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Thread: Am I sexist?

  1. #1
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    Am I sexist?

    I chose to put this in the Personal Growth section but it relates to an incident at work. I have 2 staff members who assist me with various day-to-day duties, one male and one female. We work in an office and very rarely does anything not get done at a desk on a computer. Today though I needed help moving a couple of moderately heavy boxes. The female was rostered to start 2 hours before the male and upon arrival commented on the boxes that I'd placed on the floor. I was intending to ask the male to help me when he arrived, and mentioned this to her. She snapped back at me (very out of character) that I could have asked *her* to help me. I felt awful so waited an hour and a half in silent discomfort then asked her and, thankfully, she helped me and all went fine (I expected to be told where to go). I still feel bad though; she's lovely and I never meant to cause offense, but I know from her reaction, tone and quietness immediately afterwards that I did. She's not an outspoken person, is never unreasonable and is always respectful. I knew I'd upset her. I realise it's hard to comment without knowing certain details, but from an outsider's perspective, just how bad a crime was this in 2020 and in a workplace?
    PS...I'm just curious, I know I won't be sued or have my effigy burnt.
    PPS...one factor definitely not in my favour is I've worked with her nearly 3 years longer than I've worked with him.
    PPPS...I'm so socially backward that I seriously don't know if I'm going to be told to man up because this is so trivial, or if I should be apologising to female readers.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    It's hard to imagine she was offended that she wasn't chosen to lift boxes. Something else is going on, not mentioned here.

    It this the coworker in question?: [Register to see the link]

  3. #3
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    A bit of an overreaction. Don't worry about it.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    Sounds like an overreaction on her part. Unfortunately, this is one of those though things for managers where you are pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard part.

    You are supposed to avoid workplace injury and that necessitates making these kinds of judgment calls that employee A is better suited than employee B to lift x weight. If she threw her back out, you'd be responsible.

    As for waltzing around PC culture and people's individual sensitivities, I'd say adopt and learn to love this "we'll move/address/talk about that later". "We" is a handy vague term that can mean any combination of people and "later" is later. Means don't worry about whatever issues and focus on your current personal tasks. It's a vague dismissal without making the person asking feel personally rejected or pushed out of the loop.

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  6. #5
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    Oh PULEASE!!!

    I am petite. Carried many heavy boxes in my day. It aint easy but I did it. And yes if there was a stronger man around I'd wait to see if he offered. And I'd hold the door for him LOL.

    Many years ago we had to bring heavy boxes downstairs in my office. I wasn't feeling well (cold, feverish) and trying to hide it but I was really not up to carrying heavy boxes. I believe I asked someone for help and from what I remember my boss didn't like that I asked him or someone near him. It was weird. He had back issues though.

    Make your judgment calls about actual heavy lifting. A larger, stronger person is a better bet. Of course!

  7. #6
    Platinum Member smackie9's Avatar
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    It's a 50/50 chance you would offend a female over something like this. I'm one of them too. I had a guy go on and on that I shouldn't be unloading the truck because a woman shouldn't be doing such a task. I take a big offense to that..BIG time. It took a lot for me to keep my cool. If there is something that is too heavy to lift or they simply don't want to, women will tell you because unlike men who seem to have to prove their strength, we have np saying so.

    Just keep it in mind that it doesn't hurt to ask if they are up for the task. Obviously those boxes were not heavy. As for her reaction, I say there's something else working in the background, like she feels like she wasn't given an opportunity of some kind or was passed over for a promotion.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member j.man's Avatar
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    I mean how heavy are we talking? Splitting a 50 pound box two ways is a whole different story than calling a random lady over to help you move a sofa bed. If it's clearly something any other grown and capable adult could comfortably help with, then yeah, you're falling back on gender norms or stereotypes to some needless extent. I don't think it'd be some egregious sin worth her getting mad (and FTR, I've known a few who would), but again assuming we're not talking a box containing a completely unpacked wooden desk, I would consider it a show of respect to ask for help from an average bodied / capable coworker regardless of their sex, particularly if they're the only present option.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    She's being overly sensitive.

    It's just boxes...sigh.

    I swear, people try to find any reason to get offended these days.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Keyman's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by smackie9
    It's a 50/50 chance you would offend a female over something like this. I'm one of them too. I had a guy go on and on that I shouldn't be unloading the truck because a woman shouldn't be doing such a task. I take a big offense to that..BIG time. It took a lot for me to keep my cool. If there is something that is too heavy to lift or they simply don't want to, women will tell you because unlike men who seem to have to prove their strength, we have np saying so.

    Just keep it in mind that it doesn't hurt to ask if they are up for the task. Obviously those boxes were not heavy. As for her reaction, I say there's something else working in the background, like she feels like she wasn't given an opportunity of some kind or was passed over for a promotion.
    Like the time I got yelled at by a female co-worker for not leaping to me feet to help her carry a heavy box, but said nothing to the girl who sat next to me. I would have helped had she asked, but the expectation that I should be there to help because I'm a guy could be considered sexist in the same way.

  11. #10
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    She got upset for nothing. But then my pack mule days are over.

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