By in Personal

It was a Sexist Remark, Meant to Make Me Feel Better

In the summer after my sophomore year in college, I worked at an art supply store, and at that store, there were three managers--two men and one woman. I didn't get along with the woman for whatever reasons, and I actually ended up getting fired. This news was broken to me not by her, but (on her day off) by one of the men, who literally told me these ACTUAL words, apparently in attempt to salve the wound, "People don't like pretty girls."

Yeah, that happened.

Now, some of you may not realize why that was absolutely stupid and sexist. Here's why: It's OKAY for two people to not get along at work for whatever reasons--sometimes people just rub each other the wrong way. What's NOT okay is that this man, who was otherwise a nice man, but clearly clueless about such things, assumed that since she was an older lady and I was a cute young college student, that the reason for the friction couldn't have been any one of the million other reasons people don't get along, but instead HAD to be about...sexual jealousy.

Seriously???? If it were two men butting heads, do you really think that anyone would say, "Well, Herb's just mad that Brian's young and cute"...?

And to think that this patronizing, objectifying, ridiculous remark was made in an effort to make me feel BETTER, because apparently knowing I was pretty would make up for losing my job. And of course because I was only 19 at the time and didn't have my fully-formed-adult perspective, I didn't advise him what a messed-up thing that was to say, but I do remember feeling non-plussed rather than vindicated, so maybe I did have a little instinct about it at the time.

So guys--and by the way, I realize that not ALL guys do this-- please remember that we ladies would prefer to hear that we are smart and resourceful and capable and all the things that YOU like to hear that you are. Telling us we are pretty is only appropriate in a SOCIAL situation (relationship - definitely; friendship - probably). Comments about our appearance are NOT warranted in a business setting.

In other words, if you wouldn't say it to a MALE coworker, don't say it to a female coworker. Women don't want special treatment. We want equality. And sexism denies equality, simple as that.

Image Credit » by MarkoLovric

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wolfgirl569 wrote on January 27, 2016, 9:33 AM

That was very wrong to say. But many men just do not have a clue

markgraham wrote on January 27, 2016, 10:27 AM

I really do not know what to say, but I know that was wrong of him to say such a thing in that way.

Ellis wrote on January 27, 2016, 11:30 AM

I think I fall into the 'doesn't have a clue' category...

MegL wrote on January 27, 2016, 12:25 PM

Yes better say nothing in those circumstances!

indexer wrote on January 27, 2016, 1:04 PM

Yup - good point. However, could it be that the guy was simply trying to give a reason in terms of someone else's attitude rather than his own? In other words, if you assume that someone else is being sexist, does reporting that fact make you sexist as well?

cmoneyspinner wrote on January 27, 2016, 6:31 PM

One of my sons worked at a place and was actually upset because the guys there called him “pretty boy”. He was indeed a handsome young fellow. In fact, when he as a baby (instances that he obviously will not remember since he was between the ages of 0 to 6 months), I used to have to correct people constantly by telling them he was a boy and not a girl baby. He was “pretty”! Not trying to defend the man's remark. But maybe the man was just telling you what he knew was the true real reason why you had to be let go! It wasn't sexist. It was the truth. Just sayin'.

AliCanary wrote on January 28, 2016, 5:35 PM

I understand why he was upset, but it seems you don't. I understand why you don't -- because you view his looks as an asset, and you love him and are proud of him. But as a guy, he probably feels uncomfortable with a term that is typically feminine; it probably makes him feel emasculated. And although maybe the guys at his job meant no harm, maybe they did. Maybe they used that term to belittle him. It's sad that men think being compared to women IS somehow belittling, but that's a sad fact in this culture. I seriously doubt that Camille (that was the manager's name) actually told Barry (the one who made the comment) that she couldn't work with me because I was pretty.

AliCanary wrote on January 28, 2016, 5:41 PM

No. Thinking someone made a sexist comment does not make me sexist. Unless she specifically told him that was the reason, which I highly doubt, it was not his place to speculate, and it was definitely not appropriate for him to assume such was the case OR to bring it up even if he did.

cmoneyspinner wrote on January 28, 2016, 7:35 PM

You were there. You know your situation better than me. I empathize with you. Who wants to show up to work every day just to be annoyed and aggravated and butt heads with somebody? Unless I know that I've done something deserving to be terminated, it would upset me. Especially if I was given a flaky excuse! But I'd much rather just be asked nicely to pack up my things and leave, with no explanation instead of being up being given a “made up lame excuse”. So keep the flaky explanation which I don't want to hear and write it up in the personnel records. They have to put something in the records. Don't they? But they don't have to put it in my mind. I don't need “garbage”. If I leave a job confident the “real reason” was not my poor performance or me harassing co-workers or something like that, my conscience is clear. Life carries on.

DarkSinistar wrote on January 29, 2016, 2:43 AM

So as long as I tell the male workers they are pretty too, then it's all good, right? :D But seriously, I would never say anything like that to any employee. But then, I would never let an employee go without something more valid than a personality clash.

AliCanary wrote on January 29, 2016, 5:05 PM

Exactly. By the way, good to see you back, George!

LoudMan wrote on February 10, 2016, 4:05 PM

I say it to male co-workers, too. It screws them up and makes me laugh.

VinceSummers wrote on June 7, 2017, 8:41 AM

Under close analysis, the statement was empty foolishness. But if we call to account every saying of empty foolishness, we will soon be an undesirable associate. I try not to get too upset when people tell me I'm smart. You see, I don't think intelligence is a particularly endearing quality, either.

AliCanary wrote on June 8, 2017, 1:50 PM

I know it was not meant to be unkind, and yes, it was unthinking, but I thought it was a subject that should be addressed because it seems so innocuous and yet it indicates the pervasiveness of sexism in our culture. It's not just about valuing someone based on appearance, which is pretty shallow and ridiculous, but that WOMEN are traditionally valued based on their appearance, and so basically we're being valued for something shallow and ridiculous. I'd much rather have someone tell me I'm smart, although I wouldn't want to hear it stated n a tone of surprise!

VinceSummers wrote on June 8, 2017, 1:56 PM

I love the last part of your statement.