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Told to 'Calm down' in a meeting

(20 Posts)
Slumberparty Thu 05-Jun-14 11:52:27

I'm at work and just finished a conference call amongst a small team. There are 4 of us, 3 of us all the same level, then our manager. I am the only female. These calls are relatively informal.
We were discussing the best way to do things and when making my point I am told to 'calm down'. It was meant in a jokey way, but I feel patronised. For the record I was already calm! Neither of the others were told to 'calm down' when making points. In the end my manager agreed with me so it was a valid point.

I feel it is a bit sexist, and am temped to bring it up with him. Not to accuse him of being sexist, but just to point out why I found it offensive?
Should I? Or should I just let it go? Was this even sexist?

HecatePropylaea Thu 05-Jun-14 12:02:03

I don't know.

I know you say you were calm - I assume you mean you weren't angry or anything but were you passionate about your point? Were you raising your voice or behaving in an agitated manner or talking fast or interrupting or using dramatic language or anything like that?

If you were, then a jokey calm down wouldn't necessarily be because you are a woman but because you were getting over enthusiastic.

But tbh, if you felt patronised then you probably were. I know a lot of people don't agree with this but I do believe most people can actually tell when someone is patronising them or putting them down, even when those it wasn't directed at say no, or put another interpretation on it. I guess it's the difference between being a party directly involved in the interaction and being a bystander?

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Thu 05-Jun-14 12:28:14

Ask why it was said to you and not others, as in your opinion all were speaking in a similar way - act as if you are seeking to learn..,

Slumberparty Thu 05-Jun-14 12:42:12

No I wasn't passionate or over enthusiastic about it - it's not that exciting. I'm pretty sure I hadn't raised my voice. I was suggesting an alternative to the manager. One of the others was opposing the managers suggestions more strongly than I was so that's why I feel hard done by with the 'calm down ' comment.

I think I might mention it in a very casual manner and see what he says. He is generally quite defensive if anyone questions him so not sure how it will go!

tobiasfunke Thu 05-Jun-14 12:48:57

Of course it's sexist. They just didn't have the balls to actually say 'Calm down dear'. I would bring it up.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Thu 05-Jun-14 14:59:05

I don't think the phrase "calm down" is sexist, but it sounds like in this case yes, he was being sexist in singling you out for having an opinion.

scallopsrgreat Thu 05-Jun-14 15:04:36

I think the phrase 'calm down' is used more towards women than men and even more towards children. Which says something. It is generally said to men when they are shouting and swearing. There is much less of a threshold for women.

Would the person who said this have felt comfortable saying it to another man? Probably not. In this situation I think it is a phrase that is said by someone who feels emotionally superior to you (if not actually superior to you).

PomeralLights Thu 05-Jun-14 15:05:19

Make a note of it whether you raise it or not. Insidious sexism like this often means the individual occurrences don't sound that bad and so, if you get to the point where you feel you have to raise it, people might not take it seriously. Which is why if you keep a diary of incidences it becomes easier to prove that there is an certain sexist atmosphere. Stuff like this is always horrible, at least if you write down every incidence you can look back over it and reassure yourself you are not making it up.

Slumberparty Thu 05-Jun-14 15:52:43

Yes I think I will start writing them down. There has been a few other instances where I feel like he's tried to embarrass me or 'put me in my place' in front of other people. I'm not sure if it's because I'm a woman, younger than him, or just because he's an insecure idiot. He acts differently (nicer) towards me if it's just the two of us talking.
Thanks for the replies. I do think stuff like this is quite 'everyday' and insidious and I just find myself biting my tongue and silently fuming instead of trying to do anything about it. But then if you do speak up you're seen as being difficult or argumentative.

AskBasil Thu 05-Jun-14 21:14:44

I think BillnTed's idea of approaching it as if you seeking to learn, is an excellent one.

EBearhug Thu 05-Jun-14 22:15:42

Raise it. I objected to being called the "emotional one" in the team - after all, it was one of my male colleagues who got so wound up that he swore in a meeting, not me. He's not emotional though, because he's a bloke.

I may have separately made some other comments about them being so predictably stereotypical when they judge me in this sort of way.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 06-Jun-14 09:50:30

Raise it. BillnTed's idea is good. I'll nick that idea for next time - last time I just said straight to their face that they are being sexist. grin

PomeralLights Sat 07-Jun-14 18:28:03

When I first started work and experienced a sexist comment for the first time my mum gave me some good advice - write every instance down, and only raise it if you have more than 6 grevances in 6months.

If you raise it every time you risk coming across as a bit precious, which will do nothing to stop them actually being sexist, likely encourage it. If you accept it too much you allow it to continue. Speaking up and saying look, I have a written record and I do feel I'm being treated differently scares the shit out of them.

I thought it was quite good advice - following her advice I've only raised a problem once but when I did, I was taken really seriously. And I've avoided accusing people of being sexist when in hindsight it was an isolated incidence and they were probably just having a bad day.

MuttonCadet Sat 07-Jun-14 18:30:39

I got shushed a couple of weeks ago...... Handed my notice in 3 later.

MuttonCadet Sat 07-Jun-14 18:35:35

3 days later

Slumberparty Mon 09-Jun-14 13:04:55

Yep I'm going to write stuff down and keep a record. 6 instances seems a good number. There was a later incident on Thursday where he totally belittled me in front of a couple other people - it's going on the list!

CouncilOfLadies Tue 10-Jun-14 21:24:48

Reminds me of my old office. I used to let the "calm down" comments get to me, but then I realised I could use the same tactic.

So whenever I got told to calm down by a man, I responded with: "Oh dear, did you just have a surge of testosterone? Perhaps you should find a quiet space and chill out for a bit."

The "calm down" comments ceased after thatgrin

lottiegarbanzo Tue 10-Jun-14 21:35:55

A response that wouldn't surprise me at all is that 'he knows you can take a joke', all matey, in private.

He sounds threatened by you, whether because you're female or extra-competent I don't know.

Agree that making notes and keeping your powder dry for a bit is a good tactic.

losingmybelt Sun 15-Jun-14 15:59:14

It is sort of sexist. I have yet to hear a woman use that phrase!
My ex used to say it to me, so have a pet hate for it (and him smile

Chunderella Sun 22-Jun-14 12:07:29

I got told I was being precious about an issue I raised with my boss the other day. He's not usually the neanderthal type, but I'd have thought he might have enough self awareness to realise how it looks when a middle aged man says that to a younger woman, especially one who's just told him she's pregnant. Sigh.

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