• hellosmw

'I could have sex with you if I wanted to - I just don't want to'

Ah yes. Precious memories. I think I was 19 when this was said to me. I worked in a call centre at the time and I WISH I was joking when I said I'd been called into the big bosses office because my 'daddy issues' were affecting my performance. I was told that I should cut my Dad off, dump my boyfriend, stop leading on the guy from IT and that if he wanted to have sex with me 'right here right now' he could, he just doesn't want to.

All of that in one meeting? Yes - it was an absolute dream to work for that company. This is the same company who sacked me the same day I told them I had been diagnosed with a mental health condition.

Don't get me wrong - I don't claim to have been a perfect employee (or even a very good one at all...). My sickness levels were high, I often fell out with colleagues and definitely didn't see myself having a future there, so I wasn't very invested.

During the time I worked there, I was in an abusive relationship, newly diagnosed with a mental health condition and struggling financially. All of which I disclosed to them.

I don't want to get into why this particular employer was terrible (I think that's obvious already), but believe me when I tell you that everything you've read so far is just one of the many sexist experiences I've had in the workplace, and I am certainly not alone in having multiple examples.

I've more often than not had male bosses (shocker). Off the top of my head I can think of 6 of them who have made a sexual advance, created situations where we would be alone in which to do so, punished me professionally if I didn't go for it AND got nasty afterwards.

Maybe I've been unlucky and my life experience has put me in front of a lot of questionable people. Don't worry though because I have a plethora of more subtle examples too.

When I was in my mid twenties I realised how I'd been treated wasn't normal - it had just been normalised. I got a job in HR and started to realise what I would have to do if a woman came and told me these things were happening to her. If only I'd have known then what I knew now I thought to myself.

But - even in this 'new world' for me - where I was treated fairly, I could disclose my disability without fear of losing my job, my colleagues were understanding and my manager - supportive (and a woman!), I still found myself met with sexism.

I got into a relationship with a male colleague and for around a year, we kept this private from everyone else.

I had wrongly assumed that when people found out, we would be treated the same. We absolutely were not.

I believe some of this could have been down to superiority - by the time people found out, he was a senior manager at the company and I was not. However the differences in reaction, and how I was treated afterwards was shocking, even from my female peers.

Firstly there was the fact that 3 women deleted me as a Facebook friend as soon as they discovered the news, and didn't do the same to my partner.

Then, the constant questioning. He never got this - but I was quizzed constantly. When, how, why, how long for, what do we do at the weekends - a total invasion of my privacy that men don't seem to be expected to openly share.

Things became more complicated when it came to decision making that centered me. No one questioned my partner about his pay, his performance or his attitude since getting together, but you better believe they did me.

These microaggressions were most upsetting because it wasn't just coming from men. Women get used to dealing with a certain level of shit from men - but you hope for more compassion from women. Maybe that me putting misogynistic expectations onto women? Why should they be more compassionate? Over my working career I've been called trouble, sweetheart, darling, love - to name a few, and this doesn't even touch on the comments I've had about my tattoos, my body, my living arrangements, my car, my family life and more. I've been told I am too ambitious. Too young to get promoted. That I wanted it too much (wtf). I don't even have children - lord help you if you do, as we all know women are punished for that too.

Why is it that when navigating the workplace - women are just supposed to take all of this on the chin, not complain and deny the fact that it has an enormous impact on us?

Just kidding, that wasn't a real question, I know the answer and it's sexism.

Tell me the maddest thing that has happened to you at work at the hands of sexism

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