t cleared it with the boss beforehand? I mean, they don’t seem to be worried that the boss would see their calendar since they left it up on their screen.

      7. Observer*

        Its not tattling. Its not tattling. Its not tattling.

        I’m going to disagree for two reasons. One is that this does not affect the OP, nor is it the OP’s job to monitor attendance. You can be SURE that they would have mentioned it, if it were. Secondly there is a huge amount of pearl clutching here (OMG, she put a personal appointment into the calendar the company paid for!) and inappropriate behavior on the part of the OP.

        This is not a case of someone coming across a significant problem and trying to figure out what to do with it. This is someone digging for information that is really not their business and trying to get someone into trouble. That’s why they want to send a photo – HR already is aware of the problem but has taken no public action, so the OP wants to push them into it.

      8. Dasein9 (he/him)*

        I’ve double-dipped before with full blessing of my full-time job. I’ve even had permission to use my work computer for my second job.

        The LW does not know if her coworker has a similar arrangement.

      9. Kara*

        “It is unethical to be paid by Company A while working for Company B. ”

        Except you have no idea if the boss of the person is aware of the situation, if the person is “clocking out” while doing this other work, if the person is working additional “comp time” hours to make up for time away from Company A, or any other details.

        So yes, in that case it’s “tattling” and quiet frankly non of anyone else’s GD business.

    3. Ruby Soho*

      And if it’s only a couple hours a week, maybe it’s something they’re doing on their lunch breaks. Like, maybe they’re selling stuff on Etsy or Ebay or whatever, and spend an hour a couple times a week going to the post office to ship orders. IMO, not a big deal and very much none of my business.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yeah, I think people defending the idea of reporting the co-worker to HR are missing that it’s only an hour a couple times a week.

        I spend an hour a few days a week juggling in the park; some people might go for a brisk walk, or even hit a gym. If you have any kind of break time (which anyone working an 8 hour day should) then there’s an hour or so every day when you aren’t chained to your desk.

        Even if it’s an *extra* hour break a couple days a week, some jobs (especially salaried ones) can absorb that. It’s the point that, while I DO believe LW is sincere, one could take “working an extra job” as almost disingenuous; it gives the mental image of trying to juggle two full-time jobs when in reality it’s one job and a 2 hour/week side-hustle.

        1. Jaybeetee*

          One thing that crossed my mind is that your average office worker probably spends more than “an hour a couple times a week” overall playing games on their phone – or reading AAM during work hours lol. It just comes off as very… monitoring, unless there’s some substantial imposition on that LW, such as having to cover that person’s work or something.

          1. Orv*

            LW may be spending close to that amount of time just snooping on what other employees are doing, from the sounds of it!

    4. Adds*

      Last week my husband called our internet provider over an issue that we were requesting a refund or bill credit for and after the conversation he had with Tier One in Billing I wondered “Why is it that the folks on Tier One act like the money is coming out of their pocket??”

      This letter reminded me of that.

      (Tier Two had no problem processing the refund).

  26. Maggie*

    Complaining about a baby picture is absurd but I can see how the company feels they have no choice. Frame an 18×24 blow up of your favorite photo of yourself, your husband, and your son and make the haters look your beautiful family in the face every day!

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Nah, leave LW’s husband out of it. No need to make him into homophobe bait.

      Instead, I’d make a giant photo collage of Baby in a zillion cute and clothed poses and display it prominently, or if there’s no room, as many tiny clothed happy pictures as one can cram onto a desk.

  27. Hiring Mgr*

    Why is #2 snooping around their co-workers desk in the first place? It takes more than a casual glance to figure out their specific activities unless they wrote “2pm: leave for secret second job” in bold all caps.

    It doesn’t sound like whatever the coworker is doing has any effect on you, so I’d suggest dropping it entirely

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I mean, given the things that people have committed to writing on their work devices here, I can’t rule that one out.

  28. Justin*

    Definitely agree on asking assistant to IM. I have headphones for similar neurodivergent reasons and when I had an intern this summer I did the IM thing on days we went to the office.

  29. bamcheeks*

    I think two things are true:

    – a company can decide that “no baby nipples” is an easier rule to follow than legislating “at what age do a babies nipples become little-girl nipples”

    – weird prurient ideas about nakedness are more likely to be used against sexual minorities than cishet people.

  30. Also-ADHD*

    LW2 was interesting to me because it’s literally an hour, that seems not a big deal, but context is everything. I don’t have two jobs, but I do freelance and consistently use an hour here or there during the work day for it. I always have made up those hours or banked them at some point, if it’s not just my lunch hour (which I never take unless I have an appointment or other work) and this is approved by my manager (and my work formally knows I freelance, with the caveat I cannot do work for direct competitors). I wonder if LW would be happy with someone doing an audit of every hour of their day! I am trying to imagine someone doing this to me (I work remotely though) and I think they’d be appalled to have all their hours questioned—people are always having appointments or interacting with kids or taking naps or whatever. Everyone gets their work down, but in non hourly based work I have no ideas when anyone takes lunch so that hour of work elsewhere could just be someone’s lunch hour too!

  31. Tiredofit all*

    LW2. It would be very strange that someone is working one hour per day at another job. I would think more PT or something like that with a name that sounded like an employer. I would let it go.

    1. WellRed*

      More likely they are working several hours at the second job with the first hour overlapping the first job. At any rate, I think OP would be far happier if they didn’t monitor other people.

    2. Jaybeetee*

      I assumed it was something like leaving early a couple days a week to go to a second shift, not just a random hour in the middle of the day.

  32. I should really pick a name*

    #1 I’d keep an eye out on how other photos like yours are treated in the office.

    That being said, there are two things going on here:
    1. It’s quite possible that the person who complained about the photo was homophobic.
    2. Regardless of that fact, reasonable people can disagree about the appropriateness of a naked baby photo in the office (even if it doesn’t show anything). This doesn’t feel like a hill worth dying on (and I’m saying this as a gay man).

  33. Llama Llama*

    I am a self proclaimed pride and the insane sexualization of a 1 year old on this site is making my eyes twitch.

    That being said, people are insane and pushing back on the insane (as evidenced by this comment section today) will not get you anywhere.

    1. Goldfeesh*

      This site was the last one I’d imagine to have such overblown takes on baby pictures. LW2 got lucky, any other day they’d been racked over the coals.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      I once had a boss who said “When I am dealing with a ridiculous request from an unreasonable person, I really have no way to deal with it except to ask a reasonable person to help me out and do the ridiculous thing. There’s no way for me to make a crazy person not be crazy.” That sums up a lot of work situations, this one included. This really is crazy. Sorry you are dealing with this, LW.

  34. nodramazone*

    Straight moms and dads get a lot of flak for sharing similar pictures of their children.

    Just take it down and yes, put up a beautiful family photo of the three of you. In fact, put up several!

    If later you see evidence that the request had something to do with being a gay dad, take that up then.

    1. Velawciraptor*

      Straight moms and dads may get similar flak, but they don’t get it within a larger cultural context of people equating their very existence and presence near children with pedophilia. That context is important.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Parents in general get a lot of flak for doing… anything. I really don’t envy them, and it must be so much harder when you’re dealing with homophobia on top of that.

  35. CrankyLibrarian*

    Is it appropriate for someone — of any age — to be wearing it out in a general public place? If not, then it’s probably not ok for them to be wearing it in a photo displayed at work either. Doesn’t mean there’s anything WRONG with it, it’s just not the right time or place.

    1. Oh Plz*

      Uh oh, we definitely have Leslie Patricelli’s board books on display. That baby is just wearing a diaper! Scandalous and inappropriate.

    2. Dahlia*

      It’s appropriate for babies to be out in public with nothing but a diaper on, weather appropriate.

  36. Roeslein*

    Re: #1, perhaps it’s cultural (I’m in Germany where privacy is a big deal) but my main issue with this would be the child’s privacy and whether they would consent to their picture being displayed in this way. Not sure how old OP’s son is, but I imagine even my 5-year-old would have an opinion about this kind of private picture being displayed in a public space in front of strangers. Presumably you would not post such pictures on social media for similar reasons. I generally try not to use my children’s image in ways that may embarrass them in the future.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah. I feel the same. I think multiple things are true here:
      -the person who complained about the photo was being a jerk
      -just because the reason why LW1 was asked to take down the photo was sus doesn’t mean there aren’t other good reasons to not have that photo at work

    2. biobotb*

      Good point. If the LW’s son is no longer a baby, he may be old enough to have opinions about what photos his dad is displaying at work. There are a few very cute photos of me as a small unclothed child (no bits showing) that I wouldn’t have wanted a parent displaying at the office.

  37. former lab rat*

    LW#4: Ask if your boss has time for you do do a practice run – for the first few presentations. It always helps to have a second set of eyes see you power point slides and get a feel of how your story line flows. In our lab everyone – and I mean including the PI – did a practice talk before any presentation. That included in-house meetings as well as outside talks. Especially if English is your second language doing a complete run through will help get the talk fixed in your mind.

    Keep you slides simple – bullet points. There is a big tendency to put all the words on a slide and then stand there and read them. Don’t do that! Your audience will be reading the text at their own pace rather than listening to you. Animation can be your friend to bring up each point separately.

    Giving good talks can be critical for any work. You need to be able to tell the story and engage the audience. It gets better the more talks you give.

    1. Enai*

      I too harbor this fantasy of LW 1 absolutely bedecking his office or at least desk with the loudest, proudest, gayest but completely dressed pictures of his aggressively happy gay family, but I think that’s not my fight to have. Still, in my fantasy there’s at least one pic of LW, husband, and son all in one of those ridiculous unicorn suits with rainbow colours and the complainer audibly hissing like a disney villain every time they see it. It’s a nice fantasy, though.

  38. Dinwar*

    #1: Oof, I’m so sorry for this. People are super weird about kids’ photos….I have a photo of my kids as my desktop on my computer, and I had someone complain that it was unprofessional (despite literally every parent in my office having such a background on their computers). It got to be a pretty heated discussion. If a cis-het-male is getting this, I can only imagine what a gay man goes through….

    What worked for me, and may work for you, is the safety card. One of the best safety coordinators I’ve ever worked with told the team to put a photo of why they need to be safe on their phones, laptops, tablets–any electronic device that you can. Every time you turn on your computer you are reminded of why you need to come home, alive, with all your limbs. And office workers are not immune to this. Slips/trips/falls in office environments make up about half the injuries in my company. Given that we routinely do emergency environmental cleanup (“The tanker truck tipped over and the stuff spilled into the lake, which is now on fire” type stuff), that’s a disconcerting enough statistic to justify a simple photo!

    As for the nudity thing, I’ve always considered anyone who says “People will get Ideas” to be confessing that THEY had the ideas. It’s a baby. Mostly-naked photos of babies are super common; again, literally every parent I know has them. Partially it’s logistics–I’ve got a number of photos of my kids from when they were in diapers, but not shirts, and you can’t really tell they’re wearing anything. Partially it’s the instinctive drive to consider one’s offspring cute; if we didn’t have that, we would have gone extinct (infants violate the Geneva Convention on at least three counts that I could find)! And partially it’s cultural–as a culture we have accepted that these photos are, in fact, adorable. Personally I wouldn’t bring one to work, but other dads (and moms) have and the only thing anyone’s said was “Awe, so cute!”

    1. Lora*

      I suggest it’s a bad idea to put a picture of a naked baby on the work laptop if there already were complaints about naked baby picture on the wall.

      1. Dinwar*

        The existence of a complaint is not proof of the existence of a problem. It’s obligatory to consider every complaint, yes–but it is possible, after sober consideration, to conclude that the complaining party is out of their gourd and should be ignored.

        Failure to realize this is what leads to soul-less, impersonal work spaces that have all the charm and warmth of a prison cell. Worse, failure to realize this can EASILY be weaponized. Discrimination is not allowed to be overt, so those who wish to engage in it have become very good at covert acts of discrimination, including weaponizing policies such as “All complaints should be treated as valid”. As I said above, I think it highly likely that this complaint is “I’m not saying being homosexual is offensive, but it’s offensive”; if concessions are made it will get worse, that’s how people like that work.

        One thing to note: I did not say that the LW should put a picture of their naked baby on their laptop. I said that the safety officer told us to put pictures of our children on our laptops for specific reasons–and I figured a reasonable person would see that this reason is directly applicable to keeping a photo of a baby on one’s desk. The principle is the same.

  39. Delta Delta*

    #1 – It seems like the workplace likely doesn’t have a policy on desk photographs (some places have them; I’ve heard of them in banking and other conservative fields – it’s things like 1 family photo or 1 wedding photo, or something like that), likely because it’s never come up before. While I don’t doubt the photo of OP’s baby is a cute photo, there is something that feels a touch off about having a naked baby photo as a workplace desk photo.

    If there’s a policy created, it probably ought to cover a range of things, and not just whether people are dressed. For example, I worked with a woman who had a photo on her desk at a prior job, and she had been asked to remove it. It was a nice photo of her and her then-boyfriend, outside on a spring day. The issue was that he had just shot a goose, and he was proudly holding the goose by the feet in the photo. A client saw the photo and fixated (understandably) on the dead goose, not on the people or the smiles or the sunny spring day. The workplace had to make a policy that included “no dead birds in desk photographs” but to make it broad enough that everyone would understand what was acceptable to display.

  40. blah*

    There are some bizarre assumptions being made in these comments re: LW1. Since when are baby pictures like the one described in the letter the same as “artful nude” photos of a grown adult? If someone comments to LW’s grown child about seeing their naked baby picture, that’s not the fault of LW but because that commenter is strange to say that to someone!

  41. HonorBox*

    OP1 – I’m sorry. I’m sure there is some sort of bias in play, and I am angry for you because of that. Just a couple of days ago, I was talking with two coworkers about our kids when they were babies, and one showed us a picture of her son. It was a photo that sounds VERY similar to yours. No visible parts, but it was obvious that the child was either not clothed or wearing a diaper. But it wasn’t weird. I didn’t think “oh my there’s a pornographic photo” or anything like that. It was a picture of a kid that is very similar to pictures that almost any parent has of their kids. I find it odd that someone was policing the photos you have on your desk, and I’d be interested if I were you to see how management reacts to others who have photos on their desk of the family on the beach. Someone’s photo that includes themselves/their partner on the beach in a bikini seems far more problematic, and I’d hope that management would at least police that in the same way.
    As for how to stand up for yourself… I don’t think I’d make a big stand over this. It might seem … too much … and draw more negative attention than create positive change. But you might inquire of your manager how they’d react if you felt uncomfortable with family photo on the beach.

  42. Hiring Mgr*

    Without seeing the photo, it doesn’t sound much different than if there was a family photo of everyone in bathing suits on a beach or something like that.

    Hard to imagine anyone caring that much to actually talk to management – sorry you work with at least 1 f*cked up idiot

    1. HonorBox*

      BINGO! And if we’re going to start policing photos that people have displayed based on a coworker’s comfort or discomfort, what if a coworker is a strict non-drinker, and you have a picture that was taken at a winery or during a wedding toast? Not you doing a keg stand at a tailgate, but a nice photo where you have a glass of wine. If they’re uncomfortable with that, is management going to request that photo be taken down too?

      1. Dinwar*

        For that matter, discrimination could come into play. People can easily get offended by a picture of my family with pentacles on, or with other clearly Pagan symbols. Does their discomfort allow them to demand that I remove such photos? Or, to flip the script, I find crucifixes rather offensive–I know what a brutal way to die that was. Am I allowed to demand Christians take those down? To take it out of the realm of religion, what about politics? If I find red hats offensive, am I allowed to tell people to stop wearing them? How about a Pride Flag?

        Further, how am I supposed to know what you find offensive? Okay, sometimes you have hints–anyone who walks y my desk is going to know that I’m okay with the macabre (occupational hazard in my field)–but I’ve worked with people for a decade before I learned their religious affiliations, or political views, non-drinking, and the like. It never came up. You can get a sense of things sometimes, but often you’re guessing. Which, combined with our overly-litigious society, is why everything is so bland in corporate offices–anything that makes any statement what so ever, however weakly, can be taken as offensive and thus gets banned. Which, personally, I find deeply offensive as such environments are demonstrably hostile to humans.

        The rational way to approach this is to acknowledge that your emotions and reactions are your problem. Unless there’s something objectively wrong (like sexual photos, or something that violates a clearly spelled-out office policy), you need to deal with it like an adult.

  43. Jenny*

    I see a lot of people commenting about how they envision an Anne Geddes type photo. But this kid is almost 1 (according to the letter) and therefore, it is probably not that type of photo (those are usually newborn pictures). But it does seem really stupid to complain about a photo that doesn’t show any of the child’s private parts. I certainly wouldn’t think twice about having such a photo at my office. However, I also don’t necessarily think this is an anti-gay thing either. Unless the father has had experiences with coworkers that lead him to believe that’s the case, I’d just assume it is a dumb co-worker and not necessarily a bigoted co-worker.

  44. CV*

    We Americans are very twisted up about nakedness. I don’t know why, or what changed it. There are Shirley Temple movies where she runs around at about age 6 without a shirt, for example.

    1. juliebulie*

      Yeah. I don’t see the problem with a “topless” baby photo. Someone at OP1’s workplace has a weirdly dirty mind.

  45. kiki*

    “Some anonymous person sees it as pornography.”

    I am wondering how exactly the complaint and request to take it down were worded to LW. I recognize the strong possibility that the strong negative reaction to the picture is rooted in homophobia, but I also think some people are just really uncomfortable with nudity. If anyone in the complaint mentioned pornography, I think it’s clear the complainant is bringing their own baggage and biases to the table, but I’m wondering if that was actually said.

    1. Menace to Sobriety*

      Ok, but if they DID NOT see it as “child pornography” then….what WOULD be a reasonable basis for requesting it be taken down? Discomfort with nudity is … rooted in conflating nudity and sex. So, I don’t see where they had to use the actual WORD “pornography” when making the complaint to make it clear that was their issue and “baggage” that they brought to the table about it. If they used the word “obscene” would that be better? Or just synonymous?

      1. kiki*

        What I meant to convey is that if somebody complained by saying this was equivalent to pornography, they have a pretty unhinged view of the situation. Obscene is also really strong and would make me raise an eyebrow at the requester.

        But if somebody said, “hey it makes me uncomfortable to see a nude image prominently displayed. I know it’s just a baby, but it makes me really uncomfortable to have to see that every time I talk to LW” that seems very different than somebody saying, “LW’s image is akin to PORNOGRAPHY! It’s OBSCENE!”

        At the end of the day, we’re all bringing our preferences and baggage to work. There are some things people are just not comfortable looking at. To me, it would make a big difference if somebody brought the complaint like, “hey this just makes me feel iffy at work and I’d prefer not to see it,” vs. “YOU ARE DISPLAYING CHILD PORN AT WORK.”

  46. Yes Anastasia*

    I feel pretty strongly that LW1 did nothing wrong, but honestly that’s beside the point. Parenting decisions are always contentious and culturally contingent, and it is fine for someone to see/hear about LW1’s photo and think, “Welp, I wouldn’t display that in public.”

    But at the end of the day, LW is the one who gets to make decisions about their child. The purported harm caused by this photograph (to the kiddo or the viewer) does not rise to the level of anonymous coworkers reporting them, or, frankly, commenters trying to persuade the LW that they are making a parenting error. They are making an informed choice about what types of images to share of their kid, and debating that is never going to be productive.

    1. singularity*

      The real tell will be if LW1 displays a full family photo, with his partner and child, everyone clothed and looking nice. Will that result in a complaint?

    2. Keymaster*

      That’s kinda where I stand – I don’t have kids and can’t say what is/isn’t great parenting but when there’s a single request of ‘can you replace this with something a bit more office appropriate?’ it’s not worth the effort to fight back.

      Now if it were the company deciding no images of homosexual parents with their kids could be displayed then yes, that would be worth the fight. But this isn’t a battle I think can be won or at least not without torching OP’s reputation at the firm.

    3. Testing*

      “LW is the one who gets to make decisions about their child”

      And the manager is the one who gets to make decisions about what is allowed in the office (as long as those decisions are legal, of course, which is true for the LW’s decisions as well).

      1. Yes Anastasia*

        Absolutely, I don’t disagree. I was speaking to the fact that the comments section has become a referendum on whether the LW was right to display the picture in the first place.

  47. Some Dude*

    My first through reading #1 is to do what Kurt Cobain’s thoughts when there was concern over the cover of Nevermind (naked baby with exposed genitals swimming after a dollar bill in a pool).

    Kurt had anticipated some outcry as well, and has already composed some copy to put on a sticker over the problematic member. It read, “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile.”

    In reality though, that’s probably not a smart thing to do at work.

    1. Phony Genius*

      The now-grown up baby on that cover sued and said it was sexual abuse to take that photo and use it that way. He lost.

      1. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

        He lost because he had previously used his notoriety as the album cover baby to gain fame and profit. The court decided if it ok when he was profiting from it, it shouldn’t be a Big Problem for him suddenly a few years later. It could be argued through the lawsuit he was trying to profit off of it again – just in a different way!

    2. Lenora Rose*

      Frankly, I thought the Nevermind cover would have been better without the bits, but I never thought of it as pornographic.

  48. LHOI*

    LW5 – In addition to asking for general feedback, asking things like “I said X in this morning’s meeting and it seemed to not go over well, even though I think my reasoning was sound. Do you have any insights into why?” or “I’ve been trying to have a more authoritative voice when talking about my work, is that coming across?” will get you some really good, specific, focused and timely feedback.

    And yeah, it’ll look good to your manager. I’ve only managed one (wonderful) employee and when she asked for feedback it not only gave me the chance to coach her in real time, but it gave me a lot of insight into how she felt about her job, where she was feeling unsure of herself, and what kinds of support I needed to give her.

  49. saskia*

    These comments remind me of the reaction to Walker Evans’ exhibition photo of the Sharecropper’s Family with the naked kid son. That was in 1938. Close to 100 years later, Americans (I assume) are still complaining about naked children in photos lol

  50. saskia*

    Also, #3, I feel for you. That would drive me nuts. Talk to your assistant, stress that you want to be interrupted by them if they need anything at all, and discuss the best way to do that. Who knows, your assistant may want to wear headphones too.
    #4, asking for feedback is a great idea and mutually beneficial to you and your boss. Good luck!

  51. Czhorat*

    For LW2, honest questions:

    1) Why do you care? It the co-worker’s absence affecting you, or is it just an inherent feeling about “fairness”?

    2) Have some perspective: it’s an hour or two per week. This is not the same as an employee trying to juggle two full-time jobs and slacking through both of them; it’s the equivalent of taking an extra long lunch break.

    3) Are you even sure their boss doesn’t know and approve? If it were really nefarious they wouldn’t write “SECRET EXTRA JOB” in their calendar; they’d put something vague. If their calendar literally says “mailings for part time job” then it’s possibly aboveboard.

    4) You are eroding trust by going through their desk when they aren’t there. Yes, the calendar was in plain view. When I’m in the office, I don’t hide my coffee mug when I go to use the restroom. I don’t lock my phone or headphones in a drawer if I have them charging. It’s nice if an office is the equivalent of a neighborhood in which nobody locks their door. Don’t be the reason people start having to lock their doors.

    1. Cj*

      yeah, I really wonder what was actually on the calendar. I doubt it said secret second job.

      and no matter what they wrote, it could have been just to cover that they’re going to medical appointments or something that they don’t want nosy people like the letter writter to know about, and the time away is agreed to by their manager.

    2. Swaddled*

      I overall agree, but I disagree with #4. Perhaps growing up in areas that are not the best, where I’ve been burgled, had my car stolen, etc, I would never expect that it’s normal to live and work in a place where “nobody locks their door”. Thus, I don’t expect the workplace to be a place where people just don’t look at other people’s work information. That is very different from stealing someone’s personal mug. There is nothing in my personal work space that I would not want someone to see, even if it is hidden. I guess I just don’t trust other people to just not look. Or rather, I trust that people are different and there’s going to be some people who think it’s fine to go through my stuff, regardless of how I feel people should or should not behave.

      All of that is to say that if you don’t want people looking at your information, lock it up, just like you would lock your front door.

      1. Observer*

        I would never expect that it’s normal to live and work in a place where “nobody locks their door”. Thus, I don’t expect the workplace to be a place where people just don’t look at other people’s work information.

        That is a non-sequitur. I also have never lived in a neighborhood where no one locks their doors. But I also work in an office where someone can walk away from their desk and not worry that their coworkers are going to go through whatever is on their desk.

        All of that is to say that if you don’t want people looking at your information, lock it up, just like you would lock your front door.

        As a [practical matter, that’s probably true, because people like the OP exist in a lot of workplaces. But that doesn’t make it ok. Any more than it’s OK to steal someone’s car because they did not lock the door. Sure, if I were talking to the car owner, I would probably think that they are an idiot but I would never think that it was ok for someone to steal the car! Same here. Maybe the coworker was not smart. That does not make it ok to be a snoop.

      2. Czhorat*

        It depends on the size of your workspace and all that. Ideally, I’d like to feel that I can trust my coworkers. Not “trust them with my life” or “leave my social security number on my desk”, but if I leave a note to myself that I have a doctor’s appointment I’ll not feel that I need to lock it down.

        In any event, it’s aspirational more than anything else. I don’t say I that my office *is* a place where nobody has to lock their door, I say that I *want* it to be. It’s a goal to have an office in which people mutually respect and trust each other. Is this easy? No. But the one thing you CAN do to move towards that is to be trustworthy yourself. Don’t rifle through someone’s desk when they step away. Don’t steal anyone’s coffee mug. If someone leaves their computer logged in, just walk passed it.

    3. Helen of What*

      Yeah, I don’t really see why this is anyone’s business unless it’s preventing you from getting work done!

    4. All Isms Are Wrong*

      Yes, I think the OP is a busybody and should mind their business. The time she spends spying on the coworker should be used to perform their own job.

  52. Keymaster*

    1. Is it a ridiculous request? Is it fuelled by homophobia? All makes for an interesting debate but ultimately the end result is going to be you need to take that photo down. Pushing back on it will look extremely combative and odd.

    Replace it with a clothed up to date photo (if kids are anything like my cat I’d daresay you have at least one phone storage maxxed out with pictures!) and let the matter drop.

    However, if the matter continues after this, I’d start looking a lot more closely at who else they are/not targeting – but that’s only if they refuse to let the matter drop. Discrimination can come from multiple angles.

  53. Clydesdalesncoconuts*

    On the issue of the baby picture I feel like we readers have twisted the issue further based on our own individual biases. OP states photo is at his desk, but that doesn’t specify if it is something that the rest of the office has to look at when they walk by his desk, or if it is something on his desk that unless someone was standing near him to discuss work they would then have a view of it.. alot of these posts seem to be imagining the photo as a larger image that is on a wall in public view- I think there is a difference between a small photo on someones desk vs a photo on their wall , etc.. regardless though- calling it porn is inappropriate-

  54. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    One great practice exercise for public speaking is to great a few practice presentations on a fun topic that you love.

    No need to make slides etc, it’s about structuring a narrative and practicing the actual speaking part.

    Test it out with trusted people you know. It will give you confidence speaking.

    It could be anything. Video games, your favourite film, a book, cooking, veganism, WW1, abstract Italian art, hamsters, colour theory, Schubert, how to age feta… the point is that you get comfortable speaking, answering questions, etc. Then you identify the differences/weaknesses/risks when speaking about work topics.

    I did this on a training course and it worked for us all anyway!

  55. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

    I’m torn between suggesting that OP #1 should replace his baby photo with a picture of his kid passive-aggressively overdressed Christmas Story style, or a photo of his entire nuclear family naked but tastefully covered. Or several renaissance paintings of a naked Baby Jesus. The options for shade are limitless.

      1. Dinwar*

        There was a whole thing in the Middle Ages where Jesus was painted on the cross in such a way that his abs made him look…well-endowed. It’s one of those things where once you see it it’s impossible to un-see. And it’s definitely intentional. Always amuses me to see someone with one of those photos on their desk, because it’s always the very Conservative types who’d be aghast at having something like that on their desk!

  56. Phony Genius*

    #1 is reminding me of a situation around the year 2000 when, back in the days that you had to bring camera film to a lab to be developed, photo labs were reporting parents to police whenever they developed pictures of babies taking a bath. Mostly straight couples. Every jurisdiction handled it differently, so there was no consensus opinion. (And these comments prove there is still not.)

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I appreciate you pointing out this is not a new issue. People are acting like this is something that’s never come up before.

    2. Friendo*

      I’d love you to cite an example where this happened and the baby didn’t have anything actually exposed.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Plenty of bath photos don’t actually have things exposed. Without actually seeing the picture there isn’t a way to draw a line on semantics.

    3. I'm just here for the cats!*

      There was a made for tv movie about this based on true events. Basically, there were pictures that one of the kids took. One of them was the little ones was just in their shorts and was touching the very pregnant lady’s belly. There was a big deal and the kids got taken away for a while just because of some inocent photos that were blown up to make it look pornographic

  57. Menace to Sobriety*

    People are so damn weird. I posted a pic of my DOG sleeping on his back once. Splayed open on the sofa with ZERO shame. If you have a dog, you know the position. Someone complained to FB about it! So, I took the pic to Paint and very carefully painted “underwear” on him, covering his (neutered) anatomy. Reposted. Ridiculous, but what can you do?

  58. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LW1: Overreaction or not on the part of the office complainer (and yes, I do think they overreacted to the photo of your baby), is this really the hill you want to die on? Loving your son as you clearly do, you surely must have LOTS of adorable photos of him fully clothed. Put up one (or more) of those and take the other one home.

    Because yes, your manager DOES have the right to tell you to take that photo down; it’s exasperating, but it’s also the case. (And yes, a straight parent displaying a nude photo of their baby might very well have been told the same thing!)

  59. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

    In my home office I have a tiny, wallet-sized photo of my daughter age 6 months, from the chest up, with her arms up near her face, covering up the nips. She’s a teenager now and saw that photo and was mortified because she was not wearing a shirt. I never in a million years would have thought something that innocent would embarrass her (in our own home, in a room no one but me and her dad are ever in) but it did, so I took it down. You never know how kids are going to feel about these things years later!

    1. Lilo*

      It’s utterly absurd because there is zero physical difference in the chest of a 6 month old baby boy and baby girl but we treat them differently (I have a preschool age son, he swims in just trunks, for instance).

      1. Lellow*

        Speak for yourself, in my daughter’s preschool swimming class there’s no gender-based distinction on which toddlers have tops on or not! (As far as I can discern, it’s based on how cold that cold gets. Sometimes my daughter is in her shortie wetsuit and sometimes she just wants to wear swimming briefs.

    2. Helen of What*

      To be fair, teens are often embarrassed by anything reminds them of their body and its changes or functions. Ask about it when she’s in her 20s or 30s and she might feel differently. :) -coming from someone who was SUPER embarrassed by similar photos as a kid, now I just think “I was so cute!”

  60. Observer*

    #3 – hacking coworker.

    Do I have any scope to speak to his manager about how difficult it is being around the noise and whether Jim is looking after his health?

    Some thoughts, although I have not read all of the responses (so may be repeating some things.)

    Firstly, you *never* have standing to talk to someone’s manager about whether they are taking care of their health. Period.

    Secondly, you don’t actually have the faintest idea of what is actually causing the cough and what he’s doing (or not doing) about it. Assuming that John’s boss is stupid and indiscreet enough to actually discuss this with you, what are you going to do if the boss tells you that John has been seeing a doctor about this and this is the best they can do with the situation?

    You have a genuine problem. I get that. But why are you focusing on what John should do, rather than what you can do? Why not just put the headphones back on and *explain* what you are doing to the assistant, and give them a better way to approach you? Especially since it’s possible that they might also want to wear headphones, so having a way to deal with it could be useful anyway.

  61. Throwaway Account*

    OP #1, I’d love to reframe your photo and put it on my desk at your workplace to see what would happen!

    I’m sure Alison has a reason for not suggesting this, but I wonder if it might help if you asked if you were the only one being asked to remove photos of family members in, say, a men’s type bathing suit with no shirt? Because it sounds like the baby picture was similarly shown in the photo. I mean to do this in a calm tone, not one of “gotcha, you are singling me out!” And I mean that the goal is a conversation about how that landed for you without the goal of changing it or putting the photo back.

    Of course, that depends upon how much you trust the person you would be having this convo with.

  62. Prismatic Garnet*

    Half the comments: I find publicly sharing nude baby photos cringe

    Other half: Whoa, you’re SHOCKED and SCANDALIZED and FAINTING and WEEPING at an innocent PHOTO?

    Like, if you disagree that it’s an overshare or whatever, make that point, that’s fine. But it doesn’t seem like the pro-Geddes half of the comments are having a mature discussion of norms so much as pummeling straw men

    1. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      You say that, but you’re both underplaying the language of the first and overplaying the language of the second for effect.

    2. Lenora Rose*

      If you’re going to exaggerate one side and underplay the other, this doesn’t exactly feel like good faith engagement.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yeah. It could just as easily be:
        Half the comments find sexualization of literal baby photos distasteful, and suspect homophobia in this case.

        the other half: CLUTCHES PEARLS – OMG you have a NAKED CHILD in your cubicle where PERVERTS can see him and are subjecting your POOR INNOCENT COWORKERS to UNWANTED NUDITY. This is JUST AS BAD as a photo of a naked adult!

        The difference between this bad-faith post and PG’s is that some people DID make the argument that a naked adult is a somehow valid comparison to a naked baby.

        Overall, I think we should be respectful of each other’s opinions.

    3. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

      I think a big part of the problem is that LW1’s company made a reasonable decision (no nude photos at all) for what was probably a very bad reason (there’s a higher chance of the coworker’s complaint being motivated by homophobia than discomfort with nude baby photos in general). That gets things all muddled up and raises people’s emotions.

      1. Czhorat*

        This is the heart of it; it’s a frequent enough attack against gay people that there’s no reasonable way to fault the LW for feeling attacked here. Even if “no naked pictures and that even means your literal baby” is a reasonable, blanket rule it’s so easy to understand why he feels attacked.

  63. Manzanita*

    For LW #4, agree with Allison to ask for feedback.
    If you want to work on public speaking as a skill, consider joining a Toastmasters club. There are a ton across the world, and some are focused on non-native speakers getting used to the majority language.
    The whole concept is to help you become a better speaker through 5-minute talks. There’s guides to putting together different types of talks, from introducing yourself (harder than it sounds!) to facilitating interviews to reading to kids.
    You’ll be in a welcoming environment with fellow speakers who want to see you succeed, without the worries of presenting at work.
    Good luck!

  64. sofar*

    LW1, this is the time for malicious compliance. Literally everything that can have a photo printed on it must be customized with photos of your (clothed) infant and displayed in your workspace immediately. I wish we worked together, so we could plot.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Malicious compliance is a fun fantasy, but generally isn’t advice that’s going to help the LW.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      If you want to go malicious compliance, could the OP photoshop the picture to have the baby in clothes?

  65. Elsewhere1010*

    Re #1. I have a photo of myself taken when I was five years old in 1960. I’m standing on the dining room table wearing my cowboy boots, my cowboy hat, and my cowboy gunbelt with my cowboy cap gun in the holster. Period. Full frontal.

    My mother was still showing that “cute” photo to guests when I was in my early 20’s, and I’m sure that’s the root cause of every neuroses I’ve ever had. Seriously, I cannot imagine any era when that would have bee OK.

    1. Czhorat*

      This might be a generational thing. My wife and I (GenX) never photographed our kids with genitalia visible out of respect for their privacy and because they’d not want that shown around when they grew up.

  66. Head sheep counter*

    For LW2 I understand the urge to have reported this. I think your work is done. Move on. Its not abnormal to be irritated and fixated on someone who appears to be doing this. However, since you aren’t the supervisor there is a healthy risk that there is more to the story as other commenters have noted. – fellow rule follower and wisher of others to follow said rules.

  67. The other one*

    OP2, I think you should have let this go entirely. if it’s just 1 hr, a few times a week, how can you be sure she is not using time she is entitled to for lunch on that day. And if her business isn’t a conflict of interest and if she isn’t misusing company resources (and no, I don’t think occasional calls from the company landline or email sent from her personal account on a company device qualify) it seems unnecessary to report to HR. Making sure your mutual boss is aware is ok, but you seem pretty determined to make trouble for this person.

  68. Hot Dish*

    LW 3: m I’m not defending your coworker but wanted to share my perspective as a person with a bad cough. Over the last couple years, I started periodically having an ugly, ugly hacking, choking cough, seemingly out of nowhere. I established that it wasn’t contagious, I went to urgent care multiple times until I could see my doctor and no one could give me an explanation. I sounded truly awful. It wasn’t contagious, I wasn’t sick beyond it, and it went on for months so it’s not like I could take sick time. It affected a lot outside of work,too. I felt horrible myself and I felt horrible for those around me having to hear it. Ultimately, I found out mine was acid reflux, often related to stress, and I’ve learned to get better at managing flair ups. I’m so grateful to all the poor folks who tolerated me for at least a year as this was getting figured out.

    I sumpathize with all of you involved in this scenario. In addition to the headphones idea, can any of you work from home more?

  69. Fez Knots*

    LW2 – I don’t understand the need to police coworkers whose actions don’t affect you. Maybe they do, but the letter doesn’t say so.

    With everything going on with the cost of living and inflation, perhaps this person needs the job? Having more than one job is something that gets debated a lot on AAM, and the people who feel it’s their job to protect their company/employers before giving even a passing thought to why their coworker might make that decision is MIND BLOWING to me.

    Work doesn’t care about you, honestly.

    This person’s actions don’t impact your ability to act how you feel is the most ethical in the workplace. So do that and stay focused on yourself.

  70. Numbat*

    LW1, one thing I would do is document this for myself, in case it is the start of a pattern of homophobic/bigoted behaviours. If it’s the only thing that happens ever, then good, but if it’s part of something larger that’s worth knowing and documenting.

  71. Kit Franklin*

    I have a rather unique reaction to letter #1. I worked in a tropical disease lab where I did graphics and ran the large format printer along with scientific duties. There is a long tradition of gratuitous nudity of non European bodies in scientific documentation. For example, the naked African woman with the ubiquitous black bar covering her eyes but otherwise naked to show an infection on her arm. The US readers will be familiar with National Geographic as a “poor man’s Playboy”. Anyway, the post doc needed to show an infection cycle so we decided to use a representation of Michelangelo’s David in cartoon form as the infected person. People literally called it pornography and our P.I. vetoed it. He required the naked African which was finally used.
    I laughed at the no nudity at work thing since our lab was a part of Pathology and the subject of an autopsy is never dressed not to mention the before mentioned illustrations. Once, one of the P.I.’s was teaching med students and he came down with a bad case of shingles. He asked me if he could document this since the class was going to be discussing shingles that week. I should mention that shingles often present as a line of painful sores that encircle the lower waist and groin. He went into the darkroom with my digital camera, undressed, and photographed his sores. I then edited the photos and cropped them and made slides for him. It was a given that one would be an adult about nudity.

    1. the Viking Diva*

      I am having fun imagining your workplace conversations. “Oh YAY, I got the disease I’m going to lecture about this week!”

      1. Kit Franklin*

        It literally worked that way. I had a boss who lived by the campus whose specialty was parasitic worms. She picked up fish for dinner and spotted a live worm on one of the fresh iced fillets and specifically chose that one, raced up to lab to show us and culture it, and then wrapped up the fish for dinner that night.

  72. Lobstermn*

    As a child SA survivor, I would find naked baby picture at work to be off-putting. Not something I would complain about, but definitely something that would make me uneasy and sad. I’m positive LW1 is correct that the complaint is founded in bigotry, and also it would make me unhappy to see the pic and I’d avoid looking at it.
    My 2c.

  73. Database Developer Dude*

    I’d say the gay dad needs to immediately put up clothed family pictures and note whatever reaction that gets…… that will tell him all he needs to know.

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