In the late 80’s I worked for Red Lobster in San Diego. I was refused a raise the male bussers got because I “couldn’t lift as much weight as the men.” At the time, I was training for a national martial arts competition. Trust me. I could lift as much weight as the men.
One of the ironic sexist thing in India is the idea of Girls college, where admission is allowed only for girls and also a course in graduation named Home Science, which is limited to females.
While on a board for an organization, was told by a fellow board member (male), when discussing a plan I’d developed with others to replace the Executive Director (who had full-on rages with at least 23 people, including board, volunteers, staff, community leaders and donors-to the point where the board chair had to apologize each time personally)…that my plan was ‘full of shit’. That board voted 11-2 to keep the Executive Director. I resigned. On that same board, had another member ask how old I was, incredulous that I could be that articulate. I’m 49, he’s probably in his mid-50’s. That same member constantly called me ‘honey, sweetie’ to the point where I asked him ‘I’m fine, how are you sweetie?’ Prior to my first meeting with that board, I told the board chair that I would be taking my own notes on my ipad and did not want people to assume that I would be secretary. Sure enough, during the first meeting, when the subject of notes came up, one of the other board members said ‘Beth is taking them’. The board chair said ‘no, I will’.
I work in a family-run campsite restaurant by the sea. The atmosphere is mostly relaxed, fun and neutral, with families enjoying their summer holidays together in a calm and respectful manner. But every so often we get a bad apple. There has been a group of families in the campsite for over a week. The women are kept, the men are lager louts, and the kids are rude and demanding. The men especially have been the worst. They choose to interact with me in a constant stream of sexual innuendo, often mentioning my appearance and sitting at the bar for hours on end staring at me and my collegues. They seem incapable of having a level, respestful conversation with any woman. Last night two of the men came to the bar, drunk, with their chidlren in tow. It was busy so there were lots of people around the bar, children, couples.. The men sat down and started talking to me about my hair, my eyes, trying to chat me up in front of my collegues and the other customers. It was so irrritating. Then, as my back was turned to do some till work, one of the men said to me (out of my earshot but audible to everyone else) “I’m going to f***k you.” My collegue told me about it 5 minutes later, just after they’d left, and I was so disgusted, so angry, so embarassed, that he could have said such a thing. I felt dirty. It was so degrading. The fact that he said it in front of his own children too makes it so much worse. And I felt threatened. What was this man actually capable of? I finish work every night in the early hours and I cycle home alone.. I was subject to verbal sexual abuse and bullying when I was a teenager and this has just made all the old feelings of shame and indignity come back. Verbal sexual abuse, or sexual remarks, should never be tolerated or brushed off as “banter”, never, never, never. This is the way we live in our society. How is that fair?
I was in a big corporate in my mid twenties working on an IT project I had a meeting with an IT college in a small glass fronted room. We were seated side by side to view a document on a laptop when he out of nowhere put his hand on my thigh and moved it up very high. No one could see due to where he’d chosen to sit. I was trapped inside him in the corner of the room. I flinched away instantly finished the meeting more or less instantly and got out. It really destroyed my trust in men for years it damaged my confidence as I felt stupid and thought I should have seen it coming but it was out for the blue. To this day I always pick where I sit in room carefully so as to have an unobstructed exit.
I am an attorney and was working with a male colleague (P) in a different firm (same side of the case). The court appointed an attorney-ad-litem who was a male attorney. The ad litem would speak normally to P but to me, when I questioned the ad litem on several points of fact he overlooked, would make comments like, “Perhaps you didn’t learn this in your first year contracts class,” and the never out of date favorite, “Let me explain this to you, or maybe P can help you with that.” I would frequently have to say to him that he didn’t need to speak to me the way he did. P would often be the point of contact because while P didn’t like the way I was treated, P felt he had to play the ad litem’s Man Game. The case was settled in mediation, and on the way out the ad litem gave P a hand shake and when I stuck out my hand for a shake he moved in to hug me. He should have just patted me on the head, it would have been the same thing.
The Topsy and Tim children stories CD has an episode on firefighters. At one point, they discuss whether women can do it. The answer given is, in substance “yes, but they must be as physically fit as the men”. Credit where it’s due: this makes the point that firefighting is a potential career for women. But there is an insidiously (albeit probably unintentionally) sexist message: that men are the point of reference. A woman applying to be a firefighter will have to prove something more than a man would, namely that she is as good as a man. Furthermore, a male firefighter is completely normal; a female firefighter not somuch. So a woman applying to be a firefighter would be trying to go out of the comfort zone of social norms. Not everyone is a born rebel, so this can deter women. A much better way of presenting this would have been to say that there are physical fitness requirements, which all applicants, regardless of gender (or indeed anything else), have to meet. The difference may sound subtle, but it matters. None of this affects me directly: I am unlikely to ever become a firefighter (or indeed a woman). But my 4 year old daughter has been listening to that story…
*So* fed up of working in a global organisation office culture where arrogance and bullying are perceived as ‘leadership’ qualities and the organisation pays lip service to diversity and equality then does nothing else to truly promote those concepts. Have tried to speak to managers and suggest improvements in workplace survey responses but challenging the status quo is vulnerable behaviour if you want to ‘get on’. One male manager physically recoiled when I mentioned sexism as a general concept. Coming to the conclusion that, in some workplaces, it’s not safe to highlight workplace issues or raise complaints unless you do it as a group or have active union representation. There is a BBC programme in the UK tonight called ‘No More Boys and Girls’ – the trailer suggests it will demonstrate how sexist attitudes are already pervasive in the classroom. Is macho office culture just the classroom ‘writ large’?
Majoring in Chinese Medicine, this is the most common comment I’ve got: good choice for you as a girl. You’ll have more time for housework and kids.
Our CEO just posted an article he’s written on issues of gender diversity and what he’s doing to tackle it, on LinkedIn. He plagiarised parts from not one but three articles (2 journals, 1 report) all written by women. We’re an academic Institute. I’d kick my students out if they did that and he has PhD.