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Everyday sexism or a genuine remark?

(59 Posts)
EEmother Wed 11-Sep-19 09:32:33

Please tell me I am being unreasonable.
So the story.
I recently took two weeks of annual leave to send my children off to school.
Then there's this colleague. We are not working together closely a lot, just on one project, and I am probably a little bit more senior than him. I'd say we generally have a cool and distant working relationship.
We were chatting next to the coffee machine yesterday (probably the first informal chat we had ever together), the usual - "So you're back now, did you go somewhere nice?" - "Nah, just stayed home to manage the school start, my youngest starts reception, so it was a bit stressful" - "Ah you have children, I did not know that! So who is looking after them now?". Then after thinking a bit - "isn't it great that the company allowed you two weeks off to do the school run?".
The more I think about it, the more I feel that something was off about that conversation. He wasn't really interested to hear back about my childcare arrangements, and I doubt he'd say the same to a male colleague. I obviously do not plan to run screaming to the HR about this, but it will definitely colour my opinion of him.
So aibu to think that was an example of everyday sexism? Or could it be in good faith and innocent?

SomeoneInTheLaaaaaounge Wed 11-Sep-19 09:45:38

He’s out of order! Tiny micro aggressions add up. Isn’t it nice they “allowed you” It sounds like he is digging to find out if you had paid leave / parental leave or some arrangement.
As in who is looking after them, fucking Satan is looking after them and they are drinking goats blood.
Piss off mate!
He almost certainly isn’t doing it intentionally society has just conditioned him this way. Doesn’t make it right though.

silverystream Wed 11-Sep-19 09:49:01

Say, 'Why? Do you think you might have to take parental leave?'.

AmIThough Wed 11-Sep-19 09:50:56

How old is he?
The 'who's looking after them now' comment is fine IMO.

When he said that about allowing you two weeks off, why didn't you just say 'oh it was just my annual leave'?
He might not have understood what you meant.

Bagel88 Wed 11-Sep-19 09:55:16

Alternatively, he was simply making conversation at the coffee machine?

Maybe he was expecting you to say you had been abroad and to ask if you had a nice time somewhere.
When you said about the school run it put his line of holiday thinking on the back foot.

EEmother Wed 11-Sep-19 09:56:23

Thanks all. He's somewhere in mid-50s.
To be honest, I just mumbled something and retreated. My out of office autoreply (that he definitely received a couple of times) said that I am away on PTO, returning on xx/xx/xxxx. It is not like the company has done me a specific favour, it's the same statutory leave allowance everyone else gets.

araiwa Wed 11-Sep-19 09:59:12

How was it sexism

He was directly responding to your individual circumstances

Im sure if a man had said he took two weeks off to do the school run, similar inane conversation would follow

BuzzShitbagBobbly Wed 11-Sep-19 10:00:56

Your mention of PTO (paid time off) and the 2 weeks being the same as everyone - do you work for an American company or was he/you American?

The expectations around taking time off work there are very different to here, so if that is the case, could he have found it odd you spent your very limited allowances doing that and not on actual holiday somewhere?

(Just guessing, could be completely off!)

Shoxfordian Wed 11-Sep-19 10:01:48

I think its sexist

The company wasn't being nice allowing you 2 weeks off, its your entitlement, same as everyone else.

EEmother Wed 11-Sep-19 10:02:26

Alternatively, he was simply making conversation at the coffee machine?
Yes, can be, it is a genuine aibu (and from the voting it seems I am). I am a bit socially awkward and sometimes have difficulties reading subtler cues. I am also not British and previously my cultural misunderstandings were on the "underestimating" side - i.e. I perceive the person as simply straight-talking, but everyone else gasps at how rude they are.

EEmother Wed 11-Sep-19 10:05:15

Your mention of PTO (paid time off) and the 2 weeks being the same as everyone - do you work for an American company or was he/you American
Yes, American company and PTO is what usually used in correspondence (half of the team is in the US). Everyone gets 5.6 weeks in the London office. I am not American (nor British), he is British.

springydaff Wed 11-Sep-19 10:07:41

It was a dickish comment but I think he was just making conversation.

However, if your gut tells you it was off then it was off.

PurpleDaisies Wed 11-Sep-19 10:09:18

It is quite unusual for people to take a fortnight off when their children start school. Maybe that was what confused him.

WeMustGetOffTheMountain Wed 11-Sep-19 10:10:57

I think he was just making conversation. I honestly think you're reading too much into it. However, if it felt off to you then it felt off and you're obviously entitled to feel that way. smile

BuzzShitbagBobbly Wed 11-Sep-19 10:12:22

It is quite unusual for people to take a fortnight off when their children start school

Yes, this. It's more usually like an hour (or at most a morning) on the first day, so he's probably wondering why you needed 10 full days for it.
(obviously its up to you, but it is a little odd)

BoomZahramay Wed 11-Sep-19 10:15:37

Tbh, I sometimes put my foot in it during awkward, off the cuff conversations. I later cringe. I mean well, and I just hope that comes across more than whatever stupid thing I said. It makes me very forgiving of others in return!

TeenPlusTwenties Wed 11-Sep-19 10:16:32

Not that unusual to take a fortnight off if the school has stupid 'in the interests of the children' starting arrangements including lots of half days for 2 weeks, randomly varying between mornings and afternoons.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Sep-19 10:22:09

He may have thought it was a 'genuine remark' but I agree it's an example of 'everyday sexism'. I seriously doubt the conversation would have been quite the same if the OP had been male.

misspiggy19 Wed 11-Sep-19 10:25:39

Who takes 2 weeks off for the school run??????

Anyway I don’t see any problem with what he said

ErrolTheDragon Wed 11-Sep-19 10:28:35

* Who takes 2 weeks off for the school run??????*

Nobody; that's not what the OP was doing. That was just a dismissive remark by the bloke who evidently had no clue.hmm

GreenyEye Wed 11-Sep-19 10:30:17

mispiggy19, i'd assume the OP's child had a lengthy staggered start in reception, which can be a bloody nightmare to arrange childcare around.. so made the sensible choice to use 2 weeks paid leave to facilitate it.

BogglesGoggles Wed 11-Sep-19 10:31:32

Does he have children? A lot of childless people ask rather off questions around this kind of thing but it’s just because they’ve not experienced it themselves and are making innocent conversation.

tellmewhenthespaceshiplandscoz Wed 11-Sep-19 10:39:15

Mmmm, now you've told us his age I'm thinking everyday sexism. As springy says there is a high chance he was making conversation but when done in a dickish way by a man of that age it's often (not always) sexism. Perhaps if he has a family he had diddly to do with the child rearing so this is perhaps also coming from a place of not having a clue which comes from a generation where this was all absolutely women's work.

I wonder if he also uses phrases like -

Things have swung too far the other way now,
Well, you wanted equal rights (said when a woman has been shafted in some way)
etc confused

Hopoindown31 Wed 11-Sep-19 10:44:53

How you use your annual leave is entirely your business. He was out of order but it wasn't complaint worthy. I suggest keep personal details to a minimum at work.

DoctorAllcome Wed 11-Sep-19 10:50:51

YABU
It would only be sexism if he had started the conversation assuming you were off on a baby vacation.
He thought you were on a regular vacation, you brought up the school starting thing.
Then all he said was “isn’t it great that the company allows you...”
He could not have known what type of time off you used being well past baby rearing age himself. For all he knows you May have a new benefit not offered when he was a young parent. The fact he thinks it’s a great/positive thing that you did that means to me the opposite of sexism.

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