Sexism Is Like Burping: My Take On How to Deal with Sexist Behaviour at your Workplace

vibhu agrawal, workplace sexism, Gautam Buddha University

Let’s keep it simple and desi. Everyone knows what is burping. It is a natural response to digestion of food which does not need to be accompanied with a bellow or a huge sound but nevertheless do pot-bellied misogynistic uncles refrain from doing that? Do local zoom kitty partners with frowning eyebrows and skeptical smirks not do that in public? Sexism is just like burping.

Sexism is unwanted, not asked for, an ill-formed personal opinion just like awfully digested dal and should be kept to oneself at all times. 

Our public spaces are not free of this disgusting advent. Metros, buses, parks, weddings, malls, and hey, even our workplaces are not bereft of this “khatra”. Dealing with sexism at the workplace can specifically be tough with your colleagues. It also can get miserable when your direct senior or authority subscribes to such thinking and treats you differently.

Identifying this behaviour is extremely crucial. Understand the following out of the normalised discourse and check if you are on the receiving end of these:

1. Comments and opinions on your body.

2. Relegation to do office chores pertaining to the kitchen and serving.

3. Being nicknamed as “Sweetie, Babe, Darling, Sugarplum, Good Girl”.

4. Frequently being interrogated about personal questions like motherhood roles and wifely duties.

5. Different attitudes towards milestones, being called bitchy, witchy, pushy for standing up for yourself.

Here are some ways you can use to climb the ugly sexist side of the corporate ladder without batting an eyelid:

1.Ask them to keep their Mazaak in their pockets

Humour can only be appreciated when it’s comfortable and non-oppressive. Making fun of the gender bias in society just because you have a penis is less likely to be harassed than a vagina, is behaviour which needs to be called out. You can start by politely and assertively calling them out personally. A personal discussion can mend office dynamics and resolve such differences within a cabin.

“I have always stood up for the right thing and made sure that I do not tolerate sexism. I faced it early in my career but my confidence and outspokenness helped me get out of these situations”, says Shatabdi Dutta, a 29-year-old independent woman working in the marketing industry.

Must Read: We Need To Stand Up To Casual Sexism For Our Children

2.Seek help from Human Resources Office

There is a reason they have that post. Most of the time, any sensible officer-holder would be happy to help you and sort out your grievance. They would take adequate action and make sure you feel safe at your work environment. If you explain the series of incidents wherein you have repeatedly faced the brunt of sexist behaviour, there are rarely any chances that they would not take up your case. There is also a Grievance Committee which is set up in offices to address such issues.

3.Three idiots Examiner look

When Rancho, Farhanitrate and PreRajulisation are giving their examination and they submit their papers late, the invigilator says – “Prime minister ke bete ho, toh bhi nahi le sakte hai” and gives them a deadly look. This is the attitude we need to adopt towards sexism. Stare at the sexist-comment- burpee like he/she/they stole your kidneys. Do not tolerate sexism at any cost. Ogle at their eyes with your mouth closed in disappointment as if they washed your laptop dry like Rashi Ben. Ask them if they would do so if you were a man. Make it a matter of public discourse. Gawk at them as if they ate the last leg piece from your butter chicken. Ensure that you do no take it harmlessly with a pinch of salt. 

4.Ask your co-workers

Most of the time, we all face the same hell. It is very likely that there are more people who are victims of sexist behaviour in your organisation, along with you. Try to talk to people you know or you are comfortable with. Get their experience of how they dealt with the problem or what they faced. Do not make the mistake of restricting your discourse to theoretical discussion and personal problems. Taking action on it as a group becomes a prime responsibility. There is power in numbers, remember.

If it’s a fellow co-worker most of the time, people will not hesitate in calling the person out. In case it is a senior, protesting against their attitude with multiple allies shall make your case stronger.

5.Sabka Maalik Ek

Public has a lot of power. Social media is extremely helpful. There are online pages, web- activists and non-governmental organisations working for these causes who would be more than happy to take up your cause and amplify it. They shall talk about it and also become surrogate advocates in cases where you wish to take up a legal route, provided there is a serious charge in hand.

Pick up your phone and instead of stalking your ex’s new partner for the 100th time, share your story and call your organisation out. A negative experience haunted by obstacles like sexism and misogyny at any workplace will be seen and shall help other women out as well.

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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