As regular readers of this blog will know there are only a few blogs that I actually have on my feed that I read pretty much every single thing that gets uploaded on to it. One of those is the Confederacy Of Spinsters website. It is blogging of the highest calibre and today it was Mae who blogged something that caught my eye and made me think. Blogging that makes me think is the type of blogging that I like.
Mae wrote A Letter To The Client Who Called Me A “Bitch” and made some rather pertinent points. The short story is she was called a bitch by a client and then informed her bosses of it. She was the one wronged but things didn’t exactly play out like that. In our world the term ‘banter’ seems to be far more prevalent than it should be. Whether it be in the office or in dating. People ‘love a bit of banter’ and if people are too ‘square’ to accept such banter then a large percentage of society look down upon them.
The thing is ‘banter’ is often just personal abuse disguised as banter. Calling someone a bitch is just being abusive. Now we can debate whether it is sexist abuse or not – but one thing is for sure – it is abuse and is certainly not appropriate in a work environment. Now in this instance Mae went to her boss and reported the incident but instead of her boss being understanding first of all he wondered if she had mis-heard and when the person in question admitted it then they felt the need to rush to her defence. Now I can’t get inside Mae’s mind but I’m assuming she didn’t need ‘saving’ and just wanted the incident reported – which was the right thing to do – and for the person who called her an abusive term to understand why it isn’t on.
However the sentence that hit the old nail on the head was thus:
By calling me a “bitch” you put me in a losing position. No matter what I did, I was the victim.
Bingo. If she had ignored it then she would’ve been allowing someone to be abusive in the workplace which is not on. By reporting it the perception was sown that she was a weak female that needed saving. She couldn’t win either way despite acting in the appropriate way. These are the types of situations where I think we as a society still have a bit of work to do – to say the least. The first instinct of her boss wasn’t to say ‘he what?’ and then proceed to apologise on behalf of the company and then speak to the offender. His first instinct was to try and defuse the situation by making the person wronged think whether she may have been incorrect in her recollection.
One of the comments though summed things up perfectly from a British PoV:
As a Brit, I’d probably just do nothing. Possibly have some passive aggressive thoughts in my head. But that’s as far I’d go, I think! Such a lamer.
That is the way we roll. The old stiff upper-lip and all that. People need to understand that calling someone else an abusive term isn’t on – whether it is a man or a woman. The difference between the two is how management reacts if it was referred up. If a man was wronged then they would be told to grow a pair and for a woman they are questioned about it and then if proved wronged would be made to feel like they needed saving.
I think basically we need to learn that abuse is not on in the workplace full stop and if it happens then treat those who are wronged the same way. Don’t make a woman out to feel like a damsel in distress and don’t make a guy who complained about abuse out to be a loser who can’t take a bit of banter. Abuse is abuse people and the best way to stop it is by management understanding that a work environment is never a place for abuse and if it is reported to them then they should just deal with it and educate the abuser into why it is not on and move on. Seems simple no?
Mae couldn’t win and was made to feel like a weak female for reporting inappropriate behaviour. This use her own terminology that is some serious bullshit folks. Serious bullshit…
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