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message 1: by Kenzie (new)

Kenzie | 16 comments For this, I wanted to create a space to share stories and by doing so, learn how to respond to negative comments. So here's the exercise:

1) What has been the most sexist/racist/etc. thing that has been said to you or that you have heard said to another?

2) How did you (or the subject of ridicule) respond?

3) If you responded negatively/violently/angrily, what is a better, more constructive way you could have responded?

To get the ball rolling, I will share a story from my childhood. Unfortunately, I was the aggressor in this case, and to this day I still feel the shame. My cousin and I were playing tag in a community gym while my aunt kept an eye out. An African-American family walked in to use the space as well. Previously at my school, and from other adults (not from my family) talking, I would hear racist talk, and I thought that this was acceptable. (I was five years old or so and still learning how the world worked). So when my cousin invited their little children to join our game, I said something like, "They can't play, they're black people."
They had every right to be angry with me and I can only imagine what they thought of my family if I had learned it from them. They acted with complete grace and restraint and just left. I however got a very stern talking-to from my aunt. I can't recall if I was spanked for what I said, but I should have been. Since the family had left while I was being reprimanded, I had no opportunity to apologize. I remember that my cousin didn't want to play with me anymore that day because she was a few years older and understood what a horrible thing came out of my mouth. I still think about them from time to time almost twenty years later, and how my words ruined their nice day. I used this as motivation to stop racism wherever I see it, not only to make the world a better place, but to also atone for myself.

So please, share your stories and really think about the way you respond to hate!

message 2: by Kylie (new)

Kylie Reardon | 49 comments Kenzie, I'd like to thank you for sharing your story and starting this thread. It's hard to admit being in the wrong, but how you learn from it says more about who you are as a person than the act itself.

As for a personal experience of my own, this comment came to me at my job. I work in customer service and encounter all different kinds of people all day long. A particularly nasty woman was browsing and decided to strike up a conversation about my personal life, despite the fact that she was a perfect stranger to me. She said (and I'll never forget it) "You won't be worth a damn until you've got a good man to go home to." I guess I was too shocked to form a reply, because I only managed to get out a "have a nice day" before she left. What disturbed me the most was the fact that this was coming from a woman. That moment was when I realized that not all women are champions of women. Looking back I wish I could've formed the perfect words to make her think twice before saying something like that ever again, but I essentially ignored it.

I still have mixed feelings toward this encounter. Pity towards her bitterness, anger that she in-turn viewed me as being worthless because of my unattachment to an acceptable man, and ultimately, shame at the fact that there are women out there who actively participate in gender discrimination.

message 3: by Kenzie (new)

Kenzie | 16 comments You're welcome, Kylie! And thank you for sharing yours as well! I am absolutely floored by that woman. WOW. I feel the same as you do: pity and anger. It reminds me of another story from when I worked at a certain café. I overheard two women talking about one woman's daughter and how the daughter and her husband were getting a dog. I will paraphrase here because it was such a long time ago and I may not remember her words verbatim, but the mother said something like, "...she says she isn't ready to have a child... she says she wants a dog, but what she really wants is a baby." And I just remember thinking, "Who the hell are you to say what your adult child does and does not want? Did you not raise her to have a mind of her own?" I have never wanted to scream at someone so badly, but of course I restrained myself only because I was on the job and I didn't want my outrage to reflect badly upon the company/risk losing my job. I, like you, let it pass. I wish I had said something, though. I think I would have been able to calmly communicate to her. A woman can lead a rich and fulfilling life without having a baby or marrying a 'good man.'

message 4: by Lorraine (new)

Lorraine Saunders | 6 comments Hi! I thought this was quite an interesting thing to ask, because suddenly quite a few things came to mind. This one, however, wins the most sexist thing ever said to me.
I had been denied a promotion and someone I had trained got the job. This was not an issue for a few months until his girlfriend got pregnant and he decided to quit as our job involved a lot of travelling. Two of the big bosses were visiting me onsite and mentioned this, then one laughingly told me that they should have hired me, and the only reason they hadn't was "we thought it would be you getting pregnant and leaving before the end of the year."
I was shocked and couldn't say anything, especially when the other person added that they remembered that conversation.
It was actually another colleague, a male who was eager to apply for the new position, who said something like "that's weird. I didn't know the status of someone's vagina was that important in a CV. I better update that section pronto." The bosses thought that was funny until he then asked me if I could even have children and I had to say that no, I can't actually, something I have never been shy about either. He made a big deal about how I had been passed over for this job for no actual reason.
I'm so grateful that he stood up for me so eloquently, though he later admitted that he was shaking with anger. He also did actually put in his application that he had no desire for children at this stage of his life, and got the job. He then discovered that I was being paid less than every male and negotiated a pay rise and back pay. I left that job soon after but not before he sat me down to give me a lesson about sass and confidence. I'm getting more confident every day, and actually starting to notice when things are not quite right as I used to just go with the flow and not really question things. I didn't have the words back then, but I hope I would now!
I've never really reflected on the outcome of that incident before. I have a sudden desire to tell him how awesome he is!

message 5: by Parnian (new)

Parnian | 68 comments Wow. Someone should publish these ridiculous stories. I would personally like to thank your coworker for standing up for all of us. Other men should learn from him. Meanwhile, I better update my resume...

message 6: by Kylie (new)

Kylie Reardon | 49 comments Lorraine, I am disgusted at the actions of your former bosses.. Not to mention that it is ILLEGAL to discriminate based on gender, that seeming to be the singular reason that those shitheads (excuse my language) passed you over for promotion. Not that it would even begin to be their business whether or not you will/are able to have children!! We need more people in this world like your coworker.
I too struggle with the internal conflict of finding the words to speak up in my own defense or just letting the situation pass. Everything is a learning experience.

message 7: by Lena (new)

Lena | 10 comments Ok, here we go! My story took place almost 5 years ago. I was 18 at the time. But before I continue let me tell you a few things for me back then. I had never being so far from home before, I never had a work before, I never had an actual boyfriend before! I know that's weird if you consider most girls had a boyfriend at kindergarten, but I was the nerdy kind of girl. So I got this job as a cook in a hotel and that's where I met him. He was a waiter. We were dating for a week and he wouldn't stop saying how much he wanted to sleep with me. I said a beautiful huge NO. But he wouldn't shut up about it. We broke up because of that and after a month I found out from a friend of mine that in fact he was in love with another girl and that he only wanted to sleep with me because of bet he placed with another male cook. I've never felt so angry in my entire life. I was like who the hell you think you are to want to use another person for what 30 euros? Because of that eperience I used to hate every guy I met. All the stories I heard from other girls that worked there only maded it worst. I didn't have a balanced relationship with a guy until recently. And no I don't hate them anymore. It took me a while but I' ve realised a few things. Not all men are pigs, take for example lorraine's friend! And most importantly I am greatful to lets call him x for what he did! Because it made me see the wold for what it really is. It made me realise that I, just like you lovely ladies, i'am a feminist! Because of it i got stronger! I' ve read your stories and I have an advice for you all. i don't know if it's a good advice but it works for me! Take every single offence every single sexist comment and turn it into something beautiful! Do not be ashamed or regretful of the things that happent to you, let them empower you instead! Be grateful to all who hurt you because they helped you become those stong individuals that you are today! You said that couldn't find the words back the but I am sure you can find them today. We can not change the past but we can live the pesent and we can creat the future! Does it make sense?

message 8: by Lorraine (new)

Lorraine Saunders | 6 comments Parnian wrote: "Wow. Someone should publish these ridiculous stories. I would personally like to thank your coworker for standing up for all of us. Other men should learn from him. Meanwhile, I better update my re..."

I actually messaged him last night and said Thank you. It was interesting talking to him about the changes happening there. Since I left the CEO has publicly announced that he's a feminist and there has been a lot of in-house re-training and a complete change in how promotions and jobs are managed. It sounds like it's been an upheaval, and my old bosses have not gone through unscathed. It gives me hope! Lena is right with her philosophy, sometimes something beautiful can come out of something disgustingly sexist.
Also when I told my friend that he was basically my newly re-discovered hero he just laughed and said that he always told his Dad that his "big mouth and over developed sense of entitlement" would come in handy one day!

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