We were nearly too cross to print this, but we asked our regular contributors to tell us the most sexist thing that anyone’s ever said or done to them. Most of these happened in this century, kids.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got a couple of women on tonight, so bear with us.”
When I was about 10, a neighbour saw I was learning ‘spellings’ and said, “Don’t worry, you won’t need it when you’re older because you’ll have a husband.” (I was furious and crushed and still wish I’d spelled out the C word, but what with being polite and 10 years old etc…)
An ex-boss came in to the office hungover and asked us if we had any painkillers. We didn’t. He then went on to say, “Well never mind. You know what they say is the best way to get rid of a hangover?”, turned to me (the only woman in the room) and said, “Have you read your contract recently?” winked and walked off.
“You don’t look like a scientist…”
A few years ago I was taking a trip with a friend of mine and his family in Santa Barbara. They’d hired a private jet (yeah, shhh). When the jet arrived and the female pilot came to greet us, my friend’s dad said, “You’re the pilot? NO WAY?! HAHAHAHAHAHA.” Cue the whole family falling about in hysterics.
Volunteering on a farm where I had singlehandedly pruned 50 olive trees and lugged barrowfuls of rubble up and down a steep driveway, there was concreting to be done. The owner said, “I’m not sexist but… women shouldn’t do concreting.” The atmosphere became so frosty we left a day later. Shame.
“When I was 13 and walking to school a man in a car pulled up, wound his window down, asked me how old I was, and then told me I was ‘too beautiful to go to school.'”
I turned up at a conference where I was the keynote speaker. I went to meet the AV people to give them a copy of my talk. They asked me for my presentation number. I said I didn’t have one, as I was giving the keynote. They asked again. I showed them my name in the programme. They (HE) said, “No, this session is for Professor Scott’s talk.” Turned out Professor Scott has to be a man.
Grabbed by the crotch in a nightclub. When I remonstrated the guy tried to punch me.
In M&S recently, buying school trousers for my daughter. I asked why the ‘girl’ fit cost £5 more than the ‘boy’ fit. Joanne on the till laughed and suggested it was because boys “play about in them, so you need to replace them more often.” Joanne didn’t like my reply.
Back in 1980 at school chairing a debate, I asked not be called ‘chairman’. My teacher (a woman) asked what I wanted to be called instead. My mate (a lad) said, “Call her ‘chaircow’. My teacher laughed and wrote my name on the board and the word ‘chaircow’ underneath.
A man in a van pulled over to wind his window down. I was a helpful 14-year-old and waited to see what directions he needed. It took ages to wind down. Then he said, “God you’re ugly,” wound the window back up and drove off. I really wish I’d understood that it was sexist at the time. I just thought I must be really ugly.
Eighteen months ago. Job interview for senior role. The interviewer asked how my husband and kids would feel about me taking on such a responsible role that would mean long hours. In 20-fucking-15.
I got married in my early 20s, and for much of our partnership I was the breadwinner. Yet I got asked ALL THE TIME when I was going to give up my job to “take care of my husband properly.”
Once, I was due to go away for a month for work and was asked by a concerned co-worker whether I had cooked, labelled and frozen enough individual meals to feed my then-husband while I was away.
I might add that on said month-long job I discovered I was being paid HALF of my male contemporary’s fee, for exactly the same type and amount of work.
“When I was about 10, a neighbour saw I was learning ‘spellings’ and said, ‘Don’t worry, you won’t need it when you’re older because you’ll have a husband.'”
When I was 13 and walking to school a man in a car pulled up, wound his window down, asked me how old I was, and then told me I was “too beautiful to go to school.”
Once I was studying for my finals and my dad and brother were watching cricket in the lounge. My mum was away nursing my dying grandmother and my dad shouted up at me to come put the washing machine on. So I had to stop revising for my finals to go do chores so they could keep watching TV.
I totally lost my shit. Dad explained he didn’t know how the washing machine worked (how he expected me to when I didn’t even live there, I don’t know). He went to Oxford university, for god’s sake. The reason he didn’t know how the washing machine worked was sexism.
Possibly not the most sexist incident but one which always sticks in my mind is about 12 years ago when I was working for a magazine. We were on all a social night out ten-pin bowling. Talk turned to how my boyfriend and I were very happy, but had no plans to get married. “I’ve found that all girls secretly want to get married,” said the (young and supposedly with-it) MD, despite my assurances that no, I knew my own mind here.
It was one of those companies where pay was very much of the figure-plucked-from-the-air variety. Guess who out of my male colleague and me, doing broadly equivalent jobs, turned out to be getting paid more?
I do a lot of running, some with a club, some with a pal, and some solo. Whenever it’s the latter, some bloke will whistle, follow me, or yell ‘encouragement’. I’m kind of used to it. One of my routes takes me past a lot of parked cars: there’s a nice view and people pull up to look at it/do drug deals. As I ran past one of the stationary motors, the bloke inside opened his door and slapped my arse. I was stunned. And furious. But on my own at dusk, so I just kept running, all the time fuming with myself for not saying anything.
My physical appearance being discussed in most of my reviews; ’Homely’, ‘sturdy’, etc.
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