Yes, this still goes on

Jessika tells the story:

I’m the only woman who works in the team of hardware/tech support of about 5 guys. There are more people in our shop than that, but we work together the closest due to job overlapping. So I’ve spent lots of time around them, even though I don’t share an office with them. For the most part we get along. They are all big Republican supporters, know I’m very liberal, and often joke with me about it. I joke right back. I’m fine with that, considering I live in Oklahoma after all, and there’s not a time when I’m not around Republicans. The problem comes in with a smaller group of 3 guys who hang out, talk, and go to lunch together. More specifically, how one guy makes sexist comments pretty often, and the other two either laugh or agree.

None of these are directed at me, ever. It’s always about how some woman is usually hot or ugly. Like when Palin was picked to be the Republican VP candidate. I had to hear about how good looking she is, and how much better she looked than Hillary.

Having been a guy most of my life, I know how that goes. (It’s said that men will actually vote this way if the ballots permit.)

But the bottom line is this:

I don’t need to be friends with my coworkers, but having people who can be my mentor, or to feel comfortable talking out a work issue I’m having, or even as someone they see as a person they respect and can come to … that would be really impacted. Even though with all the stuff I just talked about, it sure doesn’t seem like he really respects me anyway.

The biggest thing? I’ve been kicking myself over this a little bit. Thinking maybe I’m just being too sensitive and need to grow a thicker skin. Or being too emotional, since before writing this I was literally almost in tears thinking about it all.

A thicker skin is a good thing to have, but she’s kicking the wrong person here: if they’re acting like boorish fratboys, how is it her fault?

Which got me thinking about our own department, three men and one woman, and whether we guys exhibit the same sort of noisome drool. And I don’t think we do, not so much because we’re so terribly enlightened and all — God knows I’m not — but because neither I nor my co-doofuses feel the least bit threatened by her presence. (Now her absence, that would be scary: we’d never be able to catch up with the hardware backlog.) Atavistic and Cro-Magnon as it may seem, there are still guys who quail at the very thought of being outdone by some mere girl (pronounced “GUR-uhl,” with as much feigned indignation as possible). I’d like to think that at least some of us have gotten past that stage.

(“You’re not nearly that bad,” said Trini, reading over my shoulder, although in fairness I must point out that “not that bad” does not equal “good.”)





8 comments

  1. fillyjonk »

    4 December 2008 · 9:40 am

    “Having been a guy most of my life,”

    So should we start calling you Tiresias? Or Orlando?

    I have to say I’ve never encountered the fratboy mentality among my colleagues. If anything, they are too careful to avoid offense. (As much of a prude as I claim to be, I can appreciate a good dirty joke now and again…)

  2. CGHill »

    4 December 2008 · 9:45 am

    I spent a couple of years online feigning femaleness. :)

  3. Tatyana »

    4 December 2008 · 9:47 am

    That puts me in mind to tell the “Libs vs.Non-Lib” tale in my own office (approx. proportion – 100:2), ever more amusing since “fighting sexism” has been on Libs banner forever.

  4. Tatyana »

    4 December 2008 · 9:48 am

    Chaz:…with residual fondness for high heels, we notice (and appreciate)

  5. Flack »

    4 December 2008 · 10:52 am

    While I agree that everyone has a right to work in a harassment-free workplace, don’t you feel, just an eensy-teensy little bit, that we’ve gone too far with the political correctness?

    I’m not allowed to say Sarah Palin’s hot (she is) around female co-workers? Am I allowed to eat meat around my vegetarian co-workers? Wear colored-clothing around colorblind friends?

    I guess what bothers me about her comments is that it’s okay to joke about politics. She’s set that precident in the office. So really what she’s saying is, it’s okay for the people in her office to joke with her about what she says it’s okay to joke about.

    People are confusing; I prefer computers.

  6. CGHill »

    4 December 2008 · 11:09 am

    Well, it’s not just the political stuff. Another excerpt from the original:

    I went to lunch with two of the guys, and he commented on Hillary being picked for Secretary of State. He said how she didn’t look bad for an older woman, but he couldn’t stand it when she opened her mouth. Then the conversation, between him and the other coworker, went into how she and Bill looked alike and how that it could be possible they were related. They were from Arkansas after all. Luckily from there the conversation turned to football, so that was the end of it. Today though, we were in the elevator and he commented on the young nurses that passed by earlier. He said it was a shame they would be gone soon. He wanted the men to be cared for someone who didn’t look like Nurse Ratchet. I tried to do a “WTF dude? Why does it matter what they look like, it needs just to matter if they can do their job.” He said “Well yeah, they can do their job, but you’ve gotta *look* at them.” I left the elevator and went to do my work ticket.

    I’d cut these guys a lot more slack if they were, you know, actually funny.

  7. McGehee »

    4 December 2008 · 12:19 pm

    They were from Arkansas after all.

    Jeez. I’m starting to despise low-information voters on principle. Hillary didn’t set foot in Arkansas until she was 27 for [bleep]’s sake.

    I weep for the democratic process.

  8. fillyjonk »

    4 December 2008 · 1:46 pm

    You know, none of the women I hang out with (admittedly, these days, my in-person “hanging out” is more prone to be with men because of my career) ever talk like those elevator guys do. Oh, maybe, once in a while we’ll say, “Wow, he’s lookin’ good” if a guy is particularly attractive or something, or we MIGHT make comments on someone’s poor hygiene, but I don’t remember any of my female friends slamming a guy for not being “hot.”

    Then again, none of the guys I know in-person do that (at least around women). Maybe Jessika is in the wrong field/workplace?

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