Edited out

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I took a short term unpaid work experience job as an editing assistant in a small film company.

Now, my job was to edit. It didn’t surprise me I was also asked to make the coffee and lay out snacks for visiting clients. Fair enough – I was the bottom of the pile, after all.

But the only other woman working for the company was the project manager. When I wasn’t making the coffee, she was. And get this – she cleaned the offices every morning.

I asked her why on earth she’d do that if it’s not in her job description. She gave me to answers: because the boss refused to hire a cleaning staff, and the other employees refused to clean. If she didn’t do it, the place would be a “pigsty”.

I told her, let it become a pigsty and see how well they like it, maybe that’ll make them hire a cleaner. But she just shook her head and picked up the broom.

#HFSF, of course.

Kivitasku, Finland

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20 Responses to “Edited out”

  1. longanlon Says:

    My boss is a woman and she does the same thing – cleans the office every day. In fact it’s her decision to hire or not cleaning staff, but she refuses to do so, because “people will think we are lazy”. She refuses to let me or anyone of our staff help with cleaning too (I’m a guy) because I “will do a crappy job”.

    • sz Says:

      That – for me – is the sign of someone who’s a bit OCD. I have a male friend who won’t let anyone else clean near him (in his home, etc) because his standards are just so much higher than anyone else’s.

  2. Jaynie Says:

    Hmmm Kivitasku, maybe part of the story is missing, but unless she was told to do it because she was female, it seems that the only one who is linking cleaning skills with being female is you.

    • A Different Sam Says:

      It depends on the exact situation. If everyone else is opting out of cleaning because they don’t care enough to do it or they think someone else will do it instead, then it’s not sexist, just lazy. But if they’re opting out because they think it’s improper for a man to clean and think the woman ought to be doing the cleaning, then it’s sexist. There isn’t enough information given here to tell.

    • Alibelle Says:

      The only other woman in the office is the one that cleans because the men refuse to, and they make her get coffee even though she’s the project manager. How is that not sexist?

      • Enoon Says:

        Alibelle: “they make her get coffee”

        Except that’s nowhere in the OP. She says “make.” I’m thinking there’s just a coffeepot in the office/breakroom, and OP and the project manager are the only ones who bother refiling it. Everyone else in this thread has been going off the facts provided; you’re inventing your own scenarios.

      • Alibelle Says:

        Ok let’s put it another way, she’s the project manager so she’s the superior to all the other people working on the project. Usually you try to suck up to your boss, or at least impress them. These men apparently see no reason to go to the extra effort to clean their work space or get their own fucking coffee to prevent their superior from having to do it, I’m gonna guess because they see nothing wrong with a woman doing these things regardless of her position.

        You’re right I did insert the word “make” in there, but I’m curious, is the name of this site isitsexist.com? I see zero reason to sit here and question every fucking story. This is a “non-judgemental” space to rant. Why are we sitting here looking through the facts of every story and proclaiming it is sexist or it isn’t? I guess I’m just really fucking tired of this happening with every fucking story. It’s not givethebenefitofthedoubt.com is it? Is it letsmakemenmorecomfortable.com? It’s impossible to find spaces on the internet where there isn’t some asshole telling you that you interpreted your lived experiences wrong.

        Frankly I feel it’s pretty fucking sexist to tell a woman that she is too stupid to recognize what is and isn’t sexism. The fact of the story that’s most important to me is that this woman felt it was sexist, and she might have more insight than someone who wasn’t there.

      • Enoon Says:

        “she might have more insight than someone who wasn’t there.”

        Couldn’t agree with you more. Also, if you’ll notice: I didn’t say it wasn’t sexist, I didn’t question her story, I didn’t judge her at all. All I did was call you out for embellishing her story as if you were there. Sort of like what you’re doing to my comments right now.

  3. Alibelle Says:

    Actually Enoon, I’m not embellishing your comment, I was addressing why I was upset enough to add the word “make” in there, but yeah I was totally attacking you personally.

    • Enoon Says:

      Fair enough. There is a lot of questioning of how sexist a situation was. I’m guilty of it a few times myself. Truth be told, it really just comes down to if the poster felt it was. You’re right, victim doubting adds insult to injury.

      • Alibelle Says:

        Good deal, too bad we can’t manage to convince everyone else of that though.

  4. Jaynie Says:

    -There is nothing in the story to say that the men in this office are sexist.

    -We do not know the reasons that the female manager in the office is making coffee and cleaning. Maybe she likes it, or maybe *she* sees it has her job because she is female.

    -Only Kivitasku is implying that the female manager is doing it because she is female.

    I wanted to point out that men are not the only ones to make assumptions based on gender. Women often make assumptions on other women because they are women.

    Example: Many women will wrongly assume that a pretty, “femininely” dressed woman in a male-dominated company is an administration assistant. This is wrong but it is not sexist either, the environments we live and work in have conditioned us to think this way.

    • Luna_the_cat Says:

      Many women will wrongly assume that a pretty, “femininely” dressed woman in a male-dominated company is an administration assistant. This is wrong but it is not sexist either, the environments we live and work in have conditioned us to think this way.

      Excuse me?

      Jaynie, on what planet do you live, where sexism which has become so deeply embedded into culture and consciousness that it is invisible to the participants isn’t sexism??

      The whole fucking POINT is that stories like this illustrate the blind assumptions people make which are sexist and which perpetuate sexism as an unquestioning part of culture.

      Also — are you saying that women can’t perpetuate sexism?

      Women in China were the ones who enforced the footbinding of their daughters. Women in Africa are still often the ones who enforce the genital mutilation of their daughters. Many young women today who grow up in places where questioning “boys will be boys” isn’t much done still buy into the idea that sometimes it’s ok for a guy to rape a girl, “when a girl’s been leading him on.” When someone has grown up in a system which tells them with no uncertainty what is and isn’t desireable and necessary, even if that system hurts them — sometimes especially if that system hurts them — people internalise it and perpetuate it; it’s not only the way we learn what’s “normal” from what’s around us in our lives from day dot, it’s a personal defense mechanism. And in light of your “these men aren’t sexist” comments, it strikes me that you have internalised a lot of these assumptions yourself to the point that you don’t see them.

  5. Jaynie Says:

    I am not saying that women can’t perpetuate sexism, I am saying that they are guilty as men, and that the only person who is associating cleaning task with women in the original post is a woman.

    Assumptions are not generally based on intelligent thought and analysis, they are a primary reaction. If I see a woman picking up children from school I will assume without complex analysis that she is either the mother of the children or the nanny, if I see a man picking up children from school, without further thought I will probably assume he is the father.

    Further analysis of the situation may lead me to several conclusions, he could be uncle, an older brother and even a nanny. If I were to dismiss the last option as impossible, you could call me sexist, because I consciously refused to let it effect my original assumption.

    We make assumptions a thousand times a day without analysis. The only way to change the assumptions is to analyze every last one one of them or work on modifying the basis of the assumptions -in this case more male nannies.

    In the serious situations that you mention, are wrong because they deny what has been presented.

    • Alibelle Says:

      This is so fucking tiresome. What dog do you have in this fight exactly? Why is so fucking important to you that this woman not be able to share her experience without being told she is wrong. What is so important that you have to tell her that she is wrong about what she (the person who was THERE, who EXPERIENCED it) perceived?

      Men do this constantly, this, that’s not really sexist, you’re not analyzing it enough, you’re analyzing it too much (you really need to check out derailing for dummies) you’re just as sexist.

      Well guess what? She lived it, you didn’t. Unless you’re assuming she’s stupid, or a femnazi there should be no reason to question the conclusions she reached about an event you in no way witnessed.

      Also in all your twisting and analyzing you didn’t manage to address any of the points I made, just continued with this ridiculous “you aren’t analyzing this enough” line of though.

      http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

  6. Alibelle Says:

    Note: I’m not assuming you’re male, frankly it doesn’t matter and I don’t care.

    Also, this line: “you’re just as sexist.” was unclear. I meant that men often tell women that they’re just as sexist. It wasn’t a statement about you. Though you’re being just as tiresome as the men that do that sort of thing.

  7. The Elusive Feminist Says:

    Thank you, Aibelle. I rest easier knowing you are on the case! 🙂

    I once worked for a female director who may be similar to the person K describes. She took unto herself ultra-feminized tasks that other directors never bothered with – primarily, making sure every birthday was celebrated with an excess of sweets, finding the perfect restaurant for working dinners, and setting up shopping excursions for female staff at out of town meetings. All of which she’d discuss in excess in the managerial meetings for which she set the agenda.

    Most of the managers working under her were male. They couldn’t fathom why she would waste time on this stuff, but if they spoke up she’d tell them they “just didn’t get it” (get what?) It was worse for female managers, because if you didn’t eagerly go along with her she’d act like you’d personally insulted her, and would label you ‘not a team player.” God forbid you wanted to stay behind and network at a conference like the men – no, you had to go to the mall to buy scarves and jewelry or she would freak.

    It was a toxic combo of internalized (and externalized!) sexism and passive-aggressive behavior that made everyone uncomfortable.

  8. The Elusive Feminist Says:

    Sorry I misspelled your name, Alibelle (don’t what the ‘l went wrong there).

    • Alibelle Says:

      No worries, if you read any of other comments it’s pretty obvious that I’m the King, Queen and Court Jester of typos. 🙂

  9. Morjanne Says:

    Alibelle, I love you 🙂

    I know that discussion – from every and every single feminist Blog I ever visited. Even my own, which is not specifically feminist.

    Dear Lord, if they are annoyed of women’s ranting, then they should just go to another page. It’s just as you said: we don’t get to decide what is sexist or not. We just read a story of a woman who feels angry.

    End of Story.

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