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for thinking this is demeaning?

(249 Posts)
baconandeggies Sat 05-Nov-16 16:37:06

The word 'menial', as in "He has a menial job"

It seems a bit loaded to me... Implies it's "less important" and can be looked down upon. Surely it comes from the same root as demeaning anyway?

There's nothing wrong with having a more 'manual' job..

Reminds me that a flatmate once exclaimed "I'd never marry a man who had a menial job, like a dustbin man, or a cleaner or something"

Why not just say 'manual' job, if you must describe it as anything other than the actual job title.

So does describing someone's job as 'menial' sound judgey, or AIBU?

TheNaze73 Sat 05-Nov-16 16:39:48


60sname Sat 05-Nov-16 16:42:54

Well yes, that's what menial means. You're conveying that a job is low-skilled and repetitive.

It is not the same as manual; all manual jobs are not menial, however, menial jobs are more likely to be manual.

PandaInTheMorning Sat 05-Nov-16 16:43:54


I think it sounds judgey and is derogatory.

TathitiPete Sat 05-Nov-16 16:52:13

Well, yes it's demeaning. It's supposed to be. Reminds me of a joke from The Big Bang Theory:
Leonard: Sheldon, don't make that noise, it's disrespectful.
Sheldon: I should hope so, it was a snort of derision.

(Yes, I know iabu for openly liking The Big Bang Theory grin )

Arfarfanarf Sat 05-Nov-16 17:28:52

Menial means not requiring much skill and lacking prestige.

So yes. That describes a cleaner. It doesn't take a lot of skill to clean and it is not a prestigious occupation.

So in that way it is, technically, an accurate description.

But in another way, so called menial jobs are the most vital in society.

Try running a safe hospital without cleaners.
Without people collecting rubbish we'd have horrible diseases.

Etc etc

I think the value of such work should be more widely recognised and appreciated. We'd be up shit creek without 'menial' workers. They are so much more important to society than say, fashion designers or reality tv stars.

PinkiePiesCupcakes Sat 05-Nov-16 17:33:12


I was an engineer for over a decade.
In that time I never considered myself above any task that needed doing.
One of the most looked down oin jobs was sweeping the shopfloor. Noone would do it, deemed menial, lower, even to the point someone said,
"Can't we hire a stupid fucker to do it?"

But, without someone to sweep the floor wed have all ended up wading through award, banding and rubbish. Health and safety begins on the floor ime.

baconandeggies Sat 05-Nov-16 17:43:52

I definitely agree that no job is 'menial' or 'beneath' others. An MP or doctor isn't a better job than a care worker or courier, for example. They're just different.

EnoughAlready43 Sat 05-Nov-16 17:58:34

My job got described as "menial" on my reference when I was working as a clerical officer in HR for a local authority. I was quite upset. I worked my cunt off for them too.
I moved on to a new job eventually, but it did grate at the time.

baconandeggies Sat 05-Nov-16 18:10:54

I think it's one of those throwaway terms that is actually quite offensive when you consider deeper..

Another one being 'illegitimate child'. So an individual is less legitimate / real / worthy than another whose parents are married?!

TheHiphopopotamus Sat 05-Nov-16 18:15:49

Yanbu OP

I also agree with what arfarf said. But I suspect people who use the term 'menial' to describe certain jobs are saying it purposely, as someone else has already suggested. It's a bit of a demeaning term.

TheHiphopopotamus Sat 05-Nov-16 18:19:09

Another one being 'illegitimate child'. So an individual is less legitimate / real / worthy than another whose parents are married

I suppose in this case, in times gone by, a legitimate child was more worthy,*in terms of inheritance etc. If you look at Henry VIII, he had an illegitimate son, but needed a legitimate one who could inherit the throne.

*Not my personal opinion obviously.

60sname Sat 05-Nov-16 18:25:45

While I think your flatmate expressed it in a crass way, I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting your partner to have a similar level of education/aspiration/money to you

RiverTam Sat 05-Nov-16 18:31:25

Well, that's not entirely true, a doctor may well save lives; a care worker, though a very key worker, won't have the skills or experience to do that. I wouldn't personally call a care worker menial, though, no caring job is menial. Doing something totally brainless and deadens would be menial, I dunno, like working in a call centre.

RiverTam Sat 05-Nov-16 18:32:27


baconandeggies Sat 05-Nov-16 18:33:07

While I think your flatmate expressed it in a crass way, I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting your partner to have a similar level of education/aspiration/money to you

It was part of a wider conversation that showed she looked down on those professions, for religious reasons, e.g.

"God wants the best for me so he would never give me a dustbin man for a husband"

Said acquaintance is single and has worked as a nanny for the subsequent 15 years.

KingJoffreysRestingCuntface Sat 05-Nov-16 18:35:26

Meh. My job is described as 'menial'.

I'm a care assistant. We get no respect or recognition. I've many times been called an 'arse wiper'. Makes 'menial' sound like a compliment.

If looking after the sick and the dying is considered menial then so be it. It's just a word.

needsahalo Sat 05-Nov-16 18:36:30

60sname why would you assume that someone who does 'less' of a job is not educated or without aspiration or drive to move forwards or indeed without money?

Theoretician Sat 05-Nov-16 18:44:09

It's a word that describes a certain kind of job. If it didn't exist we'd have to invent it. Should we also ban the terms "low-skilled", "poorly paid", "boring" and "unpleasant" as descriptors of jobs, in case the people doing those jobs are offended?

TheHiphopopotamus Sat 05-Nov-16 18:54:55

theoritician if someone described someone else's job as 'menial', I would take it as they thought that job was beneath them and not worthy of any respect.

That, obviously, is my personal opinion and it's obviously open to interpretation.

baconandeggies Sat 05-Nov-16 18:55:01

If someone takes pride in their work and enjoys it, why shouldn't they object if other people describe it as low-skilled? Low-skilled in relation to who? Is there a 'normal' skill level they are meant to aspire to?

SpunkyMummy Sat 05-Nov-16 18:55:25

Well, it is a word used to describe jobs that don't require a lot of skill.

We need a word like that, don't we?

However, this doesn't mean menial jobs aren't important.

baconandeggies Sat 05-Nov-16 18:56:51

Surely all skills are just different? Why the value judgement?

baconandeggies Sat 05-Nov-16 18:58:56

Care workers are highly skilled in multifaceted ways... I couldn't do it. What's the benefit in describing the role as 'menial'?

Floggingmolly Sat 05-Nov-16 19:22:43

How could you have a "normal" skill level across the board? confused
All jobs aren't equal. The skill set required by a surgeon are so very obviously different to those required by an accountant or plumber, for example.
Light years away from those required by a chef...
I think you're being a bit daft to expect equal recognition for the ability to do a job that really doesn't need any particular skills or abilities.

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