Author Topic: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch  (Read 4695 times)

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mspallaton

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Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« on: March 06, 2014, 03:38:58 PM »
I'm so happy I found this site - I had precisely none of the tools for dealing with awkwardness before I started reading the discussion boards.  Since I beandipped successfully for the first time (tried once with family but it made things worse - different story on a different thread), I thought I would share.

I went to a conference for work the other day where there was a sit down lunch.  One of those 'network with your peers' kind of things.  So about half the people were people I knew and the other half were people I was meeting.  I was sitting next to one of the new people and we were trying to make conversation. 

The first thing I got asked by the new person was "what does your husband do?".  Granting that's a little pet peeve for me because aren't there 100s of other, work related questions you could come up with?  But okay, it is in the realm of polite, basic questions to I answered -- he stays at home - he'll be a stay-at-home dad when we have kids and he takes care of me until then.  To be honest, it is a pretty sweet deal.  He's very nurturing and we aren't tied to a place because of two jobs.  I love it.

The guy's immediate response?  "Oh, haha, it's like having a wife".
...
...
...
I tried complete silence because I was bothered, but didn't want to show it.
Then he says "Oh, well, you know how there are more and more non-traditional families..."

I blinked a couple times and made a comment about how lovely the desserts looked and what kinds of sweets does he like?  That took it back to better topics and things stayed smooth for the rest of lunch.

I know I'm probably a bit more sensitive about this than I should be because people have made judgments about our choices, but I was pleased I didn't show the guy I was upset.  I wouldn't have thought to bean dip before coming here.  So... thought I would share.

Ceallach

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2014, 03:47:54 PM »
I agree silence was a good choice.   His comment was sexist but sadly I suspect well meaning eg he didn't intend to imply that staying home is woman's work, he was just attempting wit.   In a business context you probably don't want to rock the boat, but I'm sure your silence gave him a hint!

As SAHD becomes more common attitudes will start to change.   Every family should be able to make the choices that are best for them.
"Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something"


TeamBhakta

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2014, 03:48:34 PM »
He asked "what does your husband do", just randomly assuming you were married ? I've heard that is sometimes a pick up line attempt

mspallaton

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2014, 03:50:51 PM »
He asked "what does your husband do", just randomly assuming you were married ? I've heard that is sometimes a pick up line attempt

My ring finger was fairly prominently displayed and I have both a ring and a tattoo on the finger so... it is possible he wasn't observant... but I think it was just an awkward conversation attempt.

BeagleMommy

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2014, 04:13:38 PM »
Sounds like a case of foot-in-mouth disease.  He was expecting something like "Oh, he runs a dog waxing business" not "he's a house husband".  Therefore, he didn't quite know how to respond and inserted his foot in his mouth and chewed vigorously.

Silence always works.

Zizi-K

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2014, 04:19:53 PM »
I'm sorry, I guess I'm not seeing what's so offensive about what he said. "It's like having a wife" is shorthand for saying "it's like having the traditional notion of a stay-at-home-wife." Obviously there are lots and lots of wives who don't stay home. And at the moment, having a stay at home husband is non-traditional in the sense that it is atypical and it was uncommon in the past. I fully support the arrangement and I look forward to a time when it is more common. (not that my opinion matters) But your conversation partner wasn't wrong.


TootsNYC

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2014, 04:21:59 PM »
It's just so weird--he can't ask what you do? I mean, your husband isn't even there.

I wonder if he felt that it was important for him to acknowledge that he knew you were married--whether he's self-conscious about speaking to a woman.

Or, is he sexist and really only thinks men are important.

Who knows?
but it's weird. And you handled it well.

My husband is not employed outside the house; well, he freelancer, but not for very much money.

I don't want to get into it with people--they get really judgmental, etc. So I say, "he's based at home," and immediately go to another topic.

mspallaton

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2014, 04:50:07 PM »
It's just so weird--he can't ask what you do? I mean, your husband isn't even there.

I wonder if he felt that it was important for him to acknowledge that he knew you were married--whether he's self-conscious about speaking to a woman.

Or, is he sexist and really only thinks men are important.

Who knows?
but it's weird. And you handled it well.

My husband is not employed outside the house; well, he freelancer, but not for very much money.

I don't want to get into it with people--they get really judgmental, etc. So I say, "he's based at home," and immediately go to another topic.

Can I steal that?  I tend not to see the point in getting into it with acquaintances/work folks, but I also don't think I should have to lie about a perfectly respectable choice to avoid awkwardness.  Your wording sounds polite, but clearly not open for discussion.

JenJay

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2014, 05:00:10 PM »
I'm sorry, I guess I'm not seeing what's so offensive about what he said. "It's like having a wife" is shorthand for saying "it's like having the traditional notion of a stay-at-home-wife." Obviously there are lots and lots of wives who don't stay home. And at the moment, having a stay at home husband is non-traditional in the sense that it is atypical and it was uncommon in the past. I fully support the arrangement and I look forward to a time when it is more common. (not that my opinion matters) But your conversation partner wasn't wrong.

I think it was offensive because it emasculated her husband (he's not her wife, a wife is a woman) and it implies that being a stay-home spouse/parent is a woman's job. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with being a stay home wife but he isn't. He's a husband. "Oh so you have a stay-home husband." wouldn't have been offensive.

My husband has always worked odd hours so, when I also worked, we arranged our schedules so that we didn't have daycare. Whenever he took the kids out, or someone would find out he was the one who got them up and ready for school, he'd get the comments. "Oh are you Mr. Mom?" and "Your wife is so lucky that you babysit!" and "It must be your week with the kids." etc. He would get incredibly offended. None of those things were true. He was a father, caring for his children. Nobody bats an eye when women do these things but throw a man into the mix and it becomes a "thing". Even when the comment is well-intended it's still offensive to those on the receiving end.

TootsNYC

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2014, 05:06:15 PM »
I don't think it's so terribly emasculating--it *is* a bit like having the traditional 1950s wife. I think my answer would have been something like, "Yes, it is, sort of. So what's new at your company? Any interesting projects?"

Zizi-K

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2014, 05:09:23 PM »
I'm sorry, I guess I'm not seeing what's so offensive about what he said. "It's like having a wife" is shorthand for saying "it's like having the traditional notion of a stay-at-home-wife." Obviously there are lots and lots of wives who don't stay home. And at the moment, having a stay at home husband is non-traditional in the sense that it is atypical and it was uncommon in the past. I fully support the arrangement and I look forward to a time when it is more common. (not that my opinion matters) But your conversation partner wasn't wrong.

I think it was offensive because it emasculated her husband (he's not her wife, a wife is a woman) and it implies that being a stay-home spouse/parent is a woman's job. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with being a stay home wife but he isn't. He's a husband. "Oh so you have a stay-home husband." wouldn't have been offensive.

My husband has always worked odd hours so, when I also worked, we arranged our schedules so that we didn't have daycare. Whenever he took the kids out, or someone would find out he was the one who got them up and ready for school, he'd get the comments. "Oh are you Mr. Mom?" and "Your wife is so lucky that you babysit!" and "It must be your week with the kids." etc. He would get incredibly offended. None of those things were true. He was a father, caring for his children. Nobody bats an eye when women do these things but throw a man into the mix and it becomes a "thing". Even when the comment is well-intended it's still offensive to those on the receiving end.

It's only offensive if being "emasculated" or being compared to a woman is such a horrible thing. Which I don't. I agree that the other examples you give are offensive.

JenJay

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2014, 05:13:47 PM »
I don't think it's so terribly emasculating--it *is* a bit like having the traditional 1950s wife. I think my answer would have been something like, "Yes, it is, sort of. So what's new at your company? Any interesting projects?"

And that works for you and your DH. I wouldn't be impressed with anyone who referred to my DH as my wife and neither would he. Obviously only OP knows how her DH would feel about the comparison but she did post because she found it off-putting. "Emasculating" may have been too strong a word but I can't think of another.

I don't personally find my lifestyle to be anything at all like a 1950s wife. Perhaps OP's DH does.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 05:19:46 PM by JenJay »

TootsNYC

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2014, 05:14:59 PM »
He didn't say, Your husband is a woman, or your husband is a wife.

He said, "It's like having a wife."

Like = "not the same thing as, but similar to"

JenJay

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2014, 05:18:38 PM »
I'm sorry, I guess I'm not seeing what's so offensive about what he said. "It's like having a wife" is shorthand for saying "it's like having the traditional notion of a stay-at-home-wife." Obviously there are lots and lots of wives who don't stay home. And at the moment, having a stay at home husband is non-traditional in the sense that it is atypical and it was uncommon in the past. I fully support the arrangement and I look forward to a time when it is more common. (not that my opinion matters) But your conversation partner wasn't wrong.

I think it was offensive because it emasculated her husband (he's not her wife, a wife is a woman) and it implies that being a stay-home spouse/parent is a woman's job. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with being a stay home wife but he isn't. He's a husband. "Oh so you have a stay-home husband." wouldn't have been offensive.

My husband has always worked odd hours so, when I also worked, we arranged our schedules so that we didn't have daycare. Whenever he took the kids out, or someone would find out he was the one who got them up and ready for school, he'd get the comments. "Oh are you Mr. Mom?" and "Your wife is so lucky that you babysit!" and "It must be your week with the kids." etc. He would get incredibly offended. None of those things were true. He was a father, caring for his children. Nobody bats an eye when women do these things but throw a man into the mix and it becomes a "thing". Even when the comment is well-intended it's still offensive to those on the receiving end.

It's only offensive if being "emasculated" or being compared to a woman is such a horrible thing. Which I don't. I agree that the other examples you give are offensive.

No, I don't think being compared to a woman is offensive. That said, if I was really good at something traditionally male, say working on cars, and one of DH's work colleagues said "Wow it's like you have a husband!" I might be offended. Not because there's anything wrong with being a man, but I'm not one. I'm a woman who's mechanically inclined. OP's DH is a man who's domestically inclined. But he's not a wife.

For what it's worth I don't personally find the comment to be terribly offensive. Probably more of an eyebrow-raiser for me. I was just offering a theory as to why it might be offensive.

Sophia

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Re: Awkwardness at the Conference Lunch
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2014, 05:22:03 PM »
I think you had a good response.  My husband is a stay-at-home-dad, and I think I have it pretty sweet.  We've gotten some odd responses.