Lisa’s Story: “It’s Better for Their Ego to Be a White Knight Instead”

I just experienced sexism in the workplace, and I stomped it out. Success!

I work in the upstairs area of a building with several other co-workers. Most of my colleagues upstairs are male (this will be relevant).

There is only one printer upstairs, with approximately thirteen people using it on a daily basis. As a result, the paper in the machine runs out fairly quickly. I refill the machine about twice per month. In order to do so, I must retrieve the paper from a supply closet downstairs. In my two years of working where I do, only once has another person retrieved more paper for the printer. Twice, if you count another person who only needed more paper for their own print job.

I usually hear at least one comment from someone as I’m going back upstairs with the box of paper. It’s heavy, but I’m able to carry it for the short time it takes. The comments are mostly about how a man should be carrying it, a man should be helping me, etc. These comments come from both men and women, who have been conditioned to believe that women are fragile and weak. Brainwashing is a scary thing, folks!

I normally respond to these comments with a sarcastic laugh, a “Riiight,” or something light. But today, I didn’t! Because sexism is a load of crap. It really is.

Whenever I go into the supply closet, I usually need to tell one of my co-workers downstairs that I’m taking a box of paper, so that they can then inform the person who is responsible for replenishing the closet. This person is a man (this will also be relevant).

Well, today this person was going into the closet, so I went directly to him to ask if I could get in and take a box of paper. He warmly obliged, and unlocked the door for me.

Here’s how the dialogue proceeded:

Him: “You just need some paper?”
Me: “Yeah, just one box of 8.5″ x 11″. Ah, here it is.” *crouches down to pick it up*
Him: “Whoa, you’re going to take that whole box upstairs? Can’t you get one of the guys up there to get it?”
Me: *pauses mid-crouch without making eye-contact* “What, am I not worthy or something?”
Him: “Nah, it’s just… What are you, 135, 130?”
Me: “Hell if I know, man.”
Him: “And that box is about 45 pounds, so-”
Me: *cuts him off* “Yeah, I got it. I do this all the time.”
Him: “Well why don’t you just take the reams up separately?”
Me: *laughs* “Nah, I got it.”
Him: “You can just take half of the paper up today, and then come back for the rest tomorrow. How about that?”
Me: “Nah, I’m good. I need the paper today.” *picks up the box and starts walking out*
Him: “Okay… Well I’ll close the door behind you.”
Me: “Thanks!”

His tone was incredibly infantilizing when he was asking me to take half of the paper today, and half tomorrow. It was like he was trying to negotiate with a child. Too funny.

It did shut him up, though. The ratio of a person’s stature to the weight of an object is not a valid argument. It was strange how he continued to come up with anything to deter me.

The funny thing is, everybody wants to be the hero when it comes to seeing a woman carry something heavy, especially up stairs. They all want to be saviors and help the damsel in distress, but they can’t be bothered to get off their asses and do it when it needs to be done in the first place. They could be the ones going downstairs for the paper initially, but it’s better for their ego to be a white knight instead.

NOT WITH ME. Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you that you can’t do something because you’re a woman or girl. Trust in yourself enough to know that if you need help, you will ask for it. But otherwise, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO.

I've got your back!
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