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Author Topic: You should cook because you're a woman UPDATE p#49  (Read 27500 times)

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You should cook because you're a woman UPDATE p#49
« on: May 17, 2015, 10:24:38 AM »
Recently, I attended an "unemployment support group" meeting.  I understood it to be an opportunity for networking, mutual support, learning new job search strategies, and guest speakers who could give career advice, etc.  Everyone was seated at long trestle folding tables shaped in a large U formation in the meeting room.

When I showed up at the meeting, there were about twenty other unemployed individuals there.  They were all men, except for myself and one other woman.  She happened to be the guest speaker that day.

Turns out, she was a distributor for a mlm that sold gourmet kitchen gadgets and cookbooks.  She gave her spiel, which included an overview of the products and an invitation to sign up under her to sell the same.  She had a catalog that she wanted to pass around to everyone, and the leader/facilitator walked over to her, took it, and walked across the room, and placed it in front of me at the table and said "this should interest you, since you're a woman. I'll make sure you get (Speaker's) contact information," and then walked back to his chair at the front of the room. Then, he had everyone break up into groups for various industries and such, and I wanted to join the one for people in the writing/communication/journalism field (which is what my degree and experience is in), but he came over and told me that they didn't have one for secretaries, but they might next week, so "you don't have to waste your time. I'm sure you have a lot of chores to do at home."

I was embarrassed, and wanted to say something distinctly NOT e-hell approved about s@xism.  Actually, I wanted to hit him with my shoe. Instead, I said nothing, and stood there for a minute wondering what to do.  Fortunately, one of the other group members kind of looked embarrassed and invited me to join in their discussion about communication careers, but after that we all pretended it didn't happen.

Just in general, how should one respond in a situation like that? Is it better to say something? Do nothing, like I did? Run screaming from the room? I'm assuming violence is out of the question (that one is tongue in cheek, ok?), as is a public verbal dressing down.  What should I have done?


« Last Edit: July 29, 2015, 01:05:34 PM by mrkitty »

Harriet Jones

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2015, 10:31:49 AM »
Was there anything actually keeping you from joining the group you were interested in?   I would have said, "my degree is in journalism" and proceeded to sit where I wanted, not that you need to explain yourself.

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2015, 10:36:13 AM »
Was there anything actually keeping you from joining the group you were interested in?   I would have said, "my degree is in journalism" and proceeded to sit where I wanted, not that you need to explain yourself.

In the moment, I sort of felt like there was, because it was right after he told us to break into groups, so people were just starting to get up to form groups when he came over to me to invite me to leave.  So, yeah, in that moment, I sort of felt a little stunned by what he said to me.

Harriet Jones

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2015, 10:39:42 AM »
I would have been stunned, too, but I probably would have called him a name inside my head, and sat down in my group.  All you had to do was say you weren't a secretary.   

bonyk

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2015, 10:41:17 AM »
This man is the organizer of the group?  That kind of tells you all you need to know about the group.

You could have said, "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind if I run into anybody looking for a secretary position.  I'm interested in communication, so I'm good over here," and then turned away.

Hillia

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2015, 10:47:28 AM »
If this group is sponsored by a larger organization, I would contact them and let them know what a sexist idiot they have running their 'support' group.  IF they agree with his approach, then you know the whole organization is made up of sexist (and probably ageist, racist, and every other -ist) idiots and you can avoid them.  If the organization is properly horrified, they might have a group led by a non-idiot that would be beneficial to you.

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2015, 10:53:10 AM »
This man is the organizer of the group?  That kind of tells you all you need to know about the group.

Yes, it certainly did.

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You could have said, "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind if I run into anybody looking for a secretary position.  I'm interested in communication, so I'm good over here," and then turned away.

I guess so, that would certainly be better than what I did manage to say, which is absolutely nothing.  I just feel like I should have given a response, or challenged the sexism. I feel I let myself down.

Hillia, I agree with you.  I can certainly try to follow up.

Twik

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2015, 10:54:22 AM »
If this group is sponsored by a larger organization, I would contact them and let them know what a sexist idiot they have running their 'support' group.  IF they agree with his approach, then you know the whole organization is made up of sexist (and probably ageist, racist, and every other -ist) idiots and you can avoid them.  If the organization is properly horrified, they might have a group led by a non-idiot that would be beneficial to you.

Absolutely. This sounds beyond bizarre, and if this is going on under the leadership of a reputable organization, or even a government grant, this must be stopped *now*.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2015, 11:05:44 AM »
Yeah, it's actually a program run by my local parish.  The facilitator was one of the religious brothers.  I was thinking I should speak to the pastor. I might go to a few more meetings just to be sure to give it a chance, but I wasn't very impressed because the communication group (consisting of four people, including myself) was two guys working on their own private video blog (I saw it, it was really bizarre and, well, I just won't go there) and retired bank worker who is just trying to write a novel and wants to workshop it. (I suggested to him he might want to look for actual writing workshops to join), not to mention, if their guest speakers consist of mlm-ers looking for recruits, then I don't find it too helpful. But, we'll see.  Maybe I just went on an off day. But if that sexism thing continues after I bring up the issue with the pastor, I might be looking for a new religion, having lost mine.  ;)

Those of you from the south will certainly pick up my double meaning. hee-hee


nutraxfornerves

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2015, 11:10:34 AM »
It's hard to think o your feet when this kind of stuff happens, isn't it?

I probably would have reacted as you did when handed the catalog--jus sat there with my mouth open. But the secretary/chores comment was so egregious that I would have been provoked to respond. Unfortunately, I ran into this periodically during my career.  Here's how I learned to handle it:

I would have said, very coldly "I beg your pardon," and stared at him. Whether he continued or just spluttered, I would have added, "Perhaps you were misinformed. My area of expertise is journalism and communication. Like everyone else, I am here to network and learn new career strategies in my field. Which group do you think will be the best for me to join?" Then I'd look from him to the others, as if inviting them to answer as well.

This approach accomplishes two career things. First, it focusses on what you are, not what you are not. You are a writer, rather than you are not a secretary. It doesn't really matter if Mr. Sexist gets the message; what does matter is that you have presented yourself as a colleague to the others. You never know when that might pay off. Another thing that may pay off--you have not directly told Mr. Sexist that he is an idiot, even if he is. The "misinformed" lets him save face. Even though he might have felt that he was publicly embarrassed, it would be hard for him to badmouth you later for being horribly rude, since there were witnesses.

The others may remember and be impressed by how you handled it. A few weeks after a similar encounter, I discovered that one bystander was actually someone who could do good things for my career. He contacted me to say "I was impressed with how you handled that insult," and then went on to talk about a job lead.

Nutrax
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shhh its me

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2015, 11:42:38 AM »
If this group is sponsored by a larger organization, I would contact them and let them know what a sexist idiot they have running their 'support' group.  IF they agree with his approach, then you know the whole organization is made up of sexist (and probably ageist, racist, and every other -ist) idiots and you can avoid them.  If the organization is properly horrified, they might have a group led by a non-idiot that would be beneficial to you.

I second this and will add you could also let the education/programs ect manager of the building know (if there is one) Lots of these groups met at churches and/or community buildings. I would not expect immediate action but many host buildings are subsidizing(I'm referring to free/cheap space , room set up, advertizing  type of things) the groups as a service to the community and would want to know if the members of the community they were trying to service felt alienated.

Cherry91

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2015, 12:02:28 PM »
It's so easy to know what you should have said after the fact, especially when someone manages to show you their time travel trick where they bring back an attitude from long, long ago.

I say definitely complain to the organisation in charge of the support group.
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Steve

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2015, 12:20:20 PM »
Please, can I come over and hit him with my shoe?




FauxFoodist

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2015, 12:42:33 PM »
Yeah, it's actually a program run by my local parish.  The facilitator was one of the religious brothers.  I was thinking I should speak to the pastor.

If I thought it would help, I would say something, in writing, regarding what took place.  Otherwise, I would leave the group as I'd find it worse than useless.

I'd be stunned, too, and not have something ready to reply because I totally wouldn't be expecting the "interesting assumptions."

Benni

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Re: You should cook because you're a woman
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2015, 03:57:46 PM »
The first warning should have been the presentation my a MLM groupie.  The second warning was the sexist attitude of the facilitator (oh, my).  The third warning was the group dynamic, which is not a networking group at all.  I have found that if I cannot leave a meeting feeling better about myself, then I refuse to go to future meetings.  This is a hard and fast rule of mine, and it includes every area of my life, including religion.


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