When To Be With You came out on MTV I was certain that Eric Martin (the lead singer) was a woman. I also loved that song and still know all the lyrics. At 16 I thought it was a sweet love ballad and took no offense at the opening line. Then again, I was 16 and was still a little girl for the most part.
So, at 37, I have to say, I take umbrage at being called Little Girl. No, my ego did not inflate so much that I suddenly think Mr. Big was singing that song to me or about me. Instead, something more amazing, and horrifying occurred. I was called “little girl” by a business associate. Today. 2013. Yes, he it was a man.
There was nothing loving, tender, friendly or kind about the man calling me little girl. It was a pejorative stance meant to put me in my place. It was not even unexpected as a follow up to him calling me sweetie and honey yesterday. Were you to ask said dickhead I am sure he’d say that he was being one of the above adjectives. But, I have seen him interact with men, and while he doesn’t call them little boys or sweeties, he does speak down to them in a “been there, done that, you can’t teach me anything” sort of way.
I told one of my friends about this incident and he said I am a misogyny magnet, and he was right.
I haven’t blogged about it before, but in 2012, at a final round interview at a startup in Portland, a CEO kept asking me about my political stance. When it became clear I was on an opposing side from him he said, “Well, you know, GIRLS usually get their politics from their dads (emphasis his).” (In my cartoon mind’s eye that is when I showed him the right hook I got from my dad.) I told a friend of mine about this on my drive home from the interview and she said that what I should have said was,”I am sorry, I can’t hear you, I am on my period.”
During that timeframe, I was still at Nike and dealing with another man who liked to put me in “my place” at work. He and I had gotten along fine until I had questioned one of his decisions during a meeting. After that he was often aggressive with me, until one day he was on a speakerphone teleconference (in a room we shared as an office with one other person as well) and suddenly he put the phone on hold and told me that I couldn’t type while he was on the phone because it was too loud. That was the last day I worked for Nike.
I have speculated as to what the cause is for these reactions to me and actions towards me. In the end, I have determined that it is nothing but litte boys with big egos who are somehow intimidated by me. Also, I do not think this is the norm, to be sure, these three men have been the exception to the rule in my working career. And, when I approached my boss about this situation today he took it seriously and asked me how I wanted to deal with it (mind you the misogyny is not from an employee of the company I work for). My response was that for now I can deal with it.
Next time it happens – and there will be a next time, I assure you – I will just tell “gramps” that he needs to calm down.