Taking offense…

Ok, I don’t think I’ve blogged much other than knitting, yarn, spinning and family stuff.  I don’t blog anything about religion or politics because this isn’t that type of blog (and frankly, peopile already have their minds made up on both so what’s the point of discussing it?) And I try not to blog too much about work – who wants to hear what I do for a living!  But I had something happen this week at work, and I thought I’d post about it and get your comments. 

I am not normally quick to take offense – in fact, sometimes it takes me a while to get that people are being jerky (unless they are really being super jerky, and then I do get it).   I’m going to be vague about some of this because I really don’t want to post anything specific about my job or company.  So if some of this doesn’t seem to flow, that’s why (changing the names to protect the innocent kind of thing).  We are mid-year so in most of corporate America, that means mid-year review.  For a variety of reasons, my group didn’t even have objectives for this year until Monday.  And the objectives I was given were so lame and bad I was embarrased to even write them down.   But I did, and then I added how I’ve met these lame objectives.  The next step would be my mid-year review.  I don’t normally care about these things, but I haven’t been at this company long, and there are a lot of changes going on, so I thought it would be a good chance to get some information from my manager (who I have only reported to for a couple of months), and while not looking forward to it, didn’t mind that it was going to happen…but it didn’t really work out that way.

Yesterday, I was standing with two co-workers when my manager (and theirs) wanders over and asks “hey, anyone up for a staff meeting right now?”.  It was 4:30 and one of my co-workers said he was leaving in a few.  Someone made a joke about not wanting to meet, and everyone laughed.  Then manager said “ok, well, can I count this as all of your mid-year reviews?  I need to get it done”.  Everyone laughed and he said “no, I’m serious”.  So one of my co-workers said “sure, why not”.  I said “Nope, you have to meet with us”.  I said it in a joking way (to set the stage/tone).  My manager turned to me and said “why don’t you shove it up your ass then”.  (and now my blog G rating just went down the tube!).  He followed that with a joke about “hoping HR doesn’t have any bugs” and I walked away without responding. 

I really am not easily offended – I curse myself (hold on, I don’t actually curse at myself…you know what I mean), and understand (and participate in) office jokery (jokery?  What is the right word?!).  But I’m really struggling with this one – I was completely offended and still am bothered by it today.    This happened yesterday, and I’m still bothered by it today.  I did tell a couple of friends/co-workers about it.  One of them made a comment to one of the people that was there when it happened – and he responded that I should be flattered – because my boss was treating me like “one of the boys” (I am the only woman reporting to this guy).  I explained that I wasn’t offended because I’m a woman, or that I felt it was sexist.  I was offended because I think it shows a complete and total lack of respect.  He didn’t buy that and said I just “didn’t get” how the group acted with each other and that I just needed to start responding in the same manner “to fit in”.   

So what do you think?  Do you think it is wrong?  And if so, do you think way because you are a woman and would men think differently?  I know that the men I’ve discussed this with thought it was offensive – but maybe that is because they are married to me, or friends of mine.  I also am really bothered by the comment that I should be flattered to be “in the boys club” – isn’t this the type of crap that started the whole woman’s movement?  Why do I need to be in a boy’s club?  Why can’t I simply do my job and be treated with respect and not have my gender be any part of a work conversation?  (By the way, I work for a large Fortune 50 corporation in a conservative industry so its not like this is a tiny company where things like this aren’t part of diversity training and policies).  I’ve received advice to report this to his manager, go to HR, etc.  I’m probably not going to do anything  – it just isn’t a good time (lay offs!) to be negative, but I’m sort of curious – maybe it is just me…

OK, this is a knitting blog, so how about some knitting.  Oh, that’s right – can’t show you it….I’m test knitting!  OK, how about a small peek…


Can you guess what it is?  I can’t wait to finish it – and hopefully soon you will see it published!

I have to work from home tomorrow because my tooth broke on the train home tonight (there you go, Dan – I blogged it) so I need to get into the dentist.   Although it is a drag….I’m sort of glad because this has been a rough first week back from vacation and it will be nice to get some sleep.

OK, I’m off to finish up my test knitting project – have a good rest of the week!


33 Responses to Taking offense…

  1. Stephanie says:

    Whoa… whoa.. what??? I tend not to get offended easily, either, but come on. That is completely disrespectful! Joking is one thing, but blatant insults should be completely out-of-line. I can hardly believe you all just stood there as if that was acceptable.

    And if it is, well… no wonder I’m out of touch with people in general.

  2. Lauren says:

    That comment was completely unprofessional. Screw the ‘boy’s club’ idea; that comment was clearly an insult and inappropriate affront by a person who didn’t want to do their job and was lashing out at you for calling them on it. I wouldn’t go to their boss unless this is a regular event (and it sounds like it’s not). I would mention it more or less casually but in a serious tone to your boss. ‘Hey, remember when you said x? I really didn’t appreciate being asked to x by my boss.’

    As for what you’re knitting… Could it be For the Girls! I hear that’s a fabulous new pattern being test knit by a select few! How’d you get the gig?!

  3. Rachel says:

    I don’t see how people connect this incident with your gender! I think it just show this person managerial skills that are not very well developed in my view. I would have been completely insulted just like you even if I was one of the guys (I believe).

  4. Awesome Mom says:

    It would have offended me too. I don’t think that you are being super sensitive.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I’m with you and would be offended. I don’t think anyone should say that to another person, espcially at the workplace.

  6. Cookie says:

    It’s unprofessional, inappropriate, and disrespectful. I’m sorry you have to work with that jerk.

  7. Kim says:

    …not only would I be offended, but in sharing this with my husband he said he would be as well. He went further to voice that your manager reacted extremely unprofessional and disrespectful to you and your coworkers…as team members.

    Why oh why must we be forced to deal with inadequate managers? Thank goodness I threw my bad manager/boss overboard last year. The look on his face when I gave my notice was….PRICELESS!

  8. 1120kat says:

    I’m jumping on the bandwagon here – that was disrespectful and unprofessional. I’m one of three women at a small company in the auto industry, “boys club” if there ever was one. I can tell you right now that if ANYONE in the company told one of us that, there would be hell to pay. That’s downright insulting, and to add to it, he’s your boss. There’s a bigger distance with the joking around that bosses should do with thier employees, since there’s that professional boundary, vs. being more equal with a co-worker. I have a real problem with that.

    That said, my reaction would be as yours was, to blink in shock and simply walk away. When you do go back to work, perhaps go to your boss, or email or however you communicate with him best, and just casually mention “so, are we going to meet for that review?” and see what he says. Who knows, you might get an apology, seeing as how you didn’t reply and walked away. He MIGHT have gotten the clue that it wasn’t ok to say that.

    Good luck with him – I’ve worked for some doozies, and I know how soul sucking it can get.

  9. 1120kat says:

    ergh, I wasn’t very clear in my first paragraph – I mean that if anyone said something like that anyone else in the company…we all talk trash to each other, but that’s a full on insult, man or woman.

  10. Peggy says:

    I’d be offended too.
    That seems like a totally inappropriate comment for the situation, joking or not.

    The test knit looks cool, whatever it is…

  11. I know I’m not adding anything new to the discussion but I’d have been offended too. The idea of a “boy’s club” is silly as a justification for inappropriate behavior, whether it was a joke or not. People need to stop thinking that just because something is a “joke” they can go around saying whatever they want.

  12. Robby says:

    Nope. Completely unprofessional behavior. Which will show up again and again, hopefully not pointed at you. The reason they call it “the boys club” is that it is made up of individuals acting like little boys, not mature, responsible professionals. I found my best coping mechanism when I was in the finance industry (when women just weren’t) was to laugh when things were amusing and be professional at all times, especially when others were not. It will eventually drag a few into the realm of professionalism and the rest will be sorted out, but not by me. Dad always said, “You’ll never regret being the bigger person.”

    I also think it is fair for you to go to your boss and ask him to spend at least a few minutes with you in an informal review (maybe he hates paperwork) in view of your being new there. If he declines, document it (along with the previous episode). You may want to go to HR eventually over this idiot and having dates and names of others present will help your case.

  13. Lorraine says:

    Jeanne- No way, no how, woman or man was rgar called for. I would have a private word with him, and calmly tell him that he was offensive, and you will not tolerate that sort of verbal abuse again.
    Document this- and if he decides to be an asshole again- go to his boss and then tell him to shove THAT up his large anal orifice.

    Better yet, do you want me to do it? 😉

  14. madalyn says:

    The comment was not called for and was highly unprofessional. It doesn’t matter that you all were joking — to talk to you in that language was disrespectful and vulgar.

    And the follow-up your coworker made about you being part of the “boy’s club” is equally offensive to me. Why should you be in the boy’s club — and why should it be considered a compliment? I don’t get it, and also think it’s an inappropriate assumption for him to make.

  15. Jeanne says:

    I don’t blame you for being offended. The guy is a jerk, and he stepped over the line.

  16. weezalana says:

    I am most definitely NOT easily offended (comes from growing up with brothers ;)). But I think “shove it up your ass” crosses the line, regardless of gender. First, as a manager, he is not “one of the guys”, he is a supervisor. He can be friendly, jokey, whatever, but he still has to maintain a sense of authority. He can talk like that at a bar, but not in the office. You were right to be offended.

  17. rhoda says:

    ack! sorry to hear your tooth broke on the train. as for the comment your manager made, I would’ve been offended too!! that was so out of place. since that happened has he been different around you? who wants to be a part of the ‘boys club’ anyhow? the girls club is much nicer. 😉

  18. Opal says:

    Holy crap, Jeanne! That’s enormously offensive. It definitely shows a lack of respect. My jaw dropped when I read what he said. What an assmarmot!

    As for the secret test knit? I think it’s a sock. That’s my guess.

  19. Eh, let it blow over for now.

    So your boss doesn’t have the best sense of decorum or appropriateness. It was a rude remark, that doesn’t belong in an office (regardless of gender).

    You said you haven’t worked with him very long, so it may be that he has other redeeming features that make up for his potty mouth.

    If his lack of tact carries over into poor management in other ways, or consistent insults, then it’s an issue. If the worst he gets is occasionally forgetting to use his ‘office words’ while joking around, try to be the better person and remind yourself things could be worse.

    Not saying you shouldn’t be offended, (I would be too), just that you should wait before acting until you know him better.

  20. Carin says:

    I have worked in construction and been around very “salty” conversation and jokes. What strikes me about the comment your boss made, was that it is so “IN YOUR FACE.”
    I would not look at his comment from the prespective that is was vulgar, I would look for something else. My first guess would be that he some how feels threatened by you, especially if you are very good at your job.
    If it was me, I would leave a nicely wrapped present of bar of soap and with a note saying “With thoughts of our last conversation, Respectfully, Jeanne” If he has half a brain this should tell him to back off and you are not easily intimidated.
    I would also keep a log of all these types of incidents. If he does it again, I would have a conversation with HR.
    Keep your positive attitude and
    Illegitimi non carborundum!

  21. Kathleen says:

    Oh Boy! Not sure what you should do but here is my story. I worked for a Pharmaceutical Marketing company in NJ. The company was merging back with it’s parent company but no one was supposed to know this. I didn’t. When I went for my yearly review (bonus depended on this) I was told by my supervisor – “Just your being here makes me look bad”. That was my review! My bonus was $300 in an environment where $10,000 was the norm. I refused to sign the review, took my $300 check and quit on Thursday. I worked under the H/R department. Nothing was ever confidential.

    That was the last real job I had. I am looking for a job but on interviews I feel like I am interviewing htem more than they me. I wold rather eat dirt and freeze to death than owrk under those conditions.

    BTW. I documented everything and went to visit the EOE folks down in P-burg. Things worked out in my favor.

  22. donna lee says:

    I am one of the easiest going people I know. I take almost everything with a large grain of salt (sometimes a whole salt lick!) and I have to say that what the mgr said was offensive. Language like that doesn’t belong at a place of business. Ever. I don’t think it’s a sexist point of view. I work in mental health and we are very aware of how our words effect others. That is just plain vulgar.

  23. chris says:

    What a total Jerk. That was uncalled for, unprofessional, disrespectful, demeaning and vulgar. I would have a conversation with him and let him know that is an unacceptable way to communicate with you and definitely document it. I do not think it’s just you. I think the boys club theory is an excuse for bad behavior – and that is exactly what it is. You don’t have to act that way to deem yourself acceptable by any group of people – men or women. And if that is what it take to “fit it” I would rather not. With the climate in the workplace nowadays – he’s lucky he hasn’t had his ass fired.

  24. hakucho says:

    I would have been VERY offended, but I would be VERY afraid to do anything about it unless I had another job all lined up (I’m a wimp…I know). I know it’s not righ at all …why do guys have to be so crude? and the worst thing is he probably didn’t even think twice about what he said. Hugs!!

  25. tiennie says:

    I don’t think it’s a gender issue at all. It was totally inappropriate coming from your manager! I would be offended.

    Hope all goes well at the dentist!

  26. Aim says:

    Wow. That is such a stinky thing for him to say, in front of everyone. I agree that you should keep a log of these incidents, and if they continue, go to HR. But I also think that you should get it out in the open about the way he talked to you. I have worked with some real amazing jerks in the past and have found that the best treatment for them is to be VERY verbal about what just happened–to them and to everyone else. Jerks don’t necessarily like to have it common knowledge that they’re jerks…Talk it up in all corners of the office, with people in the cafeteria, and speak about it w/o anybody you meet in the halls if you can work it into a conversation. Just say”Did you know that so-and-so told me to shove it up my ass last week?!” Tell you what, when that stuff becomes group knowledge, that shuts him down pretty effectively. And it’s a nice way to get back at him–let his own words hang him.

  27. elizabeth says:

    I would’ve been offended too. It was rude and insensitive, no matter who it was said to, and the fact that he’s your boss means he should be held to a higher standard of behavior. Are you working for Michael Scott?!?! ;o)

  28. travellersyarn says:

    I would be offended – but I am way out of date on office politics (thank goodness!).

    I hope the trip to the dentist is not too painful!

  29. bonitapita says:

    I think what would have taken me aback…and I guess this was what did it for you…was the quick change of tone. You know, joke joke joke, hahaha, blah, blah, joke, “why don’t you stick….” I don’t feel like I have to finish that sentence. He responded that way cause he knew you were right and he was looking for a concensus on not having the reviews and calling it a day. You didn’t seem to be playing along and he reacted. You offense is not gender related AT ALL!

    So sorry you had to experience that!!

    Good luck at the dentist!

  30. Terri says:

    Hi Jeanne! Having had a few ‘clashes’ (for want of a better word) with men of late because men and women communicate in completely different ways (yes, sometimes I do think we come from different planets), I can understand you wondering if this is a gender thing, but honestly, I don’t think gender has anything to do with what happened in this situation. I agree with Lauren, I think this bloke didn’t like being called on not doing his job. Good for you for speaking up and showing that you won’t be walked all over. The comments were very unprofessional and perhaps you could simply say as much to him at some stage on a one-to-one basis. Just say you thought the comment was uncalled for and unprofessional and to please not speak to you in this manner again.
    So sorry to hear about your tooth. What rotten luck. Hope you get it fixed easily and with no real hassles!

  31. Susan says:

    Jeanne, I’m in the middle of md year reviews right now and if I ever said anything close to that, my staff would be running, not walking to the HR office. It’s about respect in the workplace. By the way the shawls are beautiful and so are your new yarns.

  32. Jennygirl says:

    You have every right to be offended, and this is your forum to vent your frustatration. That was completely inappropriate and should have never been said. What an a–hole!
    I am very easy going and there are very few things that offend me. This would be one of them. My boss would never say anything like that to me.
    But I also understand why there is nothing you can do about it, because of the business climate. And that completely sucks. I feel for you Jeanne, and vent any time you like!

  33. DonnaC says:

    I worked in a large investment bank in NYC and it was a complete boys club. I was the onlt femal PC analyst back when PCs were brand new. They used to play cartoon porno strip games (weird…) which were really archaic by today’s standards but offensive nonetheless when I walked in to the room to find it up on the screen in full view with all of them laughing at my embarrassment. (I was all of 24 then.) I was made to feel that I needed to accept it or quit. If I had to do it over again, I’d be rich from a lawsuit, but that was before sexual harrassment was an issue that could garner a win in court. My point is that the comment made to you could be misconstrued as sexual harrassment and you could be sitting on a large yarn haul right now…

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