Misogyny. Even the sound of it is unpleasant when you say it. However, you can’t fully imagine how unpleasant this word really is until you have experienced the type of situations where it is applied. Here I will be sharing examples of what it’s like for a woman to work in a misogynistic business based off of situations I have experienced, or witnessed. As you read I Would appreciate it if you would respect that these are real situations that have happened to real women, and not to belittle or dismiss them.
Working in a misogynistic industry is oftentimes synonymous with women not being allowed to succeed or progress in their work. Women are held to a different standard in regards to what type of work is acceptable, and how much they are allowed to achieve before it makes the men working in the same company uncomfortable. Everyday is like a battle and you always have the feeling that it doesn’t matter what you do, it will never be good enough. The daily reminders that your voice is not important, and constantly fighting the stereotype that if you do speak up and expect and to be respected you are being “special” or “complicated”.
You show up three minutes late and get a shocked reaction at how late you are, but a man can show up 10-15 minutes late and not get a lecture. You get frustrated about an issue and you have an attitude problem. Your male -co-worker can experience regular fits of anger and well he’s just being himself. Having a bad day? Smile more. Is a man having a bad day? Well, you know we just need to be supportive of him and what he’s going through right now. You take offense at something rude or inappropriate your male co-workers say, and you're being sensitive, didn’t understand them, or they were just joking. However, when the situation is reversed you are told you were rude, shouldn’t criticise people, and sometimes even your job is threatened.
I have exchanged work stories with friends involving male bosses who have fired female employees because they didn’t stroke their egos the right way. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been told to “give him a good feeling and everything will be ok.”. Oh, did I mention it was always men telling me, a woman, the kind of feeling I need to show the other men in the company? Women who were focused on their work, with equally good ideas as their male co-workers, working twice as hard, are still let go and told it “wasn’t anything personal, you're just not good enough”. As a woman who takes her job seriously with future plans for her career, this is one of the most discouraging reasons to hear when you know it’s not a question of being good enough.
For the sake of everyone, I will not try and diagnose why I believe these men can’t handle having powerful women in the same businesses as them. I will suggest that I, personally, find the majority of men who thrive in misogynistic work environments to be extremely narcissistic. Which can go hand in hand with their belief that women are not useful to them when not catering to their individual needs. This need is most commonly manifested as having someone to push around, and they especially enjoy the opportunity to keep the women who work for/with them underneath them in terms of success. Perhaps that is a topic for another time...
However, I fear the most difficult, and insulting, aspect of working in a misogynistic industry are the unspoken expectations from women. I have learned the hard way that most men in these situations are used to getting extra “favors” from women as part of their business arrangement. This particular aspect of working in a misogynistic environment is not something I enjoy talking about, and I will try to write about it in the best way I can. I just want to make it clear that there are enough challenges for women in business without being put in situations which are this level of demeaning.
When you realize that you are being held back from opportunities because you don’t “play along” with situations that are not work related (and situations your male co-workers never experience) you reach a level of frustration and indignation you don’t really know how to manage. Of course none of these situations or expectations are talked about directly, and when you try to speak out about it you are quickly shut down. Not only will these men do everything they can to discredit and keep you quiet, they will take away projects you were working on and exchange it for work that is beneath your level of experience and not under your job title.
Don’t expect help from the other men or women who work in this company. Most are so used to the misogyny that they don’t see it for what it is. And the ones who do recognize it as being wrong are not usually strong enough to support those who are being treated unfairly; mainly because they are afraid of receiving the same treatment. It’s not clear to me why, but I suppose it’s because men who are used to benefiting from misogyny are incapable of seeing women as being useful in the workplace. They don’t appreciate them as employees, and are only able to see women as being useful when they stay in the box they have labeled for them. Anytime a woman pushes to be accepted as an employee, or co-worker, she is seen as a threat and must be reminded of her place. When she continues to challenge this misogynistic standard she is oftentimes removed from the workplace.
I don’t wish these types of experiences on anyone, but I can’t imagine I’m the only woman who has witnessed/experienced workplace misogyny. Please like, or leave a tip, if you relate at all with any of the examples I shared. Pay more attention at work and don’t be afraid to speak (respectfully) against those who accept misogyny as a normal workplace standard. Most importantly, support women who are experiencing challenges and unfair treatment at work due to misogynistic work environment. Misogyny is very real and damaging for so many women who are passionate about their work and driven to succeed.