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Annoyed at boss's comment today

(28 Posts)
ElanoraHeights Fri 29-Apr-16 23:23:28

I didn't know where else to post this so I've gone for the feminism thread. I feel that this comment that my boss said is sexist in that he wouldn't have said it to a man.

I was reviewing a report with him this afternoon and I corrected a couple of mistakes he'd made and he snapped at me: "you're so annoying; no wonder you're still single." I was taken aback and upset and didn't know what to say other than 'you shouldn't say things like that'. He wouldn't say that to any men in the office and he wouldn't say it to most women.

I am very private in work. I have a senior position and I always wear a suit and shirt. Hardly any other women wear a suit but I prefer to as it helps me with my professional image when I'm there. I got another job offer recently and I really wanted it but it meant moving further away and family reasons kept me in the area. My boss was begging me not to leave and offered me a promotion to stay on. I know he thinks highly of me yet, at the same time, feels he can make comments like that.

I'm really annoyed with him for saying it as I deliberately don't share many details of my private life in work. When I have had relationships, I've kept them quiet. I had an abusive relationship years ago, before I started there, which my boss knows about but that's all.

I know there's nothing I can do and I needed to vent, I guess. It annoyed me because it implies that I'm single because there's something wrong with me; that I'm defective in some way. On another thread recently, discussing Mrs/Ms/Miss, women (who were defending their right to use Mrs) were claiming that single women don't get discriminated against. Yet today I have one example of my boss saying something very inappropriate because I'm single. He woudn't have said it to anyone else.

He has said insensitive things in the past and has always apologised but he didn't this time and now he's on holiday for a week.

Thank you for reading if you got this far! I needed to get this off my chest.

bramblina Fri 29-Apr-16 23:26:31

I'm sorry to read this. Do you want to take it further? Or at least quiz him re. it when he returns? I would guess he has low self esteem and feels it neccessary to make someone else feel low about themselves in order for him to feel better about himself. It's not fair. Big hugs xx

GraysAnalogy Fri 29-Apr-16 23:29:47

It was inappropriate and has upset you - that's all there is to it and he needs to apologise

In my workplace a comment like that is common place but as a jokey way, said to men and women alike (in fact moreso said to men) so I'm not sure if this is a feminist issue from my perspective but I'm sure more knowledgeable folk will explain how it is.

I'm not sure how the way you dress has anything to do with this, could you expand on that so I know what you mean?

I hope you've not taken his ridiculous comment to heart.Are you going to take it further do you think? flowers

ElanoraHeights Fri 29-Apr-16 23:41:53

Thank you bramblina. I guess I'll have to let it go now as he's gone on holiday and won't be back for a couple of weeks. He's said inappropriate things before and has always apologised but didn't this time. I think it's the casual sexism of his comment that has annoyed me and the implication that I am defective in some way. He was single himself until recently. It happens.

Hi GraysAnalogy - I guess the point I was trying to make with the way I dress is that I always dress smartly but in an almost boring way. It's a statement I make in the hope that it gives off an air of professionalism and that people will take me seriously.

I worked for a regional development agency years ago in my early 20s. We used to get groups of Japanese and Korean men over for a few days at a time. I always dressed smartly even then but they still thought I was the 'hostess' provided for them to take back to the hotel with them at the end of the day. Those experiences made me decide that I would always dress in such a way that it was clear that I was there to work and be taken seriously. Some people come in in very casual smart casual but I guess I feel that my dress and the way I am in work gives off an air of professionalism and that, despite that, and the fact that I am private and professional in work, my boss still managed to say something unprofessional and disrespectful.

I'm not explaining it very well, I know!

gandalf456 Fri 29-Apr-16 23:50:36

Even if you leave the sexist aside, it's a very odd comment yo make. So unprofessional and completely irrelevant to the task in hand. Your private life has nothing to do with the report

GraysAnalogy Fri 29-Apr-16 23:55:37

No you explained it fine, thankyou for that!

I hope you know you're not 'defective'. I think you do and that you realise it was just a comment from a silly person but just wanted to make sure you aren't thinking about that comment having self doubt

womenareweak Sat 30-Apr-16 02:51:27

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

GraysAnalogy Sat 30-Apr-16 02:53:14

Trolololollolololll

Noneedforasitter Sat 30-Apr-16 06:29:16

The comment was clearly wrong and he should be apologising for it. You say he is prone to this sort of error and I suspect the reason he hasn't apologised is that it hasn't occurred to him that it was wrong (but that doesn't mean he wouldn't recognise the inappropriateness if it was pointed out). You should certainly point it out to him when he gets back. The charitable conclusion is that he is very poor at banter, and if so, he will probably be aware of that and will apologise, as he has done before.

Whether it is sexism or not seems to me to depend on whether he makes similar crass comments to male employees as well. The behaviour would be much more concerning if it is only directed at women. But even if you conclude it isn't sexist, it still needs to be tackled.

If you aren't satisfied with an apology, I think it would be reasonable to discuss the issue with someone in HR, because no boss should be undermining any employee's out of work life and self-confidence in that way. I'm sorry you have to deal with this sort of crass behaviour.

rosyleigh Sat 30-Apr-16 06:52:53

Totally inappropriate comment to make. You should tell him so and make a note of the other inappropriate comments he has made/makes.
I'm not sure this comment could be deemed sexist because he could easily say it to a man too, but I totally see your point and think he would be very unlikely to say it to a man, but that is subjective. As a single woman I agree that there is a great deal of discrimination towards us, people assume you are 'on the shelf' but in reality I could find a boyfriend, I just choose not to because I'm far happier on my own. Lots of people, and family members (specially the male ones) treat you differently when you are single most definitely, IME at least.

Could someone please post a link to the Miss,Mrs,Ms thread?

OP he made a stupid comment, it was an attempt at a put down, to belittle you but you are a strong, independent, smart woman so don't let it get to you.

PalmerViolet Sat 30-Apr-16 07:25:01

OP, are you in the UK?

Even if after reflecting, you don't think his remark was sexist (and I can't imagine a man saying this to another man in this context) it was still inappropriate in a work environment. It may also be discriminatory, as, iirc, marital status is a protected characteristic.

Hope you feel better now, it was a horrible thing to say, even without the sexist overtones.

YonicTrowel Sat 30-Apr-16 07:58:26

It was sexist.

And it was unprofessional, whoever he said it to.

Talk to him when he gets back, if indeed he doesn't walk in with an apology.

And carry on looking for other work if he is always like this.

FreshwaterSelkie Sat 30-Apr-16 08:39:18

Yeah, I think it was sexist. My reading of it is that he's putting you down with a particular male/female power dynamic - he's telling you that he's filed you under "unfuckable". Unfuckable women don't matter. They're lesser, not useful, and he's bolstering himself up by squishing you down into that category. It's a lazy put down, and IMO it is sexist.

I don't know if in your shoes I would take it any further, but I'd definitely be careful around him, and I'd probably be considering looking for work elsewhere.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sat 30-Apr-16 09:18:11

I don't think it is relevant whether it or not it is sexist. The remark could have been made to a single man too. (I have heard similar comments made about a divorced man "no wonder she left him")

The remark was inappropriate, unprofessional, irrelevant to the issue and intended to put you down. It is work place bullying and he should be called up on it.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sat 30-Apr-16 09:24:21

Freshwater a remark like that is not meant to say that. It is intended to mean the person is such a pain in the arse no one would want to live with them.

I've heard it said (behind her back ) about an ex colleague by other women.

The boss is a bully.

tribpot Sat 30-Apr-16 09:53:59

I think the intent here was to say that the OP was a 'shrew' or a 'nag' (for daring to correct The Great Man's report). No doubt in the Middle Ages she'd be taken out for a ducking in the pond or made to wear a Scold's Bridle or something until she learnt her place. So I would say both sexist and bullying, I can't imagine ever making a comment about someone at work in those terms.

The gap of the holiday should not be a reason to bury this; when he gets back I would say 'before you left you made a remark to me which I don't think was appropriate and which upset me. It was <insert quote>'. If he apologises, I would point out this is not the first time he's made an 'insensitive' remark and you don't appreciate them. If he says that you are blowing it up out of all proportion, it was a joke and you need to 'calm down, dear', I would point out that the remark was triggered by his oversensitivity about your corrections to his report, so perhaps it is him who needs to calm down and not blow things out of proportion.

AyeAmarok Sat 30-Apr-16 10:07:45

I have heard this sort of comment made to men too, so I don't think it's sexist in and of itself.

However, he blatantly didn't like the fact that he'd made a mistake and you had pointed it our so he got defensive and tried to 'cut you down' a notch. Which is mature hmm Would he rather that you didn't tell him and left him to look like a pillock? And the fact that you're a woman probably makes it worse for him, The Man, if he is sexist, which he might well be.

I'd maybe have quipped back something cheeky like "Yes, so many men seem to feel threatened and inadequate by a woman who is sharper and more on the ball than they are"... And let that hang for a minute.

I think you're maybe feeling a bit sensitive about being single. Easier said than done, I know, but try not to be. It's not a bad thing. You're obviously very capable and successful, so be more confident in yourself.

FreshwaterSelkie Sat 30-Apr-16 10:48:25

I do think there's a sexist dimension to it, nonetheless. if it had been something like you're so annoying, no wonder I can never bring myself to promote you, or you're so annoying, no wonder people don't want to work with you, I'd agree it was just human on human unpleasantaness, edging into bullying. But he aims at her lack of marriagability, not her professional conduct, or her intellect. And that, to me, is sexist - the words "spinster" and "bachelor" are not equivalent in tone or meaning.

FreshwaterSelkie Sat 30-Apr-16 10:52:53

Sorry, Elanora, reading that back it sounds like I'm saying that you are annoying or unmarriageable! It should read "her *perceived lack of marriagebility".

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sat 30-Apr-16 11:14:24

If it had been something like you're so annoying, no wonder I can never bring myself to promote you, or you're so annoying, no wonder people don't want to work with you, I'd agree it was just human on human unpleasantaness, edging into bullying

It wasn't edging in to bullying - it was bullying. The point about no wonder you're single is about being a perceived pain/nag etc - no one could stand living with such a person. I've heard women in offices say this about other women and I've heard it about men too.

He should be pulled up on it.

PinkIndustry Sat 30-Apr-16 12:06:42

Yes the point about her being accused of being single is also that she is accused of being a nag or a pain - which is clearly sexist! Especially in the context that she was pointing out his mistake. Women who are seen as paying attention to detail, as being very professional, as having high standards in the work place or in the home or anywhere else for that matter - are accused of being a nag, a pain, a bossy boots. Men who are like this are seen as in charge and organised and all round great.

Those who argue that they have heard people say the same comment about men (ie no wonder you are single) need to think about the context. Was it said because them man pointed out a mistake at work? Probably not.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sat 30-Apr-16 12:27:30

Re spinster and bachelor does anyone use these words? Re spinster I've never come across it outside fiction or very old title deeds.

"A confirmed batchelor" used to be a euphemistic for homosexual.

ElanoraHeights Sat 30-Apr-16 12:28:50

Thanks all for your comments - really appreciated. I'll post more later but realised I'd posted what my boss said incorrectly.

What he actually snapped was 'you're so annoying; no wonder you don't have a boyfriend'. Not that it makes much difference but that's why I felt it was sexist. I can't imagine him saying it about another man.

Got to run but do appreciate all your comments and insights. I found it hard to articulate why what he said bothered me so much. I am very private in work; I've had two relationships while I've been there and not told anyone about them. I don't feel it's anyone's business whether I'm single, living with someone or married to a rock like Tracey Emin (ok, work might want to know if that happened).

PalmerViolet Sat 30-Apr-16 12:47:04

It felt seixt because it was sexist.

uglyswan Sat 30-Apr-16 22:23:15

Belittling and massively invasive comment - clearly a bully. cake for you OP and maybe give your union rep a ring for advice next week? Write down what he said, time, date, witnesses etc. Fwiw, the whole "it's only sexist if it has never been said to a man in the history of recorded time" thing doesn't really work for me. In a society where women experience sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace far more frequently than men do and where we are still constantly bombarded with the myth that our real value is measured by our attractiveness to men, rather than e.g. actual skills, "no wonder you're still single" has a different significance when you say it to a woman (especially as a putdown for doing her fucking job). (Not saying it's not an incredibly shitty thing to say to a man either).

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