Let's Talk About Respect

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I work in a male-dominated field, and I have my entire adult life. The first eleven years were in the tender auspices of the U.S. Navy. The next six were in the U.S. Navy Reserves and the telecommunications industry. And the last eleven have been in the telecommunications industry alone.

And during that time, I have come to realize that you can always, always, always tell who's a sexist putz and who isn't.

The sexist putz is the one who looks at a perfectly competent woman, capable and educated, one who is absolutely qualified for the work she does on every level, and sees one of two things: a child, or a servant. And they act accordingly.

Theses putzes assume that because I don't have a penis, that means I never really achieve the seriousness or gravitas necessary to compete or perform in an adult world. I'm not really capable of assuming a leadership position in my professional life because the natural order of things puts me in a subservient position. As a result, they're condescending. They're dismissive. They're assume that if a mistake is made, obviously it's my fault - clearly a man wouldn't make such a mistake when a woman is around to take the blame, evidence be damned. They don't feel they have any obligation to keep me informed about projects of which I'm a part. They don't feel compelled to actually read or act on my work product. And they take every opportunity to devalue my contribution to the team, while simultaneously expecting me to act as their beck-and-call girl without complaint.

When people show you who they are, believe them.

You want to know if a man is a sexist putz? Look at how he treats the women in his professional life. If he behaves with respect, valuing their contribution, their skills, their work commensurate to their ability, then he's probably someone who believes in a merit based work place, regardless of gender. But if he assumes that his wants and desires should be placed above everyone else's? Sexist putz. And if he acts confused, put upon, and hurt when his unacceptable behavior is called out? Clueless sexist putz.

The sexist putz is not entitled to succeed on the basis of my work. He's not entitled to call upon my loyalty to go "above and beyond." He's not entitled to expect me to take responsibility for his mistakes. He's not entitled to treat me with disrespect based upon my genitals. He's not entitled to anything but my animus, because he's a sexist putz.

And once I make that determination? I will begin to act accordingly, as well.

1 comments:

beatrice in Paris said...

You sound like a Bryn Mawr graduate. That's a compliment in my eyes.