Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Misogyny. Not My Favourite Thing.

So I work in a male-dominated field, and at the current job where the median age is particularly low, my peers are largely twenty-something or barely thirty-something guys.

No problem.

I don't have a problem with swearing (either them or me, hah) and except for this toy monkey thing which made a godawful noise (but which they fortunately exercised only once a day, and eventually were ordered by someone else to disappear) I don't believe we have in any way clashed at all.

I would characterize interactions as comfortable and cordial.

The physical area in which I work contains two teams: mine (with a higher median age, not entirely my doing thank you) and another younger team (the one which had the monkey). Perhaps ten people all told. All male, save me.

Again, not a problem.

The side of our fridge has one of those magnetic poetry sets: a collection of magnets each containing a word, which those inclined may arrange into poems or prose or whatever. Since John, one of our Systems guys got laid off last Thanksgiving, no one does much with the words. I glance at it daily as I make coffee, but it's at best uninspiring and more usually unchanged.

A few weeks ago there was something about woman...taste...mouth - a bit risque I suppose, but not (to me) offensive.

Last week it changed to "the wildest woman will give you crabs" which pretty quickly changed to "the crabbiest woman will make you wild" or something like that.

Today it was changed back again to "the wildest woman will soon give you the crabs" which crossed the line for me.

I wasn't bothered when a former colleague would make comments indicating that my body had crossed his mind (a remark about me in a cheerleader costume, that sort of thing) because I was perfectly comfortable reprimanding him, and even though it was slightly creepy, it didn't make me uncomfortable or create any sort of hostile environment.

I may be mouthy at times, but I generally avoid making waves. I've observed that squeaky wheels, far from getting oiled, are often exchanged for those which play better with others, but one of my buttons was pressed.

I attached a yellow stickie saying "Inappropriate. Enjoy sexual harassment lawsuits much?" and complained to HR. I had to do something, no matter how ineffectual. I'm not sure what else I can do, or want to do, in this frightening job market.

It leaves a bad taste though.

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