My Boss Is a Misogynistic Prick

Conjecture

  I work as a server at a family restaurant. I was sitting in a booth having breakfast before shift when my manager came over. He asked what I was reading, and I showed him my book on Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. I’m not sure why, but he rolled his eyes and said “of course you’re reading that.” I’ve only been at this restaurant for a few weeks, so I’m not sure how he developed such a quick sense of my reading preferences, nor why my book was met with such a judgmental roll of his eyes. I suppose he equates reading about celebrities to reading un-intellectual drivel. From a deeply ingrained instinct to defend my intelligence, I responded that the subject I was truly passionate about reading was feminist literature. I had only briefly begun telling him about my entire bookshelf dedicated to feminist lit, pictured in this blog’s background, when he interrupted me with “oh you’re not one of those, are you?”, the word ‘those’ dripping with malice.

  What does a feminist do at this point? Again I was faced with the choice: do I engage in a debate about feminist politics with someone whose misconceptions about feminism make him disdain the whole conversation, or do I keep my feelings inside and change the topic?

  I decided to test the waters. “Yup, I’m one of those. Have you read any feminist lit?” He said he hadn’t, but he knew all about it, and he smiled while he said that we were probably going to butt heads at work. I’m always amazed when people think they can know “all about” something, yet in the same breath acknowledge that they have done no research whatsoever. That’s not knowledge, that’s having uneducated assumptions. And it’s dangerous. What’s worse, often the people with uneducated assumptions are the loudest, most domineering people in the room. These are often people with privilege, i.e. my male boss, who don’t study oppression because they themselves have never experienced it due to their privilege, and as a result frequently believe oppression doesn’t exist.

  I listened for a while as my boss went on a rant about feminists being man-haters, then switch to rapid-fire to the topic of gay relationships (he may not see oppression, but some part of him linked two oppressed groups in one conversation, women and the LGBTQ community). He expressed what I have heard so many others express. He doesn’t “agree with it” (‘it’ being the act of being gay), but he thinks people can “do what they want”. Not waiting for my response he added this caveat: “I don’t mind you being gay, but don’t rub it in my face. Like, if you’re at a restaurant, don’t be making out and stuff. Respect that others don’t agree with you. Just have respect.” As if all gay couples are hyper-sexual and take every opportunity to make-out in public. I wonder if he warns his straight friends when they come to the restaurant not to make-out in the booths?

  The conversation was entirely one-sided. How could it be any other way? He has privilege, takes up more space than me physically and verbally, isn’t really interested in a conversation but uses me as an audience to voice his sexist and homophobic opinions, and he is also my boss. I didn’t stand a chance. So, like so often, I tested the waters, decided they weren’t safe for me, and backed right out. Welcome to the patriarchy. How can people deny its existence? It’s here, and it’s oppressing me everyday.

Mansplaining

The Patriarchy Exhausts Me

 

feminist-1

  I haven’t written a post in over three months. Lately I have felt overwhelmed by the inequalities I both see and experience in my community. Nothing kills a feminist spirit like repeated acts of oppression that go both unnoticed and unacknowledged by the community at large. I have been feeling beaten down by my patriarchal society, by the community members who perpetuate the oppression of women and minority groups. I think what has been bothering me the most these past few months is this feeling of isolation. I don’t mean to belittle activists in my city, or the enormous work of feminist scholarship that’s been written throughout the years. I acknowledge that there is a huge community of feminists both in my city and around the globe, and I deeply appreciate their work. I know that without the work of the feminist activists, my life would be a lot more shackled by patriarchal notions of feminity than it currently is.

  But this feeling of being an isolated feminist in my daily life persists. In my day-to-day life, I am mostly surrounded by people who still think that “feminist” is a dirty word, synonymous with man-hater. I have an uncle who thinks it’s ok to call females “broads”, and who will imitate his idea of gay men by sashaying and speaking with a lisp. When I log into Facebook I have to scroll tentatively through my newsfeed because there is often a very triggering and explicit pro-life article with graphic images and/or video. When I walk down the street I’m subjected to the occasional cat-call or drive-by whistle. And both my past and present restaurant jobs are full of characters whose sexist comments and uninformed, as well as often loud, opinions on women cause me heartache.

  The big question I face every single  day is whether to engage in what will become a heated debate about feminist politics with these individuals, or to take it silently and spare myself the effort of trying to change someone who doesn’t think their beliefs need changing.

  It’s exhausting. And in most of these situations, I am without a feminist ally to back me up.

  I know that my entrance into the feminist world, the classes I took in school, the volunteer work I’ve done, and the feminist literature I’ve read, have made me into a better person, and I like who I’ve become. But enduring life as a female in a patriarchal society is exhausting and spirit-dampening.

  Here’s another question I keep asking myself. Is it better to live ignorant of your own oppression and degradation, or to live fully aware of it and not be able to change it? I sometimes wonder if feminism 101 has ruined me. I am now too critical, too informed, and too invested in my own equality, so much so that I feel like a feminist sailor lost at sea, being buffeted and half-drowned by the waves of sexism that threaten to swallow me whole.

  As I write this, I have to acknowledge that there are so many women in my community, let alone the world, who are suffering much worse from our sexist society. I volunteer at Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver each week, and the number of women accessing our services is a constant reminder of how badly our society needs a more feminist mentality. I know that there are many feminist groups that I could join to feel less isolated, but what I really want, what I really dream, is that one day I won’t need to join groups that meet once a week and share stories and support. Instead, I want my entire community, my workplace, my school, my streets, my family, to be a network of feminists who understand women’s issues and who are actively working to change them for the better. I want to live in a society that is infused with self-identified feminists, of people who respect and support women, who eat live and breathe equality everyday.

Feminism and The Matrix

Society is coded. Feminism can unlock it.

Society is coded. Feminism can unlock it.

Blue Pill or Red Pill?

  I equate my entrance into the world of feminism to Neo’s decision in the movie “The Matrix” to take the red pill from Morpheus. Take the red pill, learn all the dark and dirty secrets of our society. Take the blue pill, remain ignorant and continue life as you have. If you choose to take the red pill, however, be warned; there is no going back. You cannot unlearn what you are about to learn. You will never be the same. You will never look at the world the same way again.

  My Matrix journey began just like Neo’s. It didn’t start when he was offered the choice. It began much earlier. It began when he started noticing that something was a bit off in the world, that something was not quite what it seemed. It was a suspicion that grew with time.

  I first noticed the world was not quite what it seemed in high school. My older sister, who graduated before I entered high school, had been a sports jock, a tom-boy, and a basketball star. I admired her and wanted to be just like her. I unconsciously followed in her footsteps, wearing baggy sweatshirts and track pants to school, shooting hoops in the gym during lunch, challenging boys to beat me in a game of 21. While these were all things I wanted to do, there was always the underlying knowledge that this wasn’t what I was supposed to do, what the other girls were doing. I felt torn between the feminine and the tom-boy. I wanted to be considered pretty like my girlfriends and to attract boys’ attentions, but wearing make-up wasn’t practical when I came to class still sweaty from the gym.

  My suspicions grew when my older sister came out as gay, and my ideas of masculine and feminine were even more blurred. Would he be the boy or the girl in his relationships? If he was “the boy”, would he have to cut his hair? Why did he sometimes still wear make-up? I am tempted to equate the moment when Neo gets the phone call from Morpheus to when my sister came out as my brother, but I think it really happened in my sociology class. Not in one particular sociology class, but it grew out of the combination of many. Eventually I reached the word feminism, and the metaphorical pills were offered. Like Neo, I was far too invested in discovering what this concept really was to even consider the blue pill.

  Later, when Neo struggles to come to terms with the ugliness of his new reality, Morpheus says “I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth.” This has been my experience with feminism.

  And like Cypher, the steak-craving traitor who thinks wistfully of his simpler, ignorant existence, I sometimes ask myself, why didn’t I just take the blue pill?

Why I Hate Your Stick Family

Stick Family What I had hoped would be a passing fad has now become an everyday, in your face reality. Armies of stick-figures stuck onto the rear windows of vehicles smile dumbly back at me as I drive. I spend a lot of time imagining the best ways to scrape their stick limbs and triangle dresses off the glass. Should I use my fingernails? A chisel? Douse them with a bucket of Hydrogen peroxide? Or is a more toxic substance needed to obliterate the image of the white, middle-class, all-American Family from my world?  Continue reading

To The Self-Proclaimed Anti-Feminists

To the Self-Proclaimed Anti-Feminists

or…

Women Who Don’t Have a Clue What Feminism Is

Buzzfeed is a site that I visit regularly. I’m not sure how many quizzes I’ve filled out to discover which U.S. City I should live in, which Disney princess would be my best friend, etc. My results were Portland, Oregon, and Ariel, if you’re curious. Yesterday, however, I found an article that made a little, well actually a large, part of me die inside.  Continue reading

Fitness Assessment

gold's gym

 (An incredibly problematic advertisement for Gold’s Gym)

  Today I had a fitness assessment. My assigned trainer, a slim young guy named Jared with an Australian accent, shook my hand and brought me to his office. He pointed me to an orange plastic chair beside a sphygmometer and computer. He began by asking me a few questions about my life. Where do you work? Full time or part? How would you rate your overall fitness on a scale from 1-10? What nutritional challenges do you have?  Continue reading

Blondie

Female Server

An Insight to Male Chauvinism
Within the Service Industry

“Hey Blondie, where’s the bathroom?”

  Thursday dinner shift, around 5:30pm. I’m walking through my restaurant’s dining room towards the bar-top. It isn’t very busy so I’m on my way to visit with a friend who works as the bartender.

On my way there, a man behind me says loudly, “Hey Blondie, where’s the bathroom?”

I didn’t doubt he was addressing me since there was no-one else in the hallway. I automatically turn and respond with the practiced smile I use on all our customers: “Straight down the hallway and through the archway.”
Without thanking me he proceeds down the direction I indicate. A moment passes.

Then it begins to sting.  Continue reading