The Vice President (male) of the company I worked for thought it was funny to show me (female) the business card of a prostitute, complete with a naked picture of herself. He was amused that the prostitute took credit cards, and wondered if she “swiped the card in her ass”. When I spoke out to the President (male) I was told to deal with it myself, and “talk to him” to “make him understand how I felt”. I made me very uncomfortable to be put in the position of having to correct a superior, after having just been the victim of harassment by that same superior. His response….it isn;t harassment if he didn;t intend it to be, if his intentions was just to make a joke then it’s ok to do it. The President took no further action and just swept it under the rug. The VP went on to continue to make sexist “jokes” to me and other female staff until he retired.
At an event for bloggers and journalists the theme was cheese and gin. The producers (all male) held speeches about their products. When it came to how the gin got its name the producer told a story about the founder who went to Scandinavia and was welcomed there with open arms and the daughter of the house was offered to him as a friendly gesture, apparently back then that was normal, but the man refused. The audience didn’t really react, except one person who said: “But was she pretty?” he himself being the fattest, ugliest guy in the room. There was nervous laughter and the speeches continued. What can you do, what can you reply to a comment like that? Could someone have intervened, told him how sexist his comment was? I don’t think so. Because that’s just the world we live in.
I live in Newlyn, near Penzance in Cornwall. A pub in our village specialises in writing offensive “jokes” (sexist, racist, misogynist etc) on a blackboard fixed to the outside wall of the pub and therefore seen by everyone who walks past. This week’s “joke” is: Paddy asked his wife what she wanted for Christmas. She said “a black iPad” so he punched her!!! It’s shocking that anyone could find this funny or acceptable. A few weeks ago, the “joke” was: How do you stop your wife from staggering? Shoot her a couple more times. I find this utterly disturbing and a shocking indictment of the way women are thought about in 2016, when we think we’ve come so far.
A man in a car asked me where the nearest Tesco is, and I told him the direction, “head straight, turn left at the end of the road, it’s a big Tesco you won’t miss it.” Instead of thanking me he laughed and replied, “so you like everything BIG then?” Also what troubled me is everyone I told this story to thought that the incident was absolutely hilarious and the guy was such a genius for coming up with that comment.