Why Sexism Behind Closed Doors Is Still Harmful
In my line of work, I never stick around one location for longer than a month or two. Just this week, I began working as IT support in a government facility here in Switzerland. So as you can imagine, I’m used to being the stranger, the new guy, and not quite fitting in with everybody else.
But what I’ve come to realise about the working world is that the problem of sexism or even racism in the workplace ia still prevelant, even if it was a bit harder to find. On the phone, working as IT support? They’re as pleasant and professional as could be. It’s when they put the phone down and they’re back in their “reverse-safe-space”.
It seems that over time, people have become more and more accepting of the idea that being wholly disrespectful and prejudiced towards minorities or women or employees with a certain sexual preference could cost them their job. It’s in their best interest to conduct themselves respectfully and hold their tongue, no matter what they think.
But as soon as the door closes; when the room is solely filled with men, old and young, objectifying coworkers and spreading hatred and misinformation about the groups they live to supress. They truly take on the classic stereotype of a handful of white men in suits shaking hands over how great their business is going, oblivious of, or ignoring the fact that, their success is built on this foundation of abuse.
I guess the way I see it, just because there’s no woman in the room, doesn’t mean you can be sexist. A lack of a racial dynamic in a work place doesn’t mean you can say things that would be offensive to black or brown people. The sheer number of times I’ve heard someone do an extremely bad impression of an indian accent is enough to make me gag.
On top of that, I’m bisexual, and I’m not particularly open about it; mainly because gay pride is a relatively new concept here in Switzerland and ignorant statements like “you’re not bi, you have a girlfriend!” or “all bisexual people choose a side eventually” have always kept me from being too forward about it.
So when they laugh and snicker at the pride month newsletter, or the folks outside the window waving our flag, it hurts. It hurts and I can’t tell them why, so to them, nothing is wrong. I’m just another one of the boys.
I hate that about myself. Not that I’m a man, but that every man automatically thinks I associate with the common narratives I see circling around. I hate that I’m treated like I don’t care about women’s rights, and that people assume I like talking about stuff like that. It makes me sick, and it really gets to me.
Usually, I’d just find somewhere else to work and not give a thought to people like this; but I need the money, and the job market is pretty rough right now.