In The Bin: An Unapologetic Tale Of Men Being Rubbish

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5 min read

The author of the following story has chosen to remain anonymous.

It’s a man’s world. Or at least, men still like to think it is.

And sure, #notallmen – we all know wonderful husbands and brothers and sons and male co-workers, but when I stumbled on a very bold but fantastic experiment by biz-tech publication Which-50, it made me realise just how far we have to go.

story workplace discrimination #metooWhich-50 decided to run an experiment. They removed all mention of men from their reporting, to some interesting results. Their clicks tanked, their contacts got annoyed but more importantly – the journalists realised they were only reporting half the story. When you exclude the experiences and opinions of one gender, male or female, you are not getting the full picture.

The Which-50 experience prompted journalist John Birmingham to do a little experimenting of his own. He reached out to all the women in his professional and social media circles to ask for examples of men behaving badly in the workplace. The result? A massive outpouring of stories from a variety of working women graced his inbox.

The ensuing article, very aptly named Men, Sucking, was a great but frustrating read. While absorbing all these stories I couldn’t help but draw parallels to my own experiences.

This got me thinking: it is so liberating to finally see this information being aired, in public and without apology on a business platform and published by a man.

And yes, women have been saying this stuff for years – but we have to remember to keep saying it.

I want to share my story of workplace discrimination in the hope that you will too.

I am hoping we can use this female-oriented platform, irislillian.com, to keep the conversation going, and share our own experiences. I want to share my story of workplace discrimination in the hope that you will too. Birmingham was shocked by the stories he was told – many women would not be. We need to keep telling our stories, shouting them from the rooftops.

Will this change anything? Truthfully, I don’t know. Nor do I promise progress. But I encourage us to share if only to exercise our right to feel angry, and to express our exasperation in a safe and supportive space.

My Story: Men, Still Sucking

I know I am privileged. As a straight, white, woman with a comfortable upbringing and no kids, I know that I don’t have to deal with many of the issues facing women in the workforce. Still, in almost every job I’ve had there’s been a male manager who has openly ogled women in the office – from calling them “legs”, chatting to male colleagues loudly about how hot the new girl is, staring blatantly at my boobs while I speak, or ‘accidentally’ running into almost every woman in the office with his hands at chest level (I kid you not).

Then there is the various ways women have their worked sabotaged by their male colleagues or managers, and many even subject to aggressive bullying, which leaves them shaken. My most blatant workplace sexism experience was early in my career.

There was the time after a work event when one of the salesmen angrily referred to another female colleague as a “slut” behind her back, because she was flirtatious.

It was only my second job, I was in my early 20s, new to journalism and living in the UK.

The job was with a small publisher that specialised in business and technology content. Shortly after I started, my female editor resigned – and it didn’t take me long to see why. The middle-aged male managing director was a blatant sexist, along with many of his male colleagues in management or in sales floor.

I would overhear managers discussing a female job applicant’s appearance. The managing director would routinely congratulate my male colleague Jim on his excellent work, give him nicknames and engage in laddish banter, but he would barely even acknowledge me.

On the odd occasion he spoke to me, it was to ask if I had “managed to get a story published”.

In a publication I had written every single piece in.

Jim was a good guy but I was regularly seen as his subordinate because of my gender. The reality was our tasks and outputs were equal. It got worse when they hired a chauvinistic male to be an online editor, let’s call him George.

George was responsible for the website administration, not writing. Nevertheless, the managing director would often talk about “the great journalists, George and Jim”, forgetting I existed and attributing my work to George. Funny how he thought my work was so worthy of praise once he believed it was being done by a man!

There was the time after a work event when one of the salesmen angrily referred to another female colleague as a “slut” behind her back, because she was flirtatious.

As web administrator George was responsible for taking all the stories we ran in print and repurposing them for the website. After a few months, I realised that he was only uploading Jim’s work, not mine. When I confronted him about this, he claimed there must have been a ‘bug’ that somehow prevented all my stories from being published, and then proceeded to tell me that if I wanted my stories online too, I should upload them myself. When I argued that it wasn’t in my remit he told me “that wasn’t a request, it was an order”. He was not in any way my superior. If I hadn’t have been working remotely that day, I might have literally murdered him where he sat.

There were very lingering (and unwanted) embraces between the managing director and the young female intern.

There was the time a male editor wanted to put an attractive actress on the cover of our ‘women in business’ edition, instead of the many executives, change-makers and entrepreneurs worthy of it.

There was the time after a work event when one of the salesmen angrily referred to another female colleague as a “slut” behind her back, because she was flirtatious. I objected strongly, but no man joined me in her defence. I put up a good fight and was proud of myself for confronting them, but left swiftly, to hide my tears.

When I resigned, the managing director gave my farewell speech and because he didn’t really know much about my work, he instead spoke about how he’d heard that my husband was really clever (even though they’d never met) – a deduction he made based on the fact that they both played the same musical instrument.

He also made an odd joke about how the other staff couldn’t sexually harass me, because I was clearly not okay with it – good I guess? As soon as I left, Jim was given a promotion.

Do you have a story of workplace discrimination to share? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

1 Comment
  1. Nina says

    During an expansion we hired three new male staff in my role, each of whom I trained. After a year one of them let slip their salary which was significantly higher than mine. I queried this with management and my salary was increased to match theirs. They refused to backpay me but my manager was sufficiently embaressed to agree to some unpaid leave off the books in lieu of backpay.

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