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To be furious for being called out for menstruating at work?

(560 Posts)
Snuffalo Tue 11-Jul-17 15:04:58

Having horrible menstrual cramps, naproxen isn’t touching it, and I remember I have a hot water bottle in my desk drawer - I used it all winter in my freezing office, and a few other people, male and female, have one as well - we have a rule against personal space heaters so it can be nice to have under your desk next to your feet.

Anyway. I fill the hot water bottle, nestle it in my lap, and I’m back to work. My sort-of-supervisor* we’ll call Guy comes over to talk to me about something, notices the hot water bottle, says “there’s no way you’re cold today, are you?” I say “um, no, just for the pain relief”. He looks confused and then literally horrified and then he walks away.

Less than ten minutes later, I get a Slack message from one of the HR admins (HR is based in another office a few hours away) to say “Guy says you’re not well and should go home, everything OK?”

I say “I’m fine, this is sort of weird, he just looked a bit shocked that I had a hot water bottle, I’ve got cramps, you know how it is.”

She goes silent and then offline completely, ten more minutes later, the HR Director calls me and asks me if I can find a meeting room, which I do. She then tells me that I shouldn’t disclose my medical problems to anyone who isn’t part of HR as it can make them uncomfortable. I’m literally shocked, I explain exactly what happened, she says “yes I understand, if you’re so unwell you need a hot water bottle you should be home, Guy is extremely uncomfortable and it’s unprofessional”. I say “this is weird, ok, anything else”? She’s quite breezy and professional - “No, that’s all, if you’re feeling better that’s great but if you need to, please do go home, OK bye!"

I’m just completely flabbergasted. Especially considering that Guy has been known to take meetings with clients whilst laying flat on the floor on his back because of back problems - which seems to me both unprofessional and likely to make people uncomfortable, not that I really cared personally. I wouldn’t have had my hot water bottle in a client meeting or even if clients were in the office.

Other people have standing desks, weird foot rests, all kinds of chairs and special backrests for their back pain and wrist braces for their wrist pain and a hundred other things and I’m not allowed to have a hot water bottle for my menstrual cramps? Am I right to be completely fucking furious?

*I normally have no problem with Guy, we don’t work closely, no one else does what I do at work but he comes closest and he does my nominal (and always positive) performance reviews and signs off on my holiday.

Guepe Mon 24-Jul-17 00:19:39

corollajet - if you think that a layer of a material between the heat source and someone's skin stops the heat from providing effective pain relief, then you probably need to forego the hot water bottle entirely and just pour hot water over yourself next time.

EBearhug Mon 24-Jul-17 00:27:04

Now we have someone saying adhesive heat pads shouldn't be worn on bare skin.

Yes, I went and checked what the box said, just to be sure I wasn't talking bollocks. Checking facts and all that.

EBearhug Mon 24-Jul-17 00:29:43

This link even has a picture showing how they expect it to be used.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 24-Jul-17 00:43:41

Direct to skin patches do exist and I used them on my lower back but putting a hot water bottle on to bare skin on my stomach would have been more painful than the period.

All of this is an entertaining diversion from the fact Guy is a twerp. There are a couple of women in my open plan office who use hot water bottles regularly the (nice, normal) men don't have fits of the vapours.

HappenedForAReisling Mon 24-Jul-17 05:18:40

Has anyone mentioned in this thread that George Takei has linked to this story (posted elsewhere) on his FB page?

snuffalo you are indeed famous now that Sulu has picked up your story

Shayerathal Wed 26-Jul-17 10:31:00

You realise this is sexual discrimination. You were approached about why you had a hot water bottle and you answered for telling you to go home and pulling you into a meeting the discriminatingredients you for being a woman seek legal advice this is very wrong and they could get into a lot of trouble. Any proof you have of the convos keep and speak to employment law in the UK ACAS is your first call.

Penny4UrThoughts Wed 26-Jul-17 10:59:42

Corolla, patronising as well as wrong? Oh dear...

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Wed 26-Jul-17 12:03:09

"Now, I wonder how Snuffalo and all those "outraged" would have reacted if she walked by Guy's desk, questioned his cold compress and he mentions it's for his blue balls?"

Not a good comparison, I'm afraid, @corollajet - because the OP didn't say that the hot water bottle was for period pain or menstrual cramps - just that it was for cramps - which could have been due to IBS or wind. So a good comparison would be if the OP had walked past Guy's desk, questioned the compress, and he'd said it was for treating an ache - that would have a similar level of detail to that given by the OP.

Guy asked what the hot water bottle was for, was given a vague answer that made NO reference to periods, leapt to a conclusion, and complained that he had been made to feel uncomfortable. Yes, his conclusion was correct - but it was his conclusion that made him feel uncomfortable, NOT what the OP said to him.

And speaking as someone who has often used a hot water bottle to relieve aches and pains, I can promise you that the laws of thermodynamics means that heat can and does radiate through a layer or layers of fabric. If this were not the case, then the hot water bottle, in its fabric cover, that my mum gave me to warm my bed when I was a child, would have been cold to the touch, not warm enough to help warm a cold bed!!

Lucysky2017 Wed 26-Jul-17 12:05:55

Guy is silly. You did not exactly subject him to lurid tales of menstrual blood or pour it into his coffee. You just mentinoed you had cramps.

Why should it be a hidden thing? If men have problems with menstruation or their religion or culture does then they need to seek therapy or go and cry in corners but they should not moan to HR about it

grandadblackrain1951 Tue 01-Aug-17 03:06:59

How old is this guy he sounds like a 10 year old. As for a female its a normal monthly occurrence how can the female HR director class it as a medical problem? Use it against them - ask if they are going to give you five days off a month every month so that you do not embarrass guy with your unprofessional medical problems - as that was her solution to the embarrassment.

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