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Everyday sexism - how not to be the lech at the office party

(43 Posts)
BubsandMoo Sun 06-Dec-15 09:44:32

Just read this

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/everday-sexism-how-not-to-be-the-lech-at-the-office-party-a6761831.html

It's really annoyed me. The author (who is male, although going by initials doesn't make that clear) seems to either have spectacularly misunderstood the concept of everyday sexism or just wilfully misappropriated it. The point isn't that "giving a women a compliment on her appearance these days is a minefield for men.....we live in an age where the line between innocent compliment and creepy lechery can become hopelessly blurred" - which he seems to blame either on women being confusing or some kind of theoretical other type of men, not nice old chaps like his Dad who were entirely innocent and clueless in their objectification. The bloody point of everyday sexism is that men feel entitled to go around making uninvited comments on women's appearance in the first place, whatever those comments are whether the conscious intention behind them is to get in the woman's pants or not.

The tone and vocabulary is telling - referring to other women at the party "smirking" at him floundering over telling a woman what she looked like- and use of the word "uxorious" - unnecessary to use such obscure language in a newspaper, IMO, however high-brow, it just smacks of the author trying to prove he's more intelligent than his readers - but the word itself is misogynistic, implying that a man is wrong to be fond of his wife. To sum up, for all his grandiloquence (see, I can use big words too) he comes across as either exceptionally dim, so entrenched in his everyday sexism that he cannot even see it, or horribly calculating in his misogyny, masquerading behind the 'you can't say anything these days' anti-PC banner.

Feel a bit less annoyed after that venting! Am I way off the mark here or does his get anyone else's goat?

AuntieStella Sun 06-Dec-15 10:07:02

I thought 'uxurious' meant a conspicuous and pointed display of sentiment for the spouse. Not a normal relationship.

But, yes, he's missed the point that there is no reason whatsoever for someone to believe that personal comments will be welcomed by anyone else. And if you make them, it's perfectly OK for them to be politely rebuffed. If you are capable of taking the message, then all that will be accomplished without the single ruffling of a social feather.

PassiveAgressiveQueen Sun 06-Dec-15 23:14:30

So when i compliment people on their dress or skirt for example am i being sexist? Simple "i like your dress" style comments?

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 07-Dec-15 01:26:02

Well I would say absolutely not sexist. If someone is wearing a new dress or suit at work I think it's nice , even polite to mention it. I'd be pleased. At social occasions , of course it's fine.

On a previous thread about compliments someone posted that if a woman she didn't know walked up to her on the street and stopped her to tell her she had a nice dress, she'd think she was very peculiar and that it has never happened. Which I found vaguely amusing as it had actually happened to me the very day I read it and has happened many times over the years.

BubsandMoo Mon 07-Dec-15 07:28:36

The difference is complimenting the clothing (I like your boots) as you would if anyone was wearing it vs commenting on an individual's wppappearance (you look X). The former is fine. The latter is uninvitingly informing someone whether you find their appearance visually pleasing (/sexually appealing) or not, it happens to women in situations where it does not happen to men, hence, sexist.

AuntieStella Mon 07-Dec-15 07:39:44

If it's in the same tone (and the same extent) as "I like your tie" or "are those new trousers? I like them" to a male colleague, then you're unikely to have difficulties.

If you don't compliment everyone on their appearance (regardless of sex), then it may well come across badly, as it's then not about clothing choices, but women's appaearance choices only.

And no, you should have no expectation whatsoever that an opinion of someone's appearance will be universally welcome.

And it's not a minefield. It's a simple case of generally not doing it unless you have reason to believe it will be welcome. Dropping the assumption that it will always be welcome is not complicated.

cigarsofthepharaoh Mon 07-Dec-15 08:14:57

It's the intention that makes the difference. I would he totally fine if I went to an office party, say, and any of my male colleagues said "oh, you look lovely, your hair/dress/make up looks amazing". It would be polite chit chat rather than any attempt to come on to me. If a random person who I didn't know came up to me and said the same, they'd almost certainly be trying to hit on me.

It would make me uncomfortable because it is basically telling you that they've been watching you and judging your appearance. You can compliment the women you know because you'll have been looking at them anyway before saying hi! Obviously, even if you know them, too many compliments is going to come across as reducing them to their looks and objectifying them.

It really isn't difficult, I don't understand how men find these simple concepts too hard.

MrNoseybonk Mon 07-Dec-15 11:31:20

*If a random person who I didn't know came up to me and said the same, they'd almost certainly be trying to hit on me.

It would make me uncomfortable because it is basically telling you that they've been watching you and judging your appearance.*

What if they are trying to hit on you?
How is a man (or a woman) supposed to indicate to someone that they are attracted to them and are interested in inquiring if the attraction is mutual and if future interaction could be a possibility, without some kind of approach and initial exchange from a stranger who has been watching and judging you?

AuntieStella Mon 07-Dec-15 11:43:12

If they want to hit on you, they definitely shouldn't be assuming that their advances will be welcome.

That's not a difficult concept either.

abbieanders Mon 07-Dec-15 11:43:41

Who really cares?

abbieanders Mon 07-Dec-15 11:44:24

If you can't figure out how to hit on someone, I mean.

MrNoseybonk Mon 07-Dec-15 11:49:25

*If they want to hit on you, they definitely shouldn't be assuming that their advances will be welcome.

That's not a difficult concept either.*

No, they shouldn't assume it will be welcome but are they sexist to try?
A lot of people seem to take an approach by someone as the worst sexist crime.

TychosNose Mon 07-Dec-15 11:55:39

Is it sexist to hit on a woman you don't know by reducing her to a sex object by commenting on how physically attractive you find her?

Yes MrNoseybonk , it is sexist.

Hth

MrNoseybonk Mon 07-Dec-15 12:33:09

Is it sexist to hit on a woman you don't know by reducing her to a sex object by commenting on how physically attractive you find her?

That's not what I said though.

abbieanders Mon 07-Dec-15 12:55:35

It infuriates me that so many men relate to feminism as all very well in a way, but since it's not about getting men sex, you know...

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 08-Dec-15 04:56:57

Just for the idiots... How DH 'hit on me'. I was in a bar and being 'complimented' by a drunk, sexist arsehole who refused to stop touching me. I may have threatened to break his fingers DH's mate said, "my mate's a back belt. Just sit near him if you want to get rid of him" <nods at idiot> I saw gorgeous DH earlier so sat next to him "this seat taken?". DH and I talked about books, our families (from the same place), the idiot and life. There is laughter. We are both by this point pretty sure the other person is attracted. No comments about appearance either way.

Why is this hard? Why are men so married to the idea that they have to comment on women's appearance? Why can't they talk about books or the weather or art or news. Then body language and so on will give you a fairly good idea if your advances are being considered favorably.

The thing about commenting on appearance that I really hate is there is no good outcome...

Imagine this... "Nice arse" I either hate the person commenting in which case I'm probably a little threatened and weirded out. Or, I like the person in which case I either agree (vain bitch) or disagree (false modesty or insecurity). Yuck.

PassiveAgressiveQueen Tue 08-Dec-15 06:37:48

Why can't they talk about books or the weather or art or news.

Because many people can't, their topics of conversation are football, how drunk fred got and who he puked on/ beat up etc.

After my exams when i was 16 i spent the summer holidays hanging with this group it was great, it was mindless but they couldn't have had those conversations if their life depended on it.

MrNoseybonk Tue 08-Dec-15 08:55:26

Why can't they talk about books or the weather or art or news.

Of course they can (well some of them) and do, and that places the ball in the woman's court.
Unless you have that magical "click", which does happen, when both people "know", someone has to let the other know that they are attracted to them, somehow.

reni2 Thu 10-Dec-15 00:02:52

It did get my goat. It reminded me of a work Christmas party. Talked to a very senior guy (I was very young) and he blatantly talked to my tits. To the point of first addressing the right tit, then the left. He talked about work to each of my tits, his eyes so clearly moving it was almost funny. He then proceeded to say "I like your.... top." I told him that's a bit uncomfortable. Cue outraged "can't compliment girls (!) these days"

VestalVirgin Thu 10-Dec-15 00:26:54

Unless you have that magical "click", which does happen, when both people "know", someone has to let the other know that they are attracted to them, somehow.

You can do so by telling the person you'd like to meet them again. No need for sleazy comments.

cailindana Thu 10-Dec-15 10:09:42

'Unless you have that magical "click", which does happen, when both people "know", someone has to let the other know that they are attracted to them, somehow.'

Are you saying Noseybonk that the one and only way you have of letting someone know you're attracted to them is to comment on their appearance? Really? Does that mean that attraction, for you, centres entirely around appearance and has nothing to do with how engaging a person is, or their laugh, or how much you like their company?

The premise of that whole article is utterly misogynistic. He starts from the assumption that ogling women is just one of life's pleasures and that it's somehow 'normal' and 'natural' to goggle at someone who fits some template of attractiveness. Some people do fit that template but in fact it's no more acceptable to stare at them and comment on them than it is to stare at and comment on someone who's different for other reasons such as skin colour or disability. There seems to be an assumption that because attractiveness is 'positive' (as opposed to disability which is 'negative') then all comments are welcome and that person has to put up with it - I mean, she can't expect to look that good and get away with it, can she?

MrNoseybonk Thu 10-Dec-15 10:17:31

Any sensible person can tell the difference between a comment on appearance, which is still a "come on" and a sleazy comment.

I think everyone on this thread is thinking of this from a men making comments to women viewpoint, which is fair enough. I'm just thinking, it's very normal and common for females to approach a male they find attractive and make a "come on" which is a comment or compliment on their appearance. Sleaziness is sleaziness, it's not the comment which is inherently bad.

Are you saying Noseybonk that the one and only way you have of letting someone know you're attracted to them is to comment on their appearance? Really? Does that mean that attraction, for you, centres entirely around appearance and has nothing to do with how engaging a person is, or their laugh, or how much you like their company?

That's a bit of a leap from what I said. Of course not, on all counts. It's one of the ways that men and women can be attracted to each other and serve as a means to approaching them.

PlaysWellWithOthers Thu 10-Dec-15 10:17:57

I'll have to go back to my Psychology professor and tell him to find a new thing to research then. Poor thing, all those years and all that money wasted looking at how men and women interact when we have empirical evidence that all you need to do to show you're attracted to a woman is point out that she has a nice rack.

And feminist thought men might have evolved from the cartoonish days of cave men thunking the woman they want over the head with a club and dragging her back to his cave. Seems they have, but not by much!

MrNoseybonk Thu 10-Dec-15 10:30:03

all you need to do to show you're attracted to a woman is point out that she has a nice rack

hmm

cailindana Thu 10-Dec-15 10:48:14

'I'm just thinking, it's very normal and common for females to approach a male they find attractive and make a "come on" which is a comment or compliment on their appearance.'

I'm not saying this doesn't happen, as it's clearly your experience, but I have never ever made a 'come on' to a man by commenting on their appearance and I've never seen or heard of any of my female friends doing so either.

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