I decided a couple of years ago to move away from a wonderful city to a smaller town with a more laid-back lifestyle. The amount of indisputable sexist comments in a small town shocks me in comparison to working in a large city. In many people’s defense, I know that it is not intentional; I also know that they have a tremendous amount of respect for women; I just think they are a tad ignorant with their remarks.
I wouldn’t say that I am a particularly sensitive person when it comes to sexism. I will just say being called into a conference room by a man just so he can tell his male clients that I am pretty and that is why I was hired, is HIGHLY offensive.
I would like to believe I was hired for the position because of my skill set and accomplishments in my professional lifetime, not because I “have a pretty face.”
I also believe this is something that would have never been tolerated in a large company located in a more diverse area. I walked out of the room feeling confused, when did I turn into Joan and why is my life a Mad Men episode? DISCLAIMER: I in no way shape or form believe I look like Christina Hendricks.
When I told my boss about the comments made, she laughed as if I should find it flattering to be put on display like that, when I was actually mortified. This leads me to my next point: It is not always men that are guilty of sexism. I worked for a woman that I could tell was always holding back the urge to pinch my cheeks when she introduced me to new clients.
I get it, being called pretty is not an insult, but it does make me uncomfortable when none of my attributes that actually benefit clients are discussed. This is something that a man probably would never have to deal with in his career.
When I was 21 working at Food Lion my manager blatantly tell me I did not get a promotion I interviewed for because she “wanted a guy to get it.” This was a corporate company, I was young and didn’t understand how incredibly inappropriate that was and they got away with it (consider yourself lucky, pal).
I have seen my female friends get passed up for positions they are more than qualified for, for us to later discover a guy that looks like he wakes up in a room filled with smoke and Bob Marley posters got the job.
Calling a local company with a complaint is practically a waste of breath. Every time I have attempted this I was treated like an emotional woman, to the point where they did force me to act somewhat irrational just so I could get them to listen (I called to complain that they covered my car with splatters of concrete, it was justified, I promise).
People have said how proud of me they are for finding a successful boyfriend, while never saying they are proud for any other reasons. How about being proud of my volunteer work for a veterans’ charity or branching out to start my own design company?
People just think: “this lost single girl has found her way because her boyfriend has a respectable career.” It isn’t okay to just assume that is how a woman should (or wants to) live her life, simply awaiting Prince Charming’s arrival. While I can admit, he is an amazing and supportive partner; I have my own plans to remain an independent woman with a career.
I am still a fan of southern hospitality, and I love an old-fashioned gentlemen. I appreciate when a man witnessing me struggle with something heavy offers to assist. I am not ignorant to the fact that 90% of the men in this town are physically stronger than me and I will allow them to use that strength to my benefit. That is not being anti-feminist I just think I am being logical. There are some things that have changed in the feminist movement that I think were fine the way they were. I do not like hearing that a guy gets reprimanded for opening his date’s car door or offering to pay for the meal. Just because a woman wants to take care of herself doesn’t mean a man shouldn’t put effort into courtship.
People need to think more before they speak or change their way of thinking altogether.
Take a second to consider if you are about to make a remark to a woman in a professional setting that you would never say to a man then don’t. That is a good place to start.