Hellooo! I shouldn't have to *tell* you when you're being ignorant!! (Vent) - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 29 Old 08-19-2003, 06:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Grrrr! Why can't people just wake up and be *conscious* about their own offensive thoughts and words without having to be *reminded* by the people they offend! I feel like I'm seeing this all over the place, and while I'm willing to step up and open my big mouth every single time I hear someone showing their ignorance about another race or gender or sexual orientation or whatever -- today I am just wishing people would enlighten their own selves and not have to be politely asked, "Um, could you please be less offensive when you're in earshot of me?"

I have to vent about what just happened at work... but really also about what underlies this scene (which is why I came to Activism when I had been headed to TAO!).

So I have a pretty dull part time job, doing office work in a little room off of a larger workplace. While I'm working away at my computer, there are often conversations next door. I can always hear them.

Yesterday a woman employee here confronted both the manager and the owner of the business about a sexist comment made earlier, which they both joined in laughing about. She pointed out that might not be a good example for the rest of the staff. (*sigh* to put it mildly). They of course agreed and apologized profusely for having offended her. :

Today I hear the same two men speaking. The one describes a perk of his previous job, making service calls somewhere where the owner's daughter was "so hot & should've been in Playboy." Other guy laughs. Whatever. Juvenile, objectifying.... Then he says:
"Oops, I should be careful what I say. Someone might get offended."

This is when I entered the room. Pointed out I could hear! (Once again, : ) But that more important was that I wished he wouldn't measure his words... or thoughts for that matter... by who was listening.

"I barely have the energy to have to explain this to you," I said, "But really, to consider the only measure of your words & behaviors are tolerable to be whether someone who cares about that P.C. sh*t could hear you is such a low ethical bar! I don't say this for myself," (because he started to apologize for offending me) "but because it is not okay when I don't overhear either! You don't just refrain from sexism when there's a woman in the room, or from racism in front of a black employee. That is sad. Shoudn't it matter that all of these views contribute to the world we are raising our children in? Yes, I am going to say something when I hear a comment about a woman that I would not want made about my daughter. But *why* do you need me to do that?! Would you want men to make Playboy comments about your daughter someday?" [His partner is pregnant]

Ugh. Okay, that's enough about that. I'm calming down now, lol. But can anyone else relate to this frustration that society is still so backwards, that the increase in tolerance seems to be so superficial still - as in, let me watch my mouth when the "wrong person" (lesbian, Hispanic, wheelchair bound, whomever the case may be) might be listening? When my dd is grown can I hope their will be a growing *deep* consciousness about our interconnectedness?

still shaking her head,

~mamabutterfly

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#2 of 29 Old 08-19-2003, 06:22 PM
 
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I totally agree and I applaud your actions!!!

My father constantly makes comments about other cultures... as do a few people I work with (construction).

People just don't think or say things to get reactions out of their buddies instead of using their brains first.

I hope that your two co-workers give what you said some serious thought. I'm sure that if the roles were reversed and something offensive was being thought or said about them or their's they wouldn't feel so great about it and it most certainly wouldn't be funny.

Good job!!!

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#3 of 29 Old 08-19-2003, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, minicooper.

After some reflection it's also a feeling of frustration because these are men I work with, and have some level of relationship with. Not strangers I'm passing on the street, kwim?

And while I have some level of acceptance that my grandfather has some antiquated ideas or whatever, this manager is maybe a few years older than me. It just makes me feel exhausted to struggle against this stuff all over the place.

I also know that this was what most people would consider a very mild comment -- "boys will be boys" kind of thing. I cringe to think of my dd encountering all this as she grows.

Do others feel discouraged, or see a more positive view of society evolving? Maybe Philly is just backward.

~mamabutterfly

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#4 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 08:11 AM
 
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I wish I had the courage to say something like that. I would have probably just given them a dirty look and never have opened my mouth.

On your question about whether others feel encouraged or discouaged, it depends on whom I'm around and the day. There are a lot of progressive people out there. I think it's important to interact with them some in order to not be discouraged.

: madrone - : SAHM to 12 y.o. DS, : 9 y.o. DD, and : 4 y.o. DS
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#5 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 09:11 AM
 
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In my previous job, we had a candidate come in for an interview. She was very qualified for the position, had all the skills we were looking for, and was the best candidate we'd seen in three months of interviewing. She also happened to be wearing chador.

As soon as she left, the owner of the company began making comments about subservient women (i.e. I just love a woman who can be pushed around) and talking about how we'd need to do extra background checks on her, etc., "...because she might be married to a terrorist."

I flipped out on him, in front of the other five employees. I mean, I completely and totally lost it. I ranted and raved about so-called open-minded people having the largest amount of closed-mind space I'd ever known, that as a company we should be emulating the EOE example, not only in deed, but in thought, and that I was disgusted and dismayed by his attitude.

The next day, I quit.
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#6 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 09:55 AM
 
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Good for you, mb! Unfortunately, I don't think things are much different in other places. I'd like to think that's the case, but it's not. I had a long conversation with a colleague (university setting) in which he was trying to impress upon me "how far we have come" in this area as a society. While I conceded his points that we now have anti-discrimination laws and policies, we have still not changed people's minds - the comments and tightly-held beliefs have just gone underground (for the most part).

I guess I feel it's my job to bring ds up in an environment where we can talk about all of these issues and be clear about what is appropriate and acceptable and what isn't. Until more parents start doing this, we're stuck in a nasty cycle. The media doesn't help, either - but that's an entirely different soap box, and the reason we disallow TV at home!
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#7 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 11:17 AM
 
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Kudos to all who have taken a step towards pointing out those regressive mindsets. Don't ever discount the effect of your words on them.
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#8 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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"the owner of the company began making comments about subservient women (i.e. I just love a woman who can be pushed around) and talking about how we'd need to do extra background checks on her, etc., "...because she might be married to a terrorist."

Wow. Unbelievable - and yet not.

good thoughts, mamas. thanks! if i could only raise my dd together with all your children!!

hugs, mb

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#9 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 03:03 PM
 
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Ya know it goes even deeper than the usualy "slurs" how many people cut down and make horrible comments about others based on difference in other areas as well? People who really have lots in common wil bash one another over trivial matters or even not so trivial matters, but still.....

I think that the only time when people will be less "bash oriented" (I lump playboy comments in there too) is once eyes are opened to the fact that the indivual or group there of that they are commenting on is a HUMAN being with feelings, and ideas and a contribution to make to this world. You don'thave to AGREE with how they live, what religion they practice or what they look like, but you should show them respect as a fellow HUMAN. Nobody likes to be stepped all over and neither do they. Rude comments and bad attitudes all form they way others are treated, if not by that person directly, maybe the way someone who heard them will treat someone else.

People do not think, and I'm sorry, but the media does not help at all! If anything it worsens the situation for many types of people!
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#10 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 03:18 PM
 
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But it's perfectly ok to make such comments if they are supported by your religion : (specifically in reference to sexual identity comments)
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#11 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 03:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arduinna
But it's perfectly ok to make such comments if they are supported by your religion : (specifically in reference to sexual identity comments)
You go girl!!!! At the church owned center I just quit, it was common to hear how "stupid" and "disgusting" homosexuals are. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
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#12 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 03:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arduinna
But it's perfectly ok to make such comments if they are supported by your religion : (specifically in reference to sexual identity comments)
That's something else that has always bothered me - so many belief systems seem to be based on the "my way or the highway" attitude. I did have a moment of relief this week, though. My DS goes to church with my parents, and loves it (they're Episcopalian, I'm non-Christian). We received a letter from the rector yesterday indicating that their church would not be pulling out of the Anglican Communion, and that they feel the brou haha is ridiculous.

I'm relieved that their church isn't a hot bed of anti-gay statements (at least from the clergy) and that I won't have to forbid DS to go based on the level of tolerance. He sees enough intolerance in his day-to-day life (some of the things kids SAY! What are their parents teaching them?) and I won't have him seeing it in situations I can control.
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#13 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 09:41 PM
 
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mamabutterfly, you rock for speaking truth to your boss! I wish more people could speak up (myself included!) when confronted by that kind of trash. unfortunately, the mindset behind it is still too prevalent (sp?)... esp. in the white male catagory... i think if someone doesn't know how it feels to be victimized, or even just talked down to, they can't relate to how their ignorance hurts. i mean if men were objectified like women, i think they might have a better understanding of what that feels like (not that i think objectifying anyone is ok, just that it would enable a more empathic attitude). anyway, i do think that while we still have a long way to go, the fact that there are laws out there to uphold anti-discrimination does help at leaste formalize the concept that it's not ok to be ignorant. for some people it's at leaste a starting point.
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#14 of 29 Old 08-20-2003, 11:47 PM
 
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mamabutterfly, why is it so bad if the man said the bosses daughter was so attractive she shoulve been in playboy? I mean , he was lead to believe it was a private conversation. i don't understand. maybe that is how he felt about her and was sharing it with a co-worker. I've said stuff like that about men at my workplace. like "I'd like to undress him."
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#15 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 12:00 AM
 
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I think she was being sarcastic NM.

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#16 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 12:34 AM
 
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Great job, mb! Keep those pigs in line!

To others, please consider the possibility that many people who say offensive things about homosexuals or other groups of people aren't really reflecting what their churches teach, even if they seem to think they are...

Jesus loved (loves) all people when He walked this Earth, especially the outcasts, the prostitutes, etc. Christians (myself included) would do well to remember that in our daily lives.

Analisa, Mama to Meg 12/12/01, Patrick 12/24/03, Catherine 12/24/03, Ben 2/26/06
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#17 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 01:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by steph
i think if someone doesn't know how it feels to be victimized, or even just talked down to, they can't relate to how their ignorance hurts.
I kinda believe the opposite. I think if people have been talked down to or belittled (especially as children often are) they grow up and take it out on those they see as "smaller" or "weaker" than they are. This is so sad....
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#18 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 11:53 AM
 
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Sorry for the delay in replying.

No I wasn't being sarcastic, although my post wasn't directed at any specific MDC members. I can say that I've heard and read many biggoted statements backed up by religious teachings.
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#19 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 12:12 PM
 
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why is it so bad if the man said the bosses daughter was so attractive she shoulve been in playboy? I mean , he was lead to believe it was a private conversation.
No one should EVER think for a moment that such a thing exists as a private conversation at work.

Not to say I have not had them--but I won't say anything at work that I would not say before the whole group. Period.

We had an HR meeting yesterday--let me just say, I LOVE my boss. LOVE him. He is like the big brother I need form time to time, never crosses lines, and is just a good person. Anyway, the meeting was to go over the new employee handbook. The MAIN emphasis was on the "freedom from harrassment" statement, and every person's rights and responsibilities to ensure that our workplace remains a place where everyone can expect the SAME dignity--explicity regardless of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, nation of origin, diability, etc. We clearly have a zero tolerance policy for any such behavior, and the HR rep made it clear that anyone engaging in any behavior that falls into that category could be immediately discharged. And that included using company email to even forward something another might find offensive. Period.

There are federal laws about what we can do at work, and nothing should ever be assumed to be private. Privacy is something we have at home (we hope).
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#20 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 02:13 PM
 
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janna... Okay, you may have said things like that when you were in private (or thought you were, anyway...) but does that mean you think that is an appropriate workplace conversation and would stand up for your right to say it? Or simply that, 'gosh, it's kind of a human sentiment'? If someone overheard and told you they were offended would you defend your statement or say, "Yeah, sorry about that."?
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#21 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 02:53 PM
 
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Kama, you're right--which brings us back to the original "rant" of the thread.
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#22 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 03:08 PM
 
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Yeah...once every few months I get one right.
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#23 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 06:10 PM
 
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Before I "came out" as a religious person, I regularly heard comments at my workplace that were intensely bigoted against my own people, among others. And it was often "overhearing" people's conversations, not that they were shouting it in the halls.

It hurts if it's said quietly or loudly.

Also, forgive the extreme example, but I know a rape victim who had a nervous breakdown after walking past a construction site. IYKWIM about constructions sites ... though not to condemn all construction workers as sexist pigs ... anyway, how do you know who is listening and what they will be able to deal with?
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#24 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 07:48 PM
 
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Wow...so what happens when my dh gets home from work today? He tells me this long story. I won't get into details, but suffice to say a bunch of bad stuff happened today, and while management got involved, he still has what I think is good reason to fear for his life.

He made it clear to the donkey at work that he will not live in fear, nor will he tolerate another instance of this--but the guy owns guns. Said donkey will also, obviously as a result of his actions this week, move up the short list of candidates for layoff.

Dh is not so concerned about himself, but takes very seriously his commitment to wife and children. He's actually writing down names of who's who, so I know whom to call and whom to accuse, should something unspeakable happen.

OK--so, what the guy actually said to dh might not have been so terrible, if it "stood alone," but--this was after dh heard him make really, truly, horrible offensive remarks about POC and women.

EXACTLY HERE is where such private, meaningless conversations can lead. I am trying to console myself with the fact that management was involved, and since it's a huge corporation, they have a lot to protect, and it's in their best interest not to let one employee actually kill another one. It's not just the harrassment, but the potential for violence, that makes me a basket case.
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#25 of 29 Old 08-21-2003, 11:11 PM
 
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UmmNuh ... You & DH should write down/memorialize the whole incident with this guy at work, every detail he can remember about it and his interaction with him. While it's still fresh in his mind. Just so it's there.

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#26 of 29 Old 08-22-2003, 09:46 AM
 
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Yup. Hate to think of having to dedicate a notebook to such a thing, but, well, there it is.

Now dh will also get to see his coworkers for who they are in this context. I think most will blame dh for the other guy's getting into trouble--and at the same time I know that some people will encircle him and try to make things OK.

And here's the thing: most of the people who will stand up and say the other guy has a problem, and his actions are a problem in the workplace, will be women. Why? Because women and POC are the ones who are up against this stuff every day.

I reminded dh that his employer has a federally mandated duty to provide a harrassment free workplace, and reassured him that he didn't overreact. Sad thing is, when other stuff--less violent stuff--has come up, and I mentioned it to my Mom, she accused us of bellyaching and whining. People's ignorance bothers me, sure--but I am talking about living in fear. Back then when it was less scary (just post-9/11 reactionary stuff), I could see how it could lead to much worse. Some people just cannot see the slope, I guess.
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#27 of 29 Old 09-17-2003, 03:28 PM
 
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mamabutterfly: I really liked your statement.

I have, on occasion, said that I like hearing sexist/xenophobic/racist remarks out loud because I would rather KNOW what sort of garbage a moron is thinking rather than wonder about it later. (This gets said to someone who has just said something insulting and then done one of those soooooo annoying 'apologies' if anyone is "too PC" and it bothered them.)

In fact, I once got offered a job from a (very sexist) tunneling engineer BECAUSE I had told him off in that way and I think he was floored. I then asked him if he wanted me to work for him so he could repay me in some really brutal way for telling him off. He said "No. Its because I think you have brass balls and spit iron for breakfast and would have no trouble down the hole with the sand hogs! No one has ever said anything like that to me!"
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#28 of 29 Old 09-19-2003, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by sohj


In fact, I once got offered a job from a (very sexist) tunneling engineer BECAUSE I had told him off in that way and I think he was floored. I then asked him if he wanted me to work for him so he could repay me in some really brutal way for telling him off. He said "No. Its because I think you have brass balls and spit iron for breakfast and would have no trouble down the hole with the sand hogs! No one has ever said anything like that to me!"
:LOL

Thanks for the story! As a postscript, the encounter last month has led to a number of very interesting conversations with my manager, and some very distinct changes in his workplace demeanor. He was sure I wold "hate him" (or at least not respect him) as a result of this, and when I didn't, I think he was very moved.

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#29 of 29 Old 09-19-2003, 05:12 PM
 
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GOOD!!!
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