Sexism at Work (Carnival of Aces March 2016)

[This is in response to the Carnival of Aces prompt for March hosted by Valprehension; The topic is “The relationship between gender norms and asexuality.”]

I’m not actually “out” as an asexual at work. I don’t think my work is a safe enough environment for me to express my asexual and gender identities. One of the reasons for this is sexism. It’s subtle, but it’s there. As in any work place there are policies in place for sexual harassment and mistreatment, but they’re not enough to counteract the systemic sexism that still exists. Current estimates say that we’ll have colonies on Mars before there is equal pay for women. The problem, though, is I’m not a woman.

I’m DFAB, but I identify as “agender”, which is defined the lack of or a neutral gender identity. Is my lack of gender linked to my lack of sexual attraction? I don’t know. All I do know is that I’ve never felt sexual attraction and I was actually quite shocked when I realized that normal people felt a sense of gender.

It boggled my mind. Before I researched gender and gender identities on my own I didn’t know you could feel like a specific gender. I thought your gender was just a label people slapped on you based on your biology. I didn’t realize that women actually felt like women. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t “just know” like a cis person would. 

My department at work recently hired two new guys and both have made sexist comments. Most of the time it’s harmless like “Oh, I’m they only guy working today.” but it’s still frustrating because I can’t say anything without revealing my gender identity. One of the guys asked for my number the first day we worked together. Again, mostly harmless because being able to reach a coworker in case you need to switch shifts or something is a good thing.

If it was just because we were coworkers I wouldn’t have minded, but that wasn’t the only reason. His sorry attempts at flirting were irritating because not only was I being misgendered, he was assigning me stereotypes based on the incorrect gender. I’m a “girl” so I should be good at cooking and he asked if I would make him food. I’m a “girl” so I’m automatically not as good at video games. His suggestion for the video games was I could “pay a guy” to beat the game for me. Never mind that women make up 60% of game consumers and have proven to be superior in game design and coding in blind surveys. I’m not a “woman” but I still experience sexism. Because I’m a “girl” it’s perfectly okay for him, as a guy, to walk up to me and ask for my number. It doesn’t even cross his mind that I might be anything other than heterosexual.

The second young man who is giving me a headache at work is a little more generalized with his sexist behaviors. Because I’m a “girl” my opinion doesn’t matter. He doesn’t show good listening skills at all towards his female coworkers. I’ve tried to correct his technique and train him on our department procedure and one of our older coworkers (a woman in her 70s) has tried to correct his technique and because we were the ones who told him, he doesn’t listen. This last week for Spring Break he was practically bragging about going to Mexico and cheat on his girlfriend. He’s been encouraging the other guys in the department to engage in a “secret” code and shout out if they see “spicy ketchup”. As both an asexual and agender I feel uncomfortable by that kind of behavior. I haven’t said anything because the women in the department have been doing the same thing only much, much more subtlety.

I’m not a woman and it frustrates me when heteronormative stereotypes and gender stereotypes are forced on me. One of the first questions anybody ever asks when they’re trying to get to know me is “do you have a boyfriend?”. My answer is “that’s private”. I don’t owe anybody any sort of explanation on my relationship status or asexual or gender identities if I don’t think my identity will be respected. I know some people can be loud and proud about who they are, but I’m just naturally a more private person. If someone really wants to get to know me, they’ll figure out where my boundaries are first, not just step where every they please because that’s what they do on TV and in movies.



4 thoughts on “Sexism at Work (Carnival of Aces March 2016)

    1. The awful thing is that systemic sexism common place and generally accepted by heteronormative society. When I talk about my experiences at work with others they usually jump to the guys’ defense saying “oh, they’re just young” or “oh, it’s harmless” or “you’re over reacting”. Even in asexual circles other aces have responded by saying “oh, it’s harmless”. I find those responses to be even more invalidating then my coworkers actions. It doesn’t matter that the behavior is “harmless” it’s crossing my personal boundaries as an aromantic-asexual and agender individual. By raising awareness about asexuals, aromantics, and non-binary groups I’m hoping that people will eventually retrain themselves to ask about boundaries first before engaging in possibly offensive and oppressive behavior.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Pingback: March 2016 Carnival of Aces Roundup | Valprehension

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