This post is not a ‘rant’ about men. I love men. I loved both my Dada & Nana, my dad, my brother, and brother in law. So I’m surrounded by men I adore.
That’s not to say that just because I adore them, that men, in general, can be, as a collective, repulsive.
This is a post about some of the men I’ve encountered when I’ve been at work. As a woman, I can only write about my own experiences.
Seen as most of your life is spent at work I felt it apt to write this now to show the downright small-mindedness, sexist, pure pig-headed stubbornness in the attitudes that men have towards women they work with.
By work, I mean in any capacity, they could be a customer of the firm you work for, a colleague or someone who is associated with the business in some form or other.
The men I’m discussing in my post are ones I’ve encountered in the last 13 years of working life. The reason I’m writing this now is I spent a large part of my weekend reading about all the women Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted and it got me thinking about my working life, how as a woman I’ve been made to feel uncomfortable or looked down upon because of my gender. Especially at work.
That some of the things I’d encountered with male ‘colleagues’ at the time I brushed off or laughed off because I was uncomfortable but really should never have happened in the first place, and did they happen because I was a young woman?
- Sit on your desk with his legs splayed guy
There was an older gentleman, a sales rep I used to work with. He did this, sat on the edge of my desk, talking down to me and with his legs wide open. It was extremely uncomfortable! It immediately put him in a position of power. Why he was even talking to me is a wonder as I didn’t ever need to interact with him as I had an external sales rep I worked with on my ‘patch’. At the time I thought nothing of it but looking back, you have to wonder how this was appropriate in an office.
- The grabber
This was specifically a customer. Around 7 or 8 years ago one of the firms I worked with interacted with their biggest customers. Days out, meals etc. were the norm pre-2008 and the crash. The same went with suppliers.
There was one particular customer who took a liking to me. Again maybe because I was young and friendly. On this one particular customer night out, he kept moving my hair out of my eyes. Everyone around me was laughing, including colleagues as if this was normal, I didn’t think it was but how do you swat someone’s hand away for fear of losing a big spending customer?
The putting his hand on my knee and indicating I should sit on his lap is something I completely forgot about until I read some of the Weinstein encounters. And later in the evening he pinned me up against a wall to keep me warm, his back to me so I couldn’t see anyone, he was a bit larger and that was alarming! I pushed him off and quickly started walking back to my hotel.
Luckily I didn’t have to interact with him again.
- The overachiever
Now, those who know me know I’m a little loud-mouthed and opinionated. As I’ve got older I keep it under wraps much better than when I was in my 20s. But again, there were some overly ambitious sales reps who assumed because they were on the road and had a lot of industry knowledge were better than me. I had no qualms about talking back and making my points to them. Maybe one of the reasons I got made redundant…maybe!
- The sexist
So, it’s obviously no surprise I’ve worked in sales for most of my career. But the sexist guy always lingers. Women would never say stuff like ‘wear a short skirt to a meeting’ ‘pop some lippy on when you go see clients’, how is this acceptable? What would they say for men to do when going to client meetings?? Would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.
- After hours messengers
When I started working at one particular company, a few years in Facebook became a big ‘must’ to have. This acted as a gateway for some guys to message me late at night once they saw me online, forever making me show myself as ‘offline’ to stop unwanted attention. I found it totally inappropriate to be messaging me late at night telling me all about how their wives didn’t understand them.
Looking back I’m wondering if the fact that I was a young divorced woman made them think I was an easy target to try and understand them and help them out of the ‘unmarried’ life. Being me I was polite and sympathetic but I would quickly disengage and log off not wanting to encourage a dialogue when I was browsing online! Once someone asked if they could have a video chat nearing midnight, which was a bit alarming!
I understand that a lot of sales people use the phrase ‘sex sells’ as a joke, as they flirt their way to big commissions, but that’s not me. I’m interested in people not money (probably explains why I’ve never earnt much!!). I’m not a bad sales person, I’m more for building relationships in a non-sexual way. And you know what this bloody works!!! No I may not have earnt 100k in salaries plus bonuses but since when has not being motivated by money suddenly a bad thing?!?!
Whilst the above are some of the stuff I’ve personally had to deal with and it may not seem like a big deal, looking back I think about how inappropriate it was. Why is this any of this acceptable behaviour towards a woman?
NB…This has been a long post, it was quick to write I guess reading about what’s happening in terms of harassment has made me relive some things. Just know that male or female, harassment at work should NEVER be allowed to happen and if it does more serious action needs to be taken, without the fear of the one speaking up being judged.
Have a good day xo