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How would you have reacted?

(9 Posts)
Frettchen Wed 26-Feb-14 13:35:36

I'm sitting and silently questioning my own inaction right now, and, well, I guess I'm looking for inspiration as to what I could have done/said differently (if anything) in two recent experiences.

1 - Walking toward a mini Tesco last night - about 6:30pm, and it's not wonderfully well lit. There's a huddle of young boys; 4 or 5 of them, probably about 16-18 years old (I'm 28). I'm wearing flat boots, a knee-length skirt and an over-sized work fleece, so it's not like I was all gussied up (not that that makes any difference really) and as I walk past I hear one of the boys address me with a catcall; nothing offensive, but certainly not appropriate to be calling out at unsuspecting women. I ignore them and walk into the shop, get my groceries, then head on back out for a second round. Again it's a case of 'hey beautiful, how about a hug, how about a kiss.' I say nothing and keep walking. I want to turn around and say something like 'how old are you?' or just 'be better people,' but it's dark and I'm outnumbered and those two facts make me a little nervous and a little angry because I don't like being in a position when I feel nervous.

2 - Sitting in the office this morning. It's just me and possibly a half dozen men (there are two other women who work in the office, but they were out at this point) and some of the men are talking. It's not a large office and I sit in the space between these guys, so I'm privy to the exchange. One (A) is lamenting it being a tough morning in some work he's doing with another, predominantly-female, department, and makes a quip about how they're all about ready to hit the wine. Colleague B retorts with 'You're getting women drunk at 9 in the morning?' in a sort of jokey bantery way, and A replies oh-so-funnily with 'Well it's that or Rohypnol'. Because jokes about date-rape drugs are hilarious. As the only female, and the youngest, and most junior member of the team I said nothing. I've made a couple of feministy statements before, a colleague commented on my ability to throw something into a bin a short distance away by implying it was impressive for a girl - said to get a response, and that response was my 'Seriously?' and an unimpressed look.
But yeah, I'm now sitting here thinking that I wish I had said something to indicate that I found their joke uncomfortable, and that I don't really appreciate their generally 'laddish' attitude. I just don't know what I can say, and what I ought to let slide because this is a shared workspace and it's not my place to police their words, 'banter', opinions or whatever. The office is generally a lot of fun; we all chat and laugh throughout the day, it's fairly rare that it crosses my line of comfort. I don't know if I'm making mountains out of molehills, or if it's because this morning's comment came so soon after last night's encounter with the youths.

I dunno... I just feel like I should have said something, I just don't know what.

ClaudetteWyms Wed 26-Feb-14 13:43:41

Sorry you've had to deal with so many thoughtless wankers in such a short time.

In example (1) I would have done/said nothing for the same reasons you mentioned. Sad but true. I dread my beautiful DD growing up and dealing with shit like that.

In example (2) I would have thought the "Seriously?" with a pissed off face would have done the trick again. Or maybe "Wow, date-rape jokes at breakfast, are we doing this in the workplace now? and keep an eye on them, log it and any future incidents. Sounds horrible.

NeoFaust Wed 26-Feb-14 13:45:07

Not sure what to do in the street, but in our office if we make a joke and one of our female colleagues just says 'not cool, dude' we take the admonishment in stride, apologise and move on. If you usually take part in jokes and banter then it's obvious you're not humorless or controlling and are just establishing your boundaries, which is perfectly fair.

PenguinsEatSpinach Wed 26-Feb-14 14:41:52

On the first one, I would probably have said "fuck off children". But I am gobby and not sensible. Your approach was completely right. Your safety should come first. My mouth gets me in trouble.

On the second, if I had thought of it quickly enough, I quite like the 'assume no one would be such an arsehole' approach. So I'd have said, with a smile and a questioning look "You mean valium? Rophynol is the date rape one." Forces the idiot to either agree with you or directly admit he makes jokes about rape. If that deserts me, then I go with "Really?" or "seriously?" type comments too.

OuterFromOutersville Wed 26-Feb-14 14:59:14

I bloody hate this too - wishing that you'd reacted differently afterwards.

# 1. I think you probably did the right thing. I like - I have white goods older than you (from MN grin), but your safety comes first.

# 2. A bit like Penguins answer, I think that asking someone to repeat what they've just said can make them realise what an idiot they're being.

Frettchen Wed 26-Feb-14 15:57:54

Thanks all. It's quite reassuring to know I've not missed a zingy, effective response, and that I'm not over-reacting.

I think the rohypnol joke this morning just caught me unawares (the're not hideous people, the men I work with) and it took a minute for my mind to kick back into gear.

I like Claudette and Penguin's tips of mentioning why the joke is inappropriate; it may be that it's a bit of a leap from 'rohypnol' to 'rape' in their minds, whilst to me the two are quite closely connected.

brighteyedbusytailed Fri 28-Feb-14 15:19:28

Regarding the office situation you seemed to do a reverse pick your battles think, the 'seriously' commented was over something very trivial, and now something worth mentioning has arisen you feel unable to comment, maybe in the past it was a case of pick your battles?

whatdoesittake48 Fri 28-Feb-14 16:10:55

your first example reminds me of a similar situation i encountered. i am 40 (!) and was catcalled by a group of young boys of about 15 (?). I turned around and confronted them and told them i was old enough to be their mother and that they needed to learn some respect. I asked them what right they thought they had to say anything at all to me.

They tried to defend themselves, but just went red and sloped off. I felt angry but pleased with myself.

if they had been older i may not have done that tho.

second incident - I understand why you left it. perhaps just keep an eye on these guys and if they start getting stupid again - be prepared with some great one liners.

Frettchen Wed 05-Mar-14 10:55:13

Regarding the office situation you seemed to do a reverse pick your battles think, the 'seriously' commented was over something very trivial, and now something worth mentioning has arisen you feel unable to comment, maybe in the past it was a case of pick your battles?

This is very possible. I'm used to batting back the smaller 'wrongs', but sort of froze in the face of something really out of order.

I brought in some homemade biscuits on Monday (had made them for visitors at home and decided to do an extra batch for the office; other staff members occasionally buy biscuits, so it's not completely unusual) and one of the first responses was 'Ooh, Frettchen, you'll make someone a good wife one day,' and I had no trouble retorting with 'what is this, the 1950s?' and the comment-maker quickly admitted it wasn't a wise thing to say.

It's worth noting that he's a contractor and will be leaving in the next few weeks, whereas the rohypnol jokester is a permanent employee, who isn't usually one for shock-based jokes. I do wonder whether he may have been playing up to this laugh-a-minute, very blokey contractor.

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